YOU DID IT!!
I'll be damned if we didn't reach our goal. What an incredible show of support.
There's still time to help us pay all of the hard-working people on the Cattywampus team. Every little extra bit helps us defray those costs and will make it that much easier for me to make work in the future.
Thank you endlessly for reading, listening to and putting up with the barrage of pleas.
The New York reviews are in!
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES:"a raw and raucous updating of August Strindberg’s classic"
"the production has a ferocity that gives it bursts of energizing life."
"With its ripely vulgar language and intensely physical acting style, the production doesn’t lack for surface attractions."
"[Chrissie is] played with amusing, surly truculence by Ms. Greer"
"a tangy stew of vulgarities and colloquialisms that is often funny but mostly unprintable in a family newspaper"
"Mr. Mendel hurls himself into his role with an abandon that impresses."
"Ms. Lauren’s Julie exudes a haughty sexual allure..."
FROM BACK STAGE.
"A disturbingly dirty redrafting of the 1888 August Strindberg tragedy Miss Julie, "Cattywampus" is an unsettling yet riveting look at the combustive power of sexual heat fueled by social-class differences and psychological instability."
"...the production derives its lifeblood from D.J. Mendel's tour de force turn as the gritty blue-collar worker."
"While Cucuzza's astute dialogue captures the rhythms, idioms, and uneducated syntax of Donnie's working-class speech in a fashion that is both frighteningly real and entertainingly comic, Mendel's alarming physicality, exploding with rough, sudden moves, fleshes out the role with raw brilliance."
"...Mendel's nuanced acting and Cucuzza's shrewd direction..."
"...the atmospheric score is terrifically chilling"
FROM NYTHEATRE.COM."...a meticulously careful and intriguingly stylized updating of the piece"
"I enormously respected and enjoyed the craft involved in rethinking, line by line, a classic into a strong, idiosyncratic modern piece of theater, brought to life by three equally strong and idiosyncratic performances."
FROM TIMEOUT NEW YORK
— Four out of five stars —
"August Strindberg’s Miss Julie has been suped up for maximum mayhem by outré writer-director Robert Cucuzza"
"...raw poetry of Cucuzza’s Appalachian-tinged dialogue"
"Playfully—sometimes excessively—probing his characters’ ids and egos, Cucuzza is abetted by the ample, fearless skills of his cast."
Since June of this past year I've been working on developing and presenting Cattywampus, my line-for-line rewrite of Strindberg's classic play Miss Julie. We started in Los Angeles with a small production, moved to the NOW Festival at REDCAT, and now will be presenting it for three weeks in New York at the Incubator Arts Project's Other Forces Festival in January 2012.
You can help us get there!
Incubator Arts Project
The Incubator now inhabits the legendary space at the back of the historic St. Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery, in the heart of the East Village. From 1991 to 2010 it was the home of Richard Foreman and his Ontological-Hysteric Theater. And from 1992 to 2003 it was the space that I also called home. In those eleven years I adapted/wrote, directed, and produced ten shows with my company Hangdog Theater and performed in three of Foreman's plays. I met many of my best friends and most favorite collaborators in that theater.
Jillian Lauren and DJ Mendel
The very first thing I did at the Ontological was intern on Foreman's play Samuel's Major Problems. The female lead was Jillian Lauren, just back from her stint in the harem of the Sultan of Brunei (yes, you read that right). We barely knew each other then, but there were some things about her that I would never forget—her performance in that show, her incredible tattoos, and her abundant courage and generosity.
I cast DJ Mendel in a play in 1995. We bonded immediately—both of us come from the backwoods of Pennsylvania and, much to our surprise, we played against each other in the state high school baseball championship in 1983 (DJ made a fatal error at shortstop while I warmed the bench). Since then DJ and I have collaborated many times—as actors, directors, writers and teachers. He's one of the most exciting actors I've ever encountered—a Chevy truck of a performer—a banged-up exterior, a plush interior, and a battery of well-conditioned tools in the back.
So when I began thinking about adapting Miss Julie—setting it in present day Pittsburgh and turning the title character into a woman with a sketchy past—there was no question for whom I would be writing the two lead roles.
I love how schizophrenic and weird and juicy Strindberg's play is—sexual power whips back and forth, there's somnambulism, a pantomime, destructive dances, the onstage killing of a bird—lots of stuff to sink my teeth into. But the notions at the play’s core feel out-dated to me. I wanted to run amuck in Strindberg's weird and wonderful Swedish world, but only if it had some reverberation with a world that I know—and for me that is Appalachia. I began to imagine Miss Julie in the place where I'm from—the boondocks of Pennsylvania—where, on the brink of impending financial doom, people throw Hail Mary passes into the end zones of their lives.
I sat down to rewrite the play line-by-line. I changed the circumstances to the here and now. I layered in "Pittsburgh-ese" — an idiosyncratic language with an unmistakable dialect. One word stuck in my head: cattywampus. The more I thought about it, the more I realized just how relevant Strindberg’s askew world view is to our world today. Things are truly cattywampus right now—awkward, crooked, out-of-whack. We’re waking up from the American dream, opening the cupboards of our country and finding less and less. With this show, we’ve created an aggressively vivid picture of economic paranoia, filtered through impulsive decisions and the dream of escaping in a shitty Ford Pinto to a place that seems far, far away—the State of Florida.
When the Incubator first contacted me, the prospect of doing the show at the old space seemed like one of those great climaxes to a tremendous story — impossible and inevitable at the same time. It's very difficult to produce a show from thousands of miles away, and expensive, and yet there was no way to turn down an opportunity to go home again.
You can be a part of bringing this extraordinary piece of theater to New York, to where it all began for me. The Incubator is offering us a generous financial arrangement but it won't nearly cover the expense of producing this compact but ambitious show. Your contribution, no matter how big or small, would help defray the costs of airfare, actor and musician fees, scenic materials, marketing — the list goes on and on.
There are many reasons to give, but let me throw a few at you: Give because you like the idea. Give because you saw it in LA and dug it. Give because you want to see it happen again in LA, or the city where you live. Give because you're going to see it in NY and want to feel like you helped produce it. Give because you're family. Give because you know someone on the team. Give because you love someone on the team. Give because you're in love with someone on the team. Give because you like theater. Give because it feels good to give. Give because someone gave to you once. Give because you feel guilty. Give because it's the giving season. Give because you stole something today and feel bad about it. Give because twenty-five bucks doesn't mean that much to you. Give because you're a yinzer. Give because you can't see the show. Give because you want your name in the program. Give because you want to be a part of a team. Give because you believe that live performance is an essential component of the human structure. Give because people need theater and dogs don't. Give because you believe that artists should be compensated for their work. Give because YOU WANT ME TO SHUT UP about giving.
Give because you need a tax deduction. Transit Authority Inc is a fully-incorporated 501(c)3 company in the State of California. All of your donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law.
We raised $2,400 to launch the show over the summer and I am so very grateful to those who gave then. They quite literally made the show happen. If not for them, this New York production would not be happening. I want to be able to say the same for you when Cattywampus happens again (because I know it will), at a larger theater for a longer run.
The Team [with links]
A Transit Authority production, presented by Incubator Arts Project; Robert Cucuzza [writer/director]; DJ Mendel, Jillian Lauren and Jenny Greer [performers]; Juli Crockett and Michael Feldman [composers]; Jacob Loeb [music director] Jordana Che Toback [choreographer]; Rick Martin, Dorothy Hoover and Alex Gaines [scenic designers]; Alice Tavener [costume designer]; Ellie Rabinowitz [lighting designer]
- (45 days)