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, 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, 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.

 

2017 Season, Bardi Gras, Boom Artists, Boomerang Support, donations, fundraising, How you can help, Indie Theatre Community, Loveless Texas, New Plays, Shakespeare

Photos from BARDI GRAS

Thank you to everyone who attended BARDI GRAS on Tuesday Feb 28th at Madame X. A great time was had, music was in the air, and we raised some much needed funds for LOVELESS TEXAS coming up in Fall 2017.

Did you miss the party, but still wanted to contribute to the madness? Click here!

Here are some pictures of the shenanigans…courtesy of Isaiah Tanenbaum Theatrical Photography!

Bardi Gras, fundraising, How you can help, Indie Theatre Community, Shakespeare

Grab your Crew for BARDI GRAS on Tuesday February 28th!

Mark your calendars, and bust out your costumes and masks for BARDI GRAS on February 28th.

The evening has all the makings of a night you will never forget…adventure, romance, mystery, passion, music and a libation or three to wash it all down.

This is the night you’ve been waiting for. The siren sound in your heart is leading you to this moment. We cannot wait to experience this epic night with you.

Mardi Gras is famous for its Crews, groups that together dress in a theme, build a float together, or celebrate in their own unique style. Gather your crew, dress as creative or provocative as you dare, and sample what the night has to offer.

Put together your Crew of sexy Shakespeareans. Or dare to assemble as the most notorious New Orleanians you can think of. Or mix and match to your heart’s content.

Tickets go on sale later this week, and we have a limited number. Make sure you get yours early.

Follow us at @boomerangtheatre to make sure you have all the info.

2017 Season, Boom Artists, Boomerang Support, fundraising, How you can help, Indie Theatre Community, Opportunities, Planning, Shakespeare

Grab yours masks and beads…It’s BARDI GRAS on February 28th!

For one night only, the sultry nights and cascading music of New Orleans come together with the poetry of Stratford Upon Avon. Tap into the spirit of the night for some romance, cocktails, masks, beads and adventure…

bardi-gras

Mark your calendars and prepare to style yourself as a Shakespearean character, a famous New Orleanian, or a provocative mash-up of your own design. Masks are optional… and just a little decadent.

Welcome to the night you have been longing for.

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

Boom Artists, Indie Theatre Community, Rep Season, Shakespeare

Every Inch a King…

We learned today that a member of the Boomerang extended family passed away last week after a long and heroic battle with multiple myeloma (cancer of the plasma cells).

Bill Fairbairn was a long time actor and collaborator with us on a number of Boomerang projects, beginning in 2002 when he joined the ensemble of Craig Lucas’s PRELUDE TO A KISS at The Actor’s Playground. Following that, he played the Lear in our 2006 park production of KING LEAR. His Lear was another turning point for us as a company, as Bill challenged us to be better as an organization and as artists.

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Bill as Lear in KING LEAR (2006)

He was an ardent supporter of our work, and generously opened his home in Tribeca many times for gatherings and cast parties. In addition to Boomerang, Bill worked at Jean Cocteau Rep, Oberon Theatre Ensemble, Actor’s Shakespeare Company and many others.

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Bill with John Dalmon, Kate Sandberg, Justin R.G. Holcomb and Beth Ann Hopkins (on ground) in KING LEAR (2006)

We join Bill’s family in mourning his passing, and in recognizing his extraordinary life. He celebrated his 80th birthday in 2015, and was said to be as dashing and charming as ever. Bill passed away surrounded by his family on Sunday January 10th, 2016.

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Cast photo of PRELUDE TO A KISS (2002)

A memorial service here in NYC will be held in April 2016 for his friends and family to pay their respects. Charitable donations in lieu of flowers are being set up by his family, and we’ll pass all this information along as we receive it.

prelude2
In performance pic taken by a prop camera onstage during PRELUDE TO A KISS (2002)
Boom Artists, Boomerang Support, donations, How you can help, Indie Theatre Community, New Plays, Planning, Shakespeare

The Boomerang Community: Amanda Tudor

As part of our Holiday fundraising campaign, we’ve asked members of Boomerang’s artistic family to write about our company and what makes us unique for them. We hope that you will recognize our distinctive contribution to New York City theatre with a financial gift this holiday season. You can make any size tax-deductible donation here.

But don’t take our word for it…

Amanda Tudor
In a city of millions where the competition is stiff and fierce, communities are few and far between.  Most “communities” want something from you without much to give back.  Most theatre companies I’ve worked for, want my support without supporting me.  To most companies, I’ve become another one of the millions in competition.  But not Boomerang.  Boomerang is unlike any other community I’ve been a part of; they’ve taken care of me.

Here are my top 3 reasons, after 5 years, I still donate to Boomerang:

  1. Boomerang brings Shakespeare for FREE to the masses

Every year in the park, Boomerang puts on quality Shakespeare in interesting and fun ways. They share the work with tourists and natives alike.  Children get exposed to new work, picnics get to be feasted and shared and communities are built.  Stop by for 5 minutes or stay for the whole show.  It’s like a pop up shop of awesomeness and Shakespeare.

l to r: Jonathan Dewberry, Catherine McNelis, Amanda Tudor and Jason Loughlin in Boomerang's THE TEMPEST in Central Park (2010)
l to r: Jonathan Dewberry, Catherine McNelis, Amanda Tudor and Jason Loughlin in Boomerang’s THE TEMPEST in Central Park (2010)
  1. I’m supported by the company

The shows I’ve done in the past 5 years have been amazingly supported by the company.  Namely Tim Errickson has been to see my plays and has been there to laugh the loudest.  Always the supportive friend, he genuinely cares about my career and my successes…even if they’re not associated with the company.  My Kickstarter campaigns are donated to, Facebook posts responded to: I am supported by my community.

  1. New plays and playwrights are given a chance

New plays, just like new actors, need an ally.  And Boomerang is that ally.  Every year, new plays are given a workshop setting, a public reading and support of the company.  What an amazing resource for actors as well! Working on new works, perhaps teaming up with new playwrights, and creating more work for themselves.

This is my community: the group of rockstars that want to create and lift up the theatre.  I hope this season you’ll give back to the community that gives so much.  Be a part of this community with me, help us continue to bring theatre to the people and people to the theatre.

You can make a tax-deductible donation here