Dramaturg Guy Lancaster: Researching St. Vincent's

Researching The St Vincent’s Project – Guy Lancaster, Dramaturg

When you are listening to people talk about St Vincent’s Hospital the experience can sometimes feel like the ancient Indian Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant. In that story each blind man describes a piece of the elephant but is unable to grasp the totality of what an Elephant is. We wanted to see if we could offer a larger history for people in relation to the hospital. Because the scale and complexity of that history seemed to be uniquely representative of the forces which have shaped not only the Village but the city as a whole and even, in certain respects, the world.

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Kevin Hourigan
Playwright Cusi Cram: On Researching the St. VINCENT'S PROJECT

If you stand on the corner of Bank and Greenwich Avenue and look up at the place where St. Vincent’s once was, inevitably someone will start talking to you about it. Villagers have heated opinions on the subject. So, in discussing the Village and what interested me about it from a storytelling perspective with Rattlestick’s Artistic Director, Daniella Topol, the hospital’s closing seemed like a wound in the neighborhood which had not yet healed. There was a play to be found somewhere in the 161 years of the hospital’s history.

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Kevin Hourigan
Annie's Reflections: TYWLS at Rattlestick

One of my favorite things about working at Rattlestick is having the opportunity to develop and carry out educational programs around our artistic programming. Job descriptions for Managing Director positions do not typically include educational program development, so this is one of many perks of being a part of a small but mighty team like Rattlestick.

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What Happens When Local Goes National?

A couple of days ago, we did our first “tech stumble-through” of our next play, Dael Orlandersmith’s UNTIL THE FLOOD, which explores the impact of the shooting of Michael Brown in August 2014 on the residents of that area. It was presented it at St. Louis Rep (who commissioned the piece) in 2016. So, now in 2018, in winter’s deep freeze, what tone should these storytellers take in New York with UNTIL THE FLOOD? After its run in NY, the creative team will head to Milwaukee, Chicago and many other cities around the country. How does a local theater piece go national? How should this local theater piece go national?

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Let’s Hear Their Voices

Sometimes the things you need to say cannot be said with words alone.  We need our songs, which can serve as a protest, a prayer, an expression of love or even launch a movement.

This July, starting next week, marks the second year of Rattlestick's New Songs Now series, where we invite our audience into the songwriters’  process.  

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Daniella Topol
Running a Theater Company is Like Playing a Video Game

Running a theater company is like playing a video game…with the twists and turns of near-death and good fortune, advancing to the next level and then crashing into unexpected potholes.  I’ve only been doing this for about 14 months so perhaps next year I will have a different analogy.  But let's stick with video games for now.  

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Daniella Topol
What's Going To Happen?

I was recently at the Humana Festival in Louisville, Kentucky, an annual festival of new plays in its 41st year.  Taylor Mac, actor, playwright, performance artist, director, producer, and singer-songwriter, led a talk in which he asked the audience to say aloud, “What’s going to happen?”, making us collectively articulate our deep uncertainty about the future.

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Daniella Topol
Join the Conversation

Early on Friday, March 24th, Rattlestick hosted an intimate gathering of artists, educators and audience members to talk about how their lives have been changing since the election and what, if anything, the theater can do to address the divide that appears to now be such a dominant part of our culture.  

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Daniella Topol
A Conversation with Ken Urban

Rattlestick Alumni Playwright, Ken Urban, had his play The Correspondent, produced a few years ago at Rattlestick.  He returns back to Rattlestick this month in an Amoralists' Production of Nibbler, a dark coming-of-age comedy about five teenagers in a small town in South Jersey during the summer of 1992.  I asked Ken to answer some questions that were on my mind.

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Daniella Topol
The Orange Fog 

Last night was the second preview for Orange Julius. About 10 minutes into the play there is a Vietnam fantasy scene where a hazer pumps light fog out to give the illusion of other-worldliness. Last night's hazer malfunctioned and the stage was instantly flooded with thick fog. We could barely see the actors standing right in front of us. Fans were switched on and side doors were opened. Though there was no real danger, the moment felt uncertain. 

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Daniella Topol
Thanksgiving

General Manager Annie Middleton, Associate Producer Victor Cervantes and I have been moved by the many people who have helped Rattlestick over these past few months. These champions of our company have taught us (cliche alert!) how "it takes a village" and why we need to "depend on the kindness of strangers." As we approach Thanksgiving, these are some of the people/groups we want to acknowledge: 

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Daniella Topol
Meaningful Partnerships

I am not an early morning person by choice.  But that has changed since becoming Rattlestick's Artistic Director.

Recently, on a Wednesday morning at 7:30 in the morning, I walked into the Waldorf-Astoria to see a program involving the charming and self-possessed girls and young women who are the students at the Young Women’s Leadership Network (YWLN). YWLN is an outstanding network of all-girls public schools across the country whose mission is to create powerful young leaders of color. The visionaries behind YWLN are Andrew and Ann Tisch.

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Daniella Topol
Rattlestick Stair: Sketches

As an architect I have worked on the design of museums, exhibits, towers, houses and even a new palace for the Ruler of Dubai. Although always interested in the narrative underpinnings of architectural design, I had never worked on set design and when Daniella asked me to host the first Rattlestick Actors/Writers lab, I jumped at the opportunity.

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Scott Johnson