We Can't Reach You, Hartford
An investigative history of the Hartford Circus Fire of July 6th, 1944. Nominated for a Fringe First at the 2006 Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
In the twilight of his life, famed photographer Matthew Brady must choose between the life he has built and the legacy he wants to leave behind.
Tone Clusters
Renowned prose author Joyce Carol Oates explores honesty, perspective, and denial through one couple's harrowing attempt to save the person they love
Saturday, August 25, 2007
From the Fringe
This is actually my first post, so I will begin by introducing myself. I'm Greg, lighting designer for The American Story Project. I've been fortunate enough to have worked on all of the groups plays to date, including joining the company in Edinburgh last year for We Can't Reach You, Hartford. Which brings me to my impetus for finally adding my voice to our blog. Last year on our day off, many from the group went to see Radio, which played at a time when we couldn't see it. I went hiking instead. But last night Radio returned to the Fringe for a two-night engagement at our beloved Bedlam Theater, and I was fortunate enough to be sitting in the audience. I couldn't begin to speak about why I think it was not enjoyed as thoroughly by New York audiences, as Steve has done, because it was simply a great show. I thought that the perhaps cliche storylines of space travel and the Kennedy assassination were not at all what gave the piece its depth and poignancy. For me, the best part was the complete lack of these symbols on stage. The character was the son of the leading flag distributor in the nation, the man who made the flag that woul be left on the moon, and not a single flag appeared on stage. I'm beginning to think that this choice to leave anything but the individual out of the show was the reason it was powerful for me. When it was over, I just kept staring at the stage, trying to find the source of the emotion that I still felt pouring from it, but it was empty. And I felt like that was part of the point. So for me the "Americaness" of the piece was irrelevant, because it was really about this one kid and how his relationships with people were hidden behind these cliche stories that have become silly and too big to represent the people who were there to see them through.
posted by Greg @ 7:52 AM   1 comments
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Something to Hold You Over
Photos from Daguerreotype will be up soon, but until then, here's a little something to hold you over. Should we ever decide to rewrite Daguerreotype as a period-piece horror film, its good to know that Edward will still be on board as the psychotic killer, Mathew B. Brady. Versatile actor, that boy.

if you look into Edward's eyes for too long, you can see your own soul.

Jess will, of course, play the courageous ingenue who eventually sets him on fire and then impales his immolated body with a Civil War bayonet. And then blows up the evil Whatizzit wagon that is the source of his power. Or something

Bonus points to anyone who can think of a name for this movie.
posted by stephen @ 9:46 AM   1 comments
Monday, August 20, 2007
A Headline You Don't See Every Day
In their never-ending quest to make me feel poor and miserable all the time (see: this, this, and, of course, this), The New York Times has been reporting from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe all this week. Being homesick (is that the right word?) for Scotland 83% of the time, these articles are murder on my will-power. I was just about ready to buy a trans-Atlantic ticket on pure impulse when I stumbled across this article:

Dwarf glued penis to Hoover
(thankfully, there is no picture)

Suddenly, I'm not in all that big a hurry to go back to Scotland.
Oh wait, who am I kidding? Yes, I am.
posted by stephen @ 10:38 AM   0 comments
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Can't It Be Both?
In one of the several versions of his Daguerreotype review circulating the Internet (seriously, I count at least 3 different versions), Aaron Riccio says:

Reading this, Jess and I (independently of one another) asked: Can't it be both?

The issue here is, of course, one that I struggle with constantly when working on our plays: the conflict between the universal and the particular, between our personal histories and the histories we read in textbooks. That is to say, a lot of what interests me about the mission of The American Story Project is how the lives of individuals can be understood in the context of larger historical progress. My stance has always been that History with a capital "H" is driven foward by the trials and tribulations of personal history, that our struggles form some sort of irresistable foward progress.

I'm sort of a Hegelian, sue me.

As such, I understand that my incessant synthesis of the particular with the universal isn't always the best (or theatrically speaking, most dramatic) idea. Nor is it a belief that always ends in illumination or profundity. It tends towards the didactic and the pretentious. I know these things and I'm beginning to understand the dangers involved in this kind of history and these kinds of stories. But what I don't understand is why telling the story of Mathew Brady precludes telling the story of the unsung Civil War, why a story about a historian who is obsessed with celebrity, afraid of losing his wife, and losing his eyesight can't also be a story about how his sense of history is myopic, populist and unwilling to grapple with the grim and violent realities of war. I think there's a certain symmetry to it. And I don't think these are two issues that can necessarily be separated. But then again, I wrote the thing.

Now, I understand saying that these parallels aren't fully developed or realized (one of the problems we knew going into this play was it was divided into two distinct sections: first, "Brady," then "Brady's lecture"), or that the subtext of these layered stories is misleading, unfair, or idealistic (my sense of historical responsibility isn't for everyone). I've come to terms with how Daguerreotype tends to celebrate the achievements of dead white men (though I don't think I necessarily let Western hegemonic patriarchy off the hook either). I'd even allow that these concerns can make the play boring (I did catch more than one audience member yawn). But what I can't yet accept is the idea that I have to choose. That I can only tell one kind of story at a time, that I have to choose between the particular and the universal, between the tragedy of Mathew Brady and the tragic era he lived through. Maybe it's the failed novelist in me (as opposed to the historian, the playwright, the dramaturg, or the journalist), but I thought that this was the whole point of telling stories like this; I always thought the whole point was that it should be both.

Your thoughts?
posted by stephen @ 5:19 PM   3 comments
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
An Essay on Influence, Interrupted
Now that the dust has cleared on Daguerreotype and my sleep cycle is somewhat normal again, I thought this would be a good time to talk about my first experiences with theater.
With a successful run of a new show behind me, I thought it would only be right to pay tribute to those people who got me interested in doing theater in the first place. The first thing I was planning to talk about was the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, which pretty much dominated my theatrical world for most of childhood. Later, I would discover Long Wharf Theater in New Haven and the Wesport County Playhouse, but as a kid, the O'Neill was the only place that brought people to my school to perform. The entire school would be called to an assembly and we would all watch the show. I didn't really even have a choice. I would watch theater and dammit, I would like it. (Which probably explains a lot about my sense of theater.) So I was just about to write a sweet, loving tribute of The O'Neill circa 1992 when I saw this:

Preston Whiteway, the source of my feelings of inadequacy

How did this happen and why do I suddenly feel like I'm wasting my life? Granted, at 23 I'm part of a young emerging Off-Off-Broadway theater company poised to do great things in the future. But this guy runs the O'Neill. His weekly paycheck is probably larger than the production budget for Daguerreotype. And lest you think this is simply about money, he also runs one of the most respected and influential theater centers in American theater, the place that developed new works by John Guare, Wendy Wasserstein and August Wilson. (Okay, I had to look at the web site to find that out, but it's impressive nonetheless.) The single most important theatrical institution in my young development is being run by someone less than 2 years older than me.

This is either a sign of the vitality of American theater or a sign of its imminent collapse. I can't decide which.

posted by stephen @ 6:45 PM   2 comments
Sunday, August 12, 2007
The End
After a 6 hour strike, we're done! The theater is clean and newly painted, and we're ready to begin revising D-Type and get started on new projects for the fall..

Thank you thank you thank you for all your support! We are eternally grateful and so excited to see you at future Story Project projects (ha!).

What a wonderful season it was.
posted by .:t.o.r.i:. @ 6:02 PM   0 comments
Monday, August 06, 2007
Tomorrow night TASP is hosting two more readings of new plays!

7pm: "The Architect Ages" by David Henry Haan

Directed by Rachel Silverman

With: Emily Allyn Barth
Jesse Bordwin
Lucas Brooks
Michael Gottwald
Samantha Levy

9pm: "L'Elue" by Kevin Anthony Kautzmann

Directed by John Hansen-Brevetti

With: Sara Elmaleh
Lauren Kelston
Ian Quinlan

Q & A sessions will follow each reading with the actors and director (and for The Architect Ages, the playwright as well)

Free admissions.


If you have seen Daugerrotype already, you may notice a mistake on the program. The reading of Chris Kaminstein's "Percy and Shell" will be happening on Saturday August 11th, not August 9th.

We hope to see you there!
posted by Rachel @ 9:10 PM   0 comments
First weekend success!

Wow. what an amazing opening weekend. Every thing went so well, which has allowed me to breathe my first sigh of relief in about 3 weeks. Yippie!
To recap the weekend. First, Lunchbox!
We sold out all three nights. That's right folks, getting tickets at the door is NO guarantee so go to smarttix

posted by Elissa @ 6:36 PM   2 comments
"a lot of promise for reviving historical theater and reminding us of how we once were"
We got our first review! Aaron Riccio, of Show Showdown, came to Saturday's matinee, and wrote us a constructive, thoughtful, and ultimately inspiring review. Some of our favorite parts excerpted below:

"The energy and passion make for an exciting bit of theater."

"...a trio of actors working together to unfreeze the still images of the past, riding the waves of time with vibrant rhapsody."

"The American Story Project's ambitious Daguerreotype creates a fine latent image by focusing on Mathew Brady and then branching out to the Civil War and the question "What is history?"

Also, my personal favorite: "an agile, but indistinct Zach LeClair."

We're waiting for more reviews (we hope!) to come, but in the meantime, having even one outsider with good things to say should help us immensely.

Today saw another marketing coup, this one completely inexplicable: SmartTix, the host for our online ticket sales, bought us an ad on its front page for no reason whatsoever. It's thrilling, of course, though it did cause Elissa and me some confusion when we realized neither of us had organized it. We've had some complete strangers come to the show, and it's always fantastic to see them; hopefully this will bring in more people who are just wondering what it's all about.

There's so much to report from the weekend's run-- three sold-out performances of Lunchbox, all of Jess's elementary school teachers coming for Sunday's matinee, plenty of familiar and supportive faces coming for every performance-- but maybe I'll leave that to some of the others? In the meantime, see you in the box office!
posted by Katey @ 1:29 PM   0 comments
Sunday, August 05, 2007
notes from the box office
Hello everyone,

I'm writing to you from the box office at the Abingdon, where I have spent essentially the entire weekend. I hear it's been hot and muggy outside; I wouldn't really know. As much as this may sound like complaining, though, it's been truly wonderful. We've had fantastic houses all through the weekend, with Lunchbox-- the sketch comedy group performing at 10 p.m. after Daguerreotype each night-- selling out essentially each night. D-type also sold out last night, though much of that was due to Nick's mom buying over a third of the tickets.

I haven't had much of a chance to talk to the audience after the shows, spending my time moving daguerreotype plates and disassembling the bed and whatnot. It's much easier for me to gauge Lunchbox's audience reaction from my perch in the box office-- sometimes the walls actually shake with laughter. For Daguerreotype, though, I can only assume the audience is reacting the same way I am, getting chills in certain parts and finding something new each time I see the play. Even when I've been standing in the lobby watching Zach do his quick changes from being Abraham Lincoln to a young, naive soldier, I believe it fully every time I see him perform. That's one of the things I always find amazing about theater-- the people you know, completely transformed before you. When I sit in the front row and Edward delivers his monologue a foot and a half away, I know he can see me, but in a way, he's not Edward anymore. Mathew Brady has no idea I'm there, and I honestly feel that.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that things are going very, very well, and if you're reading this and haven't come to the play yet, well, what are you waiting for? It's going to be hard for me to go back to my job on Monday, what with my head back in the Civil War and a box office still.
posted by Katey @ 2:21 PM   0 comments
Saturday, August 04, 2007
The Beginning!
Hello bloggers!

I am happy to announce the beginning of our summer reading series, which will be TODAY August 4th!

Here's the information:

The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner by Anna Moench
Directed by Liz Thaler
Josh Blye
Michael Gottwald
Azhar Khan
Colin Kindley
Matt Klein
Meredith Steinberg
Joanne Tucker

The Abingdon Theater, 312 West 36th street, 5pm. Short question and answer session with actors, director, and writer to follow.

We hope to see you there!
posted by Rachel @ 1:19 PM   0 comments
Friday, August 03, 2007
opening niiiiight... it was opening niiiiiight!
Call me geeky, but I've never had an opening night of a play when I didn't think of that song from "The Producers." It never occurs to me that people will walk out of my play exclaiming "We've seen shit, but never like this!" but really, singing that song ought to be a bad omen.

Luckily... it wasn't! Opening night last night went fantastically well, from the enthusiastic and friend-filled audience to the mesmerizing performances to the near-miraculous lack of serious injury leading up to it (when Greg decides it's his turn to contribute to the blog, remind him to tell you the story about how he decided to cut through a live copper wire while standing on a 15-foot ladder). Zach even pulled off wearing a stovepipe hat, a feat if I ever saw one.

Tonight is our "official" opening night, which means we've invited all our donors and some other important people to come. We'll be having a champagne reception afterward-- going out to buy the champagne in a few hours-- and getting our first chance to really talk to our audiences after a performance. Hopefully they'll be nicer than they were to poor ol' Max Bialystock.
posted by Katey @ 1:18 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
T-Minus 27 hours

As promised, from this week's Time Out New York. And with not one, but two bad puns in the caption!
posted by stephen @ 3:55 PM   0 comments
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