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Ever Seen A “NewBorn” Play? (Part 2)

by Antonio Miniño on January 28, 2010

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The final bow for The 2010 National NewBorn Festival was Sunday, and it was anything but uneventful. After reservations soared, the last two days of the festival were hosted in a different venue, giving the staff including myself extra work to schlep everything from one place to the other. The recipient of The Audience Favorite Award that received a second reading on Sunday was Carol Carpenter’s Good Lonely People. For those of you that don’t know about “NewBorn” it is the flagship program of the Off-Off Broadway theatre company MTWorks, showcasing new plays taking place and/or inspired by other regions of the US. I was honored to perform and be under the direction of The Happiest Medium collaborator Diánna Martin in A Home Across the Ocean, by Louisiana playwright Cody Daigle.

If you missed “Part 1″ or need a refresher click here.  As promised, “Part 2″ is focused the directors of NewBorn: Dev Bondarin director of Slip/Shot, Annie G. Levy director of Good Lonely People, Hondo Weiss-Richmond director of The Faithkiller, and Diánna Martin director of A Home Across The Ocean.

Artistic Director David Stallings, Vice-Chair Ann Marie Yali & Antonio Miniño at the Opening Reception of "NewBorn" | photo credit: Robin Madel

Artistic Director David Stallings, Vice-Chair Ann Marie Yali & Antonio Miniño at the Opening Reception of "NewBorn" | photo credit: Robin Madel

AM- When did you know directing was your calling?

(Dev Bondarin – Slip/Shot) Once I started directing in college, I knew that it was the part of theater-making to which I was most drawn. If I had to pinpoint a moment when I knew it was “my calling”, it would have to be when I directed a production of Tom Stoppard’s Hapgood for my undergraduate senior thesis. It is a thrilling play and was the first time I remember being proud of my directing work.

(Annie G. Levy – Good Lonely People) I was in my first directing class in college and we were copying the spacial composition of famous paintings. Once we had recreated the painting using actors, we would spin the composition around and see how the emotional effect of the composition would change based on how it was oriented in space. This was possibly the coolest, most mind blowing thing I had ever seen. Space had meaning. Space told stories. I was hooked.

(Hondo Weiss-Richmond – The Faithkiller) I’ve known that I wanted to direct since college, but I had flashes of this awareness even earlier- when I discovered that the areas of the production I was interested in extended past the appropriate territory of whatever role I was playing.

(Diánna Martin – A Home Across the Ocean) I actually started off as an actress, and I still act; but over time I began to teach acting and direct as well. Although I took directing classes in college (both here and in London) as well as acting, I learned about directing from my father, acting teacher/director Ernie Martin, and from wonderful directors I worked with as an actor.  I enjoy working with other actors in a myriad of ways, and directing is, to me, another art form that allows me a symbiotic relationship with the work, with the actors, and with the audience.

AM- Describe your play in one sentence:

(Dev Bondarin – Slip/Shot) A senseless act forces a group of people from different backgrounds to reexamine their “place” in the world in an attempt to redefine their future.

(Annie G. Levy – Good Lonely People) On the eve of the 2008 presidential election in rural south eastern New Mexico, a handful of Democrats come together to try to collectively cheer on change.

(Hondo Weiss-Richmond – The Faithkiller) The friends, lovers and enemies of three versions of the same super-hero must decide what they believe in and whether or not to fight for it.

(Diánna Martin -  A Home Across the Ocean) The dynamics of family, love, and loss effect everyone as five people weave their way through the medium that is the human condition.

AM-What makes your point of view stand out from the rest?

(Dev Bondarin – Slip/Shot) I am interested in creating a meaningful theater experience, one that challenges audience members to rethink preconceived notions or assumptions, while also telling a good story. As a director I am empowered to find the truth in the characters’ relationships to serve as a mirror for audience members to see themselves in a new light.

(Annie G. Levy – Good Lonely People) As a New Yorker, I have always been surrounded by people who think the way I do, politically. So my point of reference seems out of place in the world of the play. I am trying to be aware of that distance in creating a world that is not so “other” for the audience.

(Hondo Weiss-Richmond – The Faithkiller) Since I mainly direct new work, serving the play, and its point of view, is usually my priority.

(Diánna Martin – A Home Across the Ocean) I just work with actors in a way that gives them as much freedom as possible to follow their impulses. I approach directing with the eyes of an actress and an acting teacher as well as the vision of a director. I focus on getting actors to really deal with each other as they would in real life – for what are characters in a play? They are people in a set of given circumstances trying to live their lives with what is going on around them. So I focus a great deal on organic behavior between actors so that the moments they have together are not forced but come from true impulses that they have in the given situation.

AM-Whose work do you admire-inspires you?

(Dev Bondarin – Slip/Shot) I am always inspired by good writing: Tom Stoppard, John Guare, David Lindsay-Abaire, Itamar Moses. And a few of the directors I admire include: Kate Whoriskey, Diane Paulus, and Daniel Sullivan.

(Annie G. Levy – Good Lonely People) Caryl Churchill, Mary Zimmerman, Ariane Mnouchkine are all touchstones for inspiration.  But I am continuously inspired by work I see, either be artists I think I know or an out of left field who are these guys and where did they come from? companies.

(Hondo Weiss-Richmond – The Faithkiller) I recently worked with Daniel Aukin and Melissa James Gibson; I really admire them and their work together.

(Diánna Martin – A Home Across the Ocean) In regards to theatre there are many, but for one, Mike Nichols. I remember seeing the original Hurlyburly back in the 80’s, and the play had a profound effect on me.  Then there’s Sam Shepard -  over a period of a month got to see him direct  A Lie of the Mind because my mother was in it. Ernie Martin’s directing of Orpheus Descending at the Actors Studio in the 80’s was incredible. I also really love Alex Dinelaris – he directed me in Hello Out There Will Frears, who directed Alex’s Still Life is someone to keep an eye on.  Another would be Robert Falls, who blew me away with Talk Radio.

AM-What do you hope the audience will walk away with after this reading?

(Dev Bondarin – Slip/Shot) A sense of how we are all creators of our own stories and that we all have not only the ability but also the opportunity to make change.

(Annie G. Levy – Good Lonely People) A better understanding of who we consider the American “other.”

(Hondo Weiss-Richmond – The Faithkiller) It would be great if The Faithkiller audience left with compelling questions about the relationship between religion and media, as well as a sense that they’d spent an enjoyable evening at the NewBorn Festival.

(Diánna Martin – A Home Across the Ocean) I want them to feel that these characters share the same human condition with emotions and feelings about their lives and those around them. They deal with love, anger, humor, and sadness, all for different reasons and from different points of view. My hope is that the audience feels they were just given a glimpse into another world – and also one that they are a part of.

AM-What other projects do you have lined up in 2010?

(Dev Bondarin – Slip/Shot) I am currently directing a production called Snapshots with Prospect Theater Company. The piece is comprised of seven new short musicals, each by a different writing team and each written about a turning point in the life of a single character. I am also collaborating with a playwright on a one woman show called Letters to Clio which deals with the personal struggle of a mother coming to terms with the kidnapping of her daughter and her transformation into a member of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo who protested the Dirty War in Argentina.

(Annie G. Levy – Good Lonely People) I am directing Cloud Nine at Pace University, where I am an adjunct professor of Directing. I am also directing an adaptation of The Merchant of Venice and a new dramatic exploration about the Myth of Persephone.

(Hondo Weiss-Richmond - The Faithkiller) Next I’m directing a short play for Sticky, at the Bowery Poetry Club, and then I am assistant directing one more show at Playwrights Horizons: A Cool Dip in the Barren Saharan Crick, written by Kia Corthron and directed by Chay Yew.

(Diánna Martin – A Home Across The Ocean) Directing-wise, I have some projects in the pipeline going to do some readings of revivals that I adore: Kennedy’s Children, Coyote On a Fence, The Sign In Sidney Brustein’s Window, and Vieux Carré.  I’m also going to be working on my acting and building my acting school, Martin Acting Studios, while trying to support the theatre companies that I’m a member of. I’m just going to take it one day at a time and see what happens.


We shall see what next “NewBorn” bring and what shows MTWorks’ plans on including in their Season. We leave you with a clip of one of the directors inspirations, Mary Zimmerman as she discusses Arabian Nights.

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Diánna MartinNo Gravatar February 9, 2010 at 11:26 pm

Thank you so much for this opportunity, Antonio! Great article overall, Pts 1 & 2!!! It covered everything in depth.

The NewBorn Festival was fantastic, and an honor to be a part of again this year.

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