Talking Theater podcast celebrates theater! Your host, Marc Smith, interviews theater makers for theater people who love theatre. Actors, directors, playwrights, designers, stage managers, musicians, and other professionals will share stories about their career, their craft, and their community. You will be introduced each week to artists who make a living in the performing arts. We’re not just talking – we’re talking theater!
Isaac Butler - Shakespeare, Angels, and Politics
Isaac Butler is a writer and theater director, recently of The Trump Card, about the rise of Donald Trump with solo performer Mike Daisey.
Isaac also wrote and directed Real Enemies, which was commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music and named one of the top ten live events of 2015 by The New York Times.
Along with Dan Kois, he is the co-author of the critically-acclaimed The World Only Spins Forward, a history of Angels in America which was just released this year.
And, most recently, Isaac hosts a new podcast miniseries for Slate called Lend Me Your Ears, about Shakespeare’s plays and our modern views on politics.
Isaac holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Minnesota, and his writing has appeared in the Guardian, Slate, American Theatre, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and other publications.
He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Idris Goodwin - Playwright Spotlight
Idris Goodwin is an award-winning playwright, poet, performer, and essayist. This summer, he will become the Producing Artistic Director of StageOne Family Theater in Louisville, KY.
For StageOne, Idris penned American Tales and the widely produced And In This Corner: Cassius Clay. Other plays include: How We Got On, Bars and Measures, The Raid, Hype Man: a break beat play, Blackademics, The Way the Mountain Moved, commissioned as part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s American Revolutions Series, and will world premiere this summer, and This Is Modern Art co-written with Kevin Coval (which is getting a Blessed Unrest production in June 2018, in New York City).
Just a few of the accolades Idris has earned include awards from the Hip Hop Theater Festival, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, the Blue Ink Playwriting Award, and the InterAct Theater’s 20/20 Prize.
These Are the Breaks, Idris’s debut collection of essays and poetry, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and his poetry has been featured on HBO, The Discovery Channel, Sesame Street and National Public Radio.
Ken Urban - Playwright Spotlight
Ken Urban is a playwright, screenwriter, and musician based in New York.
His plays include Sense of an Ending, The Correspondent, A Future Perfect, The Awake, The Happy Sad, Nibbler, A Guide for the Homesick which recently premiered just a few months ago at the Huntington Theater in Boston, and his newest work, a darkly-comic play called The Remains, which opens in May 2018 at Studio Theatre in Washington D.C.
His work has been produced Off-Broadway at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, 59E59 Theatres, The Summer Play Festival at The Public, and Studio 42. Ken's work has also been produced in London and at theaters all across the States.
Just a few of Ken’s awards include the Weissberger Playwriting Award, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for Playwriting, and the Dramatist Guild Fellowship.
He is a member playwright at New Dramatists in New York, and an Affiliated Writer at the Playwrights’ Center in my city of Minneapolis.
And, he’s also an accomplished musician playing with his band Occurrence.
Ken earned his BA with Honors from Bucknell University and his Ph.D. in English Literature from Rutgers. And he is currently the Senior Lecturer at MIT leading the Playwriting track.
Jessica Burr - Bodies Moving Through Space
Jessica Burr is the artistic director of Blessed Unrest, an ensemble-based experimental theatre company in New York City, co-founded with Matt Opatrny.
In 2011, Jessica received the Lucille Lortel Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women, in recognition of her work as a director and the body of work that Blessed Unrest has created under her leadership.
With Blessed Unrest, just a few of the productions she has directed include Body: Anatomies of Being, Eurydice’s Dream (for which she and Sonia Villani received the 2013 NY Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Choreography/Movement), ArtCamp SexyTime FootBall, 365 Days/365 Plays Festival, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Measure for Measure, and The Sworn Virgin and Doruntine (both with Florent Mehmeti of Teatri Oda of Kosovo).
And most recently, The Snow Queen, developed in residency at the New Victory Theater, and now running, Platonov – an adaptation and translation of Chekhov’s play by Laura Wickens.
Jessica talks with Marc about starting Blessed Unrest after traveling and teaching abroad, her study with Anne Bogart, creating a culture of love, support, and trust in the rehearsal room for dangerous things to happen, her commitment to diversity on stage and in the audience, and the need for actors to always work and train!
Dámaso Rodriguez - Transforming Artists Repertory Theatre
Dámaso Rodriguez is a Cuban American director based in Portland, Oregon, where he serves as artistic director of Artists Repertory Theatre, Portland's longest-running professional theatre company, which became a member of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT) under his leadership.
Prior to joining Artists Rep, Dámaso served as the associate artistic director of the Pasadena Playhouse and co-founder and co-artistic director of the Furious Theatre in Los Angeles.
And upcoming projects include work for Artists Rep, Actors Theater of Louisville and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Dámaso talks with Marc about his decision to leave Los Angeles and take over the leadership of Artists Rep, how he chooses a season for his audiences, his commitment to diversity and an Equity Diversity Inclusion Statement, and lots of details about his directing process and working with actors!
Julia Sirna-Frest - All the Weird, Crazy Stuff Downtown
Julia Sirna-Frest is an actor and singer based in New York.
She was most recently seen as Margit in Seder at Hartford Stage.
And in the title role of: [Porto] which played at The Bushwick Starr last year where it was an NYT Critics Pick and The Times review said it was quote: “an excellent cast led by the wonderful Ms. Sirna-Frest”
Porto makes its Off-Broadway premiere at the WP Theater.
Other productions include: A Tunnel Year (The Chocolate Factory), and The Offending Gesture (The Connelly);
Julia is also a Founding member of the Obie award-winning Half Straddle Company, where just a few of her shows include: Ghost Rings, Ancient Lives; Seagull (Thinking of you), and In the Pony Palace Football.
Julia also fronts Doll Parts, Brooklyn's premiere Dolly Parton cover band, and composes music with Shane Chapman for productions such as Welcome to the Gun Show (Ars Nova) and IceBand (HERE Arts Center).
Julia talks with Marc about creating wild, inventive theater, devising works by composing rock music with the dialogue of playwrights like O'Neill and Chekhov, her upcoming Broadway run of [Porto], audition stories, and gaining more control over her career by creating many artistic outlets - like her Dolly Parton cover band!
Talking Theater is a Great Podcast
I was in drama in High School and many friends were in the theater in college. But I lost touch with my love for the theater. This podcast is helping me rekindle the love I once had for the theater.
If you're into Theater
We're talking Drama without all the drama. Marc brings interesting insights into the world of theater.
If you like theature, you'll love this!
Marc rocks theater talk. Really interesting interviews. Love listening! Definitely give it a listen!