Wednesday, April 30, 2014



Theatre for a New Audience Presents
First New York Production since 1960

By Eugène Ionesco

Newly Translated by Michael Feingold

Featuring Michael Shannon, 
Kristine Nielsen, Paul Sparks, 
Robert Stanton

Directed by Darko Tresnjak

Inaugural Season Final Production
Polonsky Shakespeare Center
Previews May 17, Opens May 29

Academy Award nominee Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) plays Berenger in Eugène Ionesco's THE KILLER in a new translation by Michael Feingold, directed by Darko Tresnjak (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder).

Last produced Off-Broadway in 1960, The Killer is the final production of the inauguraral season for Theatre for a New Audience at their new Polonsky Shakespeare Center.

Previews begin Saturday, May 17, at 7:30pm for an opening Thursday, May 29, at 7:30pm and a scheduled run through Sunday, June 29.

Single tickets are now on sale.

Eugène Ionesco (1909-1994) is one of the 20th century's most acclaimed playwrights. A Romanian who wrote mostly in French, Ionesco'’s family moved to Paris in 1911. His father left for Bucharest in 1916, ostensibly to fight in World War I, and never returned. In 1922, he used forged documents to obtain a divorce and custody. He then insisted that Eugène and his younger sister live with him and his new wife and learn Romanian. His father's cowardice -- particularly the rationales by which he accommodated the rise of Romanian fascism in the 1930s­ -- figure in Ionesco's writings.

Ionesco returned to France in 1939 and settled in Paris after the war. Clownish mockery and sharp seriousness are characteristic of his work. He first burst onto the theatre scene in 1950 with The Bald Soprano and ultimately wrote 28 plays, as well as novels, short stories and essays.

The Killer (in French, Tueur sans gages) was written in 1957 and had its world premiere in Paris in 1959. It is the first of Ionesco's four plays featuring the hapless, inadvertently heroic Everyman-character Berenger (the other three are A Stroll in the Air, Exit the King and his most popular play, Rhinoceros).

In The Killer, Berenger discovers a “radiant city,” a kind of utopia near his dismal urban home. It is a perpetually sunny, impeccable, clean place full of marvelous architecture and beautiful gardens. But there is one hitch: a serial murderer has been killing people for so long that the authorities have given up trying to catch him.

Jeffrey Horowitz, Founding Artistic Director of Theatre for a New Audience, explains, "Theatre for a New Audience produces major modern authors alongside Shakespeare. Michael Shannon, who played Berenger in 1998 at Chicago's A Red Orchid Theatre (co-founded by Mr. Shannon), introduced me to The Killer. Last season, Theatre for a New Audience produced Samuel Beckett's Fragments. Ionesco, like Beckett, writes about the comedy of human communication and characters unable to control their existence. Exploring the language and ideas of Ionesco after Beckett makes sense. And, Michael wanted to play Berenger again and was excited to work with director Darko Tresnjak in a new translation by Michael Feingold both of whom have long, fruitful relationships with Theatre for a New Audience."

"The Killer is a wildly imaginative and eclectic play, a symphony for actors," said director Darko Tresnjak. "It is funny, farcical, and frightening. I look forward to exploring it with our killer design team and an extraordinary acting company, headed by Michael Shannon, Kristine Nielsen, Paul Sparks and Robert Stanton."

About The Killer, Mr. Feingold says, "It's astonishing to me that this remarkable play has so rarely been produced in America -- and virtually never, since its original staging, in New York. Though it grows out of the sensibility of the 1950s, it seems to encapsulate so much of what is happening to the world in our time. As I worked on it, every line seemed to be a new revelation, every piece of Ionesco's highly personal and quirky imagery seemed also to carry political comment, and all of the play's deliciously dark humor had a deep tragic undertone."

Michael Shannon appears on stage, film and television. In 2012, he starred on Broadway in Grace. Additional theatre includes Uncle Vanya, Our Town, Mistakes Were Made, Bug and Killer Joe. He received an Academy Award nomination for his performance in Revolutionary Road and plays Nelson Van Alden in Boardwalk Empire. His noted films included Bug, Take Shelter, The Iceman and Man of Steel. Mr. Shannon is co-founder of Chicago's adventurous 20-year-old ensemble theatre company A Red Orchid Theatre.

Darko Tresnjak directed A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (most 2014 Tony nominations including Best Director), currently playing on Broadway at the Walter Kerr Theatre. He is the Artistic Director of Hartford Stage. Mr. Tresnjak staged Theatre for a New Audience's productions of All's Well That Ends Well, Antony and Cleopatra and The Merchant of Venice with F. Murray Abraham, which transferred to the Royal Shakespeare Company. Mr. Tresnjak has directed at The Public Theater, Stratford Festival, The Old Globe, Oregon Shakespeare, Chicago Shakespeare, Long Wharf, Goodspeed Musicals, Huntington Theater Company and Williamstown Theater Festival. His upcoming productions include Hamlet and Kiss Me Kate at Hartford Stage and The Ghosts of Versailles with Patti LuPone at L.A. Opera.

Michael Feingold, who served as chief theatre critic for The Village Voice from 1983 to 2013 and currently writes a monthly two-part essay for under the title "Thinking About Theater," has also had an extensive career as a translator, adaptor and playwright. Best known for his versions of the Brecht-Weill works Happy End, Threepenny Opera and Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Mr. Feingold has translated numerous works from the French, including Ionesco's The Chairs, which was given an acclaimed production by David Gordon and Valda Setterfield at London's Dance Umbrella and BAM's Next Wave Festival in 2004. Mr. Feingold's previous work for Theatre for a New Audience includes translations of Frisch's Andorra and De Filippo's Souls of Naples; he served as the company's dramaturg for three seasons, working on two Shakespeare productions with Darko Tresnjak.

The company includes 

Scenery and costumes are by Suttirat Larlarb, lighting by Matthew Richards, and sound by Jane Shaw. Andrew Wade is the vocal director, Jonathan Kalb is the dramaturg, and Cole Bonenberger is the production stage manager.

Theatre for a New Audience's New Deal Ticket Program is supported by The Macy’s Foundation.

Brendan Averett (Bartender/First Policeman) recently appeared at Theatre for a New Audience in A Midsummer Night's Dream. Off-Broadway credits include As You Like It at Shakespeare in the Park, Massacre (Sing to Your Children) with Rattlestick Theater, and Passion Play with Epic Theatre Ensemble. Regional theatre credits include Romeo and Juliet at Actor's Theatre of Louisville, Of Mice and Men at Cincinnati Playhouse, Passion Play at Yale Repertory Theatre, and Hamlet and The Chairs at Court Theatre. Other theatre credits include Measure for Measure and A Midsummer Night's Dream at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival of Canada. Television credits include Trapped in the Closet, Law & Order: SVU and Blossom.

Stephanie Bunch (Dennie) is making her Theatre for a New Audience debut in this production. Recent New York credits include A Shadow with No Form at the Bowery Poetry Club and Forever 27 at the Downtown Urban Theater Festival. She received an M.F.A. in acting from Brooklyn College and a B.F.A. in acting from Old Dominion University.

Benjamin Cole (Ensemble) is currently appearing at Theatre for a New Audience as an ensemble member in King Lear. He has previously appeared as Caliban in The Tempest (CT Critic’s Circle Award Winner) and as Mr. Topper in The Christmas Carol at The Hartford Stage Company.

Liam Craig (The Bum/First Man/The Drunk) has appeared at Theatre for a New Audience in Don Juan. He appeared on Broadway in Boeing Boeing (u/s: performed as Robert). Off-Broadway credits include The Internationalist (Vineyard Theatre), Aunt Dan and Lemon (The New Group), and Two Noble Kinsmen (Public Theater). Regional credits include Accidental Death of An Anarchist (Yale Rep, Berkeley Rep), Servant of Two Masters (Yale Rep, STC, Guthrie Theater, Seattle Rep), The Government Inspector (STC) and The Scene (Hartford Stage, Alley Theatre). Film and television credits include The Royal Tenenbaums, Unforgettable, Rescue Me, and Law & Order: SVU. He has an M.F.A. from the NYU Tisch Graduate Acting Program.

Eric Folks (Ensemble) has appeared in columbinus (America Theater Company), JOB and The Wundelsteipen (The Flea Theater), Almost Maine, Singin' in the Rain, and Fiddler on the Roof (New London Barn Playhouse), Don't Dress For Dinner (Lake Dillion Theater Co), and Mrs. Mannerly (Dixie Theater). Mr. Folks is a graduate of Otterbein College.

Jonathan Hooks (Ensemble) can currently be seen as an ensemble member in King Lear at Theatre for a New Audience. Other New York credits include Julius Caesar (The Royal Shakespeare Company at BAM), The House of Von Macramé (The Bushwick Starr), Richard's Rampage (BAM) and Torch-Bearers (Williamstown). Film credits include Haitian Son and I Do? Training includes The Public Theater's Shakespeare Lab and The University of Oklahoma School of Drama.

Kathleen Longazel (Ensemble) is making her Theatre for a New Audience debut in this production. Recent credits include Firework for Real with True False Theatre and The Wild Inside with Primary Stages. She starred in the short film I Speak, You Understand Me and appeared on the Discovery ID series Frenemies. She graduated from Fordham University and the London Dramatic Academy.

Kristine Nielsen (Concierge/Ma Piper) has appeared on Broadway in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (Tony nomination), Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, To Be or Not to Be, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Spring Awakening, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Green Bird, Jackie and The Iceman Cometh. Lincoln Center Theater credits include Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and Ubu. With Christopher Durang: Why Torture Is Wrong, and the People Who Love Them (Drama League, Outer Critics Circle nominations), Miss Witherspoon; Betty's Summer Vacation (Obie, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle nominations) and Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge. Off-Broadway credits include Crazy Mary, Our Leading Lady and Dog Opera (Obie Award). Regional includes Centre Theatre Group, Old Globe, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Guthrie, Huntington Theatre, Bay Street, McCarter, Alley Theatre, Edinburgh International Festival and La Jolla Playhouse. Film credits include Morning Glory, That's What She Said, The Savages, Adelaide and Small Time Crooks. Television credits include Political Animals, Smash, Law & Order, Law & Order: CI, Third Watch and the NBC live broadcast of The Sound of Music. She received an M.F.A. from Yale School of Drama and a B.S. from Northwestern.

Anastasia Olowin (Ensemble) is a company member of Theater Reconstruction Ensemble. New York theater credits include Set in the Living Room… and Three Seagulls, or MASHAMASHAMASHA! (TRE), Plum de Force (The Bushwick Starr), Obedient Steel (Tugboat Collective), Obskene (The Talking Band) and Target Margin’s Lab Series. She holds a B.F.A. from NYU Tisch.

Frank Paiva (Ensemble) is making his Theatre for a New Audience debut in this production. New York theatre credits include The House of Von Macramé (Bushwick Starr), The Lily’s Revenge (HERE Arts Center), The Walk Across America for Mother Earth (La MaMa), Moonbase (Flea Theater) and Giant Killer Slugs (Pipeline Theatre Company). He holds a B.A. from NYU Gallatin.

Gregor Paslawsky (Second Old Man) has appeared in New York productions of The Sadness of Others, Not Knowing, Pegleg! (Mixed Mess@ge) and Outpost (Mabou Mines). Regional credits include Twelfth Night (Hartford Stage), Bell Book and Candle (Long Wharf), Pericles and Two Noble Kinsman (Old Globe), Skin of Our Teeth and Travesties (Williamstown), Kite Runner (San Jose Rep), Waiting for Godot (North Carolina Shakespeare Festival), Christmas Carol, Tempest (Virginia Stage), Blood Knot (New Mexico Rep), The Ruling Class (Wilma) and Superior Donuts and Tribes (Studio Theatre D.C.).

Ryan Quinn (Second Man/Postman/The Killer) has appeared at Theatre for a New Audience in King Lear, Hamlet, and Antony and Cleopatra. Regional credits include eight seasons with The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, Yellowman with Milwaukee Rep, Hamlet and The Two Gentlemen of Verona at The Old Globe and The King Stag at Yale Repertory Theatre. New York theatre credits include Binibon at The Kitchen and Frag and The Strangest at HERE Arts. He received an M.F.A. from the Yale School of Drama.

James Rees (Ensemble) is making his Theatre for a New Audience debut in this production. Off Broadway credits include Measure for Measure at Shakespeare in the Park. Other New York credits include The Whaleship Essex with Hudson Guild and Henry V with Well Theater. Regional credits include Man For All Seasons at Virginia Shakes and Amadeus at Richmond Shakes. Television credits include The Knick and Team Toon. He received a B.F.A. from Shenandoah Conservatory.

Noble Shropshire (First Old Man/Old Gent) has performed at Hartford Stage in Macbeth, La Dispute, The Tempest, The 39 Steps, Noises Off and A Christmas Carol. Broadway credits include Underling, The Drowsy Chaperone and Tennessee Williams's Not About Nightingales. Off-Broadway credits include Roundabout, Parris, The Crucible and CSC (9 seasons). Title roles include Hamlet, Peer Gynt, Tartuffe, the Fool in King Lear, Mephisto in Faust, Hummel and Ghost Sonata. Regional credits include work at Actors Theatre Louisville, Alley, ART, Arena, Cincinnati Playhouse, City Theatre, Denver Center, Pioneer Theatre, Pittsburgh Public, Rep Theater St. Louis and Westport Playhouse.

Paul Sparks (Edward) has appeared on Broadway in Hedda Gabler. Off Broadway credits include Dusk Rings a Bell, Lady, Pumpgirl, American Sligo, Essential Self Defense, Finer, Noble Gases, Landscape of the Body, Bug, Blackbird and Coyote on the Fence. He is a five-time Drama Desk nominee. Film credits include Mud (Independent Spirit Award), Parkland, Trust Me, Sparrows Dance and Blackbird. Upcoming films include Midnight Special and Stealing Cars. He has appeared in the television series Boardwalk Empire (SAG Award), the mini-series Mildred Pierce and many episodes of NYC–based shows.

Robert Stanton (The Architect) has recently appeared on stage in Checkers (Vineyard), Strange Interlude (Shakespeare Theatre Company), Love's Labour's Lost (The Public Theater), and Alarm Will Sound's 1969 (Carnegie Hall). Broadway credits include A Free Man of Color, Mary Stuart and The Coast of Utopia. Off-Broadway credits include Love Child (co-written with Daniel Jenkins), All in the Timing (Obie, Clarence Derwent awards) and many more. Recent film and television credits include True Story, The Knick, Elementary, Orange Is the New Black and The Good Wife. He received an M.F.A. from NYU.

Gordon Tashjian (Second Policeman) is an actor, writer, and musician based in Brooklyn. He has appeared onstage in multiple New York venues and is making his Theatre for a New Audience debut in this production.

Quinn Warren (Ensemble) is making her Off-Broadway debut with Theatre for a New Audience in this production. She has previously appeared at The McCarter Theatre, Kennedy Center, The Long Wharf and many productions in New York, including You May Go Now, Samaritans and Metamorphoses. She received a B.F.A. from Stephens College.

Ariel Zuckerman (Ensemble) is currently appearing in King Lear at Theatre for a New Audience. Other recent credits include The Merchant of Venice with the Worcester Shakespeare Company and Cadence: Home with TE’A at the Straz Center in Tampa, Fl. He is a recent graduate of the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in NYC.


Single tickets, now on sale, are $60-$85 and can be purchased online at, by phone at 866-811-4111, or in person at the Theatre for a New Audience Box Office (262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn.) Box office hours are Tuesday through Saturday 1:00pm to 6:00pm. A limited number of premium seats are available for $100.

Subscription packages, which include one ticket to each of the next four productions and a host of benefits, are available for $196.

New Deal tickets for ages 30 and under or full-time students of any age are priced at $20, and are supported by The Macy’s Foundation. Proof of age or student ID required for each ticket purchased.

Performances are Tuesday through Sunday evenings at 7:30pm with matinees Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00pm. There are no matinees on May 17 or May 18 and no evening performance on June 8. There is one Wednesday matinee on June 4 at 2:00pm.

For a story in QPORIT on the inaugural production of this inaugural season for TFANA at the Polonsky Center see:



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Saturday, April 12, 2014


SNL 2014-04-12 SETH ROGEN


All in all, after a bad start, nearly every skit was funny and quite a few were hilarious.  Seth was in many sketches and hit the marks every time.

RECAP NOTES, more or less LIVE (thanks to a lot of commercials I never fell too far behind writing these notes!)_

This show gets off to a terrible start with a lame COLD OPEN about "new"
 Republicans.  Lots of funny things to say about them. SNL didn't

But the show began to be redeemed with a nice monolog, in which Seth was assisted by cameos from That Girl, James Franco, and Taylor Swift.

The first sketch, a classroom lecture on drug use... JUST SAY NO(W) was hilarious.  And the CNN spoof on pregnancy was great also.

Then, an amusingly gross sketch about a guy (Seth) who is tired of caring for his wife whose hands are broken and useless.

MONSTER PALS is a nice reflexion on the real person inside a monster.

BLUE RIVER DOG FOOD is another classic sketch tonight... about people who care, really CARE, PASSIONATELY CARE, CARE CARE!!! that their dogs get real chicken in their dogfood.

WEEKEND UPDATE - fairly funny jokes... ORTIZ on commercial messages...  Best line...   "Do you suffer from  depression? ... Don't"   He was good.  BAR MITZVAH BOY not so much.

And this next sketch is what happens when you did it ONE TIME and your cousin comes to your engagement party.

UNDERCOVER SHARPTON was funny but, actually, it made no sense at all. Neither did 420, even if you know what they're talking about. "Stop Making Sense" appropriately is the leadoff to one of the next commercials.

HERMAN & SONS going out of business sale has sperm to go.

And that's a wrap.  Good show!

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Monday, April 07, 2014




Making a serious attempt to create a new platform for streaming web series, centered on the Broadway talent base for generating content; and targeted at the Broadway audience demographic for its viewers, STAGE17.TV held an impressive launch event last week. Their friends in the Broadway community, and friends of their friends, filled Alice Tully Hall to capacity to see a preview of the initial content.

Behind Stage 17 are a group of people well positioned for the project.  The Chairman, David Stoller, comes from a background of theater advertising, so he knows where theater ads come from, how they are effectively placed, and a lot about the target demographic.

(l) Ondine Landa Abramson - President/Executive-Producer
(r) David Stoller - Chairman

Stage 17 is creating completely new webisodes and producing new seasons of existing web series. And they contemplate forming a greater Broadway community including both the talent and the audience.

Their motto is "The show must go on... line."  They hope to merge the quality and sensibility of Broadway with the new venue of the Internet, to create online theater, online shows, and online content about shows and theater.

They describe the project as half content and half web startup.

It is a daunting task, and they have a long way to go.  Though well positioned for understanding the business, they seem currently less skilled in the execution.

Of the initial shows, the clear winners are TERRIBLE BABYSITTERS, picked up for its second season, an hilarious web series created by two veterans of improv, and IT’S COMPLICATED, a well written, well acted show by a multi-talented veteran of online comedy.

Sandy Rustin

Most of the other shows seem to be very well acted, with a cast of Broadway actors, and nicely shot, but some are -- from the evidence of previews and random scenes (to be fair, we'll have to wait for the full shows for an actual review) -- mostly not very interesting to me, somewhat sour, and very bland. (I was actually offended by the falseness and prudery of a scene in the preview which seemed to show a couple making love... but when the camera pulled back the woman was neither topless nor bottomless. How do you do it with your clothes on?) Hey, this is the audience that reads "50 Shades of Grey") 

But, full disclosure, I am just a niche demographic in their target audience:

They describe their shows variously, specifically, and explicitly (in the Press Kit) as targeted to:

1) 25-54 Female
2) Broadway lovers
4) Theatre lovers
5) "The evolved male" and
6) Also, "Parents" 


As a niche bystander, please take my affection -- or lack of it -- for some of Stage 17's shows with a grain or six of salt.

Summing up this part of the discussion… For the content, the acting is fine; and the technical credits are fine; but the writing and direction are weak in too many shows. They need a harder edge on the writing and direction of the shows they directly create, to match at least the level of IT’S COMPLICATED and TERRIBLE BABYSITTERS (which are essentially pick-ups).  Fundamentally, they need someone with a poet's ear for language, an artist's eye for images, an expert storyteller’s edge for plot and character, and a website architect's sense of usability, to oversee the content and its presentation on the site.

D'Arcy Carden and Michael Kayne

 They also need lots more shows, but that will come -- they have many shows in development.

The website needs some more tweaking, though it is improving day by day.

Here are some thoughts about the platform as it now exists, and as it could develop: 

  • Obviously, the website needs to be complete with full episodes of all their initial shows -- not just "trailers". (It is filling up day by day.)
  • It is also missing "house seats" and "shop" but that will come too. (One of Stoller’s companies handles theatrical merchandise.)
  • For "community" it needs more than just buttons for sharing (Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc). It should have a chat room, perhaps Google hangouts with casts, creators and fans; and other social media elements directly on the site.
  • Confusing elements need to be cleaned up -- What exactly are "Collections"? What is a "Stage 17 Original"? On the home page, what are "Recent videos"? What are "Popular shows"? Why do "Popular shows" include lots of early episodes of shows that are not on Stage 17 (yet). (I'm guessing that "Popular shows" and "Recent videos" are classifications/section-titles that will make sense when more shows are live, but why use such inaccurate terms now?)
  • The navigation is difficult.  It's hard to go back to HOME. It's not hard to end up lost somewhere in Vimeo.
  • One of the nice features on the site is a matrix of the creative "stageists" that have worked on the webisodes and the site. Even more could be made of this section, actively promoting the participants. (But I'm not keen on the lame word "stageist”, or the awkward navigation to get to this page on the site.)
  • It's not clear whether Stage 17 (S17) is (or plans to be) hosting videos directly on its site and streaming the videos itself, or just embedding Vimeo and YouTube videos on their site.
  • It's not clear how it will handle SEO, since googling “Stage" or "Stage 17" does not bring up Stage17.TV at the top (at least not yet, tho' I've been watching as it creeps up higher and higher in the results); it will probably have to buy ads for those keywords.
  • STAGE17.TV is not the first place one would look to find the website for "Stage 17".  In fact, much of S17’s target demographic would definitely not think of looking for that ".TV" extension. Related URL,, is a cycling site. But STAGE17.COM may actually be available.  They should buy it right away. (It can then, of course, be re-directed to
  • To the extent that they are showcasing many web series, PLUS many episodes from those series, S17 would do well to develop a really fine search and navigation tool.  In my opinion, that is a great opportunity.  I do not think anyone has yet created a really good search tool for video.

Here’s some content I'd like to see added to Stage 17... 
  • Personally, perhaps as a consequence of my niche demographic, I'd like to see more content with a nod to some of the exciting, innovative trends On, Off, and Off-Off Broadway, including immersive theater, theater that interacts with the audience, and "personalized theater".

But about that “niche demographic”… 

I’m not entirely sure Stage 17 needs to restrict itself to the demographic priorities they described above.  Certainly many shows, like WICKED, are attracting a large audience of females younger than 25.  Exciting new shows like SLEEP NO MORE are attracting a completely different kind of audience. Just because some (not so great?) shows “targeted” at men (described in the NYT article below) failed to attract men does not mean that a superior show (or webiseries) with an interesting subject would not be a hit among men.

In seeing how Stage 17 develops, I am curious about what their business strategy might be.  Certainly building up traffic is a pre-requisite to any strategy.

Stage 17 is, I believe, looking into developing more venues/outlets/distribution channels, such as mobile on a small screen, or smart-TV / TV-box on the large screen TV in the home. (One of most exciting – and attention getting -- potential new venues is to produce a version of a show that can be seen on Facebook’s new Oculus Rift platform – which allows a very intimate kind of 3D as-if-you-were-there relation with the action.) 

I'm looking forward to the development of Stage 17.  It is a very interesting project! While it may not yet be ready for major awards, it deserves a citation for “Most Likely To Succeed!”
















What is TRANSMEDIA? ...




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Wednesday, April 02, 2014



The FIRST TIME FEST (FTF) (STARTS THURSDAY APRIL 3!) is a very special festival devoted to first time filmmakers.  It consists of a COMPETITION, in which the grand prize for the winning first time filmmaker is that the film receives distribution; a series of FIRST EXPOSURE screenings, at which distinguished filmmakers present and discuss their first films; and other special events.  Last year's FIRST TIME FEST (the first!) was very successful (see below for some stories about the first FTF in QPORIT).

This year's festival (THE SECOND FIRST TIME FEST) promises to be very exciting, with appearances by JULIE TAYMOR, TOM MCCARTHY, and LAKE BELL (among others) and a very promising looking lineup of films in competition.

I'm particularly interested in a film of Strindberg's MISS JULIE, to compare it with the coming version of MISS JULIE currently being shot by Liv Ullmann, starring Jessica Chastain. And I'm very interested in seeing FALL TO RISE, directed by Jayce Bartok, who wrote the brilliant script for THE CAKE EATERS, directed by Mary Stuart Masterson, (and starring Kristen Stewart).

Here's some more information about the FIRST TIME FEST - 2014

The Second Time Around
April 3-7, 2014
Voted On By Industry Professionals & FTF Audience
Appearing In Person
Peter Bogdanovich, Frederick Elmes, Albert Maysles, Michael Moore,
Kelly Reichardt, James Toback, Julie Taymor,
and Jennie Livingston 
with our Opening Night presentation,
“How They Did It” &
“Stand Alone! Conversations with the Outstanding”
Peter Bogdanovich, Michael Moore
Among Our Special Guests
Christopher Abbott, Brady Corbett, Daphne Rubin-Vega,
Slash, Tamara Tunie, Brooke Shields, Carol Alt
First Time Fest Partnering With
Royal Bank of Canada, Scandinavian Locations &
Village Voice
Hosted By NeueHouse


Presenting Debut Films By Now Prominent Directors
Appearing In Person
TOM MCCARTHY (Station Agent)
LAKE BELL (In A World)

 Films Presented At Loews Village VII

Tony Award-winning and Academy Award-nominated director Julie Taymor will be the FIRST TIME FEST’S 2014 John Huston Award For Achievement In Cinema recipient, announced FTF Co-Founders Johanna Bennett and Mandy Ward.  Ms. Taymor will also be represented in the Fest’s ‘First Exposure’ Retrospective Program where she will attend to present and discuss with the audience her first feature film, Titus. 

Photo by Eric Roffman

Presented to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the art of cinema, and whose presence in our community has offered leadership and inspiration to other cinema artists, the John Huston Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema is named in honor of one of America's greatest filmmakers. 

Julie Taymor is one of the most adventurous directors working today, known for her visionary work on stage and screen. She is a recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship and won two Tony Awards – including Best Director – for The Lion King, which is the highest grossing Broadway show of all time. Her most recent stage triumph was the production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Theater for a New Audience.  Taymor is also an accomplished director of opera, with productions including an astounding realization of Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex (broadcast on PBS) in Matsumoto, Japan; The Magic Flute for the Metropolitan Opera and The Flying Dutchman and Elliot Goldenthal’s Grendel for the LA Opera.  Taymor made an astonishing debut as a film director with her adaptation of Shakespeare’s Titus (screening on Friday at FTF), starring Anthony Hopkins and Jessica Lange, and has directed three other films: Frida – the story of Mexican artists Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, starring Salma Hayek and Alfred Molina (which earned six Oscar nominations and won two); Across the Universe, a phantasmagorical musical featuring the music of the Beatles that was a Golden Globe nominee for Best Picture; and The Tempest – her second reinvention of Shakespeare – starring Helen Mirren as Prospera. With her boundless imagination and originality, she is the ideal recipient of our John Huston Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinema.

Johanna Bennett and Mandy Ward also are pleased to announce two additional participants in the Fest’s ‘First Exposure’ Retrospective Program Presenting Debut Films By Now Prominent Directors.  Tom McCarthy will be attending FTF with his first film, The Station Agent (also expected to attend are some of his great cast including Michele Williams, Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, and Bobby Cannavale); and Lake Bell will be on hand to discuss with the audience her first directorial effort In A World (she starred as well and won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance for her script). 

FIRST TIME FEST is a unique film festival celebrating first-time feature filmmakers. Aimed at discovering and providing exposure for the next generation of great filmmakers from around the world, FTF is a five-day event with a competition section showcasing new and exciting debut films, and a series of screenings and discussions with now-prominent filmmakers presenting their first films and then mentoring the first-timers.

The Second Time Around for FIRST TIME FEST is set for April 3 – 7, 2014, and it will be based at NeueHouse (110 East 25th St.).  NeueHouse will be the location for panels, workshops, selected film presentations, parties and the filmmaker lounge.   Most screenings, including all the competition films, will take place at the AMC Loews Village 7 (11th St. & Third Ave.)

FTF will present ten Competition Films, which will be judged by a panel of industry luminaries and the FTF audience. All of the films in competition at FTF are the very first feature of the writer, director, producer, editor, cinematographer or composer of each film.  All competition screenings will be followed by “Hot-Seat” discussions between the jury and filmmakers, and all audience members will vote on the films as well. Together, the jury and audience will ultimately select the Grand Prize winner, which is offered theatrical distribution and international sales representation from the renowned American film distributor, Cinema Libre Studio.  And with FTF’s new relationship with Scandinavian Locations - the consortium of Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Danish film commissioners - the winning filmmaker will also receive a trip to Norway and Sweden to spend a week at a writer’s cottage in Northern Sweden to work on their next project.  Scandinavian Locations will also be hosting our Filmmaker Kick-Off event on April 2 at NeueHouse. 

Tom McCarthy and Lake Bell join FIRST TIME FEST’s retrospective series, First Exposure which showcases the auspicious and ambitious debuts by artists who went on to become major filmmakers, with personal appearances by the filmmakers.  Also appearing this year: our Opening Night director Jennie Livingston presenting Paris is Burning, Albert Maysles (Salesman), Julie Taymor (Titus), Michael Moore (Roger & Me), Kelly Reichardt (River of Grass), Cinematographer Frederick Elmes (Eraserhead), James Toback (Fingers), and Peter Bogdanovich (Targets).

FTF’s Stand Alone series will feature incredible conversations with Peter Bogdanovich, and Michael Moore. 

Between films, we will be hosting an array of Industry Panels with notable producers, financiers, agents, composers, critics and other members of the entertainment industry. Panels at FTF are intimate gatherings between attendees and special guests where questions are encouraged and discussion is lively.  Among the panels are “What’s Up, Doc;” “Help Me Help You;” “Show Me the Money;” “We Need a Bigger Boat – producing Independent Cinema;” “The Critical Eye;” “From Rock to Score” presented by the Grammys; and “Sell Baby Sell.”

A special panel, Women in Entertainment and Media, sponsored by the by the Royal Bank of Canada Wealth Management Group, will include Brooke Shields, Daphne Rubin-Vega and Carol Alt.

The films in competition are:

1982 USA. Director, Tommy Oliver. Set in Philadelphia at the onset of the crack epidemic, 1982 follows a father's efforts to protect his 10-year-old daughter from her drug-addled mother, while trying to steer her towards recovery. A grant recipient from the San Francisco Film Society and winner of the US in Progress award, 1982 premiered to great acclaim at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival. 

Bittersweet USA/Netherlands. Director, Marieke Niestadt. A thrilling, intimate, and unpredictable sports documentary follows Australian kickboxer and WIBA World Champion Diana Prazik's seemingly impossible quest to defeat Frida Wallberg of Sweden.

Butter on the Latch USA. Director, Josephine Decker. At a Balkan music camp, one woman's respite devolves into a thrilling, psychosexual drama as her friendship and sanity are tested to extremes. Butter on the Latch had its international premiere at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival, alongside Decker's second film, Thou Wast Mild and Lovely. 

Class Enemy Slovenia. Director, Rok Bicek. A group of students rallies against their new German professor when one of their classmates commits suicide. The film premiered at the 2013 Venice Film Festival, and was Slovenia's official entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars. 

Fall to Rise USA. Director, Jayce Bartok. In this multi-layered and absorbing New York drama, a famous principal dancer (Daphne Rubin-Vega) struggles to uphold her identity when a knee injury relegates her to motherhood. 

Farewell, Herr Schwarz Germany, Israel. Director, Yael Reuveny. A brother and sister survive the concentration camps, but are separated in 1945. This epic documentary is a journey spanning three generations, two countries, and one fateful decision. 

Getting to the Nutcracker USA. Director, Serene Meshel-Dillman. This behind-the-scenes look at The Marat Daukayev School of Ballet’s herculean efforts to stage The Nutcracker is an absorbing, intimate documentary that looks at the sacrifices and passion of its children dancers, ages three to eighteen. 

Love Steaks Germany. Director, Jakob Lass. She is an alcoholic chef, he, a sensitive masseur. Together they forge an unlikely relationship in this energetic and darkly comic romance set at a sea-side resort, which won the Lions Film Award at the 2014 Rotterdam Film Festival. 

Miss Julie Sweden. Director, Mikael Berg. A beautiful and bold new adaptation of Strindberg's classic battle of the sexes play set on a Midsummer’s night in a rustic mansion in 1920s Europe. 

The Sleepwalker USA/Norway. Director, Mona Fastvold. A young couple's renovation plans are thwarted by the unexpected arrival of her estranged sister in this thriller starring co-screenwriter Brady Corbett, Christopher Abbott and Gitte Witt, which premiered in Competition at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.

FTF will also be presenting, in out-of-competition Special Screenings: 

See You Next Tuesday USA. Director, Drew Tobia. A pregnant and abrasive grocery store clerk draws her troubled family close as she spirals toward her due date in this moving, dark comedy that recalls the films of John Waters and Todd Solondz. 

Nothing Left To Fear USA, Director, Anthony Leonard III. Producer/Composer, Slash. In this thrilling horror film, a family's journey toward a better life is interrupted by an unstable man of the cloth.


Johanna Bennett and Mandy Ward are the co-founders of FIRST TIME FEST.  As an accomplished philanthropist, actor, and social entrepreneur, as well as the daughter of singer Tony Bennett, Johanna Bennett has immersed herself within the entertainment and artistic community her entire life. Mandy Ward has worked in the film industry for the past decade in varied capacities, namely as a film producer of several projects. Mitch Levine, CEO of The Film Festival Group, is producing the festival. Through his company, Mitch offers consulting services and expertise to film festivals, film commissions, distribution companies and filmmakers around the world, and was formerly the CEO and Executive Director of the renowned Palm Springs International Film Festival. The Festival’s Director of Programming is David Schwartz, the Chief Curator of Museum of the Moving Image.

Among FIRST TIME FEST’s wonderful sponsors and supporters are: NeueHouse, Scandinavian Locations and the Village Voice.

For Tickets, Passes, Program, Schedule and Additional Festival Information - Visit The Festival Website at  

To download the complete program booklet, 
go to the calendar link 
and scroll to the bottom of the page:

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