Local lab 2019 Q&A
Discount Ghost Stories
by Jessica Kahkoska and Alex Sage Oyen
What/who inspired you to write your show?
JESSICA: There are a few big inspirations for me: my roots here in Colorado, Alex's music, and my love of incorporating archival research into theater. When I first moved to NYC, I was incredibly homesick for Colorado, and found myself reading a lot of Colorado history and stories for fun, and feeling deeply inspired by the West.
ALEX: We were super inspired by historical-based material.
JESSICA: I did more research about Clifford Griffin and Silver Plume, in particular. I was struck by the Orpheus/Eurydice parallels.
ALEX: We were also inspired by the idea of making a band that can live both inside and outside of a theatrical vehicle.
JESSICA: Alex and I like the same kinds of theater, but our instincts and processes are different, and I enjoy collaborating with him because we bring really different ideas and skills.
Have you seen a public reading of this material? What worked? What, if anything, did not?
JESSICA: I've never seen a public reading, but I've done three. Performing in the show is one of the trickier parts of this project, because I rely on outside eyes to help me understand what's working.
ALEX: This is going to be the first time working on this incarnation of the piece. We’ve developed the piece a bunch around the country; we’ve been super fortunate to be able to work on this piece in the past with Ars Nova and Joe’s Pub!
JESSICA: I've learned through these readings that our audiences are way more "down" to experience a story through this hybrid band/play storytelling than we initially gave them credit for. The moments that have worked the best in the past are those where the concert and the play are married in a more natural way that trusts our audience to come with us. Simply put, we can trust our audience to be cooler and dig in more to the play and story.
What do you know about your show?
JESSICA: I know that hybrid concert/band storytelling has the power to engage people in really unique, fun, and vulnerable ways.
ALEX: I know that I’m gonna make people sing along ;)
JESSICA: I know that the forgotten Colorado stories are complicated, universal and urgent, and we need to hold space for them as we grapple with our history and American identity. Simply put, we get a universal take when we really dig into place-specific, human stories from here.
ALEX: I also know that we’re after a really engaging theatrical experience that’s jam packed with awesome songs. We’re here to have a party, every night.
What do you not know about your show?
ALEX: SO. MUCH. Genuinely there is so much to explore here that is so exciting.
JESSICA: I don't know exactly how it ends, and what we want to send our audience out the door with...
ALEX: As Jess and I are crafting the narrative we’re really excited to see how some of these ideas really manifest along the way!
What are you working on; what, if any, resources would be ideal in the room to do your best work in Boulder?
JESSICA: Instrument/musical support will make a big difference in our rehearsal productivity.
ALEX: Yes, dope/game musicians and instruments!
What are your specific goals for your Local Lab performance?
ALEX: To figure out major music components and also to begin to physicalize the piece.
JESSICA: I’d like to work on “why this now?” and I’d also like to incorporate other stories in addition to Clifford's that add new viewpoints and experiences.
ALEX: And work in some magic!
Extra credit: what do you love about your show?
JESSICA: I love that the story came from my childhood and this project has held so many different meanings for me over the last few years.
ALEX: That we get to play rock/folk music every single night!
Flame Broiled. or the ugly play
Fresh from his live performance in RENT on FOX, Lab playwright Rodney Hicks answers a few questions about his new play, Flame Broiled. or the ugly play
What/who inspired you to write Flame Broiled. or the ugly play?
I was taking an extraordinary master class with Paula Vogel last summer. At the end of class she decided to do one of her "bakeoffs" where she gives you the topic and you have 30 minutes to write a 3-4 minute play. The topic was essentially "Race and Culture" in America, more to the point, a person of color talking to an out of touch White person about the importance of voting. I immediately thought, how can I subvert this? I thought of George Wolfe's The Colored Museum and wrote Flame Broiled. Now, the first scene of the play is 'I Have a Nightmare' where a "too in touch" Black woman is ordering food at a Burger King where an "out of touch" White woman is taking her order. And we're off.
What do you know about your play?
I know that my play speaks for today. Eerily so. It is not politically correct. It harkens back to All in the Family, The Jeffersons and The Colored Museum, where we weren't afraid to laugh at ourselves or look at ourselves in unapologetically broken, pushed and complicated ways.
What do you not know about your play?
How it plays in front of a truly diverse audience... I want to see how the audience receives it, how the words play, shift and change out of different people's mouths and what each individual actor brings to these characters.
What do you love about your play? It doesn't apologize.