Welcome 14th and 1st readers! As you may know, on Thursdays we like to celebrate all things theater, arts and culture. Today we’re posting an interview with Melanie Moyer-Williams, the Artistic Director of Red Fern Theatre company, who are producing the show MARCH in our 2nd floor 14th Street Y Theater.
The Y: Thanks for speaking with us today! Tell us about your new show, MARCH?
MMW- First – I just want to say how excited we are to be back at the 14th Street Y for our third and final production in our 2011-2012 Season! It has been such an amazing experience. Prior to coming to the Y last season, we had been in many theaters throughout NYC and have never really been satisfied with either the space or the people who run the space. Here at the 14th Street Y, we have found a wonderful home with both!! Everyone including the person who mops our floor each night (a very important job given we have a number of actors who go barefoot!) have been amazing with whom to work. And we look forward to many more productions here!
That being said – let’s talk about MARCH by Sharyn Rothstein, directed by Kel Haney. MARCH is a funny, new drama about life on the edge of adulthood. Two teens take on the real and imaginary monsters in their lives in this funny and compelling theatrical journey through the treacherous worlds of virtual battlefields and real-life adolescence. Though their backgrounds couldn’t be more different, Eva Lucia Perez, a 14 year-old from the Bronx, and Michael Meltzer, a 15 year-old kid growing up in the suburbs, are both dealing with complicated families when they meet as avatars in Eden, a fantasy realm in an online game. As they embark on a journey to a new level in the game, Eva Lucia and Michael become unexpected friends, and find in each other the escape they need to get to that place and time when you first realize that the world is bigger than your family.
The Y: What audience will be most interested in this, do you think?
MMW- I think Teens, their parents and their parent’s parents! This show has something for all of these generations, and we have had a wonderful response from each of these groups. Teens feel they relate to the two young characters in the play and especially have a connection in exploring the virtual world. Parents and grandparents connect with the many issues they face in just being a parent, but also in their own relationships with one another. One family deals with the issue of divorce while another one deals with mental illness in the family. We can learn a lot from each of these families in which the teens search to find acceptance and love and a place where they can escape everyday life. Both of the teens have been asked to act like a parent or an adult in the family. We see this happening more and more in society where kids are asked to “grow up” much faster. These two kids are able to escape reality and reinvent themselves in a virtual world.
The Y: Interesting! So how do you create this visual world on the stage?
MMW- We actually received a grant especially for the technology in this production. The Edith Lutyens and Norman Bel Geddes Design Enhancement Fund, a program of the Alliance of Resident Theatres/New York (A.R.T./New York), made it possible for us to bring this virtual world together. Using three projectors and projection screens – we bring to life the virtual world of Eden and it looks like something right out of a video game. It is really amazing to see the actors interact within this world. It’s unlike anything we have done before and very different from other productions I have seen. The show is worth the ticket price just to see this world.
The Y: We really like working with Red Fern Theatre for a lot of reasons, especially your mission. Can you speak a bit about that?
MMW- We founded the company to produce issue based or socially conscious plays, but we take it one step further and bridge the gap between the issues we present our audience and the change we seek to create. Instead of just exposing our audience to an issue facing our community, we also introduce them to someone who is trying to make a difference in that area. For MARCH, our partnership hits home – The 14th Street Y Teen Theater Summer Institute Scholarship Fund for the Edgies Teen Center. This summer the 14th Street Y will be offering their first TEEN THEATER SUMMER INSTITUTE (for which we will teach one of the classes!) and one Edgie will be receiving a scholarship for attendance. We are really happy to be able to give back to this community and the community on the lower east side.
The Y: We do really like that. Anything else we should know?
MMW– Come see the show! You won’t be disappointed and will find at least one character with whom you connect. It’s funny, yet it deals with difficult issues facing many families today. The cast is truly amazing and the production teams has truly brought this world to life in such a vivid, real way.
Also, To say thank you for welcoming us to the 14th Street Y – we’d like to offer the community here a $5 discount. When purchasing tickets on our website – www.redferntheatre.org enter the code 14StY at checkout to receive the discount.
The Y: Well thanks! We’ll pass it along to our community! All the best for a great run of March.