Having Children on Zoom … well … a play about having children performed on Zoom

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Jan Ewing’s charming romp into the concerns of 21st-century parenting, “Nursery Rhymes” involves thirty-somethings, Irene and Chip, who have been in heated discussions about having a child this “late in life.”  She wants one, he doesn’t.

Hoping to change Chip’s mind, Irene invites Frank and Marge to an arm-
twisting party. Marge gave birth at thirty-eight. Her son is now twelve, so Irene expects support. But Chip is prepared, Marge is menopausal, and nothing can ever be assumed.

Ewing’s engaging work won great acclaim off-Broadway a few seasons ago and now Ewing has reworked his script to fit the latest artistic venue … Zoom.

This reformatted Zoom version is a 90-minute comedy, premiering on Tuesday, August 25 at 7:00 p.m., and running that week. The play will be available for viewing until Sunday, August 30 and will be a fundraiser for the Ali Forney Center and for Pup’s Books.

This is a FREE event, produced by Jay Michaels and Pup’s Books.

For further information, contact jmcommnet@gmail.com

Jan Ewing is one of the first authors to take his play and “zoom-it.” He is also not unfamiliar to trendsetting and doing groundbreaking things. In a move as significant as the off-off Broadway movement itself, Mr. Ewing has published a series of books called EWING REVIEWING documenting important works of the independent theatre scene. Covid-19 has deterred him from continue his series as the 2020 edition will feature zoom recordings and regional works.

Mr. Ewing will be spotlighted in ArtIndependent later this week but OuterStage took time to speak to his cast about this latest endeavor.

jan playPatrick Hamilton and Colleen White play Chip & Irene … to kid or not to kid.

Patrick, an actor/writer/photographer was thrilled to get back on “a stage.” Colleen has always wanted to be on stage as well. “I think my mom has taken me to over 100 shows, on and off Broadway. It was clear that this is my calling. I feel most alive when I am performing on stage.”

Patrick is Chip.

“I play Chip, the reluctant husband, He’s approaching mid-life and deathly afraid of his wife’s insistence on having a baby. I think a lot of men try to hold on to their youth as hard as they can, and so it is with Chip, who will do anything to avoid the next step. It was a lot of fun to play, but easy with such good writing.”

Colleen can’t get enough of Irene!

“I absolutely loved playing Irene. She is a character that was so full of life and love and it was spilling out of her in every way. All of the emotions. I love a woman who stands up for what she wants for her life. Irene and Chip have such a great tennis match going throughout the play and in the end it all comes down to love, and the love they have for each other.”

“There are a lot of universals discussed in the play, and I think everyone will be able to identify with most, if not all of the characters. I, myself, as I’ve gotten older, have found myself wistfully holding onto the ideals of my youth, but it’s all an illusion. Youth is for the young,” says Patrick about the play’s value to the audience … and youth.

Colleen looks to the future with this play and what the audience will take-away.

“I think this play takes a nice look at the age-old question of should we have a kid or not, and am I too old? I believe that is a completely personal decision for every couple. And for this couple, I think the answer is clear, and it’s very entertaining to watch them find their way to that answer.”

OK … Zoom?

Patrick: “Well, there is, of course, a little less dynamism when you are confined by a screen, but in the same way, there are new opportunities. Also, the audience will get to see each character up close for the entire play, and that will be new to them. I think it really was formatted well, and it’s a great experience to watch.”

Colleen “I was kind of surprised as to how seamless the process was. I’m sure it was helpful that we had actually performed this on stage at one point. The chemistry was still there, and I really had a blast doing it. Always fun to revisit a character you loved playing.”

Toldya, she couldn’t get enough of it.

But Patrick got philosophical about zoom as well.

“Well, in one sense, it’s all we’ve got now, so we are all embracing it in any way we can. As actors, we have had to relearn how to perform a play, but it’s new and different for the audience, too. I think they will be able to listen much more, and so good writing is more important than ever. It will be nice to get back on stage, but for now- Zoom is where we will be.”

Colleen … well … always optimistic.

“I think it’s [Zoom] very important, at least I know for me it is. I was thrilled to hear from Jan and said yes right away. I hope more opportunities like this come my way. I am actually working on my own zoom/performance project due out in early October. Sometimes these limitations can be a perfect springboard for creativity.  It’s a whole new medium and we are all finding our way.”

116457126_10157447528378873_3083149414113356920_nKristyn Koczur and J. Michael Baran play the more mature and “wiser” couple.

“Exploring and discovering the shared experiences that connect one human being to another is my passion as an actor. Nothing is more exciting than igniting that spark of recognition. I like to think of my job as a builder of bridges,” Kristyn sagely spoke. Her analysis of her character also smacks of wisdom. “Playing the role of Marge gave me the opportunity to gain new perspective on how important it is to embrace each moment. Marge lives in the moment, whether she makes sense of it or not, and has a lovable quality of being able to laugh at herself. She also has a profound understanding of her role in the scheme of humanity. Individual accomplishments are less important than lessons learned in the trials of getting through each day and ultimately passing on that genetic knowledge to the next generation. This insight allows her to forgive her own imperfections as well as those of others.”

J. Michael comes from a strong artistic background.

“I was born into an artistic family. My father was a trumpet player and band director, later a musical instrument merchant in Decatur, GA…..the town I grew up in during the 1960’s-70’s. His brother and my uncle Alfred Baran was a painter and sculptor based in Ford City, PA, the town of my father’s birth. My mother was an actress, model, and dancer born and raised in Nashville, TN. Her mother and my grandmother was an artist and model. My brother is a classically trained violinist living in Tampa FL. I have been involved in some aspect of the performing arts since I was 5 years of age…musician…. actor…. director….producer….teacher. Cities I have lived in and worked include Atlanta, Augusta, Los Angeles, Washington, DC, and now the NYC tri-state area.”

J. Michael shares his thought on his part and the play.

“I play Frank, the husband, who has to deal with his wife Marge’s issues with menopause. And the struggles of raising an adolescent boy named Mikey…or Mike as Frank prefers to call him. He is also a member of the “Sandwich Generation”. Those Boomers who are both raising children…and caring for aged parents. It is the relationship he has had with his mother that houses a sad and embarrassing secret…one that Frank reveals in the middle of Act 2.” 

How do they tackle the zoom issue?

On this, J. Michael is a veteran also. “This is my 10th ZOOM show since March! Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down performance centers around the globe, actors and performance artists, like musicians, dancers, poets, actors have been shut out of performing. This electronic forum has created a new and exciting platform to present works to a worldwide audience. For example, back in May, I was in a ZOOM/YouTube presentation…a military courtroom drama entitled “Aiding The Enemy”, a play by Peg Tittle and presented in association of LineReads.com. The entire cast were sitting in front of their computers…at their homes…in New Zealand … Sweden … Germany … and here in the United States. In my 45 years of performing arts experience, I have never had an opportunity to work with others from around the planet!! I personally have used ZOOM as a teaching tool during the school shutdown from March to June. I think its here to stay…at least I hope so…”

Kristyn exuded the same positive energy.

“Thankfully, the technology exists to reinvent the stories written to be performed in front of a live audience. Because as we all know – the show must go on!

She ended our chat with a great thought … on the play … on zoom … on life.

“Thankfully, the technology exists to reinvent the stories written to be performed in front of a live audience. Because as we all know – the show must go on! It’s my hope that this gem of wisdom will resonate within each audience member and that the desire to “keep it going” will be the incentive that people carry away with them. Let’s not give up before the sun goes out.”

More cautiously, J. Michael slipped in…

Until a cure or treatment to COVID is developed. it’s the only game in town. Now there are issues like. The internet going down…. or sound/mic mismatches. But overall, it’s a worthwhile venture.”

Enough so that Paul Smith, publisher of indie theatre beacon of hope in this cold, cruel world, Smith Scripts, has begun publishing both stage and zoom versions of the plays in his catalog.

2020-08-14 (1)

Jan Ewing’s play was the first.  No surprise there.

 

 

 

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