Monday, December 20, 2010

Brilliant! David Zen Mansley & Charles Dickens’ - A Christmas Carol:

A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens’
Adapted for the stage by David Zen Mansley
Directed, Produced and Designed by David Zen Mansley
Presented by Crystal Field and Theater for the New City

Many people tend to avoid Christmas and Holiday shows because of the quality of the shows and/or seasonal reasons. But when I saw the cast of A Christmas Carol at Theater for the New City, I did not want to miss this. You have David Zen Mansley a wonderful actor, Mark Marcante known for building sets at TNC, directing and his love of Commedia dell’Arte. Then a surprise actress not known for her acting but she should be, or known for appearing at Theater for the New City but who is known for her excellent clown, buffoon and creative work, Audrey Crabtree. To top off reasons not to miss it was the addition of Crystal Field to the cast.

This show only ran one week - next year I would hope TNC runs it for a month. David Zen Mansley casting was excellent, using almost all TNC in house talent but also bringing in the very talented Audrey Crabtree, a very wise and effective choice.

David Zen Mansley’s, Scrooge took us into his world of stingy, greedy, cold inhuman treatment of his fellow man – but also took us into Scrooge’s own personal hell he was living with, from his lonely cold childhood, being blamed by his father for the death of his mother at child birth, to the later death of his sister and more. Once you felt David Zen Mansley could not possibly take us any deeper or lower into hell – he managed to takes us further and deeper into the darkness of the sufferings, which haunts Scrooge and made him into the cold creator of other peoples hell. Bob Homeyer plays a wonderful Bob Cratchit – the timid clerk. It was a good counter balance to David Zen Mansley’s, Scrooge. Bob Homeyer, Cratchit gave a perfect sense of living on the edge of survival for him and his family being so poor, because of Scrooges miserliness and the two of them brought a sense of those suffering times of Charles Dickens’.

Bob Cratchit going home for Christmas dinner is a priceless scene – Mrs. Cratchit played brilliantly by Audrey Crabtree – bringing a deeper balance of a strong woman that loves her children and husband, a perfect mother. When Mrs. Cratchit walked on stage, you knew this was her loving home. Audrey Crabtree turns a cherished day in a starvation situation bright. At the same time brings a sense of suffering because of greed and has the spine to say so. Serving Christmas dinner with no food what-so-ever but the whole family eating a complete dinner with every detail all with “mime food” because there was no money to buy real food – with the whole family truly enjoying it was funny, tragic and heart breaking. The two Cratchit children Katherine Santangelo as big sister Martha Cratchit and Briannna Bartenieff as Tiny Tim played along perfectly with their mom and dad joyfully eating nothing and enjoying it. It was all so hearts breaking that more than several people in the audience were brought to quiet tears. Several women in the audience as they were exiting the theater after the show, said how they could not help but cry during a few of the family scenes. The men in the audience did not talk about the tears. What made the moment so great was the setup by David Zen Mansley the adaptor and director of this piece.

Michael Laporta, the Solicitor was on the mark as the hopeful community person collecting funds for charity, showing the horror and loss of not helping humanity and driving Scrooges wrath deeper as did Justin Wisniewski - Nephew Fred the nauseatingly happy son of Scrooge’s sister. The multi-media film was effetely done with Caitlyn Williams as Christmas Past playing a very kind loving ghost. Mark Marcante – Fezziwig ghost drove Scrooge to dance with joy, again a nice touch of playing joy and hell at the same time. Susie Perkins – Sister Fan to Scrooge was yet another very touching moment where we all received a deeper sense of why Scrooge became Scrooge. Luke Robishaw and Caitlyn Willams played Debtor Husband and Wife to Scrooge in a scene that could be taking place in today’s time by today’s cold Scrooge bankers, management companies and landlords. Candice Burridge – Belle, Scrooge’s lost love brought out the possible love of this Scrooge making him very human all this showing all the scabs on Scrooges poor soul. David F. Slone, Esq – Christmas Present ghost helped in the torture of Scrooge. Bob Homeyer also played Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come with great movement on film – turning Scrooges final breaking point.

As part of all the ghost scenes into the future of the unchanged Scrooge was a brilliant three some of Michael Laporta – Old Joe, Crystal Field – Mrs Dilbur and Lissa Moira – the Laundress. Lissa and Crystal were brilliant in the roles of thieves making off with the possible dead Scrooge’s belongings. Having seen Crystal in a few times, this is one of her best characters I have seen her perform. All three play these wonderful characters beautifully. And the scene with Crystal and David, Mrs. Dilbur and the changed Scrooge was touchingly funny bringing joy to everyone.

This show drives ones emotion and once you think you have gone all the way David Zen Mansley bring you deeper into joy with his directing, staging and casting. Scrooge, coming in disguised as Santa was a perfect transition to help us and Scrooge’s surprise visit to the home of Bob and Mrs. Cratchit to give them food and joy. The lovely Tiny Tim Cratchit was the brave one of the family that would have none of this non-sense of hiding behind a false bearded Santa. Ripping away Santa’s false garments to reveal the changed Scrooge. The joy of giving – sharing – helping comes through this wonderful piece. Charles Dickens’ would be extremely proud of this production.

Knowing this was a very tight budgeted shows the simple set by Dave Zen Mansley worked well, light by William Giraldo and Sound Design by Joy Linscheid was excellent.

CAST: (in order of appearance)
David Zen Mansley - Scrooge
Bob Homeyer - Bob Cratchit
Justin Wisniewski - Nephew Fred
Michael Laporta – the Solicitor
David Zen Mansley – Jacob Marley
Caitlyn Williams – Christmas Past
Mark Marcante - Fezziwig
Susie Perkins – Sister Fan
Luke Robishaw – Debtor Husband (Belle flashback)
Caitlyn Williams - Debtor Wife (Belle flashback)
Candice Burridge - Belle (Scrooge's lost love)
David F. Slone, Esq. – Christmas Present
Audrey Crabtree – Mrs. Cratchit
Katherine Santangelo – Martha Cratchit
Brianna Bartenieff as Tiny Tim
Bob Homeyer - Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come (Death)
Michael Laporta – Old Joe
Crystal Field – Mrs. Dilbur
Lissa Moira – the Laundress

Light Design by William Giraldo
Sound Design by Joy Linscheid

Friday, October 15, 2010

Mime Class - Tuesday Mornings & Sunday Afternoons

Starting in 2011 there will be two mime classes in NYC at pierStudios.

Tuesday Mornings from 10:15 to 11:30 AM
Sunday Afternoons from 2:10 to 3:25 PM

Classes will be $20 a class or $15 per class if you prepay for 10 classes in advance. Contact Stanley at or go to for more information.

This is an open on going class so you can come in at any point. If you are passing through NYC feel free to stop by for a class. This class covers many kinds of mime techniques. Mime is one of those basic tools that clowns need to brush up on and recharging your mime batteries is a good idea. Part of the motivation for teaching these classes is much of the mime technique I have seen as part of clown theater festivals has been pour to sloppy. You do not need to be a white face mime to have great effective technique. Having good mime muscles can have a positive effect on the over all quality of your show.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Channel One" Extended through November 1st, 2010

Here is a second show, also one of the better shows of the 2010 NY Clown Theater Festival having a surprise extension. It will be presented Triskelion Arts on Monday Nights at 8 PM. It is great to see theaters and art centers in NYC picking up some of these better shows from the festival. It shows great initiative and resourcefulness on the part of performers to make the connections and figure out how to extend their shows. “Channel One” is a fun, somewhat outrageous evening, plus they are developing their original pieces, bringing in new material and will even have some guest stars. This is one show that will be good to see how it grows. Congratulation to these two performers, creators and now co-producers of this run, Emly James & Ishah Janssen-Faith.

Triskelion Arts (118 N. 11th St. 3rd fl. between Berry & Wythe in Brooklyn,NY) Tickets ($10) may be reserved by calling 718-599-3577 or

Thursday, September 30, 2010

"LEGS AND ALL" - NYC Extension - 6 more shows!

It is great to see a show from the Clown Theater Festival complete its run at the festival and move on to another theatre. It makes financial sense for these performers whom I believe are from California and they take advantage of their successful run, building their audience from the festival. Here one of the better shows at the festival has extended and you can catch them in Manhattan. LegsandAll goes very much towards the area of Clown Dance Theater. This is an excellent physical theater piece.

The Kraine Theater
85 E 4th St. between 2nd & 3rd Ave.
Manhattan, NY

Saturday Oct. 2nd @ 2PM + interactive talk-back
Sunday Oct. 10th @ 2PM + interactive talk-back
Thursday Oct. 14th @ 8PM
Friday Oct. 15th @ 8PM
Saturday Oct. 16th @ 3PM and 8PM

It also looks like they are doing a workshop
Sunday Oct. 17th @ 1-4PM - "Devising Physical Theater" workshop

For more information go to more info:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

How many people have read this blog

Always wonder how many people read this blog. Found the stats page for the blog and 948 people have read this blog during this 2010 NY Clown Theater Festival.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Last 2010 Clown Theatre Festival Cabaret

It was a joy lining up outside to see this last Clown Festival Cabaret. There where many people including directors and friends that helped some of the performers refine or put together their acts. Hilary Chaplain and Audrey Cabtree hosted this last Cabaret and it was a sell out. In fact many people that wanted to by tickets could not get in. Of course that left many people wanting to by tickets out side with the just past full moon with all of these festival participants, directors, friends and bloggers including me outside.

For about an hour or more everyone joked with each out, net worked. I passed out a few of my flyers about “Creating Original Material” Clown Theater Lab I am teaching starting October 5 going every Tuesday (except election night November 2), until November 30th, contact me at if you want to sign up or for more information about this workshop or rather lab. I was handed a post card about the National Puppetry Conference and the show Puppet Pandemic taking place at The Tank October 2nd at 7:30 and 9:30 and October 3rd 7:30 and 9:30. People were joking and clowning around, one person whom will remain nameless said, “Lets lock them all in so they cannot get out.” This received a very quick response from inside with Robert bolting out saying, “that is not funny!” Taking a little prop action removal. Of course he came out to explain how city inspectors had come by twice making sure everything was safe and fire laws where up to snuff. A few small changes where made. That was the height of the drama outside.

Tanya finally said let go to a bar and most people left for the bar to party on. I stuck around just incase someone left. Hilary Chaplin suck her head out at one point for air saying, “Eeeeeeeryone is going long. They don’t understand that shorter is better. Going overly long does not help.” Standing outside and seeing many of these in the past, I agree. The Cabaret does need a hook for those selfish performers who go way too long. A warning to the performer on stage – then the bottom drops out of the theater and a fresh act comes on. Finally two people left and I got to come in. It was the final piece of the Cabaret. (Jonathan Kaplan it turns out I missed as I was outside during his turn on stage. Watson is not Kaplan.) Watson Kawecki’s 8 Minutes of Wonder, it was fantastic and from what people tell me was the best piece of the night. Of course they could have said that just to make me feel good. It was original, different, funny as hell, unique, and shows this performers true talent, which I am looking forwards to seeing more of. He used his props very well, creating and building his own time machine and had a great ending. From what I saw it was a great Cabaret inside and out. The bar report I will have to leave for other people comment on.

Channel One

James & JF Presents
Created and Performed by: Emily James & Ishah Janssen-Faith

Wonderful opening of the show and these two young talented women where totally in character throughout the show, alive from beginning to end with fresh excellent movement going all the way with everything they did. The Emily James piece with a love song was original and showed. It is such a joy to see an original song in the clown festival. It was edgy material through out the show. This is the only show that used stage combat with a leg kick to the face that worked. Emily who gave the kick and Ishah who received it where spot on. The audience interaction and play was good and you could tell these two performers are use to improvising with in their set show. The dream catcher piece by Emily was very enjoyable with peacefulness, power with surprises. There rhythm of their show was very good. The only thing that did now work for me was the phony accent by Ishah. There was beautiful sick warped material throughout this show. This was there last show of the festival but I do recommend you catch these two performers that partner well. You can follow them on:

Carmen…The Mopera

Written & Performed by Julie Goell
Directed by: Avner Eisenberg
Original Concept and Directions by Mark Ross

About 5 years ago or more I saw the original direction by Mark Ross here in NYC. Which from the program this show looks to be redirected by Avner Eisenberg. One important lesson we can learn from is what happens with long running Broadway and Off Broadway shows. Every 3 to 6 months sometimes a year or more the original director of the show comes back and takes a look at the show and puts back all of the original direction, because actors will make small changes that can evolve into big ones. They rarely bring in a new director unless the old director dies. When you have a show that has been directed and works, go back to your original director to put back all of the wonderful fresh elements that have been lost everyone once in a while. You know what they say about cooking; to many cooks spoil the broth. Having seen the show before – it looks like all life was sucked out of this new direction of the show. Julie is a wonderful musician – we saw none of her musicianship in the show. She plays I believe the base fiddle, which I recall, was in the show, it is not now. Everything was discovered in the old show… not now. I could not follow the show. Maybe if I was an opera fan I could have. Oh a note for everyone. Please do not do phony foreign accents. They rarely work and usually are insulting to the group you are doing the accent of. Julie knows foreign languages; if you know a foreign language and you need to use it use, do it if it works.

This new direction of the show starts with a toilet flushing sound effect, not once but three times. It was not funny any of these times. Scatology is great but it can burn you. Another thing is you have a toilet in the theater that when it flushes people in the house can hear it. There is a sign on the door – do not flush during the show or something like that – the theater toilet may have made this bit work.

The direction by Mark Ross – everything was discovered by Julie and you could easily follow the story. The Avner Eisenberg direction I could not follow the story and bits that did not work where stuck in littered through out the show that seemed to have nothing to do with the show. In the clown world almost any material can work – but one’s clown must be there totally. I have seen Julie teach wonderful prop manipulation classes – bringing props alive. In the Mark Ross verison all the prop where alive. Here all the props seemed to be just props. Solo shows are tough, really tough. You can have an off night and no one is there to help rescues you but you. Maybe Julie just had an off night. I know I have had a few. If one does not warm-up it can kill you. No matter what the setup one finds a place and time to warm-up. Shows can get tired, one can get tired of their own show. I have seen this with a few great performering friends. What you need to do to keep your show fresh and alive every show. You must do whatever that is, because people are honoring us with their time and money to see us entertain them. If you have a great director and the show is working. Keep your great director and go back to him or her every so often to help keep your show fresh.