Archive for October, 2013

climb me to the moon, i am a ladder

October 29, 2013

Mes amis

It has been an unforgivably long since I last corresponded with you, my fan. Fall is wooshing by, n’est pas?

I do hope you are stopping now and then to fill your lungs with crisp autumnal air, to admire the clear nights, and of course to peep your eyes at the colorful leaves.

What better season than to take in some new plays and by a new playwright group no less! Smith + Tinker, the aforementioned new playwriting group, is a creation of Sarah Rose Leonard and Pete McCabe and the group’s first series of work, Ladder to the Moon, goes up tomorrow evening at the HERE (and there) Arts Center. I caught up with the inimitable Sarah Rose Leonard, whose style is as spunky as her heart, over email recently when I was in Bangalore. The following is a transcription of our e-conversation.


Why did you found this group of emerging writers?
This group was formed in June 2013.

The question is why not when!
Things really began back in November, 2012 when Pete McCabe (HERE’s dramaturg) saw Guadalupe, a performance event about femininity that featured up and coming writers and directors that Sarah curated/produced at the Segal Center, CUNY.

Ah, j’adore the Segal Center. I was Frank Henkshker’s dance partner in my salad days…go on.

it takes two to tango

it takes two to tango

Pete liked the artists Sarah picked and the event she put together and he invited her to create a writers’ group that would be hosted by HERE. Pete and Sarah talked for a couple months about their ideas and landed on the creation of a writers’ group dedicated to writers who are writing in inseparable collaboration with a fellow artist. They invited writers working with musicians, dancers, directors, and whole companies to be a part of the group and starting meeting and rehearsing in the summer.

Ca c’est bon.

[at this point in the interview I begin to wonder why Sarah refers to herself in the 3rd person, Does she have a ghost writer?? I keep the question to myself]

Anyhoo, where does the name Smith + Tinker come from?

A central idea about Smith+Tinker is that it is about playing. When rehearsals for a play are at their best they feel like a child’s game of make believe. And rehearsals should be fun with this writers’ group because they are all about exploration, not product. These ideas about ideal rehearsals and playtime led Sarah to think about when she read the Oz books and obsessively studied the map of Oz in order to imagine where she would like to live. Grown up Sarah then read about the characters in the Land of Oz on Wikipedia and stumbled upon Smith and Tinker.

In the Land of Oz, Smith, an inventor, and Tinker, an artist, created many fantastical inventions. But they are only referenced in the books; these two characters don’t  actually appear. That’s because, long before you, the reader, showed up Tinker painted a river so real he fell in and drowned and Smith created a ladder to the moon and never came back down.

Molto poetico.
Right?! Smith + Tinker are writers who are creating work that can only be made in collaboration. As the Oz story tells us, they would perish alone. These are artists who are creating whole universes with their fellow creators. They are creating work they want to climb inside and live in.

What led you to selecting these particular artisti?
Well Kippy. Pete and Sarah choose artists who fulfilled the following criteria:

  1. Hungry!
  2. Actively playing in rehearsals
  3. Engaged in a deep artistic bond with consistent collaborators
  4. Not writing at a desk and then bringing the pages into rehearsal. These are people who are writing in rehearsal, after, during, sideways, upside down, etc.
  5. Not afraid of failure
  6. Have exciting, fresh, zany voices

All the artists have these criteria, and are also veryyy different from each other in terms of artist approach. Another ‘must’ for us was the idea of cross-pollination. Each writer comes from a different artistic background and social circles.

If the playwrights are hungry I hope you are feeding them at the meetings. Alloratell me more about the showing .. what can audiences expect?
Well Kippy these are short, early pieces about fear, reinvention, and how we tell stories.

Let me break it down.

Ok, but only if you break dance too!
The poet Francis Weiss Rabkin will be showing a performance essay on queer gender, martyrdom, and whistle blowing entitled WON’T BE A GHOST: A PERFORMED, directed by Anna Brenner.

Ah, I know of Ms. Brenner. She directed that marvelous show at the Bushwick Starr in the spring, didn’t you dramaturg that? Something about a hostel in Rome?



But getting back to your festival…
In the full length haunting drama THE GREY MAN, by playwright Andrew Farmer and directed by Andrew Neisler, a young man is revisited by the ghost stories of his childhood in turn-of-the-century Manhattan.

Sounds spooky.
Amanda Szeglowski, artistic director of the dance/theatre company cakeface, presents the full length snarky, twisted HAROLD, I HATE YOU, a darkly humorous, physical theatre investigation of omnipresent insecurities, that are, perhaps, imaginary.

GHOST STORIES created by Tiny Little Band/Co-created by Jerry Lieblich and Stefanie Abel Horowitz is a genre-bending, mind-bending song-and-story-infused look at just what it means to believe in ghosts, in fate, or in anything at all.


The fabulous dynamic duo – Ryann Weir (writer) and Annie Tippe (director) – will show the beginnings of THE DINOSAUR PLAY, in which Catherine and Martin work at a dinosaur theme park in the Bronx Zoo, but they kind of wish they were anywhere else.

Why would they wish that?! I guess one will just have to see the showings. What is your secret artistic influence?
Judy Garland.

who doesn't love her?

who doesn’t love her?

Tell it to the world Sarah Rose! This is something to wear as a badge of honour. In any case, I’ll be curious to hear how your third person approach to interviews bodes in subsequent press, friend! Kudos and kairos to you!

Ladder to the Moon runs Oct 30-Nov 2 at the HERE (and there) Arts Center, brought to you by Smith + Tinker.