Alice in Wonderland, Part 2- A Children’s Theatre Event at Books of Wonder!

by Christen Madrazo

I recently had the privilege of watching (and filming) my Haberdasher family rehash one of our originals: Alice in Wonderland.

This time, our fabulous director Hollie Klem went a hare more Disney than did our original performance at St. Marks. (Check out our pics of that production at www.haberdashertheatre.com.) If you’re wondering why she cut the scene in which the cook and duchess play catch with a screaming baby, well, look closely at the pictures below and find that this time, our attentive audience was babies! And they were fabulous!

As they sat on the floor of our venue—Books of Wonder in Chelsea—our 2-6 year-olds laughed, they cried (for real, there was a small melt-down), they helped Alice pick which way to go, they ate cupcakes, and they reminded us of just how beautiful this coming-of-age story really is.

I hope they learned from us not to take drugs from caterpillars they don’t know and the importance of taking ownership over what they’re learning—both in school and out. I hope they realize that time is precious but malleable, that sometimes you get accused of things you didn’t do, that you don’t have to wait for a birthday to celebrate, and that often, you’re surrounded by people who have no idea where they’re going but are positive that they know exactly where you should be going.

Our favorite moment? When that little girl couldn’t stand by one second longer and so (uninvited, but surely welcomed) she braved the stage—mid-scene—to give the sobbing mock turtle a big, supportive, “everything’s okay” hug.

 

Here are some wondrous photos of our successful children’s theatre event!

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The New You

by Keri Taylor

I bought my first hair straightener today. I find this a bit ironic considering that I already have straight hair. But apparently it will make my hair straighter?!! Or at least more chic. Which is a new look that I’m trying out. This is not completely by choice, as I found myself wrapped up in a hair show like none other.

Let me give you a bit of history concerning my past hair show experiences. Obviously these are to make money and I found myself a bit desperate for cash back in 2006…ya know, bills to pay and rent and what not. I found the ad on craigslist and went to the Wella studios with a bunch of other girls not quite knowing what I could be getting myself into. I had pretty long hair at the time and was very nervous to cut it off. There were some stipulations of course- no dyed hair, the right kind of hair to work with, etc.- but I had virgin hair so they were very excited to have me. They asked us girls how open we were to having our hair cut and the weeding out process happened from there. It reminded me a lot of America’s Next Top Model when the girl all get make overs and the cutting hadn’t even begun yet. There were a few tears from girls getting turned down and some tears when they found out what kind of cut they would be getting. I, on the other hand, was pretty much thinking about the moolah. So yeah, I let them do whatever they wanted with my virgin hair. My consultation went something like, “We’re going to cut a lot off and give it some red.” When I asked, “How much is a lot?” they responded, “One side will be shorter than the other; much shorter.” They thanked me and told me to come back at 8am the next day.

The next morning was chaos like no other. My consultation had somehow changed completely within the past 11 hours; now I was going to get green and blonde highlights. It’s a good thing I worked at a little jewelry shop where my hair didn’t matter too much and I could get away with it. Green?!! I did freak out a little about that, but I tried to take it like a big girl and swallow my fear. The process took all day. But what I learned right away is how much the colorist and cutter had to work together. It was truly a team effort and it was funny to watch them. The colorist was a woman and the only one I have seen in that role since. She did a great job and only made two spots green…and it was a nice, soft baby green. The hair stylist was crazy it seemed and he loved working with my even hair, chopping it to bits. I was a presentation model and would be brought out at the end of the show in this funny outfit and figure out how to walk in high heels while everyone is staring.

When I was younger I used to laugh almost uncontrollably for the first song if I was in a musical because of my nerves. That same feeling rushed back, but I held it a huge smile, which I don’t think is very common for a hair model; I feel like they are supposed to look pretty stoic. My hair turned out with about a quarter of an inch on the right side and much longer on the left. I felt like an 80s rocker chick—so I tried to act like one. J

I honestly thought I would never do one again, that it would be a one time thing. I had fun with it and once my right side started to grow back, I felt a lot less lopsided. Then a year later I found myself answering another craigslist ad (which is who I really blame in the end). It was true that I needed the money again and I worked in a retail job that it really didn’t matter what I looked like.

This experience was at the same place with a different set of stylists, but very similar environment. They were two funny men with a funny working relationship. But I was comfortable with them and this was actually a more conservative hair show, which I wouldn’t have guessed even existed after my first one. They did however tell me my natural color is a “mousy” brown, and I have never been able to shake that comment…mostly because I think mice are putrescent and I had never heard it before. Sadly I think it just might be true. Oh well, that is what hair color is for.

Like most productions, I never got the professional pictures they did of the shoot we did afterward, and this was a pretty quick job, just one day. But it still paid pretty well, surprisingly. I’ll take it!

The years passed and the hair shows were always in the back of my mind. Most of the other girls actually belonged to either a model or hair show agency (yes, that does exist!) that told them about these gigs; I’m glad I didn’t belong to one because they still had to pay out….I just had good ol’ craigslist.

Last fall I was looking for some kind of change. My hair was pretty blah and I had never actually paid for a hair cut in New York and I was not about to start. I mean, the first time I went to hair salon in my tiny town I was 14!!! I probably paid $50.00 for cut and color and when you live in a city where they pay you to use your hair, why settle for less?! It doesn’t really matter that you don’t get to choose what the outcome will be, I’ve decided I don’t really care.

But like I said, my hair was at least 14 inches past my shoulder, dying and needed to go. I went to Vidal Sassoon; I figured they needed hair models all the time. This was last September and I just went into the salon to find out, I didn’t even need craigslist this time. J I went to the model call and once again found myself sitting in the chair getting my consultation. I was a pro at this; I told them I was open to anything. They said they would call that night to tell me what time to be in the next day. A few hours later I got the call…I had been denied.
I was very shocked to say the least. Even more so, I was devastated. This had never happened to me before…especially for a hair show!

The winter passed and I built up the resolve to go back once again. The guy from the last time was there and said he remembered me. I went with it because he said he had a show coming up in June…only this was unpaid. Normally I don’t work for free, but I thought, why not?!

This hair show was actually for Vidal salons only, to show each other new work. We actually had a bit a choreographed song we had to work with (there were 5 of us) and do a bit of a walk. Because it was unpaid, they were nice enough to let me choose the color—I went with blonde. I haven’t been blonde in such a long time, and I love the color yellow! I LOVED the cut! It was extreme, but they did such a good job. He even trimmed and did my roots for me over the summer. After the show, my cutter told me that his bosses thought I should come back for another one this month. I told him I would be at the casting call.

That was this past Friday, and this time I really didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. No one had told me what a big deal this would be. There were two stylists from LA in for the event.
Saturday started at 7:30am at the Waldorf Astoria with the choreographer…that’s right people. We had a choreographer…for a hair show. Are you for reals?!! There were 6 of us and I paired with a lovely girl from Toronto and we were labeled: Zen. Our dance included Tai Chi. It was hilarious and I tried to keep a straight face.
By 11:00am we were in cabs headed to the downtown salon. They started working on our hair by noon, we grabbed lunch at 1:00pm. My hair was bleached, colored, cut and toned.
I was out by 6:00pm.
Unfortunately I had go to work and close. I was home around 9:30pm and in bed by midnight.

Sunday I was back at the Waldorf by 7:30am due to a late train (I should have been there at 7am) and rehearsed the choreography. There were final touches on the hair, then wardrobe and make up. The show was many salons presenting to each other, on a real stage, with about 200 members in the audience, and I must say that Vidal was pretty impressive! The whole presentation took about 20 min. and we were done by noon.

I was 10 blocks from work, which I had to be to by 1pm and I barely made it by the time I got out of my garb and the make up off my eye brows. It was a funny experience.

I must say, I am not as thrilled with my hair cut this time, but over the past few days, it is growing on me…literally. I think I’ll be more excited in about two months and the right side is a little longer (what is it with these hair dressers and cutting off my right side so much shorter?!!).

I understand that jobs these days want you to look a certain way, but I would I love a world where our looks don’t matter so much; especially when it comes to hair. That’s what wigs are for. Like imagine if you were having a bad hair day and you could just slap on a wig and it was fine! That is a world I hope we live in someday.

I have a different retail job, and of course I want to look presentable, but lately, it doesn’t really matter to me what my hair looks like. Remember Edward Scissor Hands and how he cut all the ladies’ hair…I watched that in preparation for this hair show. And it made me remember that while a hair cut can make you feel brand new again, what you put in the inside of you can too.

 

A Very Haberdasher Theatre Inc Brunch

And so the time came for Hollie Klem, artistic director of Haberdasher Theatre, to be the blogger of the week. “Although, I will admit it surely will not be most enlightening of our 2011 blogging season, I hope it tickles your funny bone…”

On July 31, 2011 she was one of the guests at the Haberdasher Theatre Inc. first social event and benefit of 2011, The Haberdasher Summer Brunch. This is a video collage held together in a silent-film format created mainly out of nostalgia but also to share with you the happenings on that fateful day at Sweet & Vicious
A Very Haberdasher Summer Brunch.

Revelations of the Playa.

By Kerry Jo Rizzo

Wow.

This year, I was lucky enough to have an unforeseen, profound life experience.  This experience managed to clarify my personal goals in life and has made clear the work that is crucial to the success and health of our future as a global society.  Funny enough, it only took one week in the depths of Nevada‘s Black Rock Desert to realize so much.  What could do something of this sort? Was it a week-long binge on psilocybin? Or seclusion on a cliffside monastery?  I would say that that kind of exploration is truly significant, but what happened to me one week in the desert shot the fireworks of my spirit into a frenzy and simultaneously flicked the switch on that dull lightbulb in my mind, always waiting for that day which life on Earth would finally start to make a bit of sense.

The event is called Burning Man.  For those of you who have never heard of it, it’s a week-long festival in the desert which demands personal sustainability, responsibility and openness of mind.  The festival started 25 years ago, when a man named Larry Harvey, an artist bum of sorts, had nothing better to do than construct a sculpture of a man with 20 or so friends, and burn it on Baker Beach in San Francisco.  After four years and a growing population to view the effigy, the festival no longer thrived on that small beach in the bay area due to fire regulations.  By some course of randomness (or divine inspiration), the festival and sculpture burn were moved to the Black Rock Desert, deep in the Nevada wilderness.  This portion of desert, called The Playa, is 70 miles away from any sort of recognizable form of city and society.  About an hour drive through Paiute Indian reservation, past the glorious Pyramid Lake, two tiny cities exist with no more than 500 residents tops.  Every year at the end of August, the week preceding Labor Day weekend, around 50,000 people flood those small towns to gather in the desert and experience a city that leaves no trace and is based solely around creativity and appreciating your fellow men.

The inhabitants of Black Rock City and the festival itself work and thrive because of ten key principles.  They are:

Radical Inclusion, Gifting, Decommodification, Radical Self-Reliance, Radical Self-Expression, Communal Effort, Civic Responsibility, Leaving No Trace, Participation and Immediacy.  (Click here for a more in-depth explanation of these values.)

As every Burner knows, it’s really impossible to describe this kind of experience.  My first night there, I almost didn’t know what I was looking at.  It was all so new and unusual, the only things my first-time Burner friend and I could keep uttering were, “Oh my God… this is insane,” or “WHAT THE HELL! This is amazing,” “This is the coolest thing ever,” “I can’t believe this, it’s insane,”  you get the drift.  It also had a serious undertone of eroticism, which stemmed from how open all of these people are, juxtaposed against how tightly wound and resistant we have learned to be in our everyday life.  As the week went on, I realized the city wasn’t overtly sexual at all.  People are allowed to wear as much or as little clothing as they desire, but with that sort of freedom, people seemed to be more childlike and virginal than ever.

Daytime and nighttime are different animals during Burning Man, which make every dawn and sunset an exciting event.  No cars are permitted to drive around, unless they are registered art cars, and the entire city travels on foot or bike.  The city itself is shaped as a semi-circle, about 1.5 miles in diameter.

Here is a nice birds eye view by photographer Scott London:

An example of an art car, a truly badass one at that:

The main feeling I am left with is a feeling of community, happiness and responsibility. Burning Man is considered a social experiment.  Can we live in a different way?  Does the world have to suffer the destructive pains of capitalism forever? We all know that our present system is unsustainable and, to be quite honest, broken.  When I started writing this blog, I thought I would go on and on about the beautiful and mind boggling art, the fact that the desert at night feels like another planet or the Trojan Horse, Man and Temple burns.  Instead, I focused on what’s important about this festival and project.  Burning Man is everywhere and everyday.  The festival in the desert is the celebration of what can be and what principles will hopefully eventually integrate into our daily lives.  The work is to be done out here in the real world.  Burning Man is now a non-profit organization.  If this all interests you, please get involved! www.burningmanproject.org

I will leave you off with my personal video from the Jelly art car during the tribal party gathering that commenced before the burning of the man. I will save all the amazing details of the festival itself for you to find out next year on your own. Burning Man 2012!!! Who could miss that? Certainly not me. Hope to see you there!

Varda Inspired.

By Kerry Jo Rizzo

As breezy cool summer days and dark mellow nights mosey on past me this season, I find myself feeling more like a shallow wave in the Caribbean and less like my familiar, colorful and energetic self.  Foreseeing my future blog due for the company, I gazed into the vastness of my empty mind, realizing I had not much to say.  One afternoon, as luck or fate would have it, I mistakenly received a documentary about a notable French director and her life.  I thought it was a foreign animated flick I had ordered, which I was excitedly awaiting. At the opening of the film I was surprised to see an eclectic old woman and a film crew creating some sort of modern art experiment on the dunes of the Riviera.  The film is called, The Beaches of Agnès, the story of the life of French filmmaker Agnès Varda.  Nicknamed “the grandmother of French new wave,” she is a significant player in the world of cinema, mid-century to the present.


I was touched by her opening words in the film.  Surrounded by antique mirrors, reflections and crashing waves, she recites, “I’m playing the role of a little old lady, pleasantly plump and talkative, telling her life story.  And yet, it’s others I’m interested in.  Others I like to film, others who intrigue me, motivate me, make me ask questions, disconcert me, fascinate me.  This time to talk about myself, I thought, if we opened people up, we’d find landscapes.  If we opened me up, we’d find beaches.”


This stirred in me a recollection of how I view my life and what drives my insatiable urge to consume everything I encounter.  It’s a need I instinctually know is worth indulging in.  Most cultures, languages and time periods are victims to my voracious curiosity.  I am utterly pleased with how Agnès, at the age of 26 and having only viewed ten or so films by that time, was able to write her own script and create her own style of expression to fulfill her story’s message.  To enter into a profession with ample training is difficult enough, not to mention as a woman during the height of the feminist movement in France.  
Since viewing this documentary, I have enjoyed a few of her other shorts and features.  I connect with her fearless ways of piecing together her works, almost like a colage.   She uses her own artistic visuals and techniques to convey a story versus relying on typical strategies.  Other filmmakers with distinct creative motives and genius are bigwigs such as Fellini, Darren Aronofsky, Wes Anderson, Sofia Coppola, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet.  I am intrigued by the idea of living art.  In other words, the work of art being the natural outcome or extension of one’s life lived harmoniously.  Two women who have done that well are Marchesa Casati, the outrageous Italian heiress of the late 1800’s, and our own present day Lady Gaga.  With artists such as these, there seems to be no concrete place where their art ends and their lives begin.  They are synonymous.  I see this point as the key to being a truthful and talented actor.

A Very Haberdasher Video Brunch Blog.

And so the time came for Hollie Klem, artistic director of Haberdasher Theatre, to be the blogger of the week. “Although, I will admit it surely will not be most enlightening of our 2011 blogging season, I hope it tickles your funny bone…”

On July 31, 2011 she was one of the guests at the Haberdasher Theatre Inc. first social event and benefit of 2011, The Haberdasher Summer Brunch. This is a video collage held together in a silent-film format created mainly out of nostalgia but also to share with you the happenings on that fateful day at Sweet & Vicious
A Very Haberdasher Summer Brunch.

Reviews: You gotta take the bad with the good

By Christen Madrazo

“See this here? This is absolutely the worst review I ever got. Totally ripped me apart!” explained a well-known theatre director I had the chance to meet last year at an event in DC.  As he held open his binder and pointed to the thinning newspaper clipping, he chuckled and sighed. “Ahhh…I’ve been carrying this around with me everywhere I’ve worked for over twenty years,” he said.  I raised my freshly-threaded eyebrows as if to say: Why the hell would you do that?! Without even looking up to see my expression, he answered “Hun, if you want to believe the good ones, you gotta believe the bad ones too. It’s as simple as that; I carry this around to keep me grounded.” I stared at the floor for a second, taking in what he’d said.  He shut the binder and continued eating a speckled cracker cloaked in Gouda. “Seriously,” he said, his mouth full. “Everyone believes the good ones, but we always find excuses for the bad ones. To me, that’s more embarrassing than a bad review is.”

This changed the way I thought about reviews—both as an actress and as a publicity manager. Well, maybe it didn’t change the way I thought about them, but it invited me to analyze my relationship with them.  As Haberdasher’s publicity manager, one of my major jobs is to get reviewers to come to our shows. This isn’t always an easy task for an off-off Broadway company in a city with an infinite number of seats to fill; there are hundreds—if not thousands—of shows going on at a time and many that have the money for longer runs than us—something that attracts reviewers due to publication incentives. “If I can’t get any reviewers to come,” I think to myself at the beginning of every single project we start, “I’ll have failed! FAILED!” I wail in my head combing through the company Gmail account. “And if we do get a review—what if it’s a bad one?!  I fail if we don’t get reviewed, I fail if we do and it’s bad; I only win if we do and it’s favorable! That means the chances of failure are 2 out of 3!!!” Olive, my cat, attempts to console me as the thoughts tumble on spin-cycle for awhile.  Is no review better than a bad one?  Is a bad one better than none at all? It depends on whose feelings are hurt, I guess. Olive stares at me—probably wondering why I care at all.

Ultimately, as a company, we’ve come to the decision that a bad review is indeed better than no review at all—and luckily, we’ve received many good reviews!  But if you only invited reviewers to the pieces you were 100% sure would earn you favorable reviews, surely, you could never invite anyone to anything—ever. And if you were just going to do plays for your friends and your mom cause you knew they’d be nice, you could do the whole indie-theatre thing a whole lot cheaper in your parents’ backyard. Note: For twelve years of my childhood, I did write, direct, and star in dozens of plays produced on or around a swing-set my dad built; let the record show that the reviews were quite favorable, thankyouverymuch.

But seriously, when you do get a review (and congrats for getting it!), what do you do when it’s not-so-nice? …and many of them aren’t so nice. Why? Well, because bad news is more interesting to read than good news, but also—and much more honestly—because, believe it or not, most of the stuff produced everywhere and anywhere in the world is NOT perfect. That’s the truth and that’s ok!

Certainly far from perfect was my off-Broadway debut this past year. I was fiercely excited. This would be my most “professional” gig yet! We were listed at TKTS, our run kept getting extended, the balconies were full, people I’d known in a past life in PA came to see it without even knowing that I was in it; it was “legit.”  And it was terrible.  The show was literally the most embarrassing thing ever—for a variety of reasons. If you don’t believe me, ask The New York Times; they’ll tell you.

The review was disappointing and certainly painful to read, but it wasn’t surprising. It was honest.  The week it came out, a co-worker at my day-job mentioned that she’d read it.  I was instantly embarrassed but attempted to accept it—no excuses offered.  “Why do reviewers always have to be so mean?” she asked me.  “It’s not fair. You guys really worked hard and what does she know anyway?” I appreciated Julie’s attempt to pull the whole “what-do-they-know?” routine, but I couldn’t stomach it. “They” did know, I explained. In this case—not all—“they” were right. And it didn’t matter how hard we worked; the fact was, the show was all of the things the reviewer said it was, and people have a right to know that before they buy a ticket. We did work hard, the review was mean, and I hope that all involved learned something from it; I know that I did.

Did the review make me want to quit acting? Nope. It made me even more excited for the next project, and while I’m certainly not saying that anyone should believe everything (or anything, really) that is said about them, I am suggesting that all artists honestly assess their reviews and their work—whether it be acting, casting, directing, publicity….If you truly don’t agree with the reviewer, then seriously, use your existential freedom to decide not to let it bother you. If you do agree with the reviewer, do everything in your power to make sure you fix what you can about issues that can be fixed—focusing on real, live, present-moment choices that exist for you. To lament over choices that have already been made is silly and indulgent.

So, while I’m not planning to carry around bad reviews on my physical person for the next twenty years, I will vow to honestly access them, to make choices based on what I believe to be true, and to continue to seek out more—no matter how scary it may be.  Maybe my director friend carries around that bad review in order to justify all the good ones. Or, maybe he’s just a glutton for punishment. Either way, he’s still at it.