Thursday, April 23, 2015

Behind the Curtain Interview with THE LIAR's Rusty Ross

Full Given Name: Rusty Ross. Was I given this name? Yes. At birth? Yes! Oh, you mean, is it printed on my birth certificate? Funny, I don't have that document in my pocket just now...

Hometown: Houston, Texas (There are several fellow Texans working on The Liar).

What do you love about The Liar: Beyond the fact that this is simply a delightful, terrific play, I think the marriage of elevated language with comedy that's tuned for a contemporary ear is particularly delicious here. Sometimes when one works on classical comedy, there are contextual references in the jokes (a recent public shaming, a popular song lyric, something the King was known to have done) that would have been instantly recognizable to an audience at the time, but, several hundred years later, act instead as a bit of an abstraction layer between the audience and the comedy. Here, that doesn't happen. The audience can revel in Ives' wonderful "classical" verse right alongside the comedy, and it's a joy. (Incidentally, what is also clear is that fart jokes apparently do survive across the ages and, wisely, Ives has, just maybe, included one or two here...).

First time on stage: First time standing on a stage was at the age of three. Shortly thereafter, I publicly declared that I wanted to be a stage manager when I grew up.

Rusty as Max in How the Grinch Stole Christmas on Broadway.
Favorite moment on stage: Wow, more than a few blood-pumping moments spring to mind: an amazing orchestra playing that stunning entr'acte right beneath our toes in South Pacific, the absolute destruction of the junk shop in American Buffalo, peering out from atop Mt. Crumpit in Grinch... 

But maybe one of my favorite moments was simply a particular student matinee of Midsummer Night's Dream in Utah several years ago. That young audience was astonishingly knowledgeable about the play and about Shakespeare, and couldn't have been more attentive and engaged. Performing that morning felt like magic.

Dream role you’ve not performed yet: It may seem like a pat answer, but I really believe this: The role I always most want to perform next is the one that hasn't been written yet. While I love (and am humbled) to work on great material which stands on the shoulders of great past productions and performances, there is nothing quite like bringing text to life for the first time, to being a part of creating something brand-spanking new amongst a group of fellow artists.

Book on your nightstand: Books? You mean those things on printed pages? Well, there is an iPad on my nightstand, which contains thousands of "books," several of which I am currently reading, and none of which I am currently finishing. A few are: Lynda Barry's Cruddy, Thomas Pynchon's V, and the recent Becoming Steve Jobs. Actually, I lie. There is one set of printed pages on my nightstand, too, that I am reading and reading and reading right now: David Ives' The Liar. Heard of it? It's pretty good!

Last great movie you saw: Man on Wire, the documentary about Philippe Petit's exhilarating and astonishing tightrope walk between the Trade Center towers. I saw this gem of a movie when first released, and just re-watched it in the context of working on style in this play. Petit's exuberance and buoyancy (both figurative and literal) is quite apt to The Liar, I think.

Guilty pleasure: Cakes, pies, cookies, you name it! Mention just about any American city to me, and I'll tell you a great place to find dessert there. I once worked at a West Coast theatre that was down the road from a really great restaurant. Occasionally, the chef made a special chocolate pudding. Before long, on the nights he had made it, he would leave me a message at the theatre to let me know! Not long after that, he just added it to the regular menu. It remains on the regular menu to this day.

Best piece of advice you’ve received: Well, I wasn't around to hear this from him personally, but wasn't it William Goldman who said, "nobody knows anything?" I'm being a bit facetious, of course, but I do think there is value in not forgetting that everyone is ultimately on their own individual journey, in their own time, and in their own unique way. There are so many great teachers and mentors out there, but it's the soup made from picking and choosing ingredients from all of them that can ultimately be the most potent. Oh, scratch that. Best piece of advice I have received is: "Don't mix metaphors."

Online Dating - The Truth Behind the Liars

by Kelly McInnis
Box Office Manager

"All the world's a lie, and all the men and women merely liars."
- Dorante in David Ives' The Liar

Who knew that 38-year-old, 6’0”, athletic and toned man could be code for a 43-year-old man with a perfectly average body and stands at 5’9”?  Anyone who has ventured into the world of online dating, that’s who.

With millions searching for love daily on websites such as Match, OkCupid, and eHarmony – or in more recent years through mobile apps like Tinder, Hinge, or Coffee Meets Bagel – chances are you know someone who has (or even you yourself have) tried to find their mate online.  Propelled by tales of success stories, singles trudge through profile after profile and – if they are lucky – date after date trying to find their soulmate.  It’s not easy – especially when approximately 81% lie about their height, weight, or age in their profiles, according to the study conducted by Catalina L. Toma from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to learn about self-presentation and the judging of misrepresentation online.

Women tend to lie more about their weight, while men tend to lie more about their height.  These lies, however, are relatively small as there is the potential to meet in real life where such truths will be immediately evident.

Paul Oyer, a labor economist at Stanford University and author of Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Economics I Learned From Online Dating, reviewed a public radio producer’s OKCupid profile with him during a Freakonomics podcast.  He had the following insight:

“What you want to remember in your profile is that you want to be very upfront and forthcoming in anything that is what an economist would call a coordination game. It’s where our interests are aligned and as long as we have the right information we’re going to make the right decision. So in my case I was very upfront and forthcoming in my profile about the fact that I had a large and badly behaved golden retriever, and the fact that I have two teenaged children. Because if somebody was against those things, then those were deal breakers. And in your case, you want to be honest about the fact that you’re a public radio producer because on the one hand that’s very attractive to some people, but it also indicates that you’re not going to be rich, at least in the short term. You don’t want anybody who wants you just for your money, either because you don’t like those types of people or because even if you do you’re not going to get them once they have the information anyway.”

A local single who has tried a variety of online dating sites says, “there are some profiles in which it is obvious the person has lied, yet not so apparent in others.  It’s frustrating because I know I’m being honest and I don’t want to be with someone who would lie to me from the beginning!” 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Meet Charlie Nork, Our New Individual Giving Manager

by Chad Kinsman
Artistic & Management Coordinator

If you attended a special event during the 2010 Season, there's a good chance you met our  development intern Charlie Nork. And if you attend a special event this Season, you'll likely meet him again! He's just joined us as our newest staff member, our Individual Giving Manager, and we couldn't be more excited to have him back!

Where were you before starting at the Playhouse? 

My previous job was at New York Restoration Project, an NYC-based environmental conservancy founded by Bette Midler.

What interested you about working at the Playhouse?

I was actually a Playhouse intern in 2010, so this is a homecoming of sorts for me. The Woodward Internship Program gave me my first development job and jump-started my career, and the experience stayed with me for all these years. I’m thrilled to be back!

What is your favorite thing about working at the Playhouse so far?

The incredible WCP staff is one of my favorite things about working here. There’s just such a positive culture here that you can’t help looking forward to coming in to work. And of course, the wonderful art that will be appearing on stage very shortly!

What are most looking forward to at the Playhouse in 2015? What are your goals for the year?

I’m most looking forward to our new Insights program, which is an offshoot of the Tech Talks we’ve had recently. The program is designed to give our Premiere Circle donors an even more in-depth look at how we bring plays to life by hosting intimate discussions with artists from each production – directors, actors, designers, and playwrights. It will be a great way for our patrons to connect with each production on a much deeper level. My goal is to make Insights a huge success!

If you could rename your position based on your first few month’s experience, what would you call it?

It's a long one: Party-thrower, Letter-writter, RSVP-taker, Database-wrangler, Donor-outreacher, and Meeting-manager. 


Create your new identity courtesy of Dorante, the liar himself, and Westport Country Playhouse.


Playwright David Ives joins us for THE LIAR

by Erin Focone
Marketing Associate/Group Sales

From top left: Penny Metropulos, David Ives, Rebekah Brockman, Philippe Bowgen, Rusty Ross, and Jay Russell. 
Front row: Brian Reddy, Kate MacCluggage, Monique Barbee, and Aaron Krohn. Photo by Kat Gloor. 
David Ives has been described as “one of the most diversely talented playwrights working today.” (Theatermania). He is perhaps best known for his one-act plays, All in the Timing and for his drama Venus in Fur, which was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Play in 2012 and turned into a movie by Roman Polanski. Most recently, his play Lives of Saints began previews off-Broadway at Primary Stages where it was met with rave reviews.

In May, we will start our season off with David Ives’ adaptation of Pierre Corneille's The Liara hilarious misadventure of romance that's short on truth but long on laughter. “Everything about it spoke to me,” said Ives. “The rippling language. The simplicity of the premise alongside the intricate rigor of the plotting. The gorgeousness of the set pieces. Its wide understanding and humanity, seasoned with several pinches of social satire.” 

We were lucky enough to have Ives at our first rehearsal of The Liar and we will have him back to the Playhouse again in a few short weeks as our Sunday Symposium guest on May 10th! Following the 3pm performance, Ives will take the stage with Associate Artistic Director, David Kennedy for an insightful discussion about his work adapting  and the world of the play. This discussion will be followed by a Q & A with the audience. This event is free and open to the public.