2018 Season, 20th Anniversary Season, Boom Artists, Indie Theatre Community, Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

A Feast of Clowns: A conversation with Vinnie Penna and Spencer Aste

Boomerang’s TWELFTH NIGHT continues thru July 15th in Central Park.
Recently, Artistic Director Tim Errickson chatted with Vinnie Penna (Sir Toby) and Spencer Aste (Sir Andrew) about playing Shakespeare’s clowns in this celebrated comedy.

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Vinnie Penna (l) as Sir Toby Belch and Spencer Aste (r) as Sir Andrew Aguecheek in TWELFTH NIGHT

Tim Errickson: Ok, first question…Shakespeare’s clowns are some of his best characters. What do you think makes them special?

Vinnie Penna: Speaking truth to power.

Spencer Aste: Absolutely! I always feel like the clowns don’t realize they’re funny.
I always consider them a bit sad.

VP: They also have an uncanny knack of knocking the snooty off their pedestals.
There’s definitely sadness in both Toby and Andrew.

TE: How so?

SA: They’re searching for something to make them complete. Andrew wants to be loved. He wants female companion.

VP: I don’t want to speak for Spencer, but in the case of Toby, at least the way I view him in this production, this is a guy who saw some shit in the army and has really only found solace in the bottle. However, over time, he realizes how important he is to Maria

SA: I also think Andrew knows to the core he’s not a great fencer, dancer or bear baiter. He just wants everybody else to believe that and he wants to believe it himself.

TE: There’s an easy parallel from Sir Toby to Falstaff…

VP: Well, sure, and that was probably intentional on Shakespeare’s part. What’s Twelfth Night’s subtitle? “What You Will?”

SA: Absolutely! And one of Andrew’s line, “take it how you will.”

VP: Falstaff commits a lot of thievery, though, and I find him considerably meaner than Toby.

TE: That’s fair. I think in terms of their (Toby and Falstaff’s) one time bravery, and their conclusion that they no longer want that for themselves. And I think there’s allusion to lots of other people for Sir Andrew, from Don Armado in LLL to Dogberry to a degree

SA: I agree.

VP: That kinda goes along with Sara’s idea that there’s a “crack” in the world in Illyria and madness reigns. “I’ll confine myself no finer than I am!”

TE: For Sir Andrew, I think what makes him so unique is that he’s not just a blowhard like a dogberry, but there’s something more there.

VP: He’s so goddamn weird.

Vinnie Spencer Blues Explosion (1)
Spencer Aste (l) and Vinnie Penna (r)

TE: So how hard is it to bring these guys to life outside? What are the challenges and the pleasures of it?

SA: Playing them balls to the walls! Hehe! Loudly!! I always feel like acting in a comedy I try to make them as serious and tragic as I can. Trying to be funny always fucks me up.

VP: Yes. Playing a clown and trying to be funny is as effective as playing a villain and being all BWAH-HA-HAAAA!!!

SA: Totally!

VP: The pleasures are many. This is a very talented company and they’re very much on their toes, so if something changes or a line is inflected a bit differently (depending on how drunk I decide to play a scene), they are prepared!

TE: Do you play scenes differently knowing you have to reach the “cheap seats”? Meaning, father back, partial view etc…

VP: Louder, maybe?

SA: Yeah. I always try to make the person I think will hate the show, laugh.

TE: Does it take certain choices away? Like smaller things?

VP: Sure. I’ve been in a constant debate with myself about whether or not I’m shouting the whole time. I know I’m not, but still…

SA: I also feel like I’m shouting, which lessens my vocal range. But yes. I think small choices can’t be seen or heard.

VP: Definitely not in the cheap seats.

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Vinnie Penna as Sir Toby and Spencer Aste as Sir Andrew in TWELFTH NIGHT

TE: How about working together…how long have you actually known each other?

SA: 22 years, i think.

TE: Really?

VP: We talked about this during rehearsal. We met in 1996.

TE: Where? How?

VP: At the Westbeth. Spencer played a clown in that one too! Topless!

SA: Hehe!! I did!!

TE: And how many times over those 22 years have you appeared together?

VP: Thrice, I think.

SA: I think that’s right, but having done readings and Congregation (Play Reading Group) and seeing each others work it feels like a lot more.

TE: Obviously Twelfth Night and (Boomerang’s 2010 production of ) The Tempest, although you might not have had scenes together in The Tempest…

VP: We were in the shipwreck and the last scene together, but we exchanged no dialogue.

TE: That’s kind of awesome…first scene and last scene!

SA: Bookends!

TWELFTH NIGHT continues with two more performances this weekend (July 14th and 15th) at 2pm. More details here, and to make a $25 donation to support Free Theater, click here.

 

2018 Season, 20th Anniversary Season, Boom Artists, FF20, First Flight, First Flight New Play Festival, Indie Theatre Community, New Plays

Pictures from KNIFEPLAY by Shelley McPherson

Hello everyone! We’ve continuing to share photos of the year-long celebration that is the 2018 First Flight New Play Festival.

This year’s festival is expanded to a year long celebration of new plays. It will include readings and workshops of 20 new works, in honor of our 20th Anniversary. We think this festival is a wonderful way for us to invest in new plays and the people who make them.

If you’d like to support this season, you can make a donation here

In January, we hosted the first four readings of the festival. Check out some pictures below!

Knifeplay
by Shelley McPherson
Directed by Jerry Ruiz

Photos by Isaiah Tanenbaum Theatrical Photograph

Thank you to all the artists who made this reading possible.

2018 Season, 20th Anniversary Season, Boom Artists, FF20, First Flight, First Flight New Play Festival, New Plays

Pictures from THE DYING FALL OF GARY FLETZNER reading

Hello everyone! We’ve been busy for the first three months of the 20th Anniversary season with so many things. First was the kickoff of our annual First Flight New Play Festival.

This year’s festival is expanded to a year long celebration of new plays. It will include readings and workshops of 20 new works, in honor of our 20th Anniversary. We think this festival is a wonderful way for us to invest in new plays and the people who make them.

If you’d like to support this season, you can make a donation here

In January, we hosted the first four readings of the festival. Check out some pictures below!

The Dying Fall of Gary Fletzner
by Adam Kraar
Directed by Michelle Tattenbaum

Photos by Isaiah Tanenbaum Theatrical Photography.

Thank you to all the artists who made this reading possible.

2018 Season, 20th Anniversary Season, Boom Artists, Boomerang Support, FF20, First Flight, First Flight New Play Festival, How you can help, Indie Theatre Community, New Plays, Opportunities, Planning, Shakespeare

The 20th Anniversary Season

Hello everyone!

We kicked off our 20th Anniversary Season this weekend with readings and rehearsals and old friends. It was a great start, and I wanted to fill in some of the details on the rest of the season as we know it.

The readings this weekend were part of First Flight New Play Festival, one of Boomerang’s signature programs. Normally, FF Readings take place over a single weekend and consist of 4-6 readings of new plays. For 2018, we are expanding the festival into a year-long celebration of new plays, featuring 20 new plays in development.

New FF

This weekend we featured the first four of those new plays (THE DYING FALL OF GARY FLETZNER by Adam Kraar; NICHIIWAD by Hal Corley; KNIFEPLAY by Shelley McPherson and PERSEPHONE (A NEW MYTH FOR A HOTTER WORLD) by Kristen Palmer) and we have five more readings coming up March 9th-11th, 2018. The remaining 11 will be presented in September and November, 2018. We think this abundance of new play readings will make an even larger impact on new play development, and continue to build the community that supports new work.

To support these readings, we have two big fundraising events that will get everyone up and dancing! We start on Feb 13th with BARDI GRAS, our own wild mashup of Shakespeare and Mardi Gras style.  Last year’s party featured costume contests, trivia prizes, drink specials and beads beads beads! And this year’s party promises more of the same!

On Monday April 23rd,  we celebrate the man himself, Will Shakespeare on the day he shook off this mortal coil. The celebration will feature songs, dancing, prizes, raffles and collaborations between our team and our theatrical colleagues throughout the city. Did you say “puppets?” Yes, there will be puppets.

And we close out the first half of the 20th Anniversary season with a return to where it all began in 1999…Central Park. Sara Thigpen will direct TWELFTH NIGHT, with performances beginning June 16th on the lawn at 69th Street and Central Park West. Expect music, disguises, true love, and bawdy hilarity.

Twelfth Night announcement

There’s not a thing in this schedule you should miss! So save these dates!

The schedule:
February 13th–Bardi Gras!
March 9th-11th–First Flight 20 Readings
April 23rd–Shakespeare’s Death Day Celebration!
June 16th-July 17th–TWELFTH NIGHT in Central Park
September 2018–First Flight 20 Readings
October 2018–Mainstage production
November 2018–First Flight 20 Readings and Rock-n-Roles

If you wanted to donate to these programs, you could do so right here. And we’d be forever grateful.

Thanks!

2018 Season, 20th Anniversary Season, Boom Artists, Boomerang Support, donations, fundraising, How you can help, New Plays

Video: Supporting Artists thru End of Year Giving

Thank you to everyone who has donated to our campaign. We are thrilled you have added your support to our 20th Anniversary Season.

Why are we raising money, and what is our 2018 season about? It’s about breaking new ground. It’s about creating a new story specifically for the world we live in. And it’s about trying to understand each other a little better, thru community and story.

For our third video, our Board and Staff added their thoughts on why people should support our campaign, why supporting the arts is critical and much more. Take a look…

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If you’d like to join our 20th Anniversary season and support the exciting projects our artists create, there are two ways:

  1. $20 monthly recurring gift to support our 20th Anniversary (about sixty five cents per day) makes the most impact on our artists and our audience.
  2. $20 one time gift to support our 20th Anniversary helps to support new plays and new visions. In our first 19 seasons, we have brought 60 plays to life in full productions, and nearly 100 in labs, workshops and readings. Your gift is significant!
If you missed either of our first two videos, you can check them out here and here.
Donate Red Square 3D Realistic Isolated Web Button
Thank you in advance for your support!
2018 Season, 20th Anniversary Season, Boomerang Support, donations, fundraising, How you can help

Boomerang’s 20th Anniversary Logo Contest

Hello folks…we’re prepping for our 20th Anniversary in all kinds of ways…including looking at New Logos! Take a look at these and vote for your favorite!

(logos designed by Jillian Quitko)

In addition to voting, we’d love to have you join our Boomerang 20th Anniversary family with a $20 donation. Can we count on you? You can make a donation here.

Thank you!

2018 Season, 20th Anniversary Season, Boom Artists, Boomerang Support, donations, First Flight, First Flight New Play Festival, fundraising, How you can help, Lickspittles, Loveless Texas, New Plays, Opportunities, Rock and Roles, The Reckless Season

Why New Plays Matter

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to our 20th Anniversary Holiday Campaign. We’re off to a great start, and there’s still time for you to join the team. Take a look at this great new video below asking for your help to support New Play Development.

We’re asking for donations of $20 to support our 20th Anniversary.

  1. A $20 monthly recurring gift (about sixty five cents per day) makes the most impact on our artists and our audience. This allows us to sustain the work even when no box office comes in or while waiting for grant money to arrive (we often have to wait a long time between “winning” the grant and actually GETTING the grant money). You can make a recurring donation here.
  2. A $20 one time gift helps to support new plays and new visions. In our first 19 seasons, we have brought 60 plays to life in full productions, and nearly 100 in labs, workshops and readings. Your gift is significant! You can make a one time donation here.

One of the major programs you are supporting during our 20th Anniversary are our New Play programs. Check out this short video about why new plays matter.

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Our new play programs make a huge impact by creating an artistic home for many playwrights. Thank you in advance for your support!

2018 Season, 20th Anniversary Season, Boom Artists, fundraising, Shakespeare

Holiday Giving Campaign–Summer Shakespeare

One of Boomerang’s signature programs since our beginning in 1999 has been Outdoor Shakespeare. What began as an idea for free performances became an event, and that event became a tradition. Now, in 2018–that tradition becomes a celebration.

We are excited to announce that we will kick off our 20th Anniversary Season with…

Twelfth Night announcement

We’re thrilled to be going back to Central Park and provide quality free theatre to New York City.

TWELFTH NIGHT will mark our 19th free production. We’ve selected for it’s celebratory feeling, and we think it is going to be the perfect opening to our 20th Anniversary. Since 1999, over 22,000 audience members have attended our outdoor productions.

We need your donations to bring this theatrical celebration to life. We are looking for 200 donors of $20 or more (one time or recurring). This campaign is extremely significant to our season. Can we count on you?

Donate Red Square 3D Realistic Isolated Web Button

Thank you for your generosity!

 

2018 Season, 20th Anniversary Season, Boom Artists, Boomerang Support, donations, First Flight New Play Festival, Giving Tuesday, How you can help, Indie Theatre Community, Shakespeare

Boomerang’s 20th Anniversary Holiday Campaign

Welcome to Boomerang Theatre Company’s 20th Anniversary Season.

We began this journey in 1999 with three plays, not very much money, and an idea of presenting great plays in new ways. Now, after 19 years of 60 plays, 80 readings and thousands of audience members, we are just as excited for this adventure as ever before.

This holiday season we are asking you to support our “20th Anniversary Holiday Campaign” which will support our continued theatrical undertakings.

As part of #GivingTuesday and continuing through December, we are asking people to make a recurring donation of $20 per month (in honor of our 20th Anniversary). If that is more than you are able to contribute, we have a number of other giving levels that you can find here.

Here’s what your donation is making possible:
-An expanded 2018 FIRST FLIGHT New Play Festival, which will feature more plays than any previous fest.
-Our production of TWELFTH NIGHT in Central Park, opening June 16th 2018
-Our growing intern program, which annually brings new artists into the Indie Theater community and introduces them to our award-winning production style
-A premiere mainstage production in Fall 2018. Recent mainstage works have included LOVELESS TEXAS by Henry Aronson and Cailin Heffernan, and THE RECKLESS SEASON by Lauren Ferebee.
-The latest edition of ROCK-N-ROLES, our new play event combining theatre with great music

Please join us for this milestone season. We count on your donations as a vital step in keeping these programs alive. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

 

2016 Season, 2017 Season, 20th Anniversary Season, Boom Artists, Boomerang Support, First Flight, First Flight New Play Festival, How you can help, Indie Theatre Community, New Plays, Planning, Rep Season, Rock and Roles, Shakespeare

New and improved us!

Hello all…We’re very excited to see Spring recently (although the recent snows and rains make it feel a little undecided still), and with that I wanted to reach out and talk about Boomerang’s 2016 and 2017 Season programming, which will be different from years past.

First, a little context: We’ve been programming the same way nearly since our inception in 1999. We produce Shakespeare plays outdoors, a rotating rep indoors, and a new play development festival. These three programs have been terrific for us, allowing us to work with tremendous artists and introducing us to so many people. But as we approach our 20th Anniversary season in 2018, we’re thinking about new ways to produce work, and new ways to serve both artists and audiences.

This refection couples along with the fact that a number of plays or projects we’ve developed have not reached any audiences yet. Internally, we talk about this “back log” all the time, plays that are SO good, can you believe no one has produced this yet, or projects that need the last bit of time and effort before debuting for the world. We often let these projects go if they didn’t fit into one of our three programs.

But no longer.

Our 2016 and 2017 season will be spent doing three things:

  1. Taking on these projects that inspire us creatively, getting them onstage rather than withering on the page. If they fit in as an outdoor show or a rep show, great. If not, we’re doing them anyway.
  2. We’re going to explore how technology can be used to extend the audience for the shows we’re producing. Does a show close with us and then move to become an indie film? Does it get adapted to webisodes? We want each project to have those opportunities, both to share the work with more people and also to support artists’ careers and exposure.
  3. We’re going to solve the question of space going forward. We have been itinerant since the closing of CenterStageNY, and whether we build a space or partner with an existing one, we’re going to find a home that we can support and that can support us.

Ok, but what does this all mean?

Our first project in this 2016/2017/2018 initiative will be LOVELESS TEXAS, a terrific new musical based on Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost. Boomerang Associate Artistic Director Cailin Heffernan and composer Henry Aronson have been working with us on this project for nearly a decade, and we are delighted to support this show to its premiere. We’ll be doing a workshop of new material in May, and looking for a full production in late 2016 or early 2017.

All of our efforts will go into LOVELESS, and as a result we will not be producing a Shakespeare play this summer. We’ll be back in 2017.

Following LOVELESS, we have a short list of plays we are going to produce in 2017/2018. They include THE RECKLESS SEASON by Lauren Ferebee, my own play WARM ROSES, and Eric Overmyer’s THE HELIOTROPE BOUQUET BY SCOTT JOPLIN AND LOUIS CHAUVIN. And there are more as well. We are also going to resume efforts to bring Jamie Pachino’s WAVING GOODBYE to our company. We’ve been very close before on that one, and it’s a labor of love for me. With any luck, it’ll be the signature production of our 20th anniversary season in our new artistic home.

In addition to all of this, we will still continue to present the FIRST FLIGHT New Play Festival and our incredible ROCK-N-ROLES events. We love our community and want everyone to join us in creating new work and new experiences.

If you feel like you want to make a donation to support these efforts you can do that here. And you can visit our website here to keep up on all these developments.

That’s it for now, sorry for the long post. We love you all and appreciate all the affection you’ve shown our little company for 18 years.

Thanks!

-t