USA – Theatre Chat shares and exclusive Q and A from foolsFURY Theater Company’s Artistic Director Ben Yalom. foolsFURY is a physically oriented San Francisco based theater ensemble now performing Port Out, Starboard Home by Sheila Callaghan in NYC. foolsFURY is performing now through November 25, 2012 in New York City’s La Mama. How far would you go to Wake Up? Visit www.lamama.org or www.foolsfury.org/fury for show information.
Under Yalom’s leadership foolsFURY has been hailed as San Francisco’s “Best Theater Company (SF Weekly), “one of the brightest stars of the San Francisco experimental theater scene” (SF Arts Monthly) and awarded the GOLDIE award by the SF Bay Guardian. His New York credits include foolsFURY’s PS122 run of The Devil on All Sides, by Fabrice Melquiot, and award-winning Banger’s Flopera with Inverse theater at the NY Fringe.
Special thanks to Artistic Director Ben Yalom for the exclusive Theatre Chat Q and A below:
Port Out, Starboard Home is an unusual play. Please tell are arts lovers about it.
“On the one hand POSH is a comedy about a quirky bunch of misfits on a cruise ship. The humor comes from the places that are uncomfortable – two social misfits trying to connect over mai tais, the horrendous dancing of others. On the other hand it is an exploration of American society, of consumerism, of our relationship to spirituality.”
It seems like this might make it hard for audiences to know what to expect. Why mix comedy and serious drama like this?
“FoolsFURY makes plays that tell exciting stories which are, I hope, thought-provoking in the most literal sense. We want to give our audience opportunities to think seriously about issues that matter. Of course we also want to entertain – but there’s some juicy substance along with the laughs.”
The play is full of dance and movement, but not in the same way used in a Broadway musical. The”Buffet Ballet Section” was a huge highlight for Theatre Chat, but where did that all come out of?
“I’m just as interested in the way a story is being told as I am in the story itself. How do you show the gluttony of the all night buffet? You can have characters talk about it, but it’s much more effective to do an elaborately choreographed number in which they gorge themselves on piles of real food! Part of the joy of theater is that there are so many possibilities, so many styles to play with.”
Does this approach influence what you are looking for in the actors you work with?
“Absolutely. I am most interested in actors who have broad toolkit, as it were. People who can do physical comedy, and dance, and sing, and also do a serious dramatic scene.”
Are these performers easy to find?
“It’s not as simple as finding people who already have all these skills. We are an ensemble, meaning that many of us have been working together for many years. And together we have learned and developed many techniques. We share these skills with whomever joins the company, and they inevitably bring new things with them.”
Why do you call it experimental theatre?
“Experimental” is a tricky term actually I don’t. I think we just make theater, and push the boundaries a bit. But others have labeled it experimental. I’d say we discover things through in rehearsal studio, and seeing what works. But I’m not interested in making “experimental theater” with an elitist connotation that says if you don’t somehow “get it” they you aren’t smart enough.”
Do audience members need to have a background in theater to understand your work?
“If people can’t enjoy it, then we aren’t doing our job! But I also believe in the intelligence of our audience, and the role of artists to reveal the world from different perspectives. So we don’t spoon-feed people pre-digested tales. We raise questions much more than we provide answers.”
Do you have any advice for people coming to see your play?
“Come ready to enjoy yourself. It’s a lot of fun. There’s a dark underbelly to it – but that’s fun too (in a creepy kind of way).”
What about for people going to the theatre in general?
“Look for theatre that gives you an experience you can’t have on-line!”
Port Out, Starboard Home (P.O.S.H.) is Choreography by Erika Chong Shuch at LaMama’s First Floor Theatre (74A East 4th Street, between 2nd Avenue and The Bowery, NYC). Under Yalom’s leadership foolsFURY has been hailed as San Francisco’s “Best Theater Company (SF Weekly), “one of the brightest stars of the San Francisco experimental theater scene” (SF Arts Monthly) and awarded the GOLDIE award by the SF Bay Guardian. His New York credits include foolsFURY’s PS122 run of The Devil on All Sides, by Fabrice Melquiot, and award-winning Banger’s Flopera with Inverse theater at the NY Fringe. Visit www.foolsfury.org/fury for show information.
The Choreography by Erika Chong Shuch is unique, creative and worth the price of the affordable experimental theatre ticket price. For those who love experimental theatre their accolades alone should bring in a packed houses. “The Movement and Choreography by Erika Chong Shuch was a highlight.” Richard Cameron of Theatre Chat.
Port Out, Starboard Home opened Saturday, November 10, 2012. This tragicomedy by Sheila Callaghan is directed by foolsFURY Artistic Director Ben Yalom. P.O.S.H. is playing Thursday through Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. with Sunday matinees at 2:30 p.m. beginning November 8, 2012 for a six week run, if you miss them in NYC you may need to take a vacation to see San Francisco’s “Best Theater Company (SF Weekly).
Port Out, Starboard Home takes place aboard a cruise ship and opens with an announcement from its cruise director that the conventional rules of time and place no longer pertain. “Throw away your watches” and forget your place of national origin, “for here you are an honorary citizen of the Crown of the Seas!” he blithely proclaims. Thus begins a three day journey for an eclectic group of vacationers who, untethered from everyday responsibilities, become enmeshed in a mysterious and disturbing ritual.
While Sheila Callaghan may be best known as a writer/producer for Showtime’s “Shameless” and as a writer for “United States of Tara”, it was her work as a playwright which led Marie Claire Magazine to call her the next Wendy Wasserstein. She is a member of the playwrights’ collective 13P and is a recipient of several writing honors, including The Princess Grace Award and in 2007 her play Dead City won a special Commendation Award for the prestigious Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. She is also a 2007 recipient of the Whiting Writers Award. Her plays include Scab, Crawl Fade to White, Crumble (Lay Me Down, Justin Timberlake), We Are Not These Hands, the previously mentioned Dead City, and 2010’s controversial hit, That Pretty Pretty; or, the Rape Play.
The bi-coastal cast includes: Debórah Eliezer, Brian Livingston, Josiah Polhemus, Amy Prosser, Angela Santillo, Calder Schilling, Benjamin Stuber, and Jessica Unker. The play is designed by: Patrick Kaliski (sound), Lucas Krech (Lighting), and Dan Stratton (Set). Choreography by Erika Chong Shuch. Visit www.foolsfury.org/fury for show information.
For tickets to Port Out, Starboard Home NYC performance visit La MaMa, 74A East Fourth Street, East Village, NYC. Call 212-475-7710 or visit www.lamama.org.
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