Why It's Time for Just Right Just Now
As past IT Award-nominated company Lesser America gears up for its newest production, co-founder Laura Ramadei spoke with the IT Awards about their mission and Just Right Just Now.
NYITA: How exactly did Lesser America form?
LR: Lesser America began a few years ago when the founding members came together to present Keep Your Baggage with You at Theater for the New City. Following that production, we had our eyes on a piece called Squealer, by Jonathan Blitstein, and Theater for the New City had invited us back to work in their space again. We've been in residence with TNC and produced four shows with them since. I think it was a shared aesthetic and taste for a certain kind of theater that brought us together, and it's our friendship and work ethic that keeps us glued. We've since become a veritable family that's constantly growing and acquiring new members.
NYITA: What stories do you look to tell?
LR: Though a big part of our mission is to offer "accessible, affordable" (cheap, highly entertaining) theater, we additionally tend to find ourselves selecting work with dark undertones. We like looking at society's underbelly and finding something beautiful there. Sometimes the endings aren't always uplifting, but they're consistently truthful.
NYITA: How were these individual plays chosen?
LR: All of the plays were written or submitted specifically for this production. We chose the most adventurous and exciting writers we knew or whose work we'd seen, and we asked them to give us something 10-15 minutes long, appropriate for an ensemble of young actors, and set in a basement. Some playwrights submitted more than one piece, but in general we just accepted what they penned for us. We like taking chances on talented people, and moving from there. It's been a lot of moving parts but is already paying off in a tremendous way.
NYITA: What themes do they have in common?
LR: I'm not quite sure what we expected when we commissioned these pieces, but we've been surprised by how dark and creepy much of the work is. I guess asking hungry, daring playwrights to write for a basement means you end up with a lot of shady business. Some themes have emerged just coincidentally – deterioration, destruction, nostalgia...deviant sexual acts. The content isn't necessarily x rated, but we'll certainly be taking our audiences into some dark, hidden places. We didn't think ahead about the Halloween season coming up, but I can't say it isn't fitting.
NYITA: What do you hope audiences get out of Just Right Just Now?
LR: Whether intentionally or not, there will be some very challenging, uncomfortable moments, as well as some profoundly hilarious payoffs. We want to shed light into some dimly lit corners. And we'd like to introduce our patrons to the next moment in independent theater. In the past we've been lucky enough to work with some of the Next Best, and the talent we've wrangled this time around certainly keeps with that tradition.
Further information about Just Right Just Now can be found at www.lesseramerica.com