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FRIGID New York Festival 2011 – Five Questions For: Scarlet Woman

by Karen Tortora-Lee on February 23, 2011

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Welcome back to another installment of FRIGID New York Festival 2011 Q&A!  We’ll be running these throughout February until the Festival starts, so be sure to check back to read all about the great shows that will be taking part in the festival.  Also – don’t miss the winner-take-all game of Rock Paper Scissors! Today’s Q&A is with Candy Simmons, Actor and Producer of Scarlet Woman.

Scarlet Woman is a two-woman, film noir thriller. This brand-spanking new play is a colorful homage to all the dangerous Delilahs of noir. A fast and furious exploration of all the extreme female archetypes in this genre. One femme fatale, two actresses, twelve characters, and more dead bodies than the last scene of Hamlet.

Scarlet Woman featuring Candy Simmons (Photo by Anna Dvorak)

Scarlet Woman featuring Candy Simmons (Photo by Anna Dvorak)

answers Candy Simmons, Actor and Producer

Antonio Asks: What makes FRIGID such a warm and welcoming experience for your production?

SunsetGun’s first production, AfterLife, received its original workshop at Horsetrade’s Red Room Theater in 2008. Although it wasn’t performed in conjunction with FRIGID festival, I went on to tour the show to many other CAFF festivals over the next couple years to much success. I’ve since relocated my residence and SunsetGun’s headquarters to Minneapolis, but have always held a soft spot for Horsetrade, they really nurture independent producers and artists. It just felt right to kick the tour of Scarlet Woman off here.

Diánna Asks: What about this play do you feel most drawn to personally, and because of that, what message do you hope the audience walks away with?

As an artist one of the things I’m particularly interested in exploring is gender and what it means to be a woman; how that experience is different or not at all different than a man’s. Playwright Matthew Wells and I wanted to create a project together and at that time I had just started watching all these old noir films. I was absolutely fascinated by the women and actresses in these films, the style, the unapologetic attitude, the extreme archetypes. My challenge to him was to create a two-woman show exploring the women of noir, tell us more about who they were and how they got that way, dig deeper beneath the bad girl surface. He’s an encyclopedia of film noir information, so it was a perfect fit. As far as a message, I don’t know, I just want the audience to have a good time and if they come out of the theater thinking about any of that…Kapow! They’ve just been SunsetGun’d!

Karen Asks: That’s some title.  How did you come up with it – and what does it mean?

Scarlet Woman? You’ll see…

Stephen Asks: You must have a favorite part of your show.  What makes it your favorite?

That’s a hard one. I have a new favorite line or moment every night after rehearsal. Playwright Matthew Wells’ dialogue is a riot. As an actress I’m finding one of the biggest struggles in performance is keeping a straight face during these scenes, I just start giggling at the lines coming out of my mouth and as soon as I get a hold of myself another one sneaks up on me.

Lina Asks: How much of your show was inspired by true events?

Being an homage to such noir classics as Out of the Past, Murder My Sweet and The Big Sleep, the films themselves have been a huge source of inspiration, as well as the actresses who made the screen sizzle.

THM Bonus Question: If you could play a virtual game of Rock, Paper, Scissors with another FRIGID Show which show would you take on?  And what would you throw?

The Canuck Cabaret. I think Scarlet Woman could very well meet her match with that saucy burlesque queen Sharon Nowlan. I’d throw scissors in the hopes of snipping a pasty or two off of that femme fatale.

Thanks Scarlet Woman – for participating in The Happiest Medium’s FRIGID New York Festival 2011 Q&A.  And for playing our game! You are officially SCISSORS. You were challenged by The Mysterious Mystery of Mystery Street who also threw scissors – meaning you’re tied! I smell a re-match! And we’ll have to see what The Canuck Cabaret comes back with. This how it works in the crazy world of the VIRTUAL ROCK PAPER SCISSORS TOURNAMENT!

Meanwhile, for the rest of you – don’t forget to check out Scarlet Woman

Scarlet Woman
Written by Matthew Wells & Directed by Rob O’Neil
Presented by SunsetGun Productions Minneapolis, MA
The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street) $16
Wed 2/23 @ 10:30pm, Sat 2/26 @ 1pm, Sun 2/27 @ 5:30pm, Tue 3/1 @ 7:30pm, Wed 3/2 @ 6pm, & Sat 3/5 @ 2:30pm

FRIGID New York Festival 2011 will run February 23-March 6 at The Kraine Theater & The Red Room (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Ave and Bowery) and UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1sr Ave and Ave A). Tickets ($10-$16) may be purchased online at or by calling Smarttix at 212-868-4444. All shows will run 60 minutes long or less.

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