Frank Loesser never created "How To Succeed In Directing Without Really Trying," and the International Data Group has yet to publish a “Directing for Dummies®,” so if you really want to be a director in theatre, it’s not going to be easy. However, Off-Off Broadway’s Ontological Theater will be offering six of those helming hopefuls some help as they present their eighth annual Blueprint Series: A Celebration of Experimental Theatre Directors, at downtown’s Saint Mark’s Church Aug. 9-20.
The Blueprint Series was created in 1993 because, as Blueprint co-curator Owen Hughes tells Playbill On-Line, "at the time, there weren't many outlets for young directors." So, with the help of Ontological artistic director Richard Foreman, they created one. The would-be directors submitted proposals that were selected by Foreman, Hughes and associate director Judson Kniffen. This year's directors will be Jyana S. Gregory, Sonoko Kawahara, Tony Torn, and the directorial trio of Ryan Brown, Franklin Laviola, and Brian Walsh.
Jyana S. Gregory will direct an abbreviated version of KASPAR by Peter Handke. In the play, the title character awkwardly makes his way through a world where his basic language skills have no bearing. Gregory recently moved back to New York after living in Japan, where she studied the native performing arts. Her most recent work was Izutsu, a Noh play by Zeami.
Director Sonoko Kawahara will helm her creation, On An Unnamed Planet. The production, inspired by the Japanese short story “The Night Hawk” and the French classic “Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince)”, combines found text, sound and movement to examine the realm of communication. Japanese-born Kawahara has developed many original pieces including Canon in 3D Major, an adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters for OOB’s HERE. Her next directorial project, Awakening by Chiori Miyagawa, will be presented at PS 122 in November.
Tony Torn, son of actor Rip Torn (Broadway's The Young Man From Atlanta and the movie "Men In Black"), directs an unauthorized, unreliable journey through the hallucinations of a quixotic wanna-be actress in The Baddest Natashas. Written by Juliana Francis, the play spans the globe and time from 19th Century London to 1990s Moscow and present-day New York. Torn, who also acts, has taken the stage at the Ontological in Foreman's The Universe and Paradise Hotel. Torn recently starred in an extended-run production of Eugene Ionesco’s The Picture presented at the CHA Theatre in midtown. And the fourth slot of the Blueprint Series is shared by fellow Columbia classmates Ryan Brown, Franklin Laviola, and Brian Walsh. This theatrical threesome will direct their new piece, Cold Pole, or Boxed Compass in the Yellow Sea which follows a relationship of two lovers aboard the Fairground Princess, a luxury ocean liner. Brown, Laviola, and Walsh, who still attend Columbia University, have previously collaborated to form the experimental theatre group, Ventril Buckshot, and on a production of Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano. Cold Pole marks their first original work debut.
All four Blueprint productions run in repertory (two per evening) from August 9-20 at the Ontological Theater at Saint Mark’s Church, 135 East 10th St. (at the corner of Second Ave.) as follows:
Kaspar - August 9, 11, 17, 19 and 20
Unnamed Planet - August 10,11,13,16 and 19
Natashas - August 10, 12, 16, 18 and 20
Cold Pole - August 9, 12, 13, 17 and 18
Curtain goes up at 8 PM each night. For reservations or more info, call (212) 533-4650.
-- by Ernio Hernandez