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Entries in Jewish (8)

Tuesday
Sep052017

Call Redialed: Sir Ari Gold: "POP OUT" at The Laurie Beechman Theatre

Sir Ari GoldIt's so great to catch up with Sir Ari Gold, Billboard Top 10 award winning recording artist. I have been a fan of Ari's since the 1980s, when he was a child actor voicing characters on Jem and the Holograms and The Cabbage Patch Kids. It's been a real joy watching Ari's star rise. I always love interviewing Ari because he goes in deep, telling it like it is.

This time around, Ari & I discuss his new one-man show POP OUT, about becoming the first openly gay chart-topping pop singer-songwriter. In the 80’s, Ari Gold, a closeted orthodox Jewish boy from The Bronx, is discovered singing at his brother’s bar mitzvah…setting the stage for becoming America’s First Openly Gay Pop Star. From doing child voices for Cabbage Patch Kids and Jem and the Holograms to performing with Diana Ross and RuPaul, Ari's paradoxical, emotional, musical memoir tells a story of family & religion, sex & pop, and the search for a community of one’s own. When a community renders you invisible, there’s only one choice: POP OUT.

POP OUT will play for one night only on Sunday, September 17 at 7pm at The Laurie Beechman Theatre in NYC (407 West 42nd Street, between 9th & 10th Avenue, in the basement of the West Bank Cafe). Click here for tickets!

For more on Ari be sure to visit http://arigold.com and follow him on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

1. Last time we spoke in 2012 you were premiering your one-man show Bashert at NYMF. Now, this September you are coming to the Laurie Beechman Theatre with POP OUT, a brand-new show about becoming the first openly gay chart-topping pop singer-songwriter. Did performing Bashert inspire POP OUT or were you working on POP OUT already? Bashert was autobiographical, as is POP OUT, and both traced my journey from being a child performer to being an openly gay pop singer. But POP OUT is way more personal and I discovered why I am telling this story right now. The show is really about community and the ways in which we both need community and yet are often injured most by our own communities that reject us-sometimes even the "community" that is our own families.

It took a long time and many rewrites to discover and it also took life happening. Someone I loved very much had to die in order for me to be able to write about the relationship. And I have David Drake to thank for getting the piece to this place, as well as a reading I did for New York Theater Workshop. What I didn’t anticipate was the turn of events in our government that make the show that much more relevant.

2. Like me, you grew up in the 80s. The acceptance of gays was very different back then than it is now. When did you first realize you were gay? How long after this discovery did you come out to your family? My awareness of my gayness was a process that started as soon as I can remember being alive. It mostly manifested in me liking things only girls were supposed to like and only became about sex and an attraction to men later on. I came out to to my family as soon as I was able to leave the confines of the orthodox Jewish community which was in college. I wrote an 18-page handwritten college ruled coming out letter with additional reading materials stapled to the back, handed them each a copy and read it to them outloud. I talk about it in the show.

Sir Ari Gold3. As a gay man, navigating his way through the music world, how do you feel being closeted growing up affected your work or the choices you made along the way? When did you decide to come out in the music business? What happened that made you go, "Now is the time to tell the world?" Getting politicized in college at NYU, reading queer theory, my relationship with Jose Munoz, it all really helped solidify the kind of artist I wanted to be. I knew I had to be the kind of openly gay pop singer I didn’t have growing up. But I don’t think I grasped how many gay men who were older than me, who had survived AIDS, also needed to see a proud out young gay man. And then there were gays in the industry who I believe were too traumatized to appreciate and understand what I was doing—especially those in the music industry. They were scared that the world was still not ready. All I knew is that I was ready. The chutzpah of youth!

4. After you came out, what fell into place for you that you were hoping would? Came out of the closet or came out as an artist? The fact that the LOGO network debuted my video during the commercial breaks for the launch of their network definitely helped bring me to a larger audience. There’s nothing like TV and we didn’t have YouTube then! After I came out of the closet I was hoping I’d have hot sex with men and that has definitely happened!

5. If you were growing up today/just starting out in your career, what barriers/challenges that you faced, do you feel you would not have had to go through because of the world we live in? Well, now because of YouTube and social media, it would have been even easier to get my music out. But early internet did help me by having arigold.com in the 90’s and even myspace! Back in 2005 I worked with a book publisher to get my CD in a coffee table book so that I can get my music out in stores cause there wasn’t any other way except to buy a CD in a store. I also think with artists like Sam Smith, Adam Lambert and viral sensations like Steve Grand, and quite frankly because of the barriers that I worked so hard to break myself, we are more comfortable with the idea of an openly gay artist. Although we still have a huge lack of representation in music. Also, so many more people know that homophobia is wrong thanks to greater representation on TV and such. When I was doing my thing, there really was no one else doing it in the pop world and I still often don’t get the credit for that. It even used to say I was the first American openly gay artist to be out from the beginning of my career on Wikipedia and then someone took it down. It was a whole debate on whether it was true or not. I loved it. I also loved that no one could prove that it wasn’t true.

Sir Ari Gold6. While you hid your sexuality growing up, did you feel you had to hide or play down the fact you were an Orthodox Jew as well? How did being so religious come into play, like, did you sacrifice your religion to work on Shabbat or one of the Jewish holidays? As a kid my parents turned down a lot of work that took place on Shabbat. I remember my Mom taking me on the subway during a holiday for a job, I think it was Sukkoth, and it felt very rebellious and sinful. You can say I received some mixed messages regarding the importance of religion over show business. I did take my Yarmulke off for jobs and tucked in my tzitzit. I was also considered too ethnic to be on camera which you’ll learn about in the show from my actual parents.

7. You've had quite a ride on your journey in pop music. As a kid you were doing child voices for The Cabbage Patch Kids and Jem and the Holograms to performing with Diana Ross & RuPaul. Everything we do in life leads us to where we are, but do you feel there was one thing in particular on your journey that if it did not happen, you would not be where you are? Well I think I’d be a lot further in my career had HBO not stolen my brand with the show Entourage! But I am where I am not because I've ever had a big break or I’ve doing something that made the zeitgeist. It's because I keep working, making music, telling my story and putting it out there and allow it to touch whoever its meant to. It’s what I was put here on earth to do. I’m lucky enough to know that.

8. Now that you are an adult, how do religion and sexuality come into play in your professional life? How do you navigate this business differently than before? I am not religious anymore. That doesn’t mean I don’t have reverence for many of its traditions and rituals. And I also have reverence for breaking the traditional and subverting a ritual. Like wearing teffelin naked in "My Favorite Religion."

9. I'm in the midst of my writing my own one-man show all about my dating life. I feel that show will help release my demons/ghosts of my past relationships. What do you feel writing this show released for you? I realized that I cannot contain my story only in the form of a long form pop record - a form I still love despite a singles driven that’s been going on way too long! Writing and performing this show is Madonna "Blond Amebition level "cathartic" for me every time. I learn so much.

10. What would Ari Gold today tell Ari Gold of yesterday? Yesterday as in Monday? Yesterday as in my 30’s? My 20’s? My teens? My childhood? I’d probably tell them all to forgive myself for the shame and guilt I felt about stuff that was never my fault.

11. I have a new segment in my interviews called "I Can See Clearly Now" where I like to clear up misconceptions about people. What do you feel is the biggest misconception out there about you that you would like to shoot down here and now? I was doing a phone interview and this journalist asked me the same question. And then she said, "You know like people who think you’re stuck up." OK, then, I guess people say that! I've read some nasty comments online that I know I shouldn’t read too. But I know how much feedback I get for being a good kind hearted person especially from the people I care most about, so I know what they say about me can’t be true. I’m an Aquarius, so we can be a bit hard to read. RuPaul always says I couldn’t hurt a fly. I hope that’s a compliment!

12. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Kindness and appreciation toward my apparent imperfections.

Sir Ari GoldMore on Ari:

Award Winning Billboard Top 10 Recording Artist SIR ARI GOLD was born and raised in an Orthodox Jewish household in the Bronx with his brothers Elon and Steven. His show-business career started at age six when he recorded a CBS Children’s Record Pot Belly Bear: Songs & Stories and made his national TV debut on the Joe Franklin Show. He went on to sing on over 400 TV jingles including voices for characters on Jem and the Holograms, Cabbage Patch Kids, and singing with Diana Ross on her Swept Away album. Ari also recorded many Jewish children’s music like 613 Torah Avenue and Uncle Moishe. He released his eponymous debut album in 2000, receiving critical attention from Billboard, Hits and Vibe for being the first openly gay pop singer who was out in his music from the beginning of his career. He’s toured Europe, Canada and in over 50 cities across the US alongside Chaka Khan, Debbie Harry, and Cyndi Lauper. Ari holds a "Visionary Award" from the LGBT Academy Of Recording Arts and he was Knighted by the Imperial Court Of New York. "Make My Body Rock" from his fourth studio album Between the Spirit & the Flesh debuted at #1 on Logo making him the artist with the most #1’s since the networks launch in 2005. His Billboard Top 10 and #1 Sirius/XM Radio dance hit, "Where The Music Takes You" was voted Logo’s #1 Video of the Year and is the Grand Prize Winner (in all genres) of the 12th Annual USA Songwriting Competition. "I’m All About You" co-written with hitmaker Desmond Child and released by Universal Records saw Ari perform on the legendary Top Of The Pops and gave him another Top 10 hit. Ari’s coffee table book and remix CD, released in 25 countries, includes contributions by Boy George and RuPaul. Ari is an Independent Music Award Winner (Best R&B Song, "Love Wasn’t Built In a Day" featuring Dave Koz), a 2x Outmusic Award Winner, one of the 25 People That Make Us Proud by Metro Source, one of Genre’s Men We Love, and Out Magazine's Out100 Most Influential.

Tuesday
Jul252017

Call Redialed: Facetime Interview: Tovah Feldshuh: "Aging Is Optional" at Feinstein's/54 Below

Live from Feinstein's/54 Belolw, "Call Me Adam" sat down with four-time Tony nominee & two-time Emmy nominee Tovah Feldshuh about her upcoming show at Feinstein's/54 Below called Aging is Optional where we find out Tovah's secret to staying young & active, plus some life lessons! Tovah also clears the air on some misconceptions about her as well as how she would like to improve her life by one percent better everyday!

Aging Is Optional is an age-defying romp. Some people call them decades; Tovah calls them her collected works. It’s an hour of Juvederm for the soul, a booster for the heart and a probiotic of laughter!

Aging Is Optional will play Feinstein's/54 Below (254 West 54th Street, between Broadway & 8th Avenue) on August 1 & August 3 at 7pm! Click here for tickets!

For more on Tovah be sure to visit http://www.tovahfeldshuh.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram!

For more on Feinstein's/54 Below visit https://54below.com and follow them on FacebookTwitterYouTube, & Instagram!

"Call Me Adam" and Tovah Feldshuh interview live at Feinstein's/54 Below:

Tovah Feldshuh previews "When I Was A Boy" from her upcoming Feinstein's/54 Below show Aging is Optional:

More on Tovah:

For her work on the New York stage, from Yentl to Sarava!, and Lend Me A Tenor to Golda’s Balcony and Irena’s Vow, Tovah Feldhsuh has earned four Tony nominations for Best Actress and won four Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critics Circle Awards, the Obie, the Theatre World Award, the Lucille Lortel Award, and the Helen Hayes Award for Best Actress. On October 3, 2004, Golda’s Balcony became the longest-running one-woman show in the history of Broadway, a record it still holds. Most recently, Tovah stopped the show as the trapeze-swinging "Berthe" in the Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of Pippin. As Jason Zinoman of The New York Times raved, "No one earns more laughs than the marvelous Tovah Feldshuh."

Tovah is currently starring as "Naomi Bunch" in the Golden Globe-winning hit, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend on the CW, where she can be seen singing the dignified showstopper: "Where’s the Bathroom!" From the bathroom in West Covina to the Oval Office in Washington D.C., she has also joined CBS’ new series Salvation as President of the United States "Pauline Mackenzie."

Monday
Jul102017

Call Redialed: Lucie Pohl: "Hi, Hitler" (NEW version) at The Cherry Lane Theatre

Lucie Pohl, Photo Credit: Mindy TuckerLucie Pohl is one of the funniest up and coming comedian/actresses/writers I have seen. I've known her for almost three years now and have seen two of her shows, both of which, left me in stitches. 

Now Lucie is revisiting her first one-woman show, with a re-worked version of Hi, Hitler, the story of Lucie finding her identity in NYC as an immigrant. Meet a German-Jew who grows up in a wild family of artists, is fascinated by the Fuehrer from age four, and is uprooted from Germany to NYC at age eight. Lucie yearns for normalcy, but being different seems to run in her bloodline and escaping her inherited high-drama-destiny might just be impossible.

Hi, Hitler will play at The Cherry Lane Theatre (38 Commerce Street) from July 11-30. Click here for tickets!

For more on Lucie be sure to visit http://www.luciepohl.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

1. This July you are bringing a re-worked version of your award winning show Hi, Hitler back to NYC. How is this version different from the 2014/2015 version of the show? The new version of Hi, Hitler has lots of new material, most of the design team is new and I am working with a new director: the absolutely amazing Kenneth Ferrone! The show is funnier, sexier and better than blueberry pie!

2. What made you want to change up the show to this new version? I have done this show over 65 times in five different countries but I always felt the show still had more to give if I would just keep digging. I always wanted to see this show on a bigger scale, with set design, proper lighting! I wrote Hi, Hitler three years ago and have learned a lot and grown as a performer so I wanted to revisit it and make a Hi, Hitler super show!

3. What excites you about debuting this updated production of Hi, Hitler? Absolutely everything! Doing a three week run of my own show at the Cherry Lane Theatre on the most beautiful street in New York City is a REAL-LIFE dream come true for me! More than anything I am excited to try out the new material, I wrote a whole new ending for the show.

Lucie Pohl, Photo Credit: Mindy Tucker4. You play over 30 characters in this show. Who's the easiest character to perform? Who's the most challenging? The easiest character to perform is my dad Klaus! He is larger than life and just like a crazy cartoon in real life so that makes it easy...The most challenging character to play is myself...Ummm, who am I? I have no idea.....

5. With all that is going on in this world over immigration and the travel ban, thanks to that moron in the White House, how do you feel your show is even more relevant than previously? Thank you for this question! I absolutely feel my show is more relevant than ever now that we have the Morange (that's what I call him - the orange moron - morange) in the White House. Him and his administration have attacked all of us immigrants! I feel angry and vulnerable and I think it's SO important to give immigrants of all kinds and backgrounds a voice right now. We are this country!

6. In this post-election life we live, how do you feel your upbringing actually prepared you for what is going on? My upbringing was intense and full of drama, in that sense I am well prepared for the ups and downs we are experiencing right now. My family has always been very political, my mother was a political prisoner in East Germany, my grandmother had to wear the yellow star, my father's parents were refugees from East Prussia, so politics was always a topic in our house growing up. I grew up with stories of speaking up and speaking out against oppressors, which makes it easier to navigate a time like this I think. When I asked my 95 year old Romanian-Jewish grandmother what she thought of Trump she said, "What do I think? I think I have already survived three mentally ill people who tried to ruin my life - Stalin, Hitler and Ceausescu and now this Trump is number four! But let me tell you something, there is always a crack you can find to live your life and speak out!"

Lucie Pohl, Photo Credit: Mindy Tucker7. During his campaign and even still now, that idiot in the White House has been compared to Hitler, some even saying, he's Hitler #2. How do you think the original Hitler would react to this new Hitler-like person? If the election were between Hitler #1 and Hitler #2, who do you think would win? Hitler is a synonym for evil. And the problem with evil is not when it's in one person, the problem is when other people enable and support that evil, normalize it. I think that's what is happening right now and that is why morange is being compared to Hitler. So, I'm not sure I can answer that question. I think it's more important to think about, educate and fight all the people who are giving someone so divisive, bigoted and dangerous, power.

8. As you say in the show, while your friends were obsessed with candy, you were obsessed with Hitler. If you could have dinner with Hitler, what would you talk about? If I could have dinner with Hitler I would poison his soup, then I would spit in his soup and then I would tell him he's a piece of shit!

9. Throughout the show, you also talk about the high-drama of your family that you feel you have inherited. What is the most dramatic thing you would say ever happened to you? The most dramatic thing that ever happened to me is when I was six years old in Hamburg, Germany and did not win a meet and greet with David Hasselhoff at his concert. That was the day I learned what real pain felt like.

10. As a German-Jew, do you ever have a dilemma with what to make for dinner? As a German-Jew everything in my life is a dilemma.

Lucie Pohl, Photo Credit: Mindy TuckerMore on Lucie:

Lucie is currently the voice of "Mercy" on Blizzard's massive hit video game Overwatch, which boasts over 30 million registered players. She has appeared in the films Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (Warner Bros.), Not Fade Away (Paramount/David Chase), and The Odd Couple (Margarethe von Trotta/Heimatfilm). She was also featured on Homeland (Showtime) and the wildly popular UK series Red Dwarf XI (Amazon).

Monday
Mar062017

Call Answered: Brad Zimmerman: My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy at Bucks County Playhouse

Brad ZimmermanI first heard about Brad Zimmerman's show My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy when it had it's New York run here in 2014, but never got to see it. I'm so grateful for second chances because when I called, Brad answered. My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy is the hilarious and inspiring story about the grit & passion it takes to "make it" as an artist & the sweet rewards that come from never giving up! If you ever longed for something, if you ever desired it with all your heart, if you were willing to wait tables for 29 years to pursue your dream then My Son The Waiter will give meaning to your life!

My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy will be heading to Bucks County Playhouse from March 23-April 9. Click here for tickets!

For more on My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy be sure to visit http://www.mysonthewaiter.com and follow the show on Facebook and Instagram!

For more on Bucks County Playhouse visit http://bcptheater.org and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. This spring you are bringing your one-man show My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy to Bucks County Playhouse. What made now the right time to go back on tour with this show? I began the tour in 2014 in Phoenix. I think that with a few exceptions the show has really resonated both artistically and financially all over the country. The experience of doing it in a theatre rich area of the country one hour and 30 minutes from where I live is sublime. There is really no wrong time to do a tour of a show like this that is real, authentic and very very funny...it has a message that if you are willing to pay a price, and believe me, I have, that life can be extremely rewarding and meaningful. That is how I now feel about my life so I'm sharing that knowledge with audiences all over the country. And its universal...not just for Jews..but for anyone who wants to find purpose or desires to lead a rich life.

2. What are you looking forward to most about performing it at Bucks County Playhouse? I love the area of Bucks County...I grew up in New Jersey so Bucks County is just across the river. It is rich in both culture and the town is so artsy and beautiful and the theatre is legendary. I know I'll be taken care of by the wonderful people who really know what I need...that makes me feel in really good hands..wow!!! And I love the Northeast more than anything. I have so many people who I know in Jersey and Philadelphia who want to see it, some of whom I went to camp with in the Poconos so it should be a sublime expereince...all I need is a Starbucks, a gym and a nice Jewish lady who enjoys loaning money.

Brad Zimmerman in "My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy"3. My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy is your hilarious and inspiring story about the grit and passion required to 'make it' as an artist and the sweet rewards that come from never giving up on your dream. When did you realize you had a story that could be told in a show format? In 2005 I was approached by a friend who said he would produce a one person show should I ever have the desire. So I began work on the show in 2005. Its been an evolution...I didnt know right away that my story would resonate for so many people...I think my growth as an artist combined with my realization along this journey that my life was devoted to mastering a craft made me over the years feel like the story could resonate for so many people who have not found themselves...have not found what they were meant to do. That is the hardest thing in life, to find what you were born to do...if you have a little determination and are willing to really commit to getting the most out of your ability, the rewards can be truly remarkable and I'm not talking about financially. I'm talking about success on a much deeper level...which is the best kind of success...so I think it wasnt until a year ago, after working on the show for a decade or more, that I became aware in part due to the audiences response that I had a show that really inspired people and made them think and in some cases to reassess their own lives (break).

Brad Zimmerman in "My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy"4. In creating this show, what did you learn about yourself that you didn't realize living through it? The answer to this question is somewhat similar to question three. I learned that practice does make perfect...I never improved in sports and I was a truly great athlete, but I never improved because I never practiced...I took up acting and I wasn't nearly as gifted at acting as I was at hitting a baseball...but the challenge of trying to get great obviously had meaning for me...as my therapist once said to me. "You have only been inspired by the best. You have never been inspired by competence." Truer words were never spoken. I also learned that I love connecting...that is everything in art...really making the attempt to connect with the audience...to really talk TO THEM...I also learned that each human being is possessed of genius...in so many ways...we just have to be willing to pay the price to tap into it...(paycheck)

5. You spent 29 years waiting tables while pursuing your dream of becoming an actor. How many times during those 29 years did you consider giving up? What kept you going each time? What ultimately kept me going more than anything was that underneath the self doubt and the lack of confidence and the fear of failure which served to literally paralyze me for many years, I had a small little voice that told me, "YOU HAVE SOMETHING." At the time, my feeling was the something I had, was in the comedic arena so I think I needed to stick with it to find out if I was right...and I was...yeah me!!!

Brad Zimmerman in "My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy"6. During the run of this show, when did you realize you had something that would allow you to quit waitering? Then, what did that moment feel like? I was waiting tables until 2007...had to return five years later becuase I could not afford a haircut...three months later my ex-manager got me a three-week run of the show in Coral Springs, Florida and the show was extended four months. My producers Dana Matthow and Philip Roy flew down and after seeing the show offered to buy the touring rights to my show...I'm not certain but one of them wanted to buy the show and one of them didn't...so they asked me to cast the deciding vote. Haha...they gave me an advance and I have had a savings account ever since...yeah!!!

7. You been working on My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy since 2005. How do you keep the show fresh? Keeping the show fresh is the hardest thing I have ever done next to killing a deer...only because I keep missing...my mind wanders many times and the key is that the audience can't know that. For instance I could be talking about my father and at the same time thinking about what flavor ice cream to get that night...but if I wander I have to remind myself to connect...that is the key. When you have done a show as much as much as I have it's natural to have the mind wander.

Brad Zimmerman in "My Son The Waiter, A Jewish Tragedy"8. What has been some memorable "missed moments" during the runs of the show? Missed moments : When you expect a loud laugh and you get silence...that is a moment that can really test your composure. I have to adlib something...I try to say something that might get a laugh, like "they didn't get that in Alabama either."

9. As a comedian, you got to open for two of my all time favorite comics: Joan Rivers and George Carlin. How did you get to be their opening acts? What did you learn from working with them? What is one funny story about your interaction with each comedian you can share with us? Opening for Joan and Georgre was an honor...both were the most professional of professionals...Rolling Stone Magazine just came out with the list of top 10 comedians of all time and they were both in top 10. I think Georgre was 2. So to say that I worked with both of them, wow. By the way, I was number 2,000,346,900,111.

10. Since you were a waiter for 29 years, did you wait on any celebrities? If so, who? What are your top five favorite things to order when you go out to eat or drink? Celebrtities I waited on: Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore. Julianne Moore, Glenn Close, Chris Noth, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Dustin Hoffman, Ron Howard.

Five favorite things to order when I go out: a great steak, veal parmesian, warm apple crisp with vanilla ice cream, bagel and nova, carrots!!!!!!!!!

Brad ZimmermanMore on Brad:

Brad Zimmerman is a very unique and original voice in the world of comedy. Watch a few minutes of his comedy and you will know you have never seen anything like Brad. He works all over the country, doing theatres, comedy clubs, casino’s, country clubs, comedy festivals, JCC’s. I mean, you name it, he’s done it. He has worked with many well known comedians and entertainers such as Brad Garrett, Dennis Miller, Susie Essman, Julio Inglesias, and was Joan Rivers’ opening act of choice for over seven years. In fact Joan had said "I’ve had three great opening acts in my lifetime: Billy Crystal, Garry Shandling, and Brad Zimmerman." In the year 2006, Brad had the great honor of opening for George Carlin, and that relationship lasted until George passed away in 2008. The first time Brad opened for George, at the Paramount Theatre, just outside Chicago, right after finishing his act, George approached Brad backstage, and said, as only George could have said, "f**kin great!"

Brad combines years of acting training and standup, which is evident in Brad’s true pride and joy; his one man show. It is called MY SON THE WAITER, A JEWISH TRAGEDY, and he has been working on it since 2005. In this part standup/part theatrical piece Brad tells a story of one man’s lengthy, and we do mean lengthy struggle to make it as an actor in New York. His send-ups on his childhood, his family, his misbegotten love life, and his career are as warm and poignant as they are hysterical. He has done the show all over the country. In addition to this show, Brad has done work in both television and film, most notably playing Johnny Sack’s lawyer in one of the best television shows of all time: THE SOPRANOS.

Sunday
Oct302016

Call Answered: Andressa Furletti: Group .BR presents "Inside the Wild Heart" at Immersive Gallery

Andressa FurlettiWhen I heard that Inside the Wild Heart, a new immersive play, based upon the writings of Clarice Lispector, who was one of the most influential Jewish writers, was coming to New York, I immediately thought of my grandparents, who were proud Zionists, and as a little homage to them, I felt compelled to find out more. I found out Group .BR (the only Brazilian Theater group in NYC) was presenting this show & Brazilian artist Andressa Furletti, one of Group .BR's founders was going to be starring in this show. So, I called & Andressa answered!

Inside the Wild Heart is a fully immersive theatrical experience showcasing the work of Clarice Lispector, Brazil's most acclaimed female Jewish writer, transporting audiences directly inside Lispector’s heart & creating an experience that encourages audiences to engage with literature on a sensory level. The show integrates visual arts, film, music & performance art, which embodies the writer’s deepest feelings, serving as an entry point to Clarice's incredible work, still mostly unknown in the US.

Inside the Wild Heart will be presented from November 3-20 at Immersive Gallery (132 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY), performed both in English & Portuguese. Click here for tickets!

For more on Andressa be sure to visit http://www.andressafurletti.com and follow her on Twitter and Instagram!

For more on Group .BR visit http://www.group.br.com and follow them on Twitter and Instagram!

1. This November, your theatre company, Group.BR, NYC's only Brazilian Theater group is presenting Inside The Wild Heart, a fully immersive theatrical experience showcasing the work of Clarice Lispector, Brazil's most acclaimed Jewish female writer. When were you first introduced to Clarice Lispector's work? From there, when did you go, I need to create a show around her work? ​I was introduced to her in school, I was between 16 and 17. My first book was The Hour of the Star, a book published a few months before Clarice's death.

After our previous show, Infinite While it Lasts, based on the life and works of the Brazilian poet and composer Vinicius de Moraes, we met to exchange some ideas about Group .BR's next production. We ended up with three ideas and decided to do some research about them. Clarice made our creativity bubble. And the more we researched about her the more we found things related to some contemporary issues that matter to us. She was born in Ukraine from a Jewish family victim of the horrors of the pogroms during the Russian Civil War. The family almost ended up in US but had to change their plans because it was at a time when US made it more difficult for Jews to get in the country. Because of that they decide to board to Brazil where some relatives had already moved. So from there we have some issues such as immigration and refugees. And she was a woman who lived ahead of her time, and certainly paid the price for it. She wouldn't fit in the female model of the time. She was among the very few women that studied law, she published her first novel at the age of 23 already revolutionizing Brazilian literature, when she found herself in an unhappy marriage she got divorced in a time it wasn't even legal, she is one the most important Brazilian writers of all times. That makes us think about all the discussion about women's rights and gender equality. Specially for a project with so many women involved! Group .BR is a company run by two women, doing a show about a woman, directed and produced by women and with so many other women involved in other positions such costume and set designing. Those subjects are not directly the subject of the show, are examples for those discussions, the subjects of the show are Clarice's questions about humanity. The essence of our existence, our dreams, our secrets, our masks, our identity.

Andressa Furletti and Gonc¦ºalo Ruivo, Photo Credit: Roberta FernandesAndressa Furletti, Photo Credit: Roberta Fernandes2. What made you want to present Inside The Wild Heart across multiple mediums of visual arts, film, music, & performance art? Clarice's works are intimate. She talks about some hidden things. It feels very close. Because of that I couldn't think of another way to portray her other than an immersive production. The closeness to the audience to me is crucial. She often describes sensations so we created a show where things can be touched, tasted, smelled. I read in an article that you don't read Clarice, you experience it. I couldn't agree more, so the show is a "Claricean" experience.

3. As an actress, what do you like about performing in immersive theatre? In what ways does it challenge you? ​Immersive is dangerous because you never know how people will react and you must be ready for everything. This is something that keeps you on your toes and very present. You must use everything around you, everything the audience gives you, so the performance is always very fresh.

4. What do you relate to most about your character in Inside The Wild Heart? What is one characteristic you wish you had of hers?  I play a variety of characters from different books and short stories. I love Clarice's ideas about identity and inner freedom. It's something that resonates a lot with me.​

Patricia Faolli, Photo Credit: Roberta FernandesRicardo Burgos, Photo Credit: Roberta Fernandes5. Since the show is called Inside The Wild Heart, what is wild in your heart that you are just eager for it to get out and show the world or that you enjoy keeping for yourself? My true self.​

6. The underlying thread in all of Clarice Lispector's work is the questioning of oneself and humanity. What is something you still question about yourself? What do you question of humanity? There is something that I really align with Clarice that is the act of questioning. In one text she says "I am a question." I love that. I believe that when we stop questioning we stop growing. I also believe no type of radicalism can exist if we allow questions to arise. ​And I also believe that there are questions ​we don't have answers to. "So long as I have questions to which I have no answers I shall go on writing."

Andressa Furletti, Photo Credit: Roberta Fernandes7. What made you want to create your theatre group? First, I love Brazilian culture. It's so rich and so diverse! I just love sharing. Secondly, I couldn't accept the fact that Brazil didn't have a representation in theatre in NY. Well, things have changed and hopefully will change even more!

8. What do you get from running Group .BR that you don't get from performing?  Other than a lot of stress? Creating a community, seeing your vision take form, open doors to other artists, help people grow.

9. As a cross-continental performer, you are acting in more than one continent. Are the struggles you face as a performer the same no matter where you go or do you notice a difference between here in the US and Brazil? If there are differences, what are some of the ones you notice? In general, the struggle for artists is the same. ​But in my case I run into the ethnic issue ​here. For many casting directors I'm not Brazilian enough, whatever that means. Little do they know the country is very mixed and we come in all shapes and colors. I see change coming but ethnicity is still not very well accepted or even incorporated in the dramaturgy so the offer is not that big.

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Being present.

Andressa FurlettiMore on Andressa:

Originally from Brazil, Andressa Furletti is a multidisciplinary artist based in New York. She is the co-founder and artistic director of Group .BR. Her artistic works include stage and film acting, performance art, art installation and filmmaking. Her inspiration comes from her degrees in Biology, Filmmaking, the acting conservatory training at Stella Adler Studio and many workshops and intensives such as the Mitu Thailand Artist Intensive in Bangkok and the Watermill International Summer Program (2011/2012) coordinated by Robert Wilson. Andressa received several awards including Best Multimedia Show at the United Solo Festival in New York for her debut solo theater show free•dom - a solo of many people, the Outstanding Community Service Award from the Brazilian Community Heritage Foundation, 5 awards in international film festivals for Separation Sonnet and was eight times nominated to the Brazilian International Press Awards.