Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Farnsworth Invention

The Farnsworth Invention opens this week at Oddfellows.
Q and A with Guest Director, OBIE Award-winner, Marcy Arlin

Oddfellows Playhouse is delighted to introduce you to Marcy Arlin, Founder and Artistic Director of the OBIE Award-winning Immigrants’ Theatre in New York City. Marcy is a Fulbright Senior Specialist and a Member of the Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.

"The opportunity to work with Marcy Arlin challenges the students in new ways,” said Matt Pugliese, Oddfellows Playhouse’s Managing Director, “Not only are they benefiting from Marcy's wealth of experience and artistry, but the personal challenge of meeting the expectations of an Obie award-winning artist from New York.”

“That little phrase changes a lot in the mind of a teenager. And being able to succeed and perform up to her expectations, changes what our student-performers think is possible in their lives,” he said.

Q: What was your first encounter with theater?

A: Oh, maybe when my parents took me to Stratford to see Shakespeare or when I saw Caucasian Chalk Circle at Lincoln Center, or the famed Storybook Theatre that toured the elementary schools out on Long Island when I was a kid.

Q: How did it change your life?

A: I saw a magic event though it was only costumes and light. I also went to Fiedel School of the Creative Arts as a teenager, apprenticed at a children’s theatre in Massachusetts, I did plays and musicals in high school so I truly get Oddfellows. Theater was a creative outlet, a refuge, a place to find other kooks like myself. I think it saved my life during adolescence.

Q: What do you think of Oddfellows?

A: I am completely impressed by the talent and quality of the kids. I arrived at Oddfellows during one of the worst winters in Connecticut’s history. We had to delay the start of rehearsals, because of the ice and snow. And then the terrible damage to the theatre roof. And then the collapse of the building holding the props and costumes. And Jeffery, who hired me, running around talking to the press and the community. I was awed by the generous response of the community and the beloved presence of Oddfellows in the Middletown community. That kind of devotion is rare.

Once the theatre damage had been repaired, the building became crowded with children of all ages taking art, poetry, theatre and circus classes. I met the skilled and warm staff running and teaching these programs. I am honored to be invited by Jeffery Allen, who I have known for many years, to direct a difficult and eccentric play. I am impressed by the high bar that is set for the kids…texts that are difficult, tricky staging, deep, intelligent and meaningful themes. Again, that is rare and should be encouraged and developed.

The last thing I want to mention is that above and beyond the actual work and staging of plays, the most important thing is the progress and development of each individual child. The actors in the Teen Rep are well known to staff who follow their progress, social and artistic, with care and insight.

I am having a great time working with the kids and I hope they feel the same.

Q: What's next for you?

A: (I’m working on) a bi-national, trilingual (ENGLISH/CZECH/VIETNAMESE) performance project about Vietnamese immigrants coming to the U.S. and the Czech Republic, (which is) based on interviews, working with the Firehouse Theatre of Richmond, Virginia and Divadlo Feste (Jester’s Theater) in Brno, Czech Republic. (I’m also) going to Los Angeles in June at the Asian American Theatre Conference to be on a panel on theater and social change and doing some science fiction writing.

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