Update: December 2013 

 
12/16/2013 

Update header
  
DECEMBER 2013                              News from Off-Off-Broadway                             Issue 103
Doug Strassler, Editor                                    www.nyitawards.com  




An Interview with  
2013 Outstanding Stage Manager
Abbey Bay

by J.Stephen Brantley

Actors, playwrights, and actor/playwrights often need a firm hand. Someone to crack the whip and skirt us round creative rabbit holes. I don't mind a stern-voiced stage manager, if it means I get onstage with all my props. And as a playwright, I love the ones who take copious and specific line notes. Love them a lot.

2013 Outstanding Stage Manager Abbey Bay is not a yeller. She's super nice. Like absurdly, weirdly, nice, which is one reason I think she may be some kind of robot.

There's an artistry to stage management that many often overlook. The best ones, like Abbey, serve a story in much the same way an actor does, only playing their roles from the booth. It turns out they're not up there in that little box just making hacks like me look good; they have all kinds of important and mysterious stuff going on. With this in mind, I had to ask Abbey an important question.

JB: What the hell do stage managers do when they are not busy making hacks like me look good?

AB: Emailing. And probably drinking loads of coffee.


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In This Issue
Interview with Abbey Bay
Community Corner
Help Support the IT Awards
Spotlight On: Robbie Collier Sublett

SPOTLIGHT ON

Robbie Collier Sublett 

 

 

  

Robbie Collier Sublett's name is rather memorable, but you may not have heard of him.  However, you might recognize the face of the strikingly handsome actor.  Because when he isn't basking in the fame and money he makes doing indie theatre, Mr. Sublett toils away in that obscure thing we know as national television.

 

Robbie was nominated this year for Outstanding Actor in a Lead Role for his work in AMERICAN RIVER produced by Lesser America, a darkly comic drama of small-town Californian's dreaming of making it big. And on the small screen, this fall he returns in his recurring role as John Gaultner on the hit CBS show THE GOOD WIFE and then will appear again on CBS's PERSON OF INTEREST in 2014.

 

On the big screen he just began shooting the Indie Horror flick AIR DISTURBANCE in Jan/Feb 2014 and his 2009 break-out play YOU BETTER SIT DOWN: TALES FROM MY PARENTS' DIVORCE (co-written by Anne Kauffman, Janice Paran, David Barlow, Matthew Maher, Caitlin Miller and Jennifer R. Morris), produced with The Civilians and crafted from interviews between the cast and their own parents about their marriages and divorces, was recently published by Dramatist Play Services after acclaimed runs at Galapagos, The Flea and the Williamstown Theatre Festival.  The performances were filmed by Park Pictures, and the footage has been released in short clips with interactive content through The Civilians' partnership with WNYC.

 

I tracked Robbie Sublett across the country until I found him in a weird hotel in Tennessee where he got very little reception. I didn't ask why he was in a weird hotel in Tennessee but I did ask him some questions about his work:

 

BORG: tell me more about your play YOU BETTER SIT DOWN..., the complex experience of dividing a family is a big subject to tackle!


ROBBIE:  The piece was developed for several years, from 2006 to its NY production at The Flea in the spring of 2012.  It was obviously a very personal and delicate/simple show, so the creative process was carried out with much more sensitivity and care than normal I think because every contributor was, in a sense, their own best advocate for what parts of their own narrative merited inclusion.  Ultimately we discovered we weren't telling 4 different stories, we were telling one story about the trajectory of a love and marriage that one day is flourishing and the next is no more. So we became less and less attached to our own stories in a way.


BORG: Wow - how does that work?


ROBBIE: The show was staged simply and gracefully by our director Anne Kauffman. Just 4 actors in 4 chairs talking directly to the audience. So it really was a fun challenge every night to just sit down and tell the audience a story as simply as possible--the only difference being this particular one just happens to be my own. And since we all played our parents I think there was an even greater sense of responsibility or duty to do them justice. I mean, all actors I think have that sense when they engage in any challenging material. But somehow when you're playing your own mom on stage every night the prospect of having an "off" show felt downright criminal. And eventually all the parents portrayed came to see the show in some iteration and I think their reactions could best be summed up as general bemusement masking horror masking delight at watching their kids.


BORG:  Hilarious!  Now, THE GOOD WIFE is a very popular show, how exciting!  What type of role you do you play on that show and how is it different than what you will be doing in PERSON OF INTEREST?


ROBBIE:  On PERSON OF INTEREST, I play a dude at a Wall Street firm. It's pretty straight forward, no bells and whistles. On GOOD WIFE: [spoiler alert!!] I play one of the 4th year associates at Lockhart/Gardner  who splinters off with Julianna Margulies' character to form her new firm Florrick, Agos & Associates. It's a blast. The writing is fantastic and they get such wonderful actors on that show from top to bottom. I first worked on that show while doing AMERICAN RIVER with Lesser America. We had to cancel our last day of tech and we thought we might have to cancel a performance too, but ultimately it was no big deal. Everything went off without a hitch and Lesser America was so awesome and understanding. At the time I was playing a meth addict, so putting on a suit and shooting a scene as a lawyer was a welcomed break and a bit of detox, frankly. Then, a couple of weeks later I got cast as a meth addict in another short-lived CBS show GOLDEN BOY. It doesn't happen often but sometimes you get opportunities where things align like that: what you're working on onstage feeds something that you're auditioning for and/or shooting. It's a nice gift from the universe when it does happen though...especially when it's TV!

 

BORG: Working in TV sounds very glamorous and lucrative - how has it changed your perception of working in Indie theatre?


ROBBIE: I think the main gift of participating in indie theater is kind of a "for the love of the game" type scenario. You hone your skills, get better, and work on challenging material. Even "small" plays are still usually chewing on some very large ideas. Big human ideas of the heart and mind. And the quality people you get working and producing Off-Off-Broadway these days can be just staggeringly good. And if you're an artist/actor and engaging with that stuff for no money for 3-6 weeks then generally when you get an audition for film or TV that just requires you to say "Would you like some more coffee, ma'am?", it gives you a confidence to be like "Oh, I got this! I'm gonna serve the shit outta this coffee!"

 

BORG: What's up next for you??


I'm developing a new play with The Civilians R&D group. It will have its first public reading at the end of May 2014. The working title is EAST ON 4TH STREET. I'm interviewing loads of community members from this small town in South Texas where I went to high school and creating a play from those interviews most likely or maybe it will become something totally different.

 

See Dramatists Play Service for more information on YOU BETTER SIT DOWN: TALES FROM MY PARENTS' DIVORCE.

 

 

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