Mar 212016
 
DSC_0298

10 QUESTIONS

Take Ten: Hanna Bondarewska

MARCH 16, 2016 | BY ADRIANE O’PHARROW
 

Hanna Bondarewska in the Ambassador Theater production of They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay!.
Valentin Radev
In this week’s Take Ten, Hanna Bondarewska shares the passion that drives her work. For Dario Fo’s They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! – at the Ambassador Theater through March 26 - she worked closely with longtime Fo collaborator Mario Pirovano, and even Skyped with the playwright himself!

1) What was the first show you ever saw, and what impact did it have?

As far as I remember when I was probably 4 or 5 years old, I saw a children’s show, Hansel and Gretel, with my parents and I remember how involved I was in the whole story. To this day I can recall the role of a witch who scared me so much that I screamed and tried to warn Hansel and Gretel to run away from her. My parents always took me and my sister to see many performances in the theater and took us to the National Theater in Warsaw to watch famous operas and ballet shows. I remember watching all those performances with rosy cheeks and imagining myself on the stage among all the other actors and living in this imaginary world.

After watching all those performances, my sister and I were always imitating the parts we saw on stage at home or outside and we created our own shows.  Our home was also a home to many artists, including all of our family and friends. These gatherings were full of songs, poetry readings and dance. From the early days I started reciting poetry and singing, first, in front of our parents, family members and friends and then at school.  My parents were our most important critics. They were fabulous teachers who gave my sister and I, our first lessons on how to walk and talk properly. Honesty and imagination was a very big part of our early learning. I still remember walking with a stick under my arms, with a glass of water or books on my head. My granddad would teach me to curtsy, how to walk, sit like a lady, how to eat with a fork and knife and more. All those early lessons helped me significantly later in my education and my acting and directing career.

2) What was your first involvement in a theatrical production?

I started performing when I was in elementary school in all my school’s productions and as soon as I got to High School, I was already performing in a professional theater in Warsaw.  One of the most memorable performances was a huge historical performance in celebration of “1000 years of Sandomierz” in Poland, in which I acted as Queen Wanda amongst already well known professional actors. I felt I was on “cloud nine”. This was an unforgettable time of learning from all those professional actors and directors.  I was able to perform for an audience of thousands, who came to see this show.  I was a true queen going to a battle, carried by two strong soldiers, by my ankles complete in full armor. That was a true adventure, I had to learn a lot about the epoch, style, learn how to fence and keep my body straight while two actors were carrying me and running with me through the entire area full of hills and brick pavement.

3) What’s your favorite play or musical, and why do you like it so much?

Each play I ever acted in was very significant, requiring a lot of research and fun in transforming. But one I will never forget, was the role of Beatrice in Servant of Two Masters by Goldoni. I loved playing that role because it called for transforming Beatrice into a man and then back to a woman in a split of a second.  It was a fun comedy in commedia del arte style. I had to practice a lot of fun movements, including fencing with real swords and had to have very quick, with very complex costume changes. The show was a great success and we had to extend the run of the show for 2 years.

4) What’s the worst day job you ever took?

I always tried to find something fun in every job I had to do. The only one that made me quit, was a job selling water filters in Florida. But the reason I quit was because management was trying too hard to sell very expensive units and tried to force me to trick people into getting them.

5) What is your most embarrassing moment in the theatre? There were many funny moments!

I never forget the moment when I was playing the lead character in a children’s show and I was running through the audience with my stage sisters to get on the stage, in a long gown and one of my sisters came too close behind me and stepped on my dress and my dress ripped, oh my God, what an embarrassment! I had to continue running towards the stage, holding my dress so it would not fall down and then i had to sing a love song.  I was truly paralyzed but the audience did not even notice.

The other very embarrassing moment was when I was dancing on a huge Performing Arts stage in Florida, among 5 other beautiful dancers. I was dancing to the newest composition, dressed in a leotard with a nice scarf over my hips. After 10 kicks, my scarf came loose and fell down and I could not even pick it up until the very end of the dance. I was frozen inside but had to continue dancing and did the choreography. My acting skills helped me finish in a smooth way and I picked up the scarf as it was intended. My sister was laughing so hard but my niece, maybe 8 years old, felt my embarrassment and said out loud to her mom, “that was not funny mom!”. That made my day!

6) What are you enjoying most about working on They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! By Dario Fo?

The work on that play started last year in early summer when I decided to work on an Italian play and wished to explore a Nobel Prize winner, Dario Fo. As soon as I received the book with the plays by Dario Fo, the play that immediately caught my eye and won my heart was the original play, Won’t Pay! Won’t Pay!. This was one of the plays that when I read it, I laughed so hard and immediately thought of producing it in US. I saw a lot of references to “our current times”, even though it was written in 70s.

I immediately contacted the author’s agency and learned that they do not give permission to the original version anymore, and that Dario Fo rewrote the play in 2008. It was translated into English in 2012. That is the version we are performing now with more updates, that we created while working on it. These modifications were accepted by the author and the translators. I also got a chance to work with Mario Pirovano, the closest collaborator of Dario Fo who came to the US and presented his One man show of Johan Padan and the Discovery of America by Dario Fo. He also led a Master Class for our actors and friends. Thanks to him I was not only able to learn more about Dario Fo and his style, but also meet Dario Fo via skype and see him create.  Thanks to Mario, we were able to get a personal video message from Dario Fo about the play and its message. I felt truly blessed to have such an  opportunity. Thanks to that process I was also able to implement many of the acting skills into my performance of Antonia in They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay!. Also Thanks to this collaboration, I was able to better understand the communication with the audience. I was able to listen more intently and apply that knowledge on the stage.

I love playing the character of Antonia, who tries to find the best way to survive in the world of economic crisis and always find solutions (even if they were not the best ones but portrayed by Dario Fo in a very grotesque-like, humor) to a given circumstance.  I also love interacting with my colleague- actors and find new things every time we perform it. I find joy in finding new comedic things and references to our times, thanks to the audience collaboration. I feel like an actor who got so many artistic tools from Dario Fo and now is able to paint, compose and fly!

7) Other than your significant other, who’s your dream date (living or dead) and why?

The only dream date I ever think of is my husband, but if we are talking about dream meeting, then there are many names that come to my mind. Currently while performing in They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay!, I dream about meeting in Dario Fo in person, a “Renaissance Man of our Times”.  I would love to watch him perform life and participate in an acting workshop led by him. I also would love to visit his art studio where he creates his fabulous paintings. I would love to listen to his inspiring life stories and learn from a master.

8) What is your dream role/job?

My dream job is creating a theater that moves the audience, inspire them, provokes and makes them come back to hear more. I dream of a theater that is a home for all creative artists and a great collaborative, inspirational exchange between the artists and spectators. I am always dreaming of a theater that houses international artists whose main goal is to create works that uplift and provoke, educate and inspire the international cultural understanding. I dream of a theater that breaks all borders and brings us all closer after learning about different cultures from around the world.

9) If you could travel back in time, what famous production or performance would you choose to see?

Since I grew up and was educated in Poland, my travels would probably bring me back to my hometown, Warsaw, where I saw several inspiring productions that I would love to see again and again and again. One of the most inspiring ones was Amadeus, directed by Roman Polanski who also played the role of Mozart with one of the most famous actors of our times, Tadeusz Lomnicki, who played the role of Salieri. I never forget the scene in which he transformed right in front of the audience from an old crippled man to a young Salieri. I watched the show 4 times, standing on the steps, there was no seats available.  His mastery was unreachable; I never saw any actor in my life who would reach that mastery as Tadeusz Lomnicki. I also saw him in Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett in which he was breathtaking.

10) What advice would you give to an 8 year-old smitten by theatre / for a graduating MFA student?

If you are truly serious of becoming an actor, make sure you learn how to use your “heightened senses”- listen, see, smell, taste, be aware of all things around. The process of learning and discoveries never ends! Always master your skills, work on your body, voice and look for inspirations to broaden your artistic vocabulary. Acting is like painting, composing, singing, playing music and dancing, all combined together. You may reach the sky but you may also fall down. Listen to your inner voice and fly.

 

HANNA BONDAREWSKA is a Polish-American actor, Artistic director & Founder of the Ambassador Theater. Hanna was recognized by DC Metro Theater Arts as one of the Best Directors 2014 and 2015 for Happily Ever After and for The Trap and received 2013 Helen Hayes Canadian Grant Award among other awards and recognitions. She founded the Ambassador Theater because she believes in the power of theater to change the world for the better through collaboration and artistry. By bringing together theater and diplomacy she hopes to give us all a new perspective as global citizens, which will lead to deeper cultural understanding. “For Hanna Bondarewska, the path to world peace not only exists, she is walking it — one artistic endeavor at a time.” – The Washington Diplomat.

Jan 082016
 

Flashpoint, 916 G Street, NW, Washington DC 20001

Website:  www.aticc.org Phone: (703) 475-4036 Email: ambassadortheater@aticc.org

Washington, DC, January 17, 2016

–For immediate release—

 

Ambassador Theater

In Partnership with the Italian Cultural Institute  

Presents The Washington DC Premiere of

THEY DON’T PAY? WE WON’T PAY!

By Dario Fo

Translated by Jon Laskin and Michael Aquilante

Produced by Hanna Bondarewska

Directed by Joe Martin

Featuring: Hanna Bondarewska, Moriah Whiteman, Darren Marquardt, Mitch Irzinski and Peter Orvetti

Ambassador Theater is thrilled to celebrate the 90th birthday of Dario Fo, Italian satirist, playwright, director, actor, and composer, with the DC premiere of They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay!

In the Nobel prize winner’s hilarious farce of civil disobedience, desperate housewives take justice into their own hands and become politically engaged. Based upon real life events — a worker’s uprising in Italy in 1974– direct action is needed when the government fails to protect citizen’s rights. Hugely popular and more relevant than ever, They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay! delivers a serious message in Fo’s signature absurdly comic style.

Meet Antonia, who during a food riot takes goods from a supermarket and must hide them from her law-abiding husband Giovanni, under her friend Margherita’s coat. Follow the chaos which ensues once Giovanni and Margherita’s husband learn of Margherita’s “miracle pregnancy.” You’ll be glued to your seat watching the farcical adventures of both couples in confrontation with the forces of the law.

This play reveals Fo’s roots in Commedia dell’Arte and Boulevard theatre. In awarding him the 1997 Nobel Prize for Literature, the Nobel committee remarked that Dario Fo “emulates the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.” His plays have been translated into 30 languages and performed on every continent.

WHERE: Mead Theatre Lab at FLASHPOINT

916 G Street NW, Washington DC

WHEN: March 3 – March 26, 2016; Wednesdays – Saturdays at 7:30 pm; Matinees Sundays at 3:00 pm

Previews (Open Dress Rehearsals) March 1, 2 at 7:30 pm;

VIP Opening March 3 at 7:30 pm, Reception follows

Press Night: Sat, March 5, 7:30 pm; Special Q&A after the show with the Special Guest, Italian Actor, longtime collaborator of Dario Fo, Mario Pirovano, director, Joe Martin and actors

TICKETS: $20 – $40 Online: http://www.aticc.org/home/category/get-tickets

For 14 + Audiences

Media/Press: please e-mail us to reserve your tickets!

 

 

Dec 082015
 

Ambassador Theater is looking for Assistant Director and Stage Manager  for the upcoming production of They Don’t Pay? We Won’t Pay by Dario Fo

Produced by Hanna Bondarewska

Directed by Joe Martin

In Partnership with the Embassy of Italy and Italian Cultural Institute

Casting Call December 14, 2015 6-10 PM at FLASHPOINT, 916 G Street, NW, Washington DC

The first rehearsals are starting January 5, 2016.

The scheduled run, March 2016, Wednesdays – Sundays

Previews: Tuesday March 1, 2, 2016

Opening Thursday, March 3, 2016

Thereafter, Wednesdays-Sundays to Sat., March 1-March 27, 2016

Rehearsal Schedule: Planned to start January 5, 2016

Actors are not called to all rehearsals, and sometimes only for a portion of rehearsal until the runs and tech.

Sat/Sundays: Generally 1pm-6 pm No evenings until tech week February 21-February 28, 2016

Weekdays: 6:30pm – 10:30 pm will takes place on Monday – Thursday generally, unless otherwise notified

(After the first two weeks of source work—reading, workshops, and ensemble work, this will be only 3 weekday nights)

Interested, please e-mail your resume at at ambassadortheater@aticc.org

These are paid positions

Looking forward to working with you!

Cheers,

Team of the Ambassador Theater

Nov 042015
 

A smart, surreal Smartphones from Ambassador Theater (review)

November 3, 2015 by Rosalind Lacy

A must-see, wacky send-up, Smartphones, is a fast-paced one-act about the fear of life without a mobile phone. Written in English by Spanish playwright Emilio Williams, award-winning director Joe Banno gives it a larger-than-life staging.

Smartphones raises an important question: Shouldn’t our deep involvement in cyber-tech gadgets bring us closer to each other?

No way, warns playwright Williams, who shows us through nonsensical, comic bits, which place his play firmly in theatre-of-the-absurd, how cyber-tech smart phones actually isolate us and drive us further  apart.

It’s a familiar Godot-like plot: Two married couples are trapped in their friend Fedé’s home waiting for his arrival. All four, Amelia (Ariana Almajan), Barnaby (Tekle Ghebremeschel), Chantal (Moriah Whiteman), and Dagobert (Shravan Amin), are so addicted to their smart phones that they text each other non-stop.

Amelia, dressed elegantly in a stylish white sheath, splotched with  an ink-smear pattern, receives tweets that Fedé is “on his way.” But their host never arrives.

The setting in the tiny Mead Theatre lab, designed by David Ghatan, is minimalist : black swivel chairs and leather settee. The frenetic four guests share irrational anxieties, hyped with worry  that their battery-powered phones will lose power. (The fear is known as nomophobia, an abbreviation for “no-mobile-phone phobia”.)  Communication could cut off. Not one has a charger. Friends on Facebook are friends Ariana Almajan as Amelia and (back) Moriah Whiteman as Chantal as long as there is battery power.  All appear to be at the mercy of            in Smartphones from Ambassador Theater (Photo: Valentin Radev) high-tech innovations.

Their melodramatic, exaggerated behavior grows grotesquely odd. Dagobert, overwhelmed by his life and stressed out about his waning cell phone battery, runs off stage and we hear sounds of his self-induced vomiting. Later, Dagobert tells his colleagues-in-waiting he feels victimized. He received a tweet from someone named Miriam, who robs him of friends posted on his Facebook wall.

These trendy millennials are so in love with themselves that deep involvement with anyone else is impossible.  Chantel suggests the two women take a “selfie” together. Amelia says: “You look terrible Look at that double chin.” They see flaws; not depth.

These well-dressed professionals are vastly detached from their children. They participate in the “latest in outsourcing.” Satire is aimed at parents so dehumanized, they send their kids to China to be educated, claiming that the kids really study and work there. After all, computers and high tech apps are sent to China to be assembled. So why not send kids for their education and job experience?

(l-r) Ariana Almajan (Amelia), Tekle Ghebremeschel (Barnaby), Hanna Bondarewska (Maid), Shravan Amin (Dagobert), and Moriah Whiteman (Chantal) in Smartphones from Ambassador Theater (Photo: Valentin Radev)

Smartphones successfully wires us for laughter. Comic bits abound. Spot-lighted, Amelia and Chantal, text each other, communicating what sounds like gibberish through their smart phones without eye contact. Later, the land-line phone is pitted against the cell phone, the old versus the new. When the land line rings, one of the characters opines: “Nobody answers those phones anymore.” Or: “It’s the telemarketer again!” In a climactic moment during a quiet funeral for a dead cell phone, Barnaby breaks in “Maybe they sell chargers at the Indian store around the corner.”

And then there’s the stunning entrance of Hanna Bondarewska, Ambassador Theater’s artistic director, as the maid. Dressed in a short-skirted, sexy, black  latex uniform with white apron, and spike heels, she rides in on a scooter, gleefully blowing kisses. Freed from household chores by technology, the maid has been outside playing games.

Life without a cell phone is so unbearable that Amelia and Barnaby take turns slipping out the no-exit door, searching for whiskey, vodka or Tequila, anything alcoholic that might be an alternative to their high-tech addiction. Technology, playwright Williams seems to be telling us,  is no longer our servant. It has become our master.

Freaked out by static in their heads, two of the people freeze, arms extended, like string puppets, unable to embrace. “We are all characters to Beckett. (not humans). We’re like characters out of Waiting for Godot or Sartre’s No Exit,” says Amelia, recapping: “Hell is with other people,” the famous line from Sartre’s existential gem. “All of us are part of a piece of art.” to which Amelia reacts with: “I don’t want to be a piece of art. I want Fedé to show up.”

As I left the theatre at the play’s end, I found myself reaching out to others in the audience, speaking, connecting to strangers. I felt like embracing the actors for this profound, refreshing experience.

Smartphones, A Pocket-Size Farce by Emilio Williams . Directed by Joe Banno . Featuring Ariana Almajan as Amelia, Tekle Ghebremeschel as Barnaby,  Moriah Whiteman as Chantal, Shravan Amin as Dagobert; Hanna Bondarewska as the Maid . Set/Lights Designer: David Ghatan . Sound/Music: Gabriel Dib . Assistant Lighting Designer: E-hui Woo  .  Costume Designer: Lynly A. Saunders . Movement, Production Stage Manager: Michelle Taylor .  Produced by the Ambassador Theater . Reviewed by Rosalind Lacy.

SMARTPHONES  October 20 – November 15, 2015
Ambassador Theater at Flashpoint, Mead Theatre Lab
916 G St NW, Washington, DC 20001
55 minutes
Tickets: $20 – $40
Thursdays thru Sundays
Details and Tickets

About Rosalind Lacy

Rosalind Lacy MacLennan, who hails from Los Angeles, has enjoyed writing for DCTheatreScene since 2006. A 20-year journalism veteran, with newspapers such as the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, the Butler Eagle in Pennsylvania, the Suburban Newspapers of Northern New Jersey, Rosalind won a MD-DC press award for the Montgomery Journal in 1999. Since Rosalind’s heady days training and performing professionally in summer stock out of New York City, Rosalind has taught drama in high school, directed and acted in community theaters, and is the proud mother of three young adults. Still an avid theater nut, Rosalind is a former board member of www.Footlightsdc.org, and an aficionada of Spanish theater.

 

Sep 222015
 

Washington, DC, September 20, 2015

–For immediate release—

In Partnership with the Embassy of Spain and SPAIN arts & culture  

Ambassador Theater Presents

SMARTPHONES, A Pocket-Size Farce

By Emilio Williams

…One of the funniest and cleverest pieces of absurd theater…

Produced by Hanna Bondarewska

Directed by Joe Banno, Helen Hayes awarded director

Music/Sound by Gabriel Dib

Set & Lights Design by David Ghatan

Costumes by Lynly Saunders

Production Stage Manager Michelle Taylor

Featuring:

Ariana Almajan, Moriah Whiteman, Shravan Amin, Tekle Ghebremeschel and Hanna Bondarewska

WHERE: Mead Theatre Lab at FLASHPOINT

916 G Street NW, Washington DC

WHEN: October 20 – November 15, 2015; Thursdays – Saturdays at 8:00 pm; Matinees: Saturdays & Sundays at 2:00 pm

Oct. 20, 21 Previews at 8 pm; Oct. 22 at 8 pm, Opening & Reception follows

Press Night: Sat, Oct. 24, 8 pm; Special Q&A after the show with the author, Emilio Williams, director, Joe Banno and actors

TICKETS ONLINE: $20 – $40 Online: http://www.aticc.org/home/category/get-tickets

For 16 + Audiences

Media/Press: please e-mail us to reserve your tickets!

Welcome to the World of the Absurd and the Ridiculous and get ready to reflect on your own, in Emilio Williams’s quirky pocket-size farce ‘Smartphones’. Two couples addicted to social media and self-gratification get too close for comfort stuck in a house of their elusive friend, who may never arrive. While waiting for Fede and pestering their smartphones to ‘death’, the group begin to lose their cool. The lies are exposed, masks dropped, secret desires revealed in this fast paced comedy too ridiculous to be true, or is it?

The Team of Ambassador Theater is thrilled to present the play, Smartphones, by a Spanish playwright and director Emilio Williams. Williams’ plays have been produced in Spain, Argentina, France, Estonia, the United Kingdom and the United States (including productions and performances in Chicago, New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles). His most recent comedy “Your Problem with Men” was produced by Teatro Luna in Chicago, and has traveled to New York City, Los Angeles and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In 2012, his one woman show “Medea’s Got Some Issues” received “Best International Show” at United Solo Festival, Off Broadway, New York City. That same year, his comedy “Smartphones – a pocket-size farce,” received its world premiere at Trap Door Theatre in Chicago. The book was published as part of the anthology New Plays from Spain by Siegel Center. In 2010, his “dramedy” “Tables and Beds, an unromantic comedy“was selected among 80 plays from 12 countries as the winner of the 4th Premio el EspectáculoTeatral. Emilio has degrees in journalism and in film and video. In the 1990’s, he worked for CNN in Atlanta and Washington. He worked for The Johns Hopkins University between 2001 and 2011. In 2011, he moved permanently to Chicago, the city where his father was born. He currently works for The University of Chicago developing the international business of its healthcare enterprise.

Ambassador Theater’s mission is to build international cultural awareness, provide a high standard of international repertoire based on close relations with the diplomatic and cultural representatives of different countries in the United States, and provide international interactive educational programs for the youth of the District of Columbia, the D.C. Metro area, and around the United States.

Contact: Hanna Bondarewska, Artistic Director

(703) 475-4036; HannaB@aticc.org

or Eliza Anna Falk, Literary Director

(703) 618-1160; eliza.falk@aticc.org

ATICC is a 501(c)3 Nonprofit Organization. For more information, visit www.aticc.org

Contact: Hanna Bondarewska, Artistic Director

(703) 475-4036; HannaB@aticc.org

or Eliza Anna Falk, Literary Director

(703) 618-1160;

eliza.falk@aticc.org

Washington, DC, September 20, 2015

–For immediate release—

In Partnership with the Embassy of Spain and SPAIN arts & culture

Ambassador Theater Presents

DC Premiere of

SMARTPHONES, A Pocket-Size Farce

By Emilio Williams

…One of the funniest and cleverest pieces of absurd theater…

Produced by Hanna Bondarewska

Directed by Joe Banno, Helen Hayes awarded director

Music/Sound by Gabriel Dib

Set & Lights Design by David Ghatan

Costumes by Lynly Saunders

Featuring: Ariana Almajan, Moriah Whiteman, Bruce Rauscher, Shravan Amin, and Tekle Ghebremeschel

WHERE: Mead Theatre Lab at FLASHPOINT

916 G Street NW, Washington DC

WHEN: October 20 – November 15, 2015; Thursdays – Saturdays at 8:00 pm; Matinees: Saturdays & Sundays at 2:00 pm

Oct. 20, 21 Previews at 8 pm; Oct. 22 at 8 pm, Opening & Reception follows

Press Night: Sat, Oct. 24, 8 pm; Special Q&A after the show with the author, Emilio Williams, director, Joe Banno and actors

TICKETS: $20 – $40 Online: http://www.aticc.org/home/category/get-tickets

For 16 + Audiences

Media/Press: please e-mail us to reserve your tickets!

Be prepared for the Absurd and the Ridiculous, as well as moments of thoughtful reflection, in Emilio Williams’s quirky pocket-size farce ‘Smartphones’. This modern surreal play deconstructs relations between four egocentric individuals addicted to social media and self-gratification. Two couples and their precarious worlds get too close for comfort stuck in a house of their elusive friend, who may never arrive. While waiting for Fede and pestering their smartphones to ‘death’, the group begin to lose their cool. The lies are exposed, masks dropped, secret desires revealed in this fast paced comedy too ridiculous to be true, or is it?

The Team of Ambassador Theater is thrilled to present the play, Smartphones, by a Spanish playwright and director Emilio Williams. Williams’ plays have been produced in Spain, Argentina, France, Estonia, the United Kingdom and the United States (including productions and performances in Chicago, New York, Washington DC, and Los Angeles).

His most recent comedy “Your Problem with Men” was produced by Teatro Luna in Chicago, and has traveled to New York City, Los Angeles and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In 2012, his one woman show “Medea’s Got Some Issues” received “Best International Show” at United Solo Festival, Off Broadway, New York City. That same year, his comedy “Smartphones – a pocket-size farce,” received its world premiere at Trap Door Theatre in Chicago. The book was published as part of the anthology New Plays from Spain by Siegel Center. In 2010, his “dramedy” “Tables and Beds, an unromantic comedywas selected among 80 plays from 12 countries as the winner of the 4th Premio el EspectáculoTeatral. Emilio has degrees in journalism and in film and video. In the 1990’s, he worked for CNN in Atlanta and Washington. He worked for The Johns Hopkins University between 2001 and 2011. In 2011, he moved permanently to Chicago, the city where his father was born. He currently works for The University of Chicago developing the international business of its healthcare enterprise.

Ambassador Theater’s mission is to build international cultural awareness, provide a high standard of international repertoire based on close relations with the diplomatic and cultural representatives of different countries in the United States, and provide international interactive educational programs for the youth of the District of Columbia, the D.C. Metro area, and around the United States.

ATICC is a 501(c)3 Nonprofit Organization. For more information, visit www.aticc.org

Jun 082015
 
VAL_2580
BWW Reviews:  A Mesmerizing, Memorable TRAP At Ambassador TheaterIt’s easy to misunderstand the avant-garde: we come to the theatre expecting a normal story told by actors who are easy to follow, with sets that are exactly what they appear to be. And when a production deviates from the norm we tend to squirm, flip through the program and hope the intermission comes soon so we can split for the bar down the block. 

Why can’t they just give it to us straight? Because for many of us life is irreparably complex, our experience shattered by tragedies and burdens that typical audiences cannot begin to imagine. In order for the artist to tell that story and do it justice, nothing about it could possibly be normal.

Consider Samuel Beckett, who spent years in the Resistance during World War II roaming the desolate, war-torn French countryside waiting for his next contact-an experience echoed in his masterpiece Waiting for Godot. Now consider the life of another artist whose country’s existence has hung repeatedly in the balance, a man who experienced Nazi occupation, bore witness to the Holocaust and then endured over forty years of Communist dictatorship. How can you express the psychological devastation of all those years, combined with the artist’s indomitable will to rise from the ashes again and again? To stage this experience as if it were normal would render it ridiculous.

Ambassador Theater, with their production of Polish poet Tadeusz Rózewicz’s masterpiece The Trap, has introduced Washington audiences to another theatrical genius of Beckett’s stature. Like Beckett, Rózewicz fought the Nazis; unlike Beckett, Rózewicz did not have the luxury of spending the rest of his career writing as he pleased in the democratic West. Instead he had to navigate the treacherous waters of Soviet rule, where literature became a battleground and attacks needed to be carefully staged indeed. Through his collaboration with artists like the great director Tadeusz Kantor in Krakow, Rózewicz developed theatrical techniques that reflected his own life and enabled his audiences to think deeply about what they were living through.

The Trap was inspired by Rózewicz’s love for the Czech author Franz Kafka; but because Kafka was Jewish, and because works like MetamorphosisThe Trial and The Castle anticipated the nightmares of Nazism and totalitarianism which came soon after his death (he died in 1924), his works were banned throughout Eastern Europe. Kafka was forbidden at the very moment when people needed his artistic vision the most.

It is easy to see why Rózewicz found a kindred spirit in Kafka, someone who understood what the future held and who could give voice to the suffering that plagued so many for so long. What makes Kafka even more compelling is the way his suffering was largely self-imposed; imprisoned by his need to write and struggling with ailments that would send him to an early grave, he tried desperately to live but was plagued by self-doubt. A self-doubt so deep that he asked to have his writings burned after he died; (fortunately for us his best friend, Max Brod, refused to do so).

The Trap traces key elements in Kafka’s life-his domineering father, his sympathetic (and mischievous) sisters, his serial engagements to women, his affairs, etc. Rózewicz’s masterstroke is the way he weaves the much darker future-the rise of Nazism, his sisters’ death in the Holocaust, and the long Soviet occupation-with the troubled ‘present’ of Kafka’s time.

Rózewicz creates a space in which past, present and ominous future occur simultaneously; Franz, the Kafka character, is accompanied throughout the show by Animula (“little soul,” played affectingly by Alexander Rolinski), a young boy who accompanies Kafka and witnesses everything. We’re free to interpret Animula as we see fit – is he Kafka’s pure soul? Is he Kafka as a boy, a reminder of lost innocence? Does he represent the child-like vision of the artist? Whatever we choose to see in him, his presence haunts much of what follows.

Meanwhile a small phalanx of Soviet-era, trench-coated secret police (costumed by Sigrídur Jóhannsedóttir) move in and around the stage, performing set changes and quietly reinforcing our sense of paranoia. Kafka’s paranoia was primarily personal, but would soon become a defining experience for the generations that followed. These police also greet you in the lobby, conducting you upstairs to the theatre in stiff, formal fashion-a reminder that even in the pre-internet age, privacy in some places had already disappeared.

Leading the cast is Matthew Payne, who as Franz captures the anxiety and exuberance of the artist. His delivery is rushed at times, and is of a piece with a young man who suspects that his end is near, but who has a world of words to communicate. Colin Davies, as the Father, rules the stage as the petty dictator of Franz’s household, (Kafka fans will remember he wrote an epic diatribe against him). Davies’ forceful performance calls to mind Steven Berkoff, whose interpretations of Kafka are themselves legendary.

It would be a very long review to list all the fine performances in the supporting cast; but well worth mention is Madeline Burrows who shines as Ottia, Franz’s ever-cheerful sister; Burrows also has a chilling pre-show role as TV journalist/interrogator in the theatre lobby, a spectacle in which she questions a caged Franz. Morganne Davies and Ariana Almajan likewise light up the stage as Felice and Grete, two of the most important women in Franz’s life. And Benjamin Koontz gives a solid performance as Max, Franz’s close friend, his anchor in reality and-by virtue of receiving his papers for burning-Franz’s de facto literary executor.

Director Hanna Bondarewska has assembled an inventive creative team, who give us a vivid glimpse of the Polish avant-garde. Set designer Carl Gudenius has filled this bare, experimental space with trapezoidal projection screens and, most intriguingly, ominously-shaped oblong boxes. In this world, things are never really as they seem; when standing the boxes appear to be wardrobes and fireplaces, and when laid flat they can be beds, benches, dinner tables – and yet the inescapable image of the coffin is there as well. Bondarewska and Kathy Gordon choreograph scene changes to forefront the ever-changing nature of life in Kafka’s Prague, accompanied by composer Jerzy Satanowski’s haunting score; Satanowski incorporates a variety of instruments and themes, which comment on and aid the momentum of each scene.

Gudenius’ scenic flats become the locus of a series of fascinating projections, designed by Riki Kim; alternating between abstract figures, barbed wire and blossoming flowers (often shown as photographic negatives), Kim’s work heightens the sense of alienation and fragmentation experienced by the characters onstage.

The Trap is a rarity for Washington; a glimpse of an avant-garde movement whose techniques were forged in the crucible of two world wars and decades-long Communist dictatorship. The result is a fascinating evening of theater, and one that artists in DC would do well to study.

Production Photo: Matthew Payne as Franz, with Madeline Burrows as Ottia. Photo by Valentine Radev.

Advisory: the show includes brief nudity, dramatizations of the Holocaust, and is more appropriate for audiences 16 and older.

Running Time: 2 hours 40 minutes, with one intermission.

The Trap plays at the XX Building (a former church), 814 20th St. NW. Tickets at:

http://www.aticc.org/home/category/get-tickets .

 

© 2015 Copyright Wisdom Digital Media. All Rights reserved.

 

Jan 222015
 
trapposter

Type: Theatre
Pay: Paid
Union: Union/Non-Union

Audition/Casting Date(s): Saturday, January 31, 25
Start/End Time: 3:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Location: Ambassador Theater at

CALLBACKS on SUNDAY –time will be Announced!

Building XX

814 20th Street NW, Washington DC 20052

the second floor in room 202.

Please e-mail your photo/resume at ambassadortheater@aticc.org
PLEASE REGISTER ONLINE through Eventbrite

Breakdown/Description:
Ambassador Theater is holding a casting call for The Trap by Tadeusz Rozewicz. The play will be produced at the Building XX of the George Washington University;

The Trap: Performances: May 28 – June 21, 2015 with the possibility of 2 weeks extension
ROLES  – Franz ( A Man, dark hair thin, reminding Kafka) Animula (a small girl or a boy or a young actor), Josie ( about 30 years old woman), Mother (Middle age woman), Father (Older Man, father of Franz), Ottla (Sister of Franz), Valli, (A young woman), Felice (An attractive woman), Grete, Zenek, Vic, Salesman, Waitress, Max, Cobbler, Barber, Executioners, Gentleman

About: …Anxities and nightmares of Franz Kafka…

Tadeusz Rózewicz was born in Radomsko, Poland on October 9, 1921. During World War II, he was a soldier in the Home Army, the underground resistance movement in occupied Poland. For two years, he fought in a guerrilla unit and wrote his first poems. After studying the history of art at university in Krakow, he began to publish both poetry and plays. His first volumes of poetry were Anxiety (1947) and The Red Glove (1948). After 1956, he primarily wrote plays including The Card Index, The Witnesses or Our Little Stabilization, and The Old Woman Broods. In 1999, he published a collection of poems, family documents, photos and essays entitled Mother Departs, which won the Nike prize, the most eminent Polish literary award. He died on April 24, 2014 at the age of 92.

Tadeusz Różewicz is widely considered one of Poland’s most important and influential writers. His works tend to focus on universal themes, but speak particularly to the generation of Polish adults whose memories of youth, like his own, are filled with the horrifying experiences of World War II. Różewicz often scorns the conventional techniques and philosophies of literature and frequently questions the validity of poetry itself. Różewicz explored the life of one of his literary heroes, Franz Kafka, in the loosely biographical play The Trap (1982). The play also depicts the demise of artistic creativity, played out against visions of the impending ‘‘final solution’’—Hitler’s largely executed plan for the systematic murder of all Jews in Europe.

FOR YOUR AUDITIONS:
Bring your photo/resume and be ready to read from the script ! You may also present a monologue.

Audition Address:

Building XX

814 20th Street NW, the second floor in room 202.

Washington DC 20052

Contact Information:
ambassadortheater@aticc.org

 

Mar 182014
 

‘Happily Ever After’ at Ambassador Theater

by Eliza Anna Falk on March 17, 2014

FIVE STARS 82x15
Cristina Colmena’s Happily Ever After is no fairy tale! If you are in a mood for a spicy dark comedy about love’s tribulations, leave your children with a nanny and head to the Mead Theatre at Flash Point for an evening of laughter and self-reflection. The compelling play which had its world premiere on March 13th, delivers a truly entertaining experience with high emotional resonance. The play’s three acts have distinctive titles as each presents a different male-female scenario. We see young lovers destined to part in ‘Misunderstanding’; a promising one night stand which fails to blossom in ’ Don’t take it personally’; and keeping appearances after thirty years of marriage in ‘Melodrama.’ What bounds the three couples together, is their inability to act on their true needs due to fear, insecurity and pessimism. “These scenes are only snapshots of love stories, or better said, “un-love” stories”, says the author, who also writes, that the characters “could be anyone of us at some moment of our lives: we recognize these people, sometimes they even say the same things that we say.”

Karin Rosnizeck and Doug Krehbel. Photo by .Magda Pinkowska Gorman.Karin Rosnizeck and Doug Krehbel. Photo by Magda Pinkowska Gorman. 

The author’s choice to present three age groups symbolic of a lifetime worth of romantic vicissitudes and focus entirely on unhappy side of love does not necessarily fill one with optimism, especially those who are still waiting to experience couples’ bliss. Nevertheless, the play’s message is clear – if you keep sitting on a fence and do not overcome your fears and insecurities, happiness may pass you by. The impact of the play on the audience promptly materializes and is clearly heard, the response accentuated by bursts of laughter and sounds of disbelief, pity, approval or silence. Judging by the reactions of my two female friends sitting nearby, one in her thirties and happily married, the other in her sixties, deeply hurt and disappointed by a failed marriage, the amount of laughter may have depended on one’s life experiences. My younger friend appeared to be thoroughly entertained, the older rather silent and somber, likely touched in a painful place and forced to reflect on a sad past and loneliness of the present.

Ambassador’s Theater‘s production directed by Hanna Bondarewska, starring Karin Rosnizeck and Doug Krehbel, cleverly blends words with movement, music, light and dance. The impact of the Director’s vision makes its mark early in the play. The first act, in which the characters oscillate between moments of past and present, has been orchestrated like a musical piece with a clear rhythm, carefully measured movements, shifts, and light changes. The blackouts, accentuating and helping with transitions continue throughout the play, as does the projected image of a clock, reminding us about the importance of time and timing, and prompting us to act fast or we may end up old and unhappy. Harmonious synchronization of actors’ gestures is effectively used to create and magnify dramatic effects. Seeing the two one-night-standers in bed the morning after smoking cigarettes in unison, does not only heighten the comic effect of the scene, but also expertly kills any romantic vibes between the couple. The passionate tango scene choreographed by Francesca Jandasek and Dan Istrate, acts not only as an expression of chemistry between the lovers, but also adds to the overall melodic feel of the show.

The actors meet the challenges of having to incarnate different characters of distinctly different age groups with flying colors. With no characterization and only a costume change and few props at hand, they brilliantly combine facial expressions, voice modulation, body language, and age appropriate mannerisms to fool us into believing they are in their twenties or sixties. Whilst they play their own age effortlessly as ‘one-night-standers’, they surprisingly shine the brightest as ’60-somethings’ in the third act.

Costume Designer Basmah Alomar (Costume Designer) makes excellent choices of costumes and props. Set Designer Jonathan Rushbrook was faced with a different challenge of having to switch from a bar to a bedroom setting with minimal transition time. A big single platform is used as a table top in a cafe scene as well as a bed in the next two acts and serves its purpose perfectly, transformed only with handful of accessories such as side lamps, bar stools, bed linen and a few basic props. Lighting, designed by Stephen Shelter, is crucial in marking the time transitions, creating ‘flash-backs’ and facilitating swift set changes between the acts. So are the sound and music, which under the expert care of Sound and Video Designer David Crandall  define the setting of each act, emphasize the mood and fill our ears with beautiful music.

Spring is only three days away (believe it or not!), and is a great time to reflect on our love lives – and to make adjustments or start over. Don’t miss Happily Ever After! It delivers a valuable opportunity to reflect on love and its challenges, and to learn from mistakes made by unlucky lovers. Take the melodrama personally or just relax and enjoy the show because you will be thoroughly entertained!

 

Jan 042014
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 3, 2014

DIONYSIA: Celebration of Greek Culture

PLACE: The George Washington Masonic Memorial Theatre, 101 Callahan Drive, Alexandria VA 22301

DATES: Sat., Jan. 18, 2014 at 7:30 PM and Sun., Jan 19,  2014 at 5:00 PM and Jan. 30 – Feb. 2 (Anacostia Arts Center)

The award-winning Ambassador Theater is presenting the second in a series of annual cultural festivals at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Old Town Alexandria. The performances take place on January 18th and 19th and feature traditional Greek dancing by the Georgetown-based dance company Dynami along with a performance of the ancient Greek comedy, Dyskolos. The performances are sponsored in part by a grant from the City of Alexandria and are presented in association with the Embassy of Greece.  Following the performances in Old Town, the play will be staged at the Anacostia Arts Center in Southeast DC.

The first cultural festival hosted by Ambassador Theater, Hopa Tropa Kukerica, featured Bulgarian culture and won the 2012 best family show award from MD Theatre Guide. This year’s Dionysia festival follows in the successful footsteps of Hopa Tropa Kukerica by bringing together Greek dance, theater, and culture in an enjoyable event for a wide audience. The auditorium of the George Washington Memorial Masonic Temple, with its Greek and Roman influenced style, is a fitting venue for this festival. Dynami showcases the best of Greek dance through their authentic and engaging performances. Truly pan-hellenic, Dynami performs an assortment of diverse dances, accompanied by music and costumes from all across Greece and its many islands.

Ambassador Theater proudly presents its own production of Menander’s Dyskolos, an ancient Greek comedy of romance, fools, and schemers. Menander, although not well know to general audiences today, is considered by many scholars to be the most influential writer of antiquity after Homer, and the inventor of modern comedy. The play was first performed at the Festival of Dionysus in Athens in 316 BC where it won first prize. Despite Menander’s popularity, his works were all lost by the end of the Roman era and not discovered again until, amazingly, a papyrus of some of his plays was discovered in the sand of Egypt in 1957. Everyone from Shakespeare and Moliere to the Marx brothers and the Three  Stooges owes a debt to Menander and Dyskolos. The play follows the adventure of a wealthy young man who falls magically in love with a poor farmer’s daughter. With the help of friends and servants he struggles to overcome the objections of her misanthropic father. Meanwhile, servants try to prepare a feast nearby, but are met with endless difficulties. Full of slapstick comedy and light-hearted jokes, Dyskolos is just as fun today as it was thousands of years ago.

In addition to the performances in Old Town, Dyskolos will travel to Southeast DC for shows on January 30th to February 2nd. The performances will take place in the beautiful new Anacostia Arts Center at 1231 Good Hope Rd, SE.

DYSKOLOS at Anacostia Arts Center Jan. 30 – Feb. 2, 2014

Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8:00 PM, Matinees on Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 PM

TICKETS: $15 – 30 ONLINE

# # #

If you would like more information, please contact Hanna Bondarewska at (703) 475-4036 or email at ambassadortheater@aticc.org.