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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Holiday Video from Boomerang Theatre Company

 

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2015 Season, Boom Artists, Cymbeline, First Flight New Play Festival, Indie Theatre Community, Lickspittles, New Plays, Shakespeare

Fun Photo Collages for the Season

Hi everyone…Here at Boomerang we put together photo collages for Annual Reporting requirements (basically we send these off to people who are looking for photographic evidence we actually did things). I thought we’d share them with you, as sort of a visual summary of what we’ve been doing these last 12 months. We’re still working on the version of Love’s Labour’s Lost…

First Flight

 

 

Lickspittles, Buttonholers, andDamned

 

 

Cymbeline (4)

2015 Season, Boom Artists, Indie Theatre Community, Shakespeare

Even More Production Photos from CYMBELINE

Because the show just looks so damn good…Final performances are Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th at 2pm in Central Park. Free admission, no tickets or reservations required!

Boomerang Theatre Company's Cymbeline 5 Boomerang Theatre Company's Cymbeline 3 Boomerang Theatre Company's CYMBELINE 2 Boomerang Theatre Company's Cymbeline 4 IMG_1491  IMG_1503  IMG_1515  IMG_1529  IMG_1658  IMG_2048  IMG_2106  IMG_2179 Boomerang Theatre Company's Cymbeline 1

2015 Season, Boom Artists, Indie Theatre Community, Shakespeare

A few random questions for…Vinnie Penna

Boomerang has been lucky enough to work with Vinnie Penna since 2004. Audiences have seen memorable performance of his as The Hungry Mother in Eric Overmyer’s NATIVE SPEECH, Bottom in A MIDSUMMER NIGHTS DREAM (2014) and Puck in A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM (2004), and THE TEMPEST in 2010. He’s currently starring as Pisanio in CYMBELINE (running thru July 19th). He answered a few random questions for us while gearing up for the final four performances of CYMBELINE…

Vinnie Penna as Pisanio in CYMBELINE
Vinnie Penna as Pisanio in CYMBELINE

Full Name: Vincent Penna Jr.

Home town: Valley Stream, NY

How many Boomerang shows have you done? Not counting readings, 24-hour festivals, and benefits, this is my fifth Boomerang production (four of which were outdoor Shakespeare productions).

Tell us a little about PisanioPisanio is in a unique position in this play. He’s a regular guy. Not royalty, not particularly military, just a working stiff. Honest and loyal to the point of being dishonest and disloyal if it serves the greater good.

What is your favorite thing about working on Cymbeline? The appeal of Cymbeline is that it’s a later work that defies easy categorization–not necessarily a so-called problem play, like Measure for Measure or The Merchant of Venice. Above all, the language is so beautiful, and reflects the growth and maturity Shakespeare achieved at this juncture in his career.

What’s your favorite place in New York City? I’m not an outdoorsy sort, so I’m tempted to say my favorite place in NYC is my apartment, but that’s boring. I’ll admit to digging the High Line and certain points on the west side Greenway.

In keeping with the spirit of economy, can you give us your 6 word memoir:  “Is that a meteor? Run, guys!!!”

CYMBELINE continues performances on Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2pm thru July 19th.

Vinnie Penna as Bottom in 2014's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM
Vinnie Penna as Bottom in 2014’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM
2015 Season, Indie Theatre Community, Shakespeare

First performance pics of Cymbeline

Here’s a sneak peak at what our little show looks like, in full costume and nearly full sunlight…IMG_1526IMG_1618IMG_1473IMG_1622IMG_1443IMG_1492IMG_1563IMG_1658

Boom Artists, Shakespeare, Uncategorized

Snapshots from CYMBELINE Dress Rehearsal

Hey all-

here’s a few quick snaps of last night’s dress rehearsal for CYMBELINE. The show is Free! No tickets or waiting in line! We open this coming Saturday June 20th at 2pm in Central Park! Hope you can make it!

Cymbeline 1 Cymbeline 2 Cymbeline 3 Cymbeline 4C1 C6 c13 c14 c16