Wow.

"Back of every creation, supporting it like an arch, is faith. Enthusiasm is nothing: it comes and goes. But if one believes, then miracles occur."

—Henry Miller

I got home about seven hours ago from New York. I’m not sure how long it’ll take for me to really process and settle into what the past two weeks held, but I figured I should write anyway.

I don’t know how to say thank you enough.

If you haven’t already heard, I wanted to shared some of the feedback from the play:

—http://www.nytheatre.com/Show/Index/2013-kumrads-wont

—http://www.womanaroundtown.com/sections/playing-around/kumrads-won-t-terrific-theater-a-gem

I also received one of the Fringe Awards for Excellence in Playwriting! (http://www.theatermania.com/new-york-city-theater/news/08-2013/fringenyc-announces-overall-excellence-award-winne_65871.html)

I am so glad the play got to be shared with more people, so humbled by all the support, so happy to have gotten to know the play in a new way and be opened to the ideas of other wonderful artists, and just overwhelmed and thankful for all the people who took a chance, who were willing to have faith in kumrads won’t, who donated time and energy and money and love to a play so near to my heart.

Thank you for continuing to believe in the power of stories. I know firsthand they have an incredible ability to shake us to the very core—and that shaking of what we’ve always “known” to be “true” is what enables us to change.

I’m not saying anything with the eloquence I wish to possess.

Here’s some e.e. cummings. Why not?

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Thoughts from a traveler -Taylor Bailey

It is 6:01am CST and I am currently sitting in Chicago O’Hare Airport waiting on a flight to New York to see kumrads at the fringe. I slept for about an hour, preceded by packing quickly after seeing a friend performing in Kenneth Lin’s Fallow. I rolled out of my apartment at 3:15am to make it in time to get through security.

I couldn’t be more excited.

The thing that makes me the happiest, the most excited, and gets me the most motivated is friends doing great work. I had read so many pieces of writing by so many friends, some good, some bad, some completely bizarre…but never something quite like kumrads. That first meeting between myself and Walter and Ponce in an early draft of the play was incredibly exciting. The very first thing I said to Christina was “you have really created two people. Two completely unique people. Two wildly different voices. I couldn’t even begin to know how to do that myself.” That was what struck me the most. So many plays by young authors I’ve read (including my own) suffer from a static voice, a constant point of view. The author’s primary style dictating the shape and feel of the piece. But here were these two radically different points of view, clashing against each other on the pages in front of me in a way that got me very excited.

And that hasn’t gone away. I’ve been so fortunate to be close to our fabulous playwright, getting to watch this play’s journey up til now. When Christina called me to tell me the play had been selected for the Fringe, we celebrated ecstatically (albeit in hushed tones) over the phone, me hiding from my boss, huddled in the back stairwell at my day job. I was also incredibly fortunate to get to support this project through my digital and social media and graphic design work, my own small way of paying tribute and helping this wonderful piece by a wonderful friend meet more people. This has been such a fantastic process, collaborating between Chicago and NYC to make this project come to life with a really fun, loving and talented group of artists I am lucky enough to also call friends.

I’m so thrilled audiences are seeing this show. I cannot wait to be one of them.

They called my boarding group and now I’m sitting on the plane, eagerly awaiting take off. I can’t wait to see you guys.

-Tay

OPENING DAY!

[If you missed the “Ah! I’m about to catch the plane and go to New York!” video I made Monday, go https://vimeo.com/kumradswont and watch it! ]

So. Here we are.

!

We arrived on Tuesday afternoon to a gorgeous New York day. Got our metro cards and headed straight for rehearsal. It was a little strange to meet Steve and Tiffany in person after “meeting” them on skype, but they are just as wonderful, professional, and creative as they seemed. Gave the big hugs that come with being reunited to Kristin and BJ and sat down for the work through of moments and a run through.

I’m sure it was nerve wracking to have the playwright in the room (Steve confirmed this later) and make you all the more aware of any slip ups or changes you’re making on the fly, but Tiffany and Steve handled it well. It was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced to watch them say these words that have lived in my head for so long, but to add a completely unique layer that I’d not conceived. There may have been tears at a point. Maybe.

Day two involved a much needed nap and some strolling before heading to rehearsal. Everyone’s energy was up and a bit on edge, as is typical of the last rehearsal before opening. Taylor was able to work some magic from Chicago and do a last minute fix on the programs; Nick was a champ and picked them up, and after watching the first run through, I left the cast with Kristin and BJ and worked on folding programs and stuffing the envelope with goodies for those who chose to get the “perks” when they donated—it’ll be on the way soon folks!

Now it’s the morning of—little over six hours till go time! I’ve awoken with a mysterious rash on my face, but will not let my spirits be dampened…I think I expected to be more nervous; everyone keeps asking me how I’m feeling with this look on the face/body language that seems poised for me to be a wreck—but I feel quite at peace. Kristin, Tiffany, and Steve get the show, they get the journey, they get things about the characters and the arc of the show that weren’t as clear, even for me, in the beginning. They’ve made me think and wonder and hope and feel. What more could I ask? I trust them, and I am excited to share the work we’ve done and the world we’ve created with people.

And that’s where the last piece comes in, the part that makes it all complete—an audience. It’s what’s so beautiful to me about playwriting: there’s the part I do and that’s one piece. Then the director, another piece. Then the cast. Then the designers. And then, the audience. Each piece brings with it its own story, its own flavor and baggage and view—and all together is what makes the play a living, breathing, dynamic, changing thing. And that’s where the mystery lives, that intersection of all those pieces. It’s different every performance, constantly changing and adapting and contracting and expanding and adjusting to the other. I can’t wait.

Would be overjoyed to see you there today—it’s our opening and it’s a hard time for people to make—2 o clock—and it’s our press and industry night. Lots of nerves will be present, and having people we love and care about and who care about us in a more personal way would be a wonderful energy to have pulsing through the space. And a reception after! What more could you want?!

However, if you can’t, you can’t—but here are other dates to join our kumrad fun (shows running about an hour and 5 mins):

THU 8/15 @ 2:00-3:20 
FRI 8/16 @ 9:30-10:50 
SAT 8/17 @ 4:30-5:50 
SUN 8/18 @ 1:30-2:50 
WED 8/21 @ 7:15-8:35

 

Trust me, even though I’m biased, YOU DON’T WANT TO MISS THIS SHOW. So don’t.

Much much love

 

c

Check out these production stills of our show! We all cannot get over seeing Walter and Ponce so alive and in front of us. Incredibly exciting.

Tickets are on sale now! Buy your’s at www.kumradswont.com

opening and upward

I’ve been trying to find the words to write this post for awhile; they aren’t coming the way I want them, but I’m trying to let myself be okay with that.

Overwhelmed—in the best possible way—is really the only way I can begin to describe how I feel. When Kristin and Tay first told me the budget we were shooting for, my stomach dropped a little—I wasn’t sure how we were going to manage, felt very strange asking for support, and didn’t really know what this was whole fundraising thing was going to look like.

And now, here we are, barely a full month later, our monetary goal surpassed, a Chicago reading, and a little less than a week from opening for a world premiere in New York! What?! The kindness and support we’ve received from people near and far, family and co-workers has been more than I could have ever anticipated. I feel so thankful, humbled, and really fortunate to have so many great people in my life who believe in my work, the vision of this team, the power of storytelling.

I feel a huge sense of gratitude and also a responsibility—particularly in this fiscal climate, monetary donations are a sacrifice for everyone. So thank you. And for all those who gave words of support—thank you. Neither offering will be wasted or taken for granted! And more of either is still more than welcomed.

I believe in this show, trust Kristin’s vision and skilled hand, and almost peed myself with delight after skyping in for rehearsal Sunday and finally getting to meet Tiffany and Stephen and see a glimpse of their Walter and Ponce… This whole journey has been quite the whirlwind, and it’s there’s still so much to come in the next two weeks.

I know I’m often a last minute ticket buyer, but I’m working to stay on top of it for this Fringe—I encourage you to do the same! One of the worst feelings is not being able to get into a show you really wanted to see— Tickets can be purchased here: http://www.kumradswont.com/#!tickets

Our opening is the 15th—YES, THAT’S THIS THURSDAY. We’d love to see you there and at our reception, immediately following the show, right next door.

I’m serious. I want to see you there.

Stay tuned for updates as we take on the task of making New York our next kumrad! I’m pumped.

—chris

p.s. and here’s my favorite “new adventure” e.e. cummings poem to mark our final countdown:

here’s to opening and upward, to leaf and to sap
and to your(in my arms flowering so new)
self whose eyes smell of the sound of rain

and here’s to silent certainly mountains;and to
a disappearing poet of always,snow
and to morning;and to morning’s beautiful friend
twilight(and a first dream called ocean)and

let must or if be damned with whomever’s afraid
down with ought with because with every brain
which thinks it thinks,nor dares to feel(but up
with joy;and up with laughing and drunkenness)

here’s to one undiscoverable guess
of whose mad skill each world of blood is made
(whose fatal songs are moving in the moon

Week 1 of Rehearsal/Funding Achieved!

It’s been a whirlwind week! We started rehearsals this Tuesday and met every day through Sunday. On Monday, Nick, BJ (our Stage Manager) and I helped prep our theater with the thirteen other Fringe shows we’re sharing it with. We hung curtains, focused lights, and set up our biggest set piece, Walter’s bed. That evening, Christina and Taylor hosted a Chicago reading of kumrads that garned some great support, and Nick and I headed over to Amios’ Shotz! to pass out some postcards. After the show, as we finally got the chance to kick back and relax, Taylor texted us with the good news: we’d hit our fundraising goal of $5,000!


BJ and myself at venue prep for our theater

Nick and I promptly celebrated with some whiskey—how fitting for the play!—and felt a huge weight off our shoulders. We’re enormously grateful for everyone’s support, and have been frankly blown away by the community of people this play has rallied, thanks in no small part to the remarkable Christina Michelle. Meeting our goal means a couple of things:

  • We can pay for the scenery, insurance, and registration fees that we allotted for in May.

  • We can provide the compensation promised to our artists (that they more than deserve).

…We still have eight days left in our fundraiser, and are more than happy to continue accepting your donations. The more money we raise, the more we’ll increase stipends for our amazing team of artists and designers, compensating them more fairly for their work. Most importantly, however, meeting our goal means that we now get to focus on the part of the process we really love, the doing of the play.

This week has been incredibly rewarding, particularly from my perspective as a director. Christina’s words and characters have existed in our heads for a long time, so it’s thrilling to finally see them come to life. Our cast consists of two immensely talented actors, Tiffany Nichole Greene and Stephen Payne, who have already brought amazing depth and nuance to the characters even in their first week. Our process this week has largely consisted of laying the foundation for the in-depth character work to come by realizing the physical world of the play and finding the general ebb and flow of this intimate, subtle script.

As it’s a new play, we’ve also been in almost constant communication about the script with Christina. Most of the time, we’ve been addressing her with small line alterations (including a memorable adjustment from “boobs” to “tits”) and some bigger cuts to help with pacing and clarity. On Sunday, the cast got to “meet” her for the first time over Google Hangout, where she discussed the origins of the play and answered questions that had risen during our work throughout the week. We even got a chance to read through a section that had gone through major revisions.

Tiffany, Steve, myself, and BJ, with Christina on the screen. Photo by Nick Abeel.

So once again, thank you for your support. As we approach performance week (August 15-21), we encourage you to purchase your tickets now, via the FringeNYC website. We only have five performances, so don’t wait too long to find a time that works for you. Our show is short and sweet at 80 minutes, and advance tix are only $15.

We look forward to seeing you there and will continue to keep you up-to-date on our progress in rehearsal.

 

All the best,

the kumrads



Week 1 Rehearsals/Funding Achieved!

Dear Friends,

It’s been a whirlwind week! We started rehearsals this Tuesday and met every day through Sunday. On Monday, Nick, BJ (our Stage Manager) and I helped prep our theater with the thirteen other Fringe shows we’re sharing it with. We hung curtains, focused lights, and set up our biggest set piece, Walter’s bed. That evening, Christina and Taylor hosted a Chicago reading of kumrads that garned some great support, and Nick and I headed over to Amios’ Shotz! to pass out some postcards. After the show, as we finally got the chance to kick back and relax, Taylor texted us with the good news: we’d hit our fundraising goal of $5,000!


BJ and myself at venue prep for our theater

Nick and I promptly celebrated with some whiskey—how fitting for the play!—and felt a huge weight off our shoulders. We’re enormously grateful for everyone’s support, and have been frankly blown away by the community of people this play has rallied, thanks in no small part to the remarkable Christina Michelle. Meeting our goal means a couple of things:

  • We can pay for the scenery, insurance, and registration fees that we allotted for in May.

  • We can provide the compensation promised to our artists (that they more than deserve).

…We still have eight days left in our fundraiser, and are more than happy to continue accepting your donations. The more money we raise, the more we’ll increase stipends for our amazing team of artists and designers, compensating them more fairly for their work. Most importantly, however, meeting our goal means that we now get to focus on the part of the process we really love, the doing of the play.

This week has been incredibly rewarding, particularly from my perspective as a director. Christina’s words and characters have existed in our heads for a long time, so it’s thrilling to finally see them come to life. Our cast consists of two immensely talented actors, Tiffany Nichole Greene and Stephen Payne, who have already brought amazing depth and nuance to the characters even in their first week. Our process this week has largely consisted of laying the foundation for the in-depth character work to come by realizing the physical world of the play and finding the general ebb and flow of this intimate, subtle script.

As it’s a new play, we’ve also been in almost constant communication about the script with Christina. Most of the time, we’ve been addressing her with small line alterations (including a memorable adjustment from “boobs” to “tits”) and some bigger cuts to help with pacing and clarity. On Sunday, the cast got to “meet” her for the first time over Google Hangout, where she discussed the origins of the play and answered questions that had risen during our work throughout the week. We even got a chance to read through some sections that had gone through major revisions.

Tiffany, Steve, myself, and BJ, with Christina on the screen. Photo by Nick Abeel.

So once again, thank you for your support. As we approach performance week (August 15-21), we encourage you to purchase your tickets now, via the FringeNYC website. We only have five performances, so don’t wait too long to find a time that works for you. Our show is short and sweet at 80 minutes, and advance tix are only $15.

We look forward to seeing you there and will continue to keep you up-to-date on our progress in rehearsal.

 

All the best,

the kumrads



TICKETS NOW ON SALE FOR KUMRADS WON’T

Hey friends!

We are so thankful for your amazing support over the last couple of weeks! Our Indiegogo campaign just hit the $2000 mark, giving us a good start on our goal of $5000. If you haven’t donated yet, be sure to check it out… there are some great photos and videos on the campaign site, too!

Because of this incredible momentum, we are thrilled to announce that tickets have now gone on sale for the New York International Fringe Festival, of which our show is a part! Visit their website and click on the date and time under “kumrads won’t” that you’d like to order tix for. Be sure to buy ahead of time, since Fringe shows have limited seating and are scheduled from mid-afternoon to late-night. Also, you’ll get a discount for ordering in advance. Our performances are…

THU 8/15 @ 2:00-3:20 

FRI 8/16 @ 9:30-10:50 

SAT 8/17 @ 4:30-5:50 

SUN 8/18 @ 1:30-2:50 

WED 8/21 @ 7:15-8:35

While you’re here now, check out the other cool posts on our blog, and be sure to share with your friends!

Warm regards,

the kumrads

It Started With A Phone Call - Director Kristin McCarthy Parker on kumrads

It started with a phone call. I had just moved to New York a couple weeks ago and was grabbing a beer with my older brother and his girlfriend, both NYC veterans of at least a decade. We were at High Dive in Park Slope, munching on popcorn, when I stepped outside into a chilly February night to take a call from Nick Abeel, a college friend who had started up Sans A Productions with some fellow Evansville alums. They were organizing a reading of Christina Watkin’s play,kumrads won’t. Had I read it? He’d send me the latest draft. Was I free in March? Would I be interested in directing the reading?

Yes. Yes. And yes.

Christina and I knew each other from the University of Evansville, too. We had lived together in a ramshackle house with frequent plumbing issues, fondly known as SoHo. Though in height we may be complete opposites, we have more in common than one could possibly imagine, including the “4” we both scored on the Enneagram test we gave ourselves in the SoHo living room. I’ve been lucky to have Chris as a friend and colleague over the years, and owe a number of positive artistic experiences to her involvement in them as an actor, director, and now, writer. Chris began writing kumrads won’t after college, and has since moved to Chicago, gotten her master’s degree in social work, and is generally kicking ass. I wasn’t four pages into reading the draft Nick sent me for the reading before I laughed out loud at a line of dialogue that was just so thoroughly and utterly Chris.

It’s that response drew me to this piece in the first place. Chris has always had an uncanny ability to read people, to penetrate unflinchingly into the core of your being and then quickly change the subject, like she had just asked you about the weather and not your innermost fear. After seeing play after play of “slice of life” dramas that were little else than clever, it was refreshing to read such an intimate portrait of two human beings that actually probed into all the messy parts of our humanity. When I wasn’t laughing, I was experiencing an ache that I’ve since come to identify as loneliness, and which—as Chris so artfully explains in her recent posting—serves as the foundation of this play.

When we finally got into the rehearsal room together for that reading in 2012, two things were readily apparent: 1) The chemistry was there for an amazing theatrical partnership. 2) This play was ready for a production. Under the auspices of Sans A, our brief rehearsal transformed into a well-attended, somewhat magical reading. kumrads won’t had had private readings at the University of Evansville and Steppenwolf Theater, but this was its first sizable audience, and their quiet attentiveness—that “leaning in” quality—was a testament to the power and intrigue of Christina’s writing.

It wasn’t until almost a year later, long after feedback from the reading had been heard and incorporated, that I had the crazy idea to submit the play to FringeNYC. I quickly contacted Christina with one of those “So what do you think about this?” emails, and was thrilled when she gave the idea her blessing. I was just about to start Bears, and had a mini-panic attack when I realized the my first day of rehearsal fell on the same day as the FringeNYC deadline (also Valentine’s Day). When it rains, it pours. We weren’t told of our acceptance to the festival until late April, at which point I was promptly inundated with paperwork, deadlines, and the sinking realization that every aspect of administration and production was going to land squarely on our shoulders. After careful consideration, we decided to independently produce, i.e. not affiliate ourselves with an existing theater company (or invent one of our own). The decision came with its own set of challenges, namely the need to assemble a team of people who could carry out the responsibilities typically delegated within a company’s existing structure. Christina recruited our dear friend Taylor, a Chicago jack-of-all-theater-trades and media wunderkind, while I recruited Nick, who started it all with a phone call and has since become one of my most trusted collaborators.

We quickly set to work creating an enormous to-do list of sorts that has continued to grow on the daily. The upstart nature of FringeNYC—the rapidity of the process and lack of monetary resources—is as thrilling as it is terrifying. The festival concentrates 200 shows into three weeks of performances, giving artists and audiences alike the opportunity to see as much theater as they can for incredibly cheap prices, creating buzz around plays and theater companies that might otherwise not register on your radar. A major draw for us is the technical sparsity and text-focused nature of the festival, in which a quirky, intimate play such as our own can really spread its wings. FringeNYC comes with technical challenges, too. I’d be lying if I said we knew exactly what we were doing 100% of the time. However, like any established company would, we’re surrounding ourselves with good people whose experience and work ethic are a constant inspiration to us.

Our creative divisions have a fair bit of overlap, which not only feels possible, but necessary given our personal investment in this project. If we were still at our alma mater, these varied interests and overlap would have made us “theatre generalists.” Taylor, for example, has blessedly assumed responsibility for our social media presence and graphic imaging, handling our various account and updates like a pro. Christina has taken the reins for our fundraising efforts, in addition to being our muse and artistic voice. Nick took charge of casting and a variety of other production details, and will soon be responsible for designing our sound. I spend my days visiting and revisiting that giant to-do list, which includes everything from press deadlines and publicity to technical specifics to dramaturgy.

Despite these numerous responsibilities, what I find most exciting about this process is that we’re all united under the common vision of this play. Regardless of the physical distance between New York and Chicago, there is a powerful common denominator of our little group: our fervent belief in the beauty and relevancy of this script. We hope you’re even half as excited as we are, and look forward to keeping you up-to-date throughout the process with blog entries, videos, and updates from the rehearsal room.

Check out our Indiegogo for more media, links, and fun incentives. Thank you for your support!

Indiegogo Campaign

Hello everyone!

today is the day that we launch our indiegogo campaign to get the funding we need to present our show!  Please, watch this awesome video and visit us on our indiegogo page to support the show. 

kumrads won’t indiegogo campaign from kumrads won’t on Vimeo.

a new play by christina michelle watkins receiving its world premiere at the 2013 new york international fringe festival. check back here for cool insight into the process, images and other random tidbits.

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