Terry Knickerbocker Returns to “Your Program is your Ticket”

Intro:

‘You’re listening to the Broadway podcast network.

Alan Seales:

Hey there. So sorry for the interruption. This is Alan from the Broadway podcast network, and I’m here right now to tell you about better help.com. It’s a safe, private, and confidential online environment that can match you with your own licensed therapist that you can start communicating with. In under twenty four hours, you can schedule a weekly video or phone sessions, and there’s no sitting in any annoying waiting room, which of course is especially necessary. Now in this time of social distancing, I want to point out that it is less expensive than traditional offline counseling and financial aid is available to those who qualify. They can help with so many things ranging from depression and grief to anger self-esteem LGBT matters, or even just sleeping. In fact, so many people have been using better health that they’re actually recruiting additional counselors in all 50 states. If you’ve ever been on the fence about counseling or therapy. Now is the time to start as a listener of this podcast on the Broadway podcast network, they’ll get 10% off your first month by visiting better health.com/bpn. Join over 1 million people taking charge of their mental health. Again, that’s better help. H E L p.com/epn

Sean Chandler:

Curtain up theater people and welcome to your program. There’s your ticket. My name is Sean Chandler, and I’ll be your host. Your Program is Your Ticket as a discussion of smaller theater works and the people and organizations that make it happen as many of you know, your program is your ticket as a helpful system where your program is literally your ticket to get into the theater in smaller, more intimate productions. It’s these works we’d like to highlight. And it’s our goal in this show to feature as many of these productions as possible while still discussing the biggies today’s show is a followup to My Act Two Places series, where I brought on many, many guests to discuss how COVID-19 effected them and their organizations. As you all know, we got hit hard with a major change of lifestyle and business systems during this pandemic and theater wasn’t spared. In fact, theater has undergone one of its biggest shifts, if not the biggest shift in the history of modern theater. My guests on today’s show are former panelists of the Act Two Places series. They are here to compare and contrast their experiences going through the pandemic and update us on how they are doing as we hopefully transition out of this pandemic, whatever that may look like. So let’s bring them on high. Your Program is Your Ticket alumni, and welcome back to the show.

Sean Chandler:

Thanks for having us glad to be back. Oh, it’s my pleasure. And I’m glad you’re back as well. And what I like about this is I see a lot more smiles than from most of you than the last time we spoke. Now. I, uh, I I’m, I wanted to get a group of you together and, and discuss how things have rolled out or transpired for you. Uh, as artists, as, uh, artistic directors, as people who run your theater business as teachers and see where we stand. I mean, the last time I interviewed all of you, we were in a very different place. Maybe it’s not so different now, but maybe it is different or maybe it’s getting to be different in soon. I hope let’s all cross our fingers for that. So, um, I personally think that, that there should be a collective conversation at this point, because we’ve all been so isolated for so long that it’s nice to get together and to talk and realize that we’re not the only people who are having these thoughts of difficulty and, and, and doom and things like that. I know sometimes, sometimes I think I’m the only person in the world and that’s not very good. You know, my like I’m very neurotic. Can I say very neurotic and anxious. So, uh, let’s have all of you introduce yourselves and tell us about your place in the world of theater. And let’s start with probably the person who is my earliest guests, like three years ago, Heather Cunningham, Heather, take it away.

Heather Cunningham:

Hi everyone. I’m Heather Cunningham. I’m the producing artistic director of Retro Productions. I’m also an actress and a sometime prop designer.

Sean Chandler:

Okay. Uh, let’s bump across the top to Melissa.

Melissa Moschitto:

Hey, good morning, Sean. Thank you so much for, including me. My name is Melissa Moschitto. My pronouns. Are she/her. I am the founding artistic director of The Anthropologists. We are in New York city based company dedicated to the collaborative creation of investigative theater. Uh, and so for The Anthropologists, I’m a writer, director and producer.

Sean Chandler:

Very cool. I’m just going down to the next row and I have Terry Knickerbocker. Terry, take it away.

Terry Knickerbocker:

Yes, John. Thanks. And as Melissa said, thank you for, including me as well. I, um, have an acting studio in Brooklyn and I teach and I coach actors and I’m a sometimes actor and a dad and an expectant dad, uh, seven weeks away. And, uh, I have also have a son in third grade. Um, and I’m coming to you from Bed-Stuy Brooklyn. Nice to be here.

Sean Chandler:

Very cool. Congratulations. That’s amazing. Thank you. Wow. Now you now last time we talked, you had, I think you had, was it your son who was walking in the room a lot? It was, it was adorable. It’s very, very sweet.

Terry Knickerbocker:

That was one of the things that happens when you teach at home.

Sean Chandler:

Okay. Next to you is Rob Neal, Rob. Hey, it’s good to be here with you all. I am Rob Neill. I

Rob Neil:

Am the artistic director of the New York Neo-Futurists, which is a dynamic ensemble of writer, director, producers who create immediate and, uh, mutable arts. Uh, we, um, have been doing lots of crazy things and I also perform with the group and write as well.

Sean Chandler:

Okay. My group ladies, take it away. There you go.

Debora Balardini:

I’m Debora Balardini I’m the executive director of Group.br. We are the only Brazillian theater company in New York City. And, um, I am, um, a performer as well and coach and I am in North Bergen, New Jersey right now in my components.

Sean Chandler:

Okay, cool. Andressa

Andressa Furletti:

Hi, I’m Andressa Furletti. She/Her pronouns. I’m a multidisciplinary artist and also co-founder and artistic director of Group.br.

Sean Chandler:

Very cool. I love your name. I think I told you that before Andressa Furletti it just rolls off the tongue. Beautiful. Okay, Larry Little, thank you.

Larry Little:

Good morning everybody. My name is Larry Little. I live in Chicago. My company is CPA Theatricals creates and develops new musicals for school aged actors.

Sean Chandler:

All right. Very cool. Excellent. Uh, all amazing artists, all just, just sterling people. It’s it’s always been such an honor to, to, it’s been such an honor to talk to you and those who have been on the show multiple times. It’s always fun. Love it. Okay. Remind us of where you are, your theater company or your theater business stood immediately after the shutdown. Where, where were you? What’s what, what was going on in your head and, and what, what did you do with yourself or your group or your business? Uh, let’s start with, we’ll go with Rob.

Rob Neil:

Hey, uh, yeah, so we were in the we produced the Infinite Wrench, which we do 50 weekends of the year. So we were in production at the time and we’re creating new plays all the time. So those are, we’re about to go into a show that weekend that we shut down. And we were also in the middle of auditions for ensemble members. So all that was put on pause, we quickly pivoted to create a podcast called Hit Play. Uh, originally it was just to put on the plays that we hadn’t done in the weekend that we shut down and we continued to do that, to create new audio experiments. Um, and we’re in season two of that. Currently we’ve maintained that throughout this whole time. We also, uh, eventually after working with the orchard project slide in this lab, we developed a live monthly show called Cyber Wrench, which had some prerecorded video play creations.

Rob Neil:

And also a lot of live, um, plays that we ended up streaming and having actual audience participation, uh, live in the show. So, uh, just kind of put a lot of things on pause and figured out with the constraints, other ways that we could have artists create and put the work out there or given that it was a lot of, uh, challenges for all the artists not put the work out there, if they were feeling that they weren’t ready to do more work. So we kind of let the team decide where they were individually. Hmm. Very good. Uh, Melissa, what about you?

Melissa Moschitto:

Yeah, I was, uh, I was about to go into tech for a show. I was freelance directing in upper Manhattan. Uh, and at the same time The Anthropologists, we were preparing to do a workshop and, and developmental reading of our new play, “No Pants in Tucson” at Hofstra University. And so of course, everything stopped. I suddenly became a first and third grade teacher because my two children were now at home. So Terry, you and I have a lot to talk about. Um, and we have other parent artists in the company too, including my artistic associates. So it was a lot of, you know, commiseration and trying to figure out what to do. Um, so for the company, it was pivoting to online virtual rehearsals on zoom and figuring out how we could continue devising and making an ensemble show as a group of now solo artists working in our own home.

Melissa Moschitto:

Um, but one beautiful thing that did happen was, um, we just learned so much more about each other as creators and our other talents in terms of sound design and video editing and costume making, uh, and also began offering devised theater workshops, uh, virtually, which has its challenges, but it also meant that we got to connect with students, um, college students and some high school students around the country. So that was, that was, um, really gratifying and exciting. And we’ve continued working on that show. And I, and I will also share, you know, we took that pause if that’s the terminology we want to use, uh, to not necessarily dive back into producing a lot, but taking that step back to get the macro view that you don’t often get when you’re go, go, go, and in rehearsals and trying to also figure out how are we going to keep touring this solo show? Um, so, so we took a step back and we did a lot of internal assessments through an anti-racist lens within our company about how we’re creating, how we’re producing, uh, how, how we’re operating as an organization. And so now we’re at a place where we’re starting to really, um, be able to implement so much of what we, um, talked about now that we are going back into live work.

Sean Chandler:

And one of the things that I like about The Anthropologist is you’re always revisiting. It seems to me like you’re always revisiting your mission statement and, uh, paying attention to society and where you feel that it needs to go and applying that to, to your company. I very, very much admire that. And I think it’s, I think it’s great. It’s constantly, it’s constant. I think we all know it is indeed well, then let’s go down to, uh, to Terry.

Terry Knickerbocker:

Thanks, Sean. You asked, uh, where I was, I was, I thought I was on the brink of shutting my studio down because, uh, I, as I think I shared when we spoke one-on-one I just could not imagine teaching this embodied art form, uh, virtually. And, um, and then some conversations, I’m a member of a wonderful group called the National Alliance of Acting Teachers, which has members all over the country, mostly in universities, but, but some like me who have studios, um, and we met on Zoom on that Saturday, I guess it was March the 13th. And it was there like, how are we going to figure this out? There were 70 of us on the Zoom call. And, um, a lot of people felt the way I felt like this is not possible. We can do table work, you know, for scene study, but we can’t do full on voice and movement.

Terry Knickerbocker:

And the physicality that happens in the theater. Um, and then an argument ensued between two teachers, uh, one from Vassar and one from Columbia. And we were all just sitting there with our mouths open. I was nervous because they’re like, wow, we’re supposed to be so collegial. And, um, and then it kind of, the penny dropped for all of us simultaneously at that. That was the work that, in fact it was moment to moment. It was alive, it was embodied, it was emotional and some idea of how it could be done online as opposed to closing down. And that it was a better time to train than to not train at all that it was better to be in community that it was better to do what we care about and what our students care about. Um, and how much Netflix can you watch, you know?

Terry Knickerbocker:

Um, and so we slowly began to figure out and called every one of our students, uh, all of whom were mad and suspicious and frightened, and many of whom had left New York because they were paying for classes by being in the service industry or babysitters. And there was no babysitting and there were no restaurants or bars open. So they gave up their apartments and left many of them and cautiously, they said they’d try it. And so for 17 months we taught online, even when my last year, second grade son was back in person in New York city public schools, we were online. And last week we had our first in-person classes again and with masks on, but I swear to God, it was like an explosion of joy just in that space, you know, seeing people running in and dancing and moving and doing the work. And, and I think that the work happens well on Zoom, but gosh, it’s so much better in person.

Terry Knickerbocker:

Even if you have a mask on kissing, of course it’s a little bit complicated, but, uh, but I actually haven’t figured that out yet, but, um, it’s just wonderful to be back and to have made it through. And then sort of today, we’re, we’re taping this, um, on the morning after the Tony Awards, which doesn’t include a lot of the makers here, I realized, um, and we wouldn’t have Tony awards if it weren’t for the makers who are here working on a smaller, uh, and more vital level, but gosh, to see that happen and to see the work and to see some of just, you know, see an audience full of people in masks, but it seemingly overjoyed to be there. And I don’t think it was a perfect event. Uh, and I don’t think it necessarily represents all the people that need to be represented, but it felt good to be moving in, in this direction that we seem to be moving.

Sean Chandler:

Right. Right. Uh, and it’s, uh, it’s telling everybody, I think before you came in and I’ve seen three shows so far, and I just always think to myself when I’m sitting there with my mask on, wow I took so much for granted before this. I really, really did just to know that I could show up and, you know, just kind of walk in and, and, and as I did before and, you know, have a soda and have a candy bar and sit wherever I wanted and not care it’s it really has sort of shifted my paradigm as a theater goer.

Terry Knickerbocker:

I think your vaccine card is your ticket now.

Sean Chandler:

Yes, indeed. Yeah. I, uh, we might get into that a little bit later, but I do have a vaccine card just for the record, everyone. I do. Um,

Melissa Moschitto:

Can I just say, Terry, I loved how you said it’s better to be in community. That was so beautiful.

Sean Chandler:

Yeah, it is. It’s true. Uh, I know we went, David and I are in a reading and it was, we had our first live rehearsal a couple of days ago and everyone was like, hallelujah, this is the first time I’ve been in the rehearsal room. And I dunno how long everyone was just elated and overjoyed. And it was very, very different than rehearsing in a Zoom room. You know, no shade to Zoom, they us through. But, but there is a very much a difference Larry Little

Larry Little:

Update us. Yeah. So when this pandemic hit, I was scheduled to go to New York and handoff my latest show to one of the major licensing houses and all these meetings planned with, uh, on and on and on. And of course it had happened and everything shut down on them. And I went into a deep depression like everybody else. And then about, um, two weeks later, I got an email from a teacher saying, can you help us out? Can you create a Zoom show? My kids were scheduled to do Matilda. We had tech, we had final dress and we were just going to open and they closed us all down and they’re all depressed. And I said, I feel your pain, but no, I can’t create a single shot of you create a zoom musical. I’ve never done this before. Thank you very much. I wish I could help you.

Larry Little:

And I sat with that for a few days and I met with my mentor and he said to me, your answer to everything right now is yes. And I said, but how do you do this? I don’t know what to do this. I can’t possibly do it in time. And he said, figure it out. And then I realized, you know what, I’m a problem solver. I’m a good problem solver. So I took about a day to get angry over that. And then I woke up and I went, I think I can do this. And then, uh, I found out all of the writers that I wanted to work with. They all lost their jobs. So I got on the phone and I said, Hey, you want to create a new show and I’m going to pay you to do it. And they all said, yes, we created a Zoom musical in five weeks, five weeks.

Larry Little:

And we’re very, very lucky. It’s played all over the world. Hundreds of licenses, all over–Myanmar, and Turkey and Ireland and Singapore. Uh, and we only did that because A. we were really desperate and we were really in a creative mode of did it all of it over Zoom. And so we really lucked out. We really, really lucked out. We were really busy. We then created two more Zoom shows after that. Uh, we’re still, we’re putting the finishing touches on the second one on the third one, the second one, we were expanding actually to a live stage stage production, but you know, it, it was such a challenge and it was a mind over matter thing I kept saying, I can’t believe that all what we’re talking about. And then we just had to figure out it had to be all monologues because Zoom is so difficult with dialogues. And how do you do with the music and how do you, blah, blah, blah, blah. But in the end, it came together at worked,

Alan Seales:

Hey there. So sorry for the interruption. This is Alan from the Broadway podcast network. And I’m here right now to tell you about better help.com. It’s a safe, private, and confidential online environment that can match you with your own licensed therapist that you can start communicating with. In under 24 hours, you can schedule weekly video or phone sessions, and there’s no sitting in any annoying waiting room, which of course is especially necessary. Now in this time of social distancing, I want to point out that it is less expensive than traditional offline counseling and financial aid is available to those who qualify. They can help with so many things ranging from depression and grief to anger self-esteem LGBT matters, or even just to sleeping. In fact, so many people have been using better health that they’re actually recruiting additional counselors in all 50 states. If you’ve ever been on the fence about counseling or therapy. Now is the time to start as a listener of this podcast on the Broadway podcast network, they’ll get 10% off your first month by visiting better health.com/bpn join over 1 million people taking charge of their mental health. Again, that’s better help. H E L p.com/epn.

Sean Chandler:

Wow. Um, Larry’s company is called CPA Theatricals and FYI. Larry was a CPA before he started his company, which I think is great and probably extremely helpful in the world. Okay. Andressa, uh, and Debora, go ahead.

Debora Balardini:

I’ll jump right in. I’ll give, uh, I’ll try to give an overview and then Andressa you can jump in and, um, you know, expand on that. But, well, 2020, we have just on March 1st, we can never forget. We had just finished, um, just done one of our biggest fundraisers, which is, um, a sort of wrap party, a party that we do for like 600 people. And I remember March 1st, we were, I was going crazy because there was, you know, we were already talking about the fires. We were already talking about this pandemic. And I walked in into the VFM with like hand sanitizer, bunch of wipes, a bunch of things, and people are looking at me like, are you freaking out? What is that? I said guys there’s a pandemic coming. Um, but we managed to do the party 600 people. Um, and then, um, we had a show coming from Brazil as well.

Debora Balardini:

Like it was our first, uh, you know, bridge that we were like, um, we were bridging out with resilience, you know, to bring shows here and all that. And we were bringing Colony, which was this show. And I remember Andressa was like completely ready to press the button for like social media, for everything. Like just announced that we were doing this. And this was like March 10th or March 11 or something like that. And the minute she was going to do it. We just got a, you know, a message saying like, uh, everything was closed. You know, it was connected to NYU and NYU was not bringing the show anymore. It was like this crazy thing. So we did have another party scheduled for June that same year for, you know, for fundraising as well. Um, but the biggest thing is that we were celebrating the Centennial of our muse Clarice.

Debora Balardini:

Lispector and we were, we wanted to bring this immersive theater back, you know, um, to celebrate for centennial. And we had to cancel that this was, was our big thing of 2020 to celebrate the Centennial of this amazing resident, um, author. Um, and we had to cancel, so it was pure craziness. Like we didn’t know what to do. Do we do readings to be, do you know, what do we do? Um, well we did create a few things. We did like 33 weeks straight of readings to celebrate Clarice Lispector. That was one of the biggest things. And it was so amazing because it, it brought us even closer to our community in Brazil and here, and it also exposed even more of our work and to the, you know, the, I shouldn’t say the America Americans, but to the non Portuguese speakers of, um, of New York or, you know, worldwide. Um, we also did, uh, Clarice’s Day, which that’s the way that we found to celebrate her Centennial was a 16 hour straight from five 30 in the morning, up to 11, 11 o’clock. We celebrated her existence. Um, and that existence was film, theater, uh, dance music, everywhere that her work could be portrayed. We brought those people in, we had five panels, um, um, alive, everything. So it was just Andressa and I; Andressa doing all the tech stuff, and I’m all dealing with all this other, you know, uh, connections.

Sean Chandler:

Andressa tell us about the tech stuff, please cause your show super techie. And I loved it.

Andressa Furletti:

Yeah. Like, uh, just to clarify, like piggyback with Deborah is saying, like we had this show, we have this show called Inside the Wild Heart, which is an immersive show and it’s very intimate. And has everyone in the house and the actors are really close to the audience, and that was the show that we had planned for bringing back in 2020. And of course, um, that, that would be impossible right? But we had filmed this show when we did in 2018. Um, so for this events that we had over zoom every week, um, and this show Inside the Wild Heart was based on the works of Clarice Lispector that Deborah mentioned. So, uh, this advance that we had on Zoom, um, this weekly events, we were reading texts from Clarice Lispector in the beginning, we always showed some images of the, of the show and everyone was like, how can we watch it?

Andressa Furletti:

How can we watch it? And we were like, how can we show it? Right? Because it was like a three story house where things happening at the same time. And the, the thing that the audience could choose where to go and how long to stay in each room and to follow an actor or not. That was a very important component of the show. So how do you put that on Zoom? We kept like breaking our heads, like, do we create breakout rooms? And people ask if they want to go to another room and come back, you know, like we kept, um, really trying to figure this out. And like in back in March, figure out Zoom was already complicated. Right. I was like, what is this? Now I take it for granted. We come in here, we know all the things, you know, how the audio behaves and how people talk and all the bugs and everything, but that was like, we had to learn all that.

Andressa Furletti:

Right. Um, and we kept wanting to do that show. Um, and then I got an invitation, um, to talk in an event called This Immersive Globe. Um, and they hosted on the platform called Gathertown. That looks kind of like a, um, a 2-D eighties video game where like you get to this platform, you get a little avatar that can walk in a space and that avatar can activate a few things, can activate to open a photo, can activate to open a film, a video and all that stuff. And when I saw that, I was like, this is it. This is going to work. I have to learn this, I have to sit down, understand how it works. Um, so I got on a call with them and for my surprise, I can, I could even synchronize the videos and have them play at the same time.

Andressa Furletti:

So, um, we added the all three floors in different videos, create this virtual house and had the video starts like exactly the same time. So people would come in and walk into the house and activate the video and say, oh, let’s see what’s happening on the first floor. Let’s see what’s happening on the third floor. Um, so it was like, it was like a huge challenge because like, we’re always multitasking as a small theater company, right? Like we have our titles in the company, but what we do is way beyond that. And because of a more like tacky person, I was like editing the videos, synchronizing, creating the, um, the, the 2-D model, um, uh, programming the, the platform and, and all that stuff. So it’s a lot of new skills under my belt right now. Um, so that, that was one, one of the things we did, um, last year, and we ended up doing it again in February, and we ran for like a few months, and it was very successful and for the Clarice’s Day that Deborah was mentioning. I had to figure out how to stream from Zoom to YouTube, to Facebook and Instagram all at the same time. So I had to learn OBS. So it is possible to do those people. It’s really complicated, but you can do it. So let’s just

Debora Balardini:

Say that I’m a very lucky person to have a business partner like that because I would have been like, you know, not knowing what to do

Sean Chandler:

Well, bring on Larry. And you can, you can have a CPA too, and you can have an acting teacher as well. An acting professor

Debora Balardini:

I wanted to add to something else Sean just really quick, um, that in the midst of all this ride to figuring out tack and doing 33 weeks of readings and all that, and trying to figure it out, um, and we also created a fund because our audience, um, you know, we deal with immigration all the time, meaning we are Brazilians. So the one of the first things was like, oh my God, all our actors, friends, you know, that are Brazilians that are here and are in a different visa and maybe not able to stay, or maybe they cannot go back to Brazil because of that, we also ended up creating a fund for resident artists in the state of New York, um, to make sure that we, we will help these people as well. So it was a small, like help, but everything that we will get, we will share with them. Um, and that made a very big difference as well. Um, our community opened up a little bit more because of the pandemic I think, uh, you know, it brought us close to people that we would never think that we would be close.

Sean Chandler:

Yeah. I think a lot of people were, uh, I remember, uh, Rob, when I, and, and Heather don’t think I forgot about you. I never forget about you. Um, I remember you saying that one of the first things that you did, um, with the Neos is that you put together like a phone tree and certain people were responsible for calling people, uh, or regarding like housing and food and just that the general, you know, like needs of. And I thought that was great.

Rob Neil:

\\Yeah. Um, not to preempt Heather, but, uh, yeah, the community, you know, Melissa and Terry were bringing this us up too the community was really important and how we are as the smaller community of our theater and then the community that we’re performing in and like really having that outreach. And we also, um, created an artist fund that allowed, uh, Neo Futurists to be supported, whether they were actually in some of the new digital media that we were creating or not. So every month people got at least something to help them along. And, uh, the, the, that look at what our community is and, and how we can support it and strengthen our ties with something that was kind of a theme through throughout. So I believe permeates what we do now, um, that we really, really mind and, and what’s important to not just the art we created, but the sanity of our company during these times. Oh,

Sean Chandler:

Absolutely. Okay. Ms. Heather, your turn. Well,

Heather Cunningham:

2020 was supposed to be Retro’s 15th anniversary. And I get, I mean, I guess technically it was Retro’s 15th anniversary and having been producing for 15 years and seen a lot of companies come and go in those 15 years, I thought, wow, that’s something to celebrate. We made it to 15. Um, and we were going to celebrate by producing our first musical and never done a musical. Um, and a musical is a really big undertaking even when it’s only six characters. So we had, um, we were at the point in production where we were cast and we were doing, we took photos, we took press photos the day before the shutdown. And we had some sort of idea like, well, we could do this number of rehearsals via Zoom so that we don’t fall behind, but it became very, very obvious very quickly that we weren’t going into rehearsal.

Sean Chandler:

It was, you’re a good man, Charlie brown, right. Charlie brown. Right. Which, which in itself is, is a very sort of segmented show for the most part. And I’m sure even that was difficult just to,

Heather Cunningham:

We never got that far. Um, we were, we were several weeks out from our first rehearsal when shutdown happened. We had literally only taken photographs. Um, but we had done other producing fit. You know, other production elements had had been done. Um, a lot of money had been spent that couldn’t come back, wasn’t going to come back. Um, we had to let our amazing cast go, basically, um, we thought for a while, well, we’ll just press pause on this and we’ll do the show another time. And, uh, even now that theater’s coming back, I am not comfortable producing a musical in the spaces as small as the spaces that Retro works in, right. Even with six only six characters, it just, the idea of spitting and sweating that close to someone else is, um, it makes me uncomfortable. Um, not just as an actor, but I don’t want to be the producer responsible for someone becoming exposed.

Heather Cunningham:

So, um, that frankly in addition to the director, no longer being available. Um, so we, we were not, I don’t know if we’ll ever get around to doing Charlie brown. I don’t know if that will ever, I don’t know if we’ll ever get the rights again. I don’t know if we’ll ever go back to it. I’ve got the props we’re done. I’ve got the props, parents’ basement in a stack of boxes. But, um, you know, we, we re we returned what we could. We tried to get as much money back as we could. We’ve got, you know, some credits around town for rehearsal spaces and other things. Um, but it became very obvious that Charlie Brown wasn’t going to happen. Yeah. That if I’m being a hundred percent honest, put me into a pretty deep depression. It was, I was, I did not pivot, uh, well, the way everybody else, at least on this panel seems to have pivoted.

Heather Cunningham:

Um, I, it took me a long time to even consider doing something. Um, when we finally did, we did a one night only live Zoom reading of The Man Who Came to Dinner as a, as a fundraiser, because we had lost so much money on the show that we couldn’t do. Um, as I’m sure many, many, many companies did. Um, and we managed to recoup a little bit and I managed to put a couple of dollars in a few people’s pockets because of that. Um, and I had to learn how to use Zoom too, um, and we weren’t even doing anything that technically difficult. My stage manager was a godsend because she figured out how to connect zoom to Q lab. Don’t ask me how, I don’t know, but it’s fair. It’s possible.

Sean Chandler:

It’s not easy. It’s not easy. I was in a reading and we had a stage manager who like, just could not have the hardest time grasping it. So, you know,

Heather Cunningham:

I don’t know how she did. She figured it out. I don’t know, God bless her. I was like trying to figure, I was like, oh, well, we’ll, you know, we’ll do foley effects. We’ll do them all live. You know, what is it? There’s only like the phone ringing and the doorbell, like we don’t have to. And she was like, no, no, no, no, no, no, I’m going to figure it out. And she figured it out. So

Sean Chandler:

It would be like ding dong and then 30 seconds later, ding, dong

Heather Cunningham:

Really, it was really complicated. We actually tucked Man Who Came To Dinner before we ever had a table read for Man Who Came To Dinner. Um, which was a very unusual, backwards way of doing things that we never thought would be, you know, but it was necessary to figure the Q lab stuff out. Um, and she, but she figured out like exactly how many seconds that delay was. Um, so that she would know when to, when to go basically. Um, and we provided costume pieces and prop a handful of props. And, and we put together, I don’t know, that was like 15 or 16 actors. That’s a huge show. And most of the number of people played multiple roles. Um, and it was a lot of, I mean, it’s a show. I, one of the reasons I chose it was because it was a play that I could in a million years would never be able to produce physically on stage in a company, Retro it’s, it’s perfectly the kind of show we do.

Heather Cunningham:

It is such a huge, expensive, gigantic show. If, if you don’t know it, um, just the props alone and the cast is huge. It’s like 20 plus characters. Um, it’s, it’s very much, you know, your typical 1930s, 40s, Broadway comedy. Right. Um, and we had a blast doing it. Um, and that is, that is the only thing Retro has done. Um, and I have enjoyed some time off to really regroup and think about what I want to do, frankly. Um, and it’s, it’s not Zoom theater. I don’t, I don’t want to do Zoom theater. So, um, we, we will recommence producing live in 2022. Um, and that is, that is just where we are and where I am. And I have, I made a decision a couple months ago, which is, um, that I am going to treat every show like it’s the last one I’m ever going to do.

Heather Cunningham:

So there may never be another one past the next one. And I’m okay with that. Um, at this point in time, I just, I’ve watched people rush back into producing and I’ve, I’ve watched people cancel shows because actors got COVID and I’m just not willing to be that producer who puts people at risk. Um, and so, um, and, and I’m not, I’m not judging the people who rushed back into it. There’s, there’s, um, a passion there that I admire that, um, that I kind of feel bad that I don’t have. Um, but, uh, I just, I don’t, I don’t, I’m not even ready to be an audience member inside a theater. And, and I know a lot of people have, have you were talking about seeing three shows since Broadway both opened up and I’m just like, I’m not ready to sit in a theater with people who say they’re vaccinated, even in a mask. Like I’m just not ready

Sean Chandler:

To prove that when

Heather Cunningham:

You walk in. You have no, I understand that I could against your ID just to clarify that. And no, I understand all of that. It doesn’t make me emotionally ready to do it. Right. Yeah. I mean, I remembered when I talk about that deep depression, I’m still kind of coming out of it. Like it’s not, you know, I’m, I’m, it, depression’s a funny thing. And it shows its self in very strange ways. And I, and, and it’s not real, and it is real at the same time. Right? Like, you know, that, that sort of, um, that phrase, depression lies, um, I can know, I know, I understand I’ve got a vaccination card and everyone else in this room has got a vaccination card and they’ve proved it and they’ve checked it against IDs and everybody’s wearing a mask. And yet I’m still sitting here in a room with a lot of people. I don’t know. And it keeps me humble. Right. Okay.

Melissa Moschitto:

If I can just say thank you for sharing that. Cause I think that so many people, um, are afraid to be as transparent as you, and as much as many of us, you know, we, we all learned some new skills and did things that we didn’t think we would ever do the past year and a half was filled with so much trauma for all of us. And we can’t forget that. And you’re right. There is a, there is a big difference between being safe, according to CDC guidelines or whatever, you know, and feeling

Heather Cunningham:

Safe and feeling taken care of. And my day job, not for nothing is a healthcare organization. So I see, you know, both sides of all of it. Like I don’t, um, you know, cause I do have a day job and it is the reason that I have, you know, I’ve been very lucky in this last year and a half to have a regular income, but I also, you know, I also, I see how bad it’s been, uh, in, because I can’t hide from it because I worked for healthcare organization. I didn’t work for, for, for this organization. It’s entirely possible that I’d be able to, you know, close all that out and ignore it.

Sean Chandler:

Yeah. Okay. I want to, I want to make an observation about you Heather. You’re one of my first friends here in New York and, and on the podcast and I know how committed you are. And I know that that is not a light and easy thing for you to say. And I only believe it about 20% because of the fact that I know as soon as things get a little bit better, it’s going to happen. Um, I wanted to ask, ask all of you because I was just thinking if anybody else had this feeling, I’m one of those people that like, when trauma happens, I immediately I’m, you know, I think I’m Superman and I deal with everything and I’m fine with it. And now that things are lightening up a little bit, I’m feeling it I’m having like a delayed reaction. Is anybody else going through that? Like, I’m just like, oh, everything’s better now. And okay, here comes the depression and the, what do I do? And I’ve, I’ve done pretty well over it. So it has anybody else had that syndrome.

Andressa Furletti:

Yeah. Uh, uh, I’ll second that, Sean, I think, uh, last year we were such in survival mode, you know, and such like do, do, do, do, do like, you know, like, and, and, um, my husband is a scientist, he’s an immunologist. So like we became like the hub of information for so many people. So like, I feel that, like, we kind of like trying to hold together as much as possible. And I, and I as soon that like 20, 21 hit. So like I felt that it was going to be this like total release. But to me it was a total collapse it’s as if all of the, the, the trauma and the tiredness and all those things hit. And I just went like off and that won’t say that, um, I stopped doing things, um, because I kept like pushing myself. But to me it feels that it’s harder this year than it was last year. Somehow I think like just carrying this trauma and, you know, just being exposed to so much pain and so many people losing family members and, you know, all this, like, you know, health and political scenario, you know, like in Brazil is so crazy right now. So yeah, I, I, I agree with you.

Sean Chandler:

Wow. That’s a of different points of view that are filtering into your world. That’s, that’s, you know, again, I think I’m the only person going through it and you say something like that, and there’s so many other things to consider and

Melissa Moschitto:

People having children and, and, and by the way, Terry, I can watch a lot of Netflix. I really can. So I know it’s really, I enjoyed, I actually enjoyed catching up on TV that I wasn’t seeing because I either was in rehearsal or going to see shows or, you know, you have kids and you’re like, oh, it’s 10 o’clock. I need to just go to bed. You know? So I did enjoy catching up on

Heather Cunningham:

This is how my depression, uh, tends to show up. Right. I want to go to bed at 9:30 and I don’t have children. It’s not like I just, I could sleep all day. I could lie in bed all day. I could be on the couch all day. That is not, it’s not healthy at all. And it’s, you know, um, you know, part of, part of what happened with, with, with me and with many people, I’m sure in New York city who live alone, I live alone in an apartment and I couldn’t leave the apartment without a mask. So I would not leave the apartment. Um, you know, and it wasn’t until the August. Um, when I, I went down to Virginia for three weeks, my, my best friend and her family live in Virginia at night. I swear she saved me, but by having me down there, um, because I could, I could work remotely.

Heather Cunningham:

I mean, my, my job had gone remote, um, out of necessity. Um, and I could sit in her backyard without a mask and breathe fresh air and be in the sunlight and, and those things that I couldn’t do in New York City. Um, and that, that’s what started to kind of move me through a little bit, but 2020 was supposed to be this big banner year for me. I had all this stuff. I mean, it was Charlie Brown. It was our 15th anniversary. Yes. But outside of all of that, a movie that I had been working on for several years was like, probably going to shoot that summer. I had a friend’s wedding that I was attending. I mean, there were all, you know, there was, there was a work trip, all of this stuff, and it was all back to back and it all went away in a matter of days.

Heather Cunningham:

Right. And so I felt like I was in mourning, even, even before I started processing death around me, I was already in mourning. Right. So, um, it was, it, you know, it stopped me a little bit in my tracks and it took me a couple of months to like, you know, move again. And once I started moving for a while, it started to feel okay, but then it’s, but then, you know, there would be a wave that would hit and it would be like getting knocked down in the ocean a little bit. Um, and, and

Heather Cunningham:

It was like, I told him it’s

Heather Cunningham:

Tricky and you and I, you know, I’m sure that I’m not the only one I know I’m not the only one. And so, you know, uh it’s I guess, I guess I feel like it’s important to talk about it and thank you for thanking me for talking about it, but I don’t feel like I need thanks to talk about this. Like, this is, we all have to talk, but we all have to be straight up with each other that we’re all going through this. It’s the only way we’re going to see, see it to the other side. And when I started to thinking, I started thinking about producing again, it was actually, my father had had a surgery and he was in the hospital. I went to visit him in the hospital. Um, he’s doing great by the way. There’s no, there’s, there’s no, um, dire end to that story, but he asked me while I was visiting him in the hospital.

Heather Cunningham:

So what are you going to do next? And I was like, are you kidding? I’m not, I don’t know. And that’s what started me reading plays again. I hadn’t read a play in a year, you know, I just like, I couldn’t, I couldn’t put myself in that sort of process again. Um, and then, so as you know, I started slowly going through the sort of, you know, what’s on the bookshelf, you know, searching for plays, doing all of that stuff. And then, um, you know, and then, and then I realized, well, I can’t do anything until showcase code comes back. Right. That’s a whole nother ball of wax for those of us who, uh, you know, we, I don’t know if we want to get into that today, but, you know, and then it was, so it was like, I can’t even book a venue until I know for sure I’m going to get, you know, be able if equity is gonna allow me to do this,

Sean Chandler:

Okay, I’m going to, I’m going to stop you right there. Are you all hearing what I just said about Heather? When I said I know her, and I know that immediately when she can, she will cause, and, and I want you to know that I am so proud of all of you that, that I know the pivot. I mean, Heather, you, you were very candid about that. That pivot did not happen right away for everyone that pivot. And if, if, if you didn’t hear that, then when this show posts, I want you to go back and listen to this because everybody that talked about it talked about being challenged and how hard it was. And, um, and it, it was just a lot of, oh my God, what the effort we going to do now. And that’s, I’m hearing that from all of you, but I’m also hearing that you saved yourselves, you saved all the people that, that count on you as leaders and, um, you’ve, you’ve saved your theater companies. And I think that that’s like so cool. It’s inspiring. And, um, and the more I’m listening to you, the more you all are sounding the same, like you all went through that and did that. And it’s, it’s just super cool. Uh, Rob, did you want to say something?

Rob Neil:

Um, yeah. And looking at how we used to see ourselves before the pandemic. One of the things that we said as Neo futurists is that we’d like to embrace chaos. And in this pandemic we learned, we don’t like that, that much,

Rob Neil:

This is, this was chaos at a level that we don’t like. And having those I dont mean to laugh though, it’s, it’s, it is, it’s like having baseline thing, the baseline assumptions that we all create under be utterly destroyed, like that takes time. And one of the things that we collectively realized in our company and as theater makers is that, that everybody’s on their own schedule. And you have to figure out what, where you can find your calm, where you can find your breath and not always be doing things right. And, uh, what I liked about what, Heather said like going to Virginia and being outside, like finding that connection, we would plan trips where we would socially distance, just walk through the woods as close as we could find a woods to New York City, just to have that, those moments of like, we’re not trying to do anything but survive. Right? And reset and, and, and support each other. And the, and you know, this, this kind of chaos, no one set to be able to handle, especially, um, just like, as an individual, it’s like finding those people that can really support you. And as leaders we’re called upon to support so many people. So where do you find time for yourself to do that? And how do you react to that? It’s it was, it was a lot. Okay.

Sean Chandler:

Yeah. That was that’s. That’s so interesting that you found that one of your, you know, one of your tent pole tenants, if you will, of, of your organization got really got challenged in a big way. And, uh, I know I’m pretty sure that the Neo futurists are going to be writing a play about that. Eventually. How many plays have you guys written? Tell me again,

Rob Neil:

Um, over 6,500, most of them short.

Sean Chandler:

Yeah. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s wild and, and, and, and, um, that’s a very cool observation. I liked that. That was, that was great. Um, where do you think, where do you stand currently now that we’re hopefully moving out of the pandemic? Uh, let’s go to you Terry.

Terry Knickerbocker:

Um, I was just thinking, listening, uh, to folks before I answer that question that I think this has created a tremendous opportunity for all of us to become more resilient and flexible. Uh, and, and since improvisation is really at the heart of what all of us do, I think everyone on this panel, I mean, I’m thinking about what Larry’s mentor said to him, figure it out and say yes to everything, uh, including Virginia, including saying, no, I have too much on my plate, you know, um, um, that capacity to figure things out, I think will stay with, with us as we go forward. I’m imagining, you know, um, um, where I am right now is, um, cautiously optimistic, uh, because, um, I don’t think I saw, uh, the Delta variant, uh, kicking us in the pants the way it did do, you know, back in the end of July, I was at, uh, we had our first out, we had our first outdoor group event at a bar in Brooklyn that had an outdoor seating, and none of us wore masked were all vaccinated.

Terry Knickerbocker:

And this one person came in with a mask, and I thought to myself, dude, you’re weird. And then we found out the next day that somebody had gotten COVID and tested positive, who was vaccinated, and there was a breakthrough infection. And I was like, okay, that was stupid. And we all got tested and nobody else had it. So, but there are all these other variants Mu and Lambda. And, uh, you know, I, I don’t quite know where things are going to ever. I mean, I’m just longing for the day where we don’t have to wear masks anymore, but I don’t know when that is. Um, and, and that would be sad if it’s a forever thing. I don’t think it will be, but it’s been much longer than any of us anticipated. Meanwhile, there’s work to be done. And, um, it seems that the theater wants to make work.

Terry Knickerbocker:

I know for a fact that film and television has never been busier. When I talk to agents, um, of some of the people I coach, they have never been busier because there’s such appetite, speaking of Netflix for content. And so everyone, every project that, you know, writers rooms were completely operating throughout the pandemic, generating content, waiting for the time when sets could happen again. Um, at the same time, I, my business is down by 40%. Um, so 40% fewer people are committing to train to act right now, which doesn’t make business sense because there’s a lot of work to be done, but it makes economic sense. And just like depression and nervousness sense, and people are still very nervous. I’m nervous. There’s that do-si-do when you meet someone, you want to hug them, but then you’re not sure that it’s like, um, you know, I got a pandemic dog and that’s been very helpful to get me out of the house. And there was definitely a day cause I would see people out on the street and I’d be wearing my mask outdoors. And then somehow that day passed and now nobody outdoors in my neighborhood is wearing a mask when we walk around and except maybe kids on their way to school, when I drop my son off to school, we have our masks on. So I don’t know, I’m cautiously optimistic. That’s where I’m at and, and really want to keep training and it’s, and it’s joyous to do so.

Sean Chandler:

Very cool. Um, Larry, let’s kick that question to you. Cautiously

Larry Little:

Optimistic. Is it, is it, or certainly for me in my stuff, because we work with kids, you know, it’s hard. So I’ll, I’ll, we, we just finished show called Miley Chased the Science, and it was designed for middle school kids. And that’s right in that gap, you know, 12 and up have the shot and 12 below don’t, but you know, my God, they’re still doing performances, bully, masked bullying, mass, socially distance stage, you know, and I, I see them on zoom. I’ve, I’ve gone to two of them, uh, live whole audience is masked. Everybody has to do this, but you know, so, so these teachers and kids are still dealing with this craziness that the adults at least have had their doses and all that. So we’re on the brink, we’re on the brink. You know, uh, one of the shows we did was for high school college, um, uh, and we were lucky. We were able to give about a hundred artists money. The last year, we were really, really lucky to pay about a hundred artists for developing these shows. But now we’re kind of at that brink because we’re still waiting for the kids to get vaccinated, but I am cautiously optimistic as well.

Sean Chandler:

Very cool. Um, Debra and Andressa. What do you feel that you’ve learned overall from going through this experience? Um, what will you take with you into the post pandemic world variants be damned?

Andressa Furletti:

Um, I think we could write a book about this one. I’m going to keep it short for the, for the, for the sake of everyone listening. Like it just a few things that come to my mind. Um, I think never take for granted a hug or holding hands or being together in the same space. Um, I think this is something that, you know, wouldn’t have thought about so much, especially as Brazilians, like we’re, um, we grow up hugging everyone, right? Like we, we see someone for the first time when we introduced, we go like three kisses on, on the check and then five minutes later, if you say goodbye, like you hug them, that’s a best friend. Um, and this, this distance, you know, like sort of like not taking for granted this and also, um, I think, um, I think it was Terry that mentioned about resilience and being able to reinvent. Um, I did not know that we could do that so fast. Um, in somehow that’s really inspiring for me, for other issues. We have all over the place that we can, we can come up with urgent solutions and reinvent ourselves and, and do other things, you know, like if you think about climate change, there’s also like urgent matter. And we keep kind of like postponing taking real action about it, you know? Like that gives me some, some hope. So, yeah. I’ll, I’ll leave with that for now.

Sean Chandler:

What a great way to, to express that it’s, it’s like, you know, what if challenged, you can rise to it and that could be applied to so many other things, so many other challenges that are happening and occurring right now. And we can do it. We’re not that, uh, apathetic. We’re not that lazy. We, we can step up and figure it out. Definitely. Uh, how about you, Debora? What do you want to take from

Debora Balardini:

The experience? There’s so much that goes on in my mind now I’m still like backing to your observation about the delayed reaction. Um, the delayed, you know, depression. Um, and like, I feel like we, we, or at least me, like, I’m so much in a bubble sometimes, you know, I don’t live in New York City. I live in north Bergen, have my backyard have like, you know, my, my little, you know, spices in the back and it’s like, oh, okay, well we’re in quarantine, but yeah, I’m very privileged. I have my little house it’s okay. Um, that, you know, that doesn’t mean that I’m, don’t, I’m not looking out there, but you don’t really know until you feel it. And I, it gives me a, knot through my throat because I really felt this year, all this depression, and you were talking about Heather, I felt this year and it really hit me even worse when I went to Brazil to, um, to, uh, for my father’s passing about a month ago.

Debora Balardini:

And that’s when I had to get into the airplane is that, you know, when you have to have your COVID test it, like things become much more intense. And, um, I am the type of person that is very systematic. I am a day, a week, a month ahead. And not knowing, not knowing. I think that’s where we all are. We don’t know. And not knowing it is really, really tough. So we are really putting right now, we are being tested. Our improvisational skills are being tested to the bone. You know what Terry said about this improvisation is the core of what we do, but we don’t really know until we have to be on that, you know, metaphorically and this life stage and going through the, not knowing what the next line is going to be and what the next variant is going to be, what they you know are wearing masks are we not wearing masks. You know, I’m a COVID compliant officer, but then it’s like, yeah, you took your certification. You’re cool. But now you’re like, you have to keep up with all this information that keeps changing all the time. So to the answer, to your question, definitely. I echo all Andressa’s, um, words, um, resilience, flexibility, um, you know, I breathe, I had to breathe a lot and I think that that’s where we are right now. It’s try to live in the moment.

Sean Chandler:

Uh, I’m going to go to one of the most organized people I have ever met in my entire life. And that’s Melissa now, Melissa, did you fee? I she’s looking at me. Let’s see. Very humble. She’s very, very humble, but she’s, she’s super, super, super organized. Um, do you, do you think that as somebody who has that mindset, a lot of people have said that that occurred. Did it change that, did you go into super organization mode? Um, people are talking about their pivots. What was your like, it was it,

Melissa Moschitto:

Uh, well, you know, I think there were a lot of ebbs and flows. Um, especially once getting past the, this, I wouldn’t say denial, but like, we didn’t know when the shutdown happened, what was about to come in terms of how long and intense this period would be. And so, yeah, I, you know, as I’m thinking back, hearing all of you speak, there were, there were pockets of this past year that were really tough, especially I, for me, it hit even just last month when, when with Delta’s arrival and just thinking, oh my gosh, you know, how, how is this going to play out in the long-term? And here we go again

Melissa Moschitto:

Right. Uh, and, and Heather, I hear you like, it is a very intimidating place to be as a producer, right? To think about like, what scenarios are you creating for people and, and not wanting to take that mantle of responsibility. So our company, you know, we’ve had many, many conversations about COVID safety, comfort levels, what we felt comfortable doing, what we could do as a company to keep people safe. Um, ultimately, you know, while we did do a lot of digital programming last year in the beginning of this year, um, and I will say like, I, I, I felt like I, you know, I’ve been the artistic director of this company now for 13 years, we turned 13 this past spring, and this was the year. Thank you. I see some snaps. Um, this was the year, you know, maybe it goes with like, you know, you’re 13, we had our bat mitzvah feeling like adults.

Melissa Moschitto:

So I don’t know. Um, but I felt like I came in like arrived at a new place as an artistic director. Not, not just as an, not even necessarily as an artist. Um, but as an artistic director, as a leader, like trying to create new opportunities for artists trying to take care of artists in the right way, um, on an individual level food, helping with money and especially those first few months. Um, but also just thinking about, you know, what, what does our company have room for had room for a lot more than I had envisioned before. So that was really exciting. Now we have this show that we’ve been working on for three years. Um, there is the very real fact of grants expiring at the end of this year that have informed decisions. However, I think because we had already had a lot of these conversations going on about, you know, what was safe and right to do.

Melissa Moschitto:

Um, we feel really solid as a team starting to go back into live work and, you know, masked, obviously everyone’s vaccinated. Cause we’re here in New York, we had already made the decision. We were only working with vaccinated people. Uh, we have a COVID safety officer. We have, we just distributed at home tests, um, to people yesterday to supplement our weekly, go get tested. It’s it’s a lot. And B. We do feel this sense of, um, urgency around the subject, matter of the show that we’re doing. So that is also propelling us. I don’t know what, what we would be doing if we didn’t like right before the shutdown happened, we were awarded a major grant, like major funding for this show, which was beautiful and hard to celebrate. Right. Um, and without that, I don’t know where we’d be, because we’ve really, that’s been our like foundation.

Sean Chandler:

Like a lot of people would just, you know, they, they made it just in time for grants and it saved

Melissa Moschitto:

Right. You know, it’s so tricky because of the one hand you’re like, okay, that can’t dictate what we do. Right. I don’t want to make a decision based on that. That is going to have negative repercussions. On the other hand, I’ll just say like, as a small organization, having grants delayed, and then an extra year to be writing more grants, we have more of a funding, like a foundation of grant support now, because we had that two year stretch. Now our budget grew a lot because we really committed to paying people competitive fees. So we’re still not there. We have a gap where we’re opening in six weeks. Oh my gosh. Um, we have a, we have a lot of work to do, but we have an amazing team. That’s ready to tell these stories that, that really do. Uh where I feel like they do have to be told. So

Sean Chandler:

I told you she was organized. She’s always like, she’s always done. I,

Melissa Moschitto:

I don’t know. There’s things, there’s things that could be better organized. And I, I, I do feel like sometimes we’re stretching. Like I want to do more than a company our size could do. Um, but we’ve been able to like grow our team this past year and a half. So there’s more people taking on different pieces, um, and, and also allowing people to grow into new roles. So that’s exciting. And just to not be like, mysterious about it, this show No Pants in Tucson. Um, we’re looking at, uh, laws from the late 18 hundreds and basically asking, like looking at today with attacks on reproductive rights and attacks on transgender rights. It all started in the 18 hundreds with laws against cross dressing. And so we’ve been mining archives to look at a whole host of stories of women and gender expansive people who are constantly getting caught up in the law because they wanted to wear pants and looking at how that is connected to 2021 has the most proposed legislation in terms of anti-trans legislation.

Melissa Moschitto:

And, and anti-abortion 2021. And these fights started 150 years ago. Um, and we have an incredible team. A women led team, we have non-binary and transgender artists as part of this work, both, um, in, for the live production and also a digital steer series that we’ve commissioned artists to create short form pieces. However they, whatever medium they want, but digging into our research archives for the show. Um, so, uh, the next two months are gonna be really challenging and really exciting, but number one priority is absolutely health and health and safety, more taking that extremely seriously. And for people, you know, when we last spoke to you, Sean, when, when you invited, um, myself and other company members to chat, we were talking about access and how, you know, being able to share our process over zoom and, and start creating digital work to share over the internet, you know, opened up our audience and gave more access. And we’re definitely still prioritizing that whether it’s through, uh, films on demand or live streamed version of the show, which we will have, or by budgeting for ASL, uh, and closed captioning services. So that whether you’re in the theater or whether you’re in New York and you are, you do want to come to the theater or you don’t want to come to the theater. We’re, we’re really trying to broaden access to the work across the board. Wow.

Debora Balardini:

I just want to say one thing for the record, Sean. You’re right. She is very organized

Melissa Moschitto:

I’m going to own it,

Debora Balardini:

Own it because the little I know you I’ve seen it and I love it.

Sean Chandler:

Um, well we have to wrap up, uh, pretty quickly here. First, I’m going to say, uh, Debra, did you say that your father passed away? My condolences that’s that had to be horrible going through all of this and that too. So I’m very sorry about that. That’s that’s awful. Um, okay. I am going to toss our last question to Rob Neil, Rob, where do you think theater stands overall? As we transition into this post pandemic world, I know you have a very specific type of theater that you perform, but your eyes are everywhere in theater. Um, where do we stand? All combined.

Rob Neil:

Oh boy. Uh that’s that’s that’s uh, well, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s a huge question. And I’m honored that you’re asking me to kind of take a stab at it, but, um, all combined, um, I mean, I think listening to what we’re all doing just in this podcast, and this is zoom room in this talk right here. Like it’s about what, we’ve, what we’ve learned when the base givens that we thought we created by have changed what we, what we’ve learned and then taking those and applying them in the way that you can. And that’s not the same for everybody that, that our companies are people in our company, Neo futurists, people in your companies, um, have different responses and those responses are valid and you have to take those into consideration. Um, so how do you put that into like creating theater? I’m not a hundred percent sure how everybody does.

Rob Neil:

I think being nimble and flexible is really important, really embracing the community and supporting each other, uh, whatever that means for individuals because their needs are people’s needs are so vastly different and, and not, I mean, yes, saying yes, like, like Larry’s manager said, like yes, saying yes, but also being able to say no, uh, is important as well. And in that finding the way that we can create together in a healthy way. Right. I think I, you know, we, we opened the infinite wrench, um, uh, well, we’re back in the theater as of two weeks ago. And just seeing how people as a community, in a space behave similarly to what it was pre pandemic, but also vastly differently is important to note and the how and how we can create and, and put things out there, safe as safe as possible. There’s going to be risk.

Rob Neil:

And, and, and everybody’s response to that as is, is important and, and personal, but putting that in there so we can have those moments of, of being together in the same room as best we can. Now, I, I have to say I’ve sat in shows and not always since, since theaters reopened and not always felt comfortable that how proximate everybody is. So how do we adjust to that? How do we honor that response and still create things? Um, and, and in the end, no, that it really is about the community that the art is being created for. And in, and those are not just the little companies, but the broader context. And that were, you know, as I think this really came true in that, we’re all in this together. And we have to not just look out for our own interests, but look out for other people as well.

Sean Chandler:

So the collective, we, all of us together, uh, trying, helping each other, um, and not just to, not just physically helping or financially helping, but mentally helping and, and, uh, letting everyone know that you’re not alone. We’re not alone. Uh, theater is a very, very resilient and scrappy art. And, um, I am, I am proud to be a theater artist, and I am proud as hell of all of you and the way that you all just, no matter how difficult it was for you, you have all, you’re all outstanding, wonderful leaders. And you took, you took a big pile of crap and you turned it into something beautiful. Well, that’s probably not the right thing to say, but you know what I mean? You took something that was okay. Let’s just say a big pile of crap was dropped into your lap and in the middle of your stage.

Sean Chandler:

And somehow you made it beautiful. Somehow you made it gold. And that’s, it’s hard enough just to run theater businesses and theater companies, um, much less have to run it under these circumstances and change everything. Everything pretty much about the way that you work at that takes leadership. It takes smart minds. It takes people who allow themselves to process through it and know that at the, on the other side of that, they’re going to flip and they’re going to pivot. And I want you to know that it’s been an absolute joy and an honor for me to have you on the show and to all talk to each other and just to hear pretty much what I think are so many similarities. It’s just been wonderful. So thank you everyone for being on the show. You’re all amazing, smart, brave artists. And I wish you many, many broken legs with your piece of theater as we navigate our way back to normalcy, whatever that may be. Have a great day. Thanks, Sean. Thank you.

Everyone:

Thank you.

Everyone:

Yeah. Nice to meet everyone. Congratulations and keep strong.

Sean Chandler:

Well folks, the 11 o’clock number has been sung and the bows have been taken. So it’s time to lower the curtain once again, a big thanks to my panel, Rob Neil artistic director of the New York, Neo Futurists, Melissa Moschitto. to artistic director of The Anthropologists, Larry Little producing artistic director of CPA, Theatricals, Terry Knickerbocker, owner and studio, director of Terry Knickerbocker Studio, Heather Cunningham, producing artistic director of Retro Productions Theater Company, Andressa Furletti artistic director and co-founder of Group.br and Debora Ballardini executive director and co-founder of Group.br. You can find more episodes of Your Program is Your Ticket on the Broadway podcast network, who has honored me with the place on their incredible theater podcasting platform. Broadway podcast network is all about creating an engaging immersive user-friendly experience, where theater stories of all kinds can be easily found, shared, and enjoyed. Please visit them on my [email protected]/YPIYT again, that’s bpn.fm/ypiyt.

Sean Chandler:

Your Program is Your Ticket is also on [email protected] Your Program is Your Ticket. I’m on Twitter at @programticket, Instagram @programticket also on Apple podcasts under the Broadway Podcast Network page. In addition, I’m on Stitcher, Player FM, Podcast Addict, Podbean, Pocketcasts, Deezer, Tune-In, Listen Notes, and the UK based theater platform SP. FYI. I appreciate all good ratings reviews and subscriptions. Folks take a little time to visit theater websites and see what they have to offer. We’re still transitioning through and out of this pandemic, and they can use your support, watch their content, give them all great ratings and reviews. And most importantly, donate, donate, donate it’s the fastest way you can help them. Thanks everyone for listening and until our next show. So long theater people and curtain.