Thursday, October 27, 2011
Full review: The plaque outside the John Street Church says that it sits on the former site of a late 18th century theater at which President Washington attended performances. We can only hope that the first chief executive was treated to as energetic and clever a show as Hyper Aware Theater Company's, GUTTERDRUNK: The Poe Revisions.
A retelling of several stories by Edgar Allen Poe, this partially environmental piece, captures the fear of mortality and cynical wit of one of America's great 19th century writers. Presented as a series of vignettes, which span various periods of history and storytelling styles, the show brings us into a little world of its own, one which while not always comfortable, is always interesting. The show takes place in two locations, the first and most compelling, is the alleyway between the church and it's neighboring building to the west, in this skinny sliver of real estate, the first three short plays occupy the early evening with a kind of atmosphere no set builder can recreate. During this section of plays the fourth wall and temporal reality of the production begin to fray a bit, a technique that continues after the plays move indoors, into the dark confines of the church's basement.
Once in the basement, the show becomes a bit more traditionally presentational. Rows of seats and a staging area, though the shadowy room does provide a spooky backdrop for the remaining 4 plays. Throughout all of this, the figure of Poe himself, wanders about, quill in hand, as if ready to jot down all the strange happenings before him. As the production moves through the 7 plays, multiple styles and time periods are used for the retelling of the tales. Generally speaking, the actors handle these shifts quite effectively, though occasionally some of the more arcane language is stumbled upon in ways that might not be noticed with a more modern script. The music of the production, performed live, by a banjo, drums and a few guitars is nearly worth going for on it's own. Reminiscent of a scaled down Decemberists, it perfectly accentuates the old timey, troubling stories of the master of horror.
Fear is difficult to achieve in a live stage audience, an I don't think anyone will be scared by Gutterdrunk, but I do think people will be troubled, so many of the stories focus on the approach of death, making that abstract notion of an unknown future, come into clearer focus. The writing, done by 7 different playwrights, actually manages to have a single stream kind of feeling, resisting the choppiness that often comes with such projects. And the direction neatly sews everything together, creating a very solid whole. The fun that the actors and band have while guiding us through these stories, keeps it from dipping too far into depression. On the whole, this balance provides for a very recommendable evening of theater.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Are you feeling sufficiently teased yet? If so and you haven't bought tickets, you can still get them online here or by clicking on the Gutterdrunk image at the top of the blog. We can't promise that tickets will be available at the door, but we understand that some of you like to live on the edge and we'll do our best to reward your reckless lifestyle.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Up top, you can now watch a slideshow of all our production photos from Flickr. While on your right, you can read our most recent Twitter posts and "Like" us on Facebook without ever leaving the blog! But if you happen to want to head over to our full satellite pages, we've installed handy buttons for all three media sites, and one for YouTube (also in the right-side frame). Venturing beyond the blog will bring you deeper into Hyper Aware's rabbit hole, something we highly recommend.
Additionally, you can buy tickets to our latest production, #Gutterdrunk, at the top of the page (via our lovely friends at Brown Paper Tickets), or join our new mailing list courtesy of MailChimp by entering your email over in the ever-popular right panel.
Most importantly, we also updated the color scheme.
Back to rehearsing,
The Hyper Aware Team
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Just in time for Halloween, The Hyper Aware Theater Company is thrilled to announce our newest original production, "Gutterdrunk: The Poe Revisions." We're tremendously excited to start rehearsals tonight with our gifted cast, and to bring to life these stunning and startling interpretations of Poe's greatest works. We've been lucky enough to rent out John Street Church in lower Manhattan, built in the 1840s when Poe was living in NYC, just as "The Raven" made him a household name. This is by far Hyper Aware's most ambitious, exciting, and interactive (oh, yes) project to date.
Here's the official poster art and press release:
New York, NY -- The Hyper Aware Theater Company presents its newest work, GUTTERDRUNK: The Poe Revisions, which brings viewers deep into the hallucinatory mind of famed writer, Edgar Allan Poe. GUTTERDRUNK unites seven international playwrights whose original works reimagine many of Poe’s famous stories and poems, such as “The Tell Tale Heart” and “Annabel Lee.” GUTTERDRUNK will have six performances presented both on the grounds and in the basement of the historic John Street Church.
GUTTERDRUNK blends theater, performance art, and live music into a cohesive, interactive evening. As the action unfolds in the shadows, audience members will shape their own intimate experiences by illuminating the environment with flashlights. Actors are buried alive, bricked behind walls, smothered and stabbed, until only a rattled and wasted Poe remains, without fiction to blur his dark reality. GUTTERDRUNK explores the hysterical and haunting effects of alcohol on actor, character and author in a way that tests the limits of theatrical experience. As Poe wrote, we must “consider anew what are the capabilities of the drama—not merely what have been its conventional purposes.”
GUTTERDRUNK is directed by Gary Ferrar and features Louis Aquiler* ("All About Walken"), Naomi Bland (Yale School of Drama), Vance Clemente, Risa Cohen (Circle in the Square), Andrew Huber, Katarina Hughes (NYU Tisch), Rachel Lynn Jackson (The PIT), Chad Miller ("An Ordinary Family," "Wild Blue"), Michael Pantozzi, Clea Rivera* (La MaMa), Charles Rohlfs, and George Walsh; and includes original music and underscoring by The Live Nudes. Playwrights include Lance Tait of France’s Theatre Metropole and author of Plays Inspired by Edgar Allan Poe (Enfield Publishing). *actors courtesy of AEA
John Street Church is located at 44 John Street (and Nassau Street). Closest subway is the Fulton Stop (2, 3, 4, 5, A, C, J, and Z trains). Tickets will be available shortly!!
PERFORMANCES (rain or shine):
Thursday 10/20 8PM
Friday 10/21 8PM
Saturday 10/22 8PM
Thursday 10/27 8PM
Saturday 10/29 8PM
Sunday 10/30 8PM
Stay tuned here, and on Facebook and Twitter for updates!
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Debbie Hoodiman Beaudin · March 31, 2011
The Hyper Aware Theater Company is smart. In the Director’s Note in the program, Richard Pepio writes, “Your dreams can be filled with the craziest absurdities, the most embarrassing realities, and thoughts you didn’t even know you had inside you. Hopefully, we can all find some truth in what is said and done here. But if all else fails, at least it is something to laugh at.” That quote shows the balance between heart and humor which makes this combination of Durang’s well-known The Actor’s Nightmare and his more obscure Titanic a bizarre but worthwhile night of theater.
The two pieces are performed with an intermission between them and using the same cast. Both plays start off a little strange and escalate to higher and higher levels of absurdity and crazy shenanigans. In Titanic, especially—which tells the story of a group of fools on a ship that may or may not be heading toward an iceberg—the entire world of the play gets so out of whack that, by the end, nothing is surprising. It’s strange, dirty, funny, and oddly captivating. The Actor’s Nightmare begins with a fairly straightforward concept and spins out of control. All of this is okay, of course, if you know what you are getting into, which you probably do just by showing up for a Durang play.
The Actor’s Nightmare is, by far, the more accessible of the two plays but probably the more difficult to pull off. A man—not an actor—finds himself on stage, in front of an audience, unrehearsed and completely unprepared. He doesn’t even know what play he’s in and by the time he sort of figures it out, it changes. I think the lead role in this play must be almost impossible, but Louis Aquiler does a fine job. He handles the monster monologue in the middle of it well. I do think he could have found more levels in it (like more joy and more of a wish to “get it right”) but I enjoyed the piece so much and the audience—as evidenced by the hysterical laughter of those around me—did as well.
All of the actors are impressive in both works. I am particularly in awe of Alexis Rhiannon, especially in Titanic, as she probably has the most far out part and through her commitment she makes it completely believable. I also respect Ariana Murphy and Chris Dippel as the closest thing these plays have to “straight men.” In The Actor’s Nightmare, Dippel captures the “serious, famous Shakespearean Actor” in his delivery as Horatio, but without coming off as mocking or commenting. As the captain in Titanic, he maintains an air of authority even when everything—his words, his actions, even his head gear—contrasts with that authority. Chris D'Amato and Christopher Norwood also give sincere performances that live up to the high level of this company.
What I found impressive about the production of these two plays is the commitment of the actors and how they play it all so straight. In Titanic, the actors are asked by Durang’s script to dance, to chase one another, to forcefully undress one another, to fight, to run around, and more (much, much more!), and their seriousness balances out the absurdity. As my companion said after it was over, and as the director wished, “You get drawn into the world and it seems real.”
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
All rehearsals have been going splendidly. We're incredibly excited over the recent media and blogger interest in Wild Blue, and have been quite surprised at the big response from the travel and flight attendant communities—by turns welcoming, suspicious, excited, and hesitant. Tickets have also been live for about a week and the advance support is very uplifting. So thank you, all, for your involvement so far.
Speaking of involvement, we’ve always made a concerted effort to keep our fans, friends, and potential audience members included in the evolution of our projects, and this time is no exception. We’re currently putting together a video series for Wild Blue as a way for you to meet the cast and learn a bit about their characters and the play. The first segment will run next week. In the meantime, please enjoy some early rehearsal photos an extremely brief promo video for one of our sister productions, Titanic (below).
And one last reminder about our Kickstarter fundraiser. We’ve got 7 days to go and only need $108 to reach our goal. It would help us tremendously! If you can’t make any of the shows, please consider donating to the cause. Your wallet may be a little lighter, but your heart will be too!
Monday, February 21, 2011
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
The time has come to begin casting our next production! Below you'll find a brief description of the show and select casting notices. Please pass along this info to anyone you think may be suitable and interested, or send in your own headshot and resume to the email address at the bottom of this post.
The Hyper Aware Theater Company is casting Wild Blue, a full-length play inspired by Steven Slater's (in)famous farewell to Jet Blue last year. The piece works to tease out the humanity and history behind Slater's 15 seconds of fame, moving passed the obvious gimmicks of the incident and creating legitimate theater in the generally shallow world of pop culture.
Steven Slater: Caucasian, male, 25-35, a flight attendant with his life falling apart around him. Must be comfortable performing in underwear. Must be comfortable screaming. Must be comfortable sliding down a large inflatable slide. Must be comfortable getting sprayed with soda. LEAD
D. B. Cooper, male, 60-75, the only person to hijack a commercial airliner and never be caught. After parachuting out of a plane with $200,000 in the 70's, he went into hiding and is discovered by Steven living in a back woods cabin. A quirky, odd-ball recluse, DB takes Steven under his wing and mentors him on the trouble with society. Improv experience is a plus. LEAD
Winston Martinez, Hispanic, male, 15-25, a troubled teen immigrant that lives with D.B. Cooper in exchange for running errands, trying to get his life on track. Hispanic accent is a plus. SUPPORTING
Professor, male, 40-60, Hired to lecture the audience on-the-fly, regarding whatever happens, as it happens. Poor sense of humor a plus. SUPPORTING.
Audition by appointment only. Email headshot and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org. Rehearsals begin mid-Feb, NYC. Performances March 29 - April 11, 2011, NYC. Credit and Copy provided. (First Posted: 1/21/11)