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.

 

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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, 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, 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.

 

2017 Season, First Flight, First Flight New Play Festival, Indie Theatre Community, New Plays

2017 First Flight

Boomerang is happy to announce the list of Finalists for the 2017 FIRST FLIGHT New Play Festival. We are so excited to continue exploring these terrific new plays.

Finalists:

The Day We Were Born by Jaisey Bates
Hello, World! by Stephen Bracco
The Bigsley Project by Catherine Castellani
Nichiiwad by Hal Corley
TV Boyfriend by Matthew A. Everett
Tape Don’t Lie by Kirby Fields
Sycorax, Cyber Queen of Qamara by Fengar Gael
Wake by Vince Gatton
The Alternate Possiblilities of Our Past and Future History with Particular Regard to the Identification of the Eastern Puma and The Corps of Discovery by Amy Gijsbers van Wijk
Hotline by Jack Gilhooley
Elevator Girl by Donna Hoke
Fake Plastic Love by Terence Hughes
The Dying Fall of Gary Fletzner by Adam Kraar
Sinner-Man by Liz Maestri
Knifeplay by Shelley McPherson
The Girl Who Lived by David Meyers
“i am a drop’dead gorgeous, fabulous, stylish, exotic’ass gem amongst thousands of rocks” by elliot rodger by Matthew Paul Olmos
Persephone, or things that come out of the ground by Kristen Palmer
Lush by Nicole Pandolfo
Hungry by Lia Romeo
Door to Balloon by Greg Romero
Siamese Cycle by Tidtaya Sinutoke
Midwives by Suzanne Trauth
Karate Hottie by Catherine Weingarten

Stats Update: 374 general submissions,  broken down into 248 (66%) by Male Playwrights and 126 (34%) by Female Playwrights (note: This is not self identified, but rather an overview general observation of names.) From which, we selected 24 Finalist Round plays, with a breakdown of 11 (46%) by Male Playwrights and 13 (54%) by Female Playwrights.

We will announce the Participants in the 2017 Festival shortly, along with a full festival schedule.

If you would like to make a donation to support The First Flight New Play Festival and the presentation of new plays, click here.

 

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2017 Season, Boom Artists, Indie Theatre Community, Loveless Texas, Planning

LOVELESS TEXAS

Welcome to Loveless Texas!

We are so excited to share the details of our next production with you. LOVELESS TEXAS, with music and lyrics by Henry Aronson and libretto and direction by Cailín Heffernan, will begin performances September 6th at The Sheen Center for a three week run. Casting is underway, and tickets are now on sale.

As many people know, this show has been in development for nearly a decade, beginning as an idea then a few songs and then a few more until finally we arrive here. We’ve begun pre-production on this initial production, which marks Boomerang Theatre Company’s first ever musical project.

Production Meeting
The Production Team held captive until I can get a photo!

We are assembling a terrific team for LOVELESS TEXAS. In addition to Cailin directing, we have Marci Skolnick (Production Stage Manager), Timothy Babcock (Assistant Stage Manager) and Rebecca Meyers (Stage Management Intern). On the design side, we have Cheryl McCarron (Costumes), Michael O’Connor (Lighting), Evan Hill (Sets), Ian Wehrle (Sound), Dan Renkin (Movement/Fights) and Theresa McElwee (Vocal Coach). Rounding out the team are interns Charlotte Hopkins (Producing), Lauren Frazier (Marketing), Ivy Swinski (Costumes) and Maggie Cunningham (Lights/Sound/Projections). And as always, the incomprable Stefano Imbert has done the artwork.

The whole event is produced by Boomerang, with Danielle Demisay, Kate Holland and Yoni Vendriger serving as Associate Producers.

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Henry Aronson and Cailín Heffernan, creative forces behind LOVELESS TEXAS (Photo by Isaiah Tanenbaum)

We cannot wait to have you join us! Grab your tickets today ($30 tickets for the first 5 performances, then $40 after that…!)

2017 Season, Boom Artists, Future Fest, Indie Theatre Community, New Plays, Opportunities

Photos from ALMOST FREE

Hello folks! Welcome to summer!

On June 10th, Boomerang hosted  the first of a series of readings of works in progress called FUTURE FEST. The idea is to give work that has progressed beyond the point of a First Flight reading and the resources that come with that, and now are in need of more time and more attention to continue their development. These are the works that we believe could end up in full productions in future Boomerang rep seasons or as stand alones. Hence the name…Future Fest!

(If you’d like to make a donation to support these readings of new plays, click here. We’d really appreciate it)

First up…ALMOST FREE by Tim Duncheon, directed by Kevin R. Free. The cast included Mary E. Hodges, Zak Hoogendyk, Blake Russell, Tarantino Smith and Sara Thigpen.

Here’s the blurb:
Philadelphia, 1793. When Nathaniel, a newly-freed slave, volunteers to help fight an epidemic killing the city’s white residents, he hopes to improve his position in society. Instead, he finds himself in a perfect storm of racial hatred, mutual distrust, and politics. Is it really possible for an ex-slave to achieve the American Dream?

If you missed the reading, you’ll have an additional opportunity to hear it this fall when we’ll present a new reading of ALMOST FREE as it continues to grow.

In the meantime, you can check out these photos from the reading.