Meet Jens Rasmussen from The Twentieth-Century Way

We are very excited to welcome a familiar face to Know Theatre’s stage for The Twentieth-Century Way! Jens Rasmussen has been seen on our stage previously in both
Skin Tight (2010) and Gruesome Playground Injuries (2011).
Will you tell us a little bit about your background? I grew up in rural Wisconsin – lots of time outdoors, hunting and ice fishing.

Can you tell us about the moment you knew you wanted to be an actor? Probably getting cast in a semi-professional production as Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream right out of high-school is what ultimately did me in.

How do you prepare for a role? Mostly I read the play a lot. For a show like this, I look at historical source materials to fill out the world that wasn’t able to be included in the play. I’ll also dig into dialect research – which was critical in this show. But every show is a little different and my process morphs depending on the play’s parameters.
Tell us about your favorite role (besides your role in The Twentieth-Century Way of course). Easy – Tom in Skin Tight right here at the Know. It was one of those magical experiences – I got to work with one of my favorite directors (Drew Fracher) who put me opposite the amazing Beth Harris. That one was hard to close.
Tell us just a little bit about your character in The Twentieth-Century Way. I don’t even know where to begin. Like the historical character he’s based on, Warren is an enigma – a charmer yet elusive, cruel yet vulnerable. I find him terribly exciting and think audiences will too.
What has been your strangest experience as an actor? Having a naked man draw on my penis with a felt marker has got to be near the top of the list…
Look to your right, the first thing you see is your only weapon, how do you use it to stave off the impending zombie apocalypse?  This pepper shaker is surprisingly effective against zombies. While it will not de-animate them, it is a little known fact that zombies have both slow blink reflexes and surprisingly sensitive eyes (as demonstrated in I am Legend). But this sensitivity also extends to irritants such as pepper – a dash of finely ground pepper in their face is so maddening to them, they will actually scratch their eyeballs out of their heads trying to stop the burning – giving me plenty of time to escape.
The inquiring masses want to know, why should they come see The Twentieth-Century Way? Give them the hard sell! This is easily one of the smartest plays I have ever worked on. It’s compelling history, fascinating narrative, and some of the best theatrical gymnastics you’ll ever see.
Thanks Jens!
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Meet Michael McKeogh from The Twentieth-Century Way

We are very excited to welcome a new face to Know Theatre’s stage for The Twentieth-Century Way! Michael McKeogh comes to Cincinnati from Chicago, Illinois where he has graced many area stages. We asked Michael a few questions. Enjoy!

michaelweb

Will you tell us a little bit about your background? From Detroit, went to undergrad with The Know Theatre’s Andrew Hungerford. Played Picasso to his Einstein in Picasso at the Lapin Agile. The irony is that I PLAYED an artist but Andrew actually IS a genius.

Can you tell us about the moment you knew you wanted to be an actor? I never had that “moment.”just got involved in high school on a whim and started falling in love with telling stories.

How do you prepare for a role? That’s my dirty little secret but I’ll give you a hint: it’s more about questions, less about answers.

Tell us about your favorite role (besides your role in The Twentieth-Century Way of course). My most recent role was Lt. Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain of the 20th Maine of the American civil war. With a role like that there comes a larger sense of responsibility. You are playing a version of a person who really lived so you want to honor him but also bring yourself to the part. It was a wonderful gift.

Tell us just a little bit about your character in The Twentieth-Century Way. Mr. Brown is a complicated dude. Desperate and eager, but at the same time confident and grounded. He also struggles to self actualize, which is what really draws me to him.

What has been your strangest experience as an actor? Definitely when I carried a live lamb across the stage. Nude. Definitely the strangest. Especially for my in-laws.

If you were to be declared the ruler of your own country what would you name it and why? That sounds terrifying. Much harder than being an actor. I’ll pass.

The inquiring masses want to know, why should they come see The Twentieth-Century Way? Give them the hard sell! It’s like no other show that they will see this year. 2 actors 19 roles 1 indelible ink pen.

Thanks Michael!

Click here for more information about The Twentieth-Century Way! 

Meet the Director: Kimberly Faith Hickman directs The Twentieth-Century Way

We are very excited to welcome a new guest director to Cincinnati forThe Twentieth-Century Way! Kimberly comes to us from New York City where she has worked with both Broadway and Off-Broadway productions, including being the assistant director for The Assembled Parties, The Scottsboro Boys, and Clybourne Park!

Could you please tell us a little about your background?  I’m originally from Phenix City, AL – which was also known as “Sin City, USA” in the 40’s and 50’s due to it being a haven for gambling, organized crime and prostitution.

What’s you biggest challenge as a director on any given day?  Today – it’s answering the question below about 100 duck sized horses or 1 horse sized duck.  But generally, as a director I feel that the most important part of my job is to tell the story of a play by following the playwright’s intent.  In doing that, I collaborate with actors, designers, producers, stage managers, technicians, etc. and drive the group towards a very specific goal and purpose – which is putting the playwright’s intention onstage.

What has been your most rewarding experience in theatre (besides directing Twentieth-Century Way at Know Theatre of course)?  I have been incredibly lucky and have had many rewarding experiences.  It’s impossible to pick one.  But several of my favorite moments have been sitting in a rehearsal room or production meeting and listening to some of my favorite playwrights talk about their play:  Bruce Norris, Richard Greenberg, Donald Margulies.   I really love writers, so for me, those moments were golden.

Can you describe Twentieth-Century Way in one sentence?  The Twentieth-Century Way is one of the most surprising plays I have ever directed – with its muscular theatricality and unpredictable plot twists, the play will take audiences on a ride that they have never experienced before in live theatre.

If you could give one piece advice to a large group of people, what would it be?  As cliche as it may sound – life really is way too short.  Surround yourself with people whom you enjoy being with.

What is your most bizarre skill?  I don’t think I have any bizarre skills, but most people are surprised when they learn that… 1) I play the drums and 2) I have a deep affinity for rap and hip hop music

Would you rather fight 100 duck sized horses or 1 horse sized duck? Why?  Definitely 1 horse sized duck.  I could never fight little horses.  They would be way too cute.    

Now is your chance, give us a pitch: in your words, why should people come see Twentieth-Century Way?  The Twentieth Century Way is one of the most fast paced, daring, highly theatrical, funny and evocative explorations of history that I have ever read.  As an audience member, I guarantee that it is unlike anything you have ever seen – and who wants to miss out on that?!   Buy your tickets soon!  Really – stop reading and buy your tickets now!

Andrew Jackson’s Second Blog, or Filling the Space Between Profanities

Jackson here.

American presidents have to stick by a lot of tough goddamn decisions, and I’m often asked by my wife how I could force so much “back-asswards, xenophobic policy pigfuckery” on the Indians, the National Bank, various states and territories, the Legislative and Judicial branches of government and the American people in general. Conquering large swaths of continent ain’t always easy, folks, especially when you’re attempting to usher in a shiny new era of populism in direct opposition to a fully feckless Congress, fiscally manic Washington aristocrats and an entire race of people whose most enduring legacy to this country is leather fringe and fucking rain sticks.

Pictured here; a fucking rain stick.

Keeping America safe is about keeping America informed. Information is what puts food in our mouths, bullets in our guns and freedom in our mouths and our guns. Despite the media’s misinterpretation of the facts about me, I trust the public eye will see me for what I am. Everyone makes mistakes; everyone has a little blood on their hands, everyone feels a little guilty watching the commercial with the Indian crying because someone threw food on his moccasins.

Maybe I’ve been hasty in my decisions for the sake of this country, maybe the Trail of Tears amounts to genocide and a gross misappropriation of executive power, but the important thing is fuck youAndrew Jackson doesn’t just do the will of the people, he is the will of the people. Listen. I’m a flawed guy, admittedly, and that’s why I’m doing this whole Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson thing. Now, more than ever, the American people should understand the current politics of their nation, the politics that can be traced through the long colon of American history, all the way back to my ass, which is where I pulled them out of in the first goddamn place.

Entertainment is the key to reaching the masses, and though my usual way to the heart of a person is by shooting it with bullets, the way to the heart of a civilized people is through art, through the theatre. Because I’m also a person, a really sensitive person. Plus, Rachel is getting tired of my war stories and bedtime roleplay requests.

"Let's cut each other with my knife. Just the tip."

Really hope she doesn’t read this blog.

Essentially, the goal here is just to entertain the masses. Stuff got hella complicated when I tried to actually change this country and it looks like things aren’t getting any easier. Hate-mongering politishits have only gotten politishittier and there’s no room in the modern world for me, a man of ideas so old they predate the Democratic party. Example; I had some minor issues with the way the banking industry made its profits at the expense of the American people, so I shut it down. Really, honestly, does the idea of revamping a corrupt American banking system resonate with anyone anymore?

Thought not.

It seems like politicians have either pumped my ideas full of bovine steroids or forgot about them entirely. Every precedent I set has either been swept under the rug or expanded to the point of absolute cock-boggling absurdity. Even I didn’t see the Patriot Act coming, and I invented the idea of an uberpowered executive branch.

I’m just spitballing here, but when was the last time a new party asserted itself in this country? Come on, people. Kowtowing to the Washington elite isn’t only unpatriotic, it’s goddamn boring. Can’t believe I’m writing this, but I’m starting to miss the frontier. Hell, at least you could smoke inside in 1828.

Everybody out there in cyberspace, listen up. Even if politics aren’t your thing, even if you don’t like music, even if you’re not a human, come see Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. Sex, rock n’ roll, war, leather, weasels; this show is everything you never knew you always wanted. Everything and more.

That’s right motherlovers, Jackson’s back

Peoples of the Internet, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Andrew Jackson, the seventh President of the United States. By the time I was fourteen I had outlived my entire family. My body holds more bullets than your gun. I survived assassination attempts, wars, duels and the death of the only woman I ever loved. My friends call me Ol’ Hickory and my enemies call me Sharp Knife, partly because saying my actual name three times consecutively summons my ghost and partly because I’m just, like, a goddamn badass.

Now, everyone knows I throw an awesome party. We’re talking tubs of alcoholic punch on the White House lawn awesome. Some of you out there may even be attending a party I started back in the 19th century; the Democratic party. Yeah, I started that. And I’m the reason the Democratic party’s symbol is a jackass. Now, I’ve been on a long hiatus from the party scene but I think it’s time to get my balls rolling again and I’m kicking it off with A WHOLE F***ING ROCK SHOW. YEAH. WITH GUITARS AND SHIT. You’re welcome.

I was gonna base the whole thing on how much the Nullification Crisis sucked balls, but then my wife, Rachel, was like, “Andrew, no one gives a shit about politics anymore. All they want is entertainment. And if you say balls in front of the public I am going to kick you in the neck in your sleep.” I’m working on rewrites but I’m either gonna call it Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson or Must Love Dogs. There’s gonna be a band, The Dukes are Dead, and a lot of blood and maybe a librarian and Rachel says she wants to be in it too so there’s that.

I gotta be honest with you, folks. I’m broke right now. The truth is, I came back here to kick ass and raise money and I’m all out of ass. Literally, I’ve kicked everyone’s ass ever. Everyone. Think about that, then stop thinking about it and give me some money. I’ll accept barter too; weasel furs, lumber, large plots of arable land that don’t belong to you, old vinyl, Three Musketeers bars (bite size only please), used jacuzzi water, Slap Chops, coffins, Pogs, DO NOT SEND ANY MORE F*CKING TUPPERWARE, FOR THE LOVE OF F*CK. You can donate money to supply the band with booze food here.

More posts to come soon. Just figured out how Youtube works. Does anyone else hate Vevo?

Love,

AJ and Rachel

On Building Metaphor out of Bridges

On my first read of Collapse, I got really excited about the script. It’s funny, timely, heartbreaking, and weaves together metaphor and events that are just crazy enough to feel real in a way that’s both powerful and entertaining.

Plus it has a couple of “how the heck are we going to do that?” moments that make theatrical design in quirky spaces particularly exciting.

For the characters in Collapse, the I-35 Bridges (both the old one and its replacement) are a constant presence in their lives. In creating the world of the play, we wanted the structure of the bridge to be an omnipresent visual for the audience, physicalizing the psychological presence.

The design of the bridge structure that forms the set is a bit of a mashup between the old Bridge and the New.  The old bridge was quite complicated visually, with crisscrossing girders that affect the play of light and shadow.  It’s a twentieth century bridge, with all the hopes and dreams that carries.

The I-35 Bridge Before its Collapse

The New I-35 Bridge

The New Bridge, on the other hand, is sleek and contemporary, a bridge for the 21st century. With it’s pale colors, it’s a canvas for other light, and has a way of fitting in with the landscape rather than imposing itself.

With it’s elegant concrete arches, it would be extremely difficult for us to replicate the majesty of the new I-35 Bridge in our space with a 12 foot ceiling.

And the design of new bridge doesn’t really work for one of the scenes in the play.

So, rather than being slavish to either the old or new reality, the bridge that we put on stage draws elements from both structures (the design of the guardrail is, for example, based on drawings from the approval process for the new bridge).  Our bridge has complicated crisscrossing elements while maintaining a 21st century feel.

The elements of I-beams and girders also make our bridge multipurpose: it’s the exposed industrial beams of David and Hannah’s Loft Condo; it’s the pipes and girders of the basement where a support group meets; and it’s the bridge itself, whether illuminated and present or as a shadowy reminder.  We also kept the color story of the bridge in pale grays as a nod to the new I-35 Bridge, that way, as with the new bridge, we could wash the structure in colored light to give it a very different feel.

A rendering of the stage layout for a scene from Collapse.

Here you can see a rendering done in my drafting software, Vectorworks.  As a designer who’s continually travelling, I always use these kind of 3d renderings to communicate with the director and other members of the production team.  This way I could be working in California while sending drawings to Jason Bruffy in Florida.  We would talk, I would tweak some things, and then by the end of the day we could have updates to the rest of the Know team in Cincinnati.  Working with a traditional physical model, this process could take weeks.

Collapse Floor Treatment

The final overall visual element for the show is the floor, which you can get a sense of in the above rendering. I wanted the floor treatment to be evocative of light coming through the twisted girders of the wreckage of the old bridge, as though even though the structure we see is pristine, the shadow it casts is a continual reminder of the accident.  Here’s a quick view of my concept for the stage from above.

And here it is, when all of those elements come together.

Collapse, Onstage.

Meet Jason Podplesky

What role are you playing in the show?
Anton [They keep forgetting about Abe]

How long have you been acting?
All my life. My mother is also an actress so I grew up in a theatre.

Have you been in a show at Know Theatre before?
No, this is my first.

Who was the first politician you voted for?
Bill Clinton

What was the first play you ever saw?
Jesus Christ Superstar

If train A leaves Boston travelling south at 110mph against a prevailing wind with gusts upwards of 75mph and train B leaves Birmingham travelling northeast at 150mph with a steady breeze at its back, which train is more FABU-LOUS!?
I always believe in taking the A train.

Was Abraham Lincoln gay?
You betcha!

What is your favorite color (other than Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, Green, Purple, and Pink)?
Black.

After a long day at work I like to…
go to rehearsal

What is your alcoholic beverage of choice?
Yuengling Beer

Do you enjoy big, gay dancing?
I do indeed.

You’re stuck on a desert island for the rest of your life. There’s plenty of food and water and, heck, maybe even satellite TV – BUT, you can only wear one of the following outfits for the entirety of your stay: A child’s Halloween cowboy costume, a wet-suit, a Santa Claus outfit, or your Birthday suit.
I would need a few clarifications before answering. Does the cowboy costume come with a gun? Would I have to wear the beard with the Santa outfit? Is this a tropical climate, as I chafe in very humid weather.

What’s your favorite kind of pie?
Free.

Corn: On the cob or off?
On. Definitely. Unless its creamed. I love me some cream corn.

What was the name of the play Abraham Lincoln was watching when he was assassinated?
Our American Cousin by Tom Taylor. (Thank you google.)

Have you ever stood in the middle of a field and looked up at the stars?
Yes. I was flat on my back at the time 😉

If you could say one thing to Abraham Lincoln, what would it be?
Beware of actors with guns.

How often do you sneeze?
Fairly regularly. Every day I suspect. I sneeze in 2’s.

2 + 2 = ?
5