#ThrowbackThursday: Let’s recap the Boston International Film Festival


For those who couldn’t make it, and for those who are nostalgic, here’s a little trip back in time with company member and lead actress, Gail Shalan (Riley Ann/Coyote), who represented the company at this year’s Boston International Film Festival… Enjoy:


Mid-February 2016:

Big news! A little over a year since we wrapped shooting COYOTE GIRL (the short film) and we’ve finally been accepted to an East Coast Festival, better yet- it’s in Boston,  which means all my friends, family and local community can finally see our film on the big screen (For that matter- so can I)!



Mid-March 2016: 

The festival is approaching! Sims and Biggs have asked my boyfriend Ben and I to represent the company, as they will be in NOLA during the screening. Happy to oblige! I send out invitations (pretty and personalized, of course) and let the internet know WE ARE SCREENING IN BOSTON!



Early April 2016:

And I have to pick out a red carpet outfit… Isn’t my job hard and terrible??? So I try on this silk jumpsuit, and it’s a go! Thanks Anthropologie!


Fun Fact: I wear these suede J.Crew heels in the opening scene of COYOTE GIRL!


Wednesday, April 13th:

I venture downtown for the first of many times this week to pick up our all-inclusive filmmaker badges and a festival program. I had stopped by a little earlier to give the coordinators some post-cards. Every time I meet someone knew who asks what film I’m a part of (or recognizes me), and can’t wait to say how much they loved COYOTE GIRL, how moving and strange it was. I’m feeling pretty special:

filmmakerBIFF copy

Thursday, April 14th:

Finally the festival is about to begin! I’ve made a screening schedule for the weekend, and a back-up list of films, too.

After primping and pampering all day, my date and I head to the AMC/Loews Theatre for the red carpet, and then the opening night of films. Check out Ben with his new friends:



We meet several interesting filmmakers at the festival, and happen to run into fellow BU alum, Zachary Clarence, whose short film, MOTHER’S LOVE, will also be screening at the festival! Every one is so kind and friendly. Some people are Boston locals, some have been touring the country with their films, and and some filmmakers are from places like Italy, Korea, Haiti and Germany.

Here are some glamorous red carpet pics (shout out to Bimal Nepal and The Foundations TV) :








We got our great seats for the stunning short, OUT OF THE VILLAGE, from Ghana, as well as the powerful Canadian feature, ACROSS THE LINE:

AtThePremiere copy


Friday, April 15th: 

In the morning, Festival Director, Patrick Jerome, held a very informative panel on post-production fundraising and independent distribution. Although I’d never taken part in any of these aspects of film production before, I thought I’d stop by and take some notes for Sims and Biggs. I learned a lot!

Then it was time to catch some more films. I saw devastating documentary, UPSIDE DOWN, and the subtle and dark comedy, LABIA, from Argentina.

Next up was the bittersweet short, FATA MORGANA, and one of mine and Ben’s favorite features, LIKE LAMBS.

After each film, the festival facilitators would hold a Q&A with whatever filmmakers were present. It was delightful to experience such an engaged and curious audience at each screening. Even the shorts got their due diligence as the works of art they truly are.


Saturday, April 16th:

It’s the day of the screening! Also, the busiest day of the festival. I had plenty of screenings on my list and wanted to save up energy for our screening, too. I stopped by the 3:30 session of shorts and saw Zach’s film along with M.STEINERT AND SONS, THE TOYMAKER, TEREZA’S HOUSE, THE ELEVATOR, and 12 KILOMETERS.


Then I took in the screening right before ours at the beautiful Paramount Theatre Screening Room (where our film would also be screened). I got to see my good friend (and castmate from last summer’s The Winter’s Tale) in the Sci-Fi short, THE ASCENDENTS, and then caught a wonderful, feel-good drama-dy about a woman’s first triathlon experience, called TRI.

I stayed for as much of the Q&A as possible, and snuck out to meet friends & family before our screening. But when I got outside, I heard that our screening was SOLD OUT! So I snuck back in and saved us a row of COYOTE GIRL seats. IMG_4155

Our session was very well curated (as was the whole festival). Before our film, the short HIS LAST GAME screened. It was a 9 minute realistic, but poetic, ode to a dying man fading away into his degenerative disease. A perfect thematic opener to our film and the Jay Gianonne feature, IT SNOWS ALL THE TIME, about a son coming home to care for his family as his dementia-ridden father is diagnosed.

Although each film was very different in genre, they ran with a common theme. It was a wonderful opportunity for our artistic, avant-garde film to have an audience that was simultaneously surprised by the stylistic choices and deeply connected to the subject matter. Our film was very well received, and Rick Sands (our DP) and I were able to field all sorts of questions from “How did you get that gorgeous panoramic shot at the end?” (A drone camera) to “What did the Coyote mean?”(we’ll leave that up to you, dear viewer). Our film looked GORGEOUS on the big screen, and it was all-in-all an incredibly rewarding experience.12990870_581263622048984_7849164325348002187_n


Sunday, April 17th:

After several long days, and much pent-up tension released, I enter Sunday in a happy, weary daze. But there are many films on my list today.  I barely sneak into a screening of the sold-out OF FORTUNE AND GOLD. What a beautiful film with superb direction and breath-taking shots of the Southwest!

The filmmakers (Jared Marshall, Derek Marshall, and Valerie Hinkle), with whom I’ve been lucky enough to have several great conversations this weekend, invite Ben and I to attend their after-screening party.

After that I rush on over to the screening of COMING THROUGH THE RYE which has been on my list for weeks. It’s the (based-on-fact) story of a young high school student’s quest to find J.D. Salinger (played by Chris Cooper) and it’s a delight! Before it plays, there is a whimsical and wonderful short called AIRHEAD, and another locally made film called FROSTING.

Monday, April 18th: 

A long weekend indeed, we reach Monday and the closing night party. I’m happy to see my OF FORTUNE AND GOLD friends there, so we grab our Hendrick’s-sponsored cocktails and listen to some lovely poetry and song offerings from the kind and inspired cast of festival volunteers.


I also get to sit down and have a wonderful chat with many filmmakers, some films I caught, some I’ll have to see at the next New England festival they play. But most of all, it was a pleasure to sit down with Festival Director, Patrick Jerome, and reap the benefits of his wealth of knowledge on filmmaking in the Boston community.

At the end of the night the festival announced some awards and to my great surprise, the first film they called was COYOTE GIRL for “Best Experimental Film”! What an honor!

“Best Experimental Film” goes to COYOTE GIRL!


Accepting the award with Patrick Jerome.


“Best Picture” went to our friends Valerie Hinkle, Derek Marshall, and Jared Marshall for OF FORTUNE AND GOLD!


With some new filmmaking friends! Cheers!



To see what we’re up to next follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

To learn more about the Boston International Film Festival check out their website and Facebook page.

Thanks again to Bimal Nepal and The Foundations TV for such wonderful coverage of the festival and to Patrick Jerome and all of the festival volunteers, for pulling together such a well-curated and successful festival!


Foxy Takes New York!

Hey there,

If you’ve been following us on instagram or twitter, you may already be acquainted with our newest addition to the Coyote family: Foxy!

Jen Vargas will be puppeteering Foxy the Coyote in our upcoming production of Riley Ann Visits The Outcast Cafe and has been getting acquainted with her (as we finish building her) during our workshop these past few weeks.

Last week Jen took Foxy on a field trip to The Big Apple! Here’s a little photo journal of the experience:

Foxy and Jennifer get on the train from Wassaic to Grand Central- Final destination: NYC!
After all the travel, Foxy rests and relaxes at Jen & Tom’s before a big day out tomorrow.
Looking for a bite to eat…
The ladies get their nails done for a big night out on the town!
In a cab to somewhere exciting…!


The beautiful gals having a blast in the heart of NYC.
Foxy is so curious… So many smells in the big city!
So glad you girls got a chance to explore the city together! (A sneaky shot of Foxy’s gracious host, Tom, in the background) See you two in the Berkshires!

#FeaturedFriend: Jennifer Vargas

Hey there,
We’re back this #ThrowbackThursday with another #FeaturedFriend! Last month we began a series of interviews with past artists who have come through the Outcast Café. We are delighted to catch you up on their journeys since parting ways and to share a few of their fond memories from their time with us. If you missed our first Featured Friend, Kelsey Hogan, you can check out her interview here.

This month is a special treat as we introduce Jennifer Vargas, one of our Ministering Angels from The Dick and The Rose NYFringe tour in 2012. We are pleased to welcome Jen back to the company this fall as MA (Ministering Angel- solo that is) in our workshop of Riley Ann Visits the Outcast Café. We invite you to enjoy Jennifer’s brilliance right along with us:

The beautiful and talented Jennifer Vargas.

OC: Welcome back, Jenny! We’re so happy to have you in the rehearsal space again. Can you take us down memory lane? Tell us a little about your initial collaboration with Outcast Café:

JV: I was attending NYU Tisch for Drama and Barbara Allen was a clowning teacher of mine. It was my favorite class and I asked her if she knew of any other clowning opportunities in the city. Barbara later reached out to me about a show she was choreographing and she told Biggs about me. I auditioned for him and the rest, as they say, is history.
Jen (front and center) leaps fearlessly into the Ministering Angel team in a pick-up rehearsal at NYFringe 2012.
OC: A history we remember fondly! It was such a joy to have you join the team. What was one of your favorite memories from the summer of 2012?
JV: I have so many! One of my favorites was just working with the Ministering Angels. I was the youngest of the four and I never felt like I was underestimated. We all took good care of each other. We also had a lot of fun behind the scenes (and beyond the drape).
Enjoying a cast dinner at The Elitzer Home (L to R: Tori Sheehan, Jennifer Vargas, Kelsey Hogan and Cindy Elitzer)
Jen (Center left) enjoys a beautiful company meal hosted by Cindy Elitzer (far right). Pictured: Tori Sheehan (far left) and Kelsey Hogan (center right).
OC: Indeed, we did. Getting to show you the Berkshires was a pleasure, and once we arrived on your turf, New York City, it was great for the non-NYC based members of the company to have someone who knew the ropes. We’d love to know what you’ve been working on since we last saw you. When you’re not workshopping in the Berkshires with us, we can still find you in New York, right?  
JV: Right. I just graduated from NYU Tisch with my BFA in Drama. I also wrote, performed, and directed my very own piece called An Afternoon Visit; or otherwise known as Pussy. Since then, I’ve officially moved to New York City and have been auditioning. I’m also in the process of writing a web-series, which will hopefully start filming in the next couple of months.
The Ministering Angels and Puppet Babies take part in Fringe NYC 2012's "get off your couch.." initiative
The Ministering Angels and Puppet Babies take part in Fringe NYC 2012’s “get off your couch..” initiative. Jenny and her babies sit top right of the couch.
OC: Wow! We are so proud of your hard work and accomplishments. We love collaborating with such a driven and creative artist. Are there any thoughts, feelings you want to share about diving into another show with us?
JV: I’m about to be a part of the cast for Riley Ann Visits…, which I am very excited for!! Every time I get in the room with the puppet babies, there are so many new characters to meet and stories to explore. I can’t wait to start working on the new coyote puppets and exploring the depth of the story of Riley Ann Visits The Outcast Café.
Jen and her babies appear in the bottom right corner of the drape during “Yoke of Oppression” rehearsal in Lee, MA.
And what an exploration it is becoming! We are now a week into our process out here in the peaceful and creatively nurturing Berkshire hills and are discovering lots of new information about our story as well as developing a heightened puppetry vocabulary. Stay tuned for more tidbits and pictures from our process soon! Go ahead and follow our Facebook, twitter, and instagram accounts for frequent updates.

#FeaturedFriend : Kelsey Jayne Hogan

Howdy Fellow Outcasts,

As we move forward in our work this year and begin to stage the second play in our trilogy, Riley Ann Visits The Outcast Café, we wanted to give you readers a chance to check in with some of the amazing folks we had the privilege of working with on the several iterations of our first piece, The Dick and The Rose. 

To kick us off, here’s a few words from the radiant Kelsey Jayne Hogan:

Kelsey shares a laugh with Company members Dave Demke and Caley Milliken at the Gryphon Venues’ Opening Night party in Edinburgh 2011.


OC: Can you tell us a little about your initial collaboration with Outcast Café?
KJH: I remember getting an email from Biggs early into the new year.  I had loved working with Biggs in my freshman year improv class. He introduced me to so many new forms of theatre and I had never felt more expressive.  This opened my world. I had always been a bit reserved in auditions and life in general, Biggs was the opposite. Larger than life with an ability to express the deepest emotions. I admired him as an artist, professor, and person. When I learned he wanted to work with ME, I was shocked and looked forward to getting to work.
OC: Sounds exciting! What was it like, bringing to life the work of your mentor? How was the rehearsal process? And what was the Edinburgh Fringe like? 
It was hot, but magical in the Berkshires. That first summer with Gail, Emma, and Dylan as my fellow Ministering Angels was incredible. Being under a sticky sweaty parachute with puppets really does create a bond that can’t be broken easily (really the entire cast spent a lot of time under there and we loved each other in spite of our smells). There were days that felt like we were swimming through the air and I was excited to get to Edinburgh with its cooler forecast.
Layover in Heathrow with the gang (R to L: Kelsey Hogan, Dylan Wittrock, Emma Sims-Biggs and Ian Milliken)
Layover in Heathrow with the gang (R to L: Kelsey Hogan, Dylan Wittrock, Emma Sims-Biggs and Ian Milliken)

Traveling there was another adventure all together…I suppose this show was really entirely one huge adventure with millions of others taking place inside of it. A night spent in London’s Heathrow, an amazing flat, the pubic triangle, flirting with the coffee shop boy down the street, making friends with our venue managers, telling dead baby jokes to passersby, handing out hundreds of flyers, scotch lessons from my dad, ACDC karaoke, and performing a wildly fun, dark, and entertaining show…Edinburgh Fringe was a delight and ended way too soon.

Kelsey and her puppet baby “Bob” work the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

OC: Indeed, it was. But we were lucky enough to have you with us again in 2012.

KJH: Yes, the following year I received another email from Biggs, we were going to New York. I was thrilled. The play had evolved and so had the cast and crew. I was reunited with my puppet (Bob) and introduced to our new ministering angels. It was a great evolution. We clicked again (I am convinced that parachute makes you friends for life). Bob (my puppet) often had a lot to say. One of my distinct memories was Biggs pulling me aside to tell me “You don’t even realize you are talking when you have your puppet with you, but you need to tell him to pull back a bit”. It was a realization that masks and puppets have a life of their own, it was what truly made me appreciate the art form. Bob did need to pull back and he did.

  We had a great time experiencing the  NY Artist lifestyle. We had a small apartment and I chose the smallest room (I could touch both walls at the same time). That summer the show really hit a stride, and we got to see other fantastic shows.Performing in the Cherry Lane Theater was an experience I will never forget.

Kelsey rocks the spoons again in our new four-man band (Ian Milliken, Evan Gambardella, Robert Biggs) for NYFringe 2012!
OC: Neither will we! You were such an important part of the experience both times around. It was a pleasure to work with you and we miss your enthusiastic and collaborative presence in the rehearsal room. You’ve had a big journey since we parted ways 3 years ago (!!). Could you tell us a little about what you’ve been up to?
KJH: Of course. A lot of time has passed since then. I truly miss it everyday. It was a time in my life that I was incredibly passionate and excited to get up every morning  to create something and be around and connect to other artists. Though I still perform here and there and write when I take the time for myself, I have now moved back to the west coast.
 After graduating from Emerson I moved to Washington D.C. and took a year long internship in devlopment and administration with Woolly Mammoth. It was great experience and I found a way to soothe my creative mind in an office by taking on event planning. After a year there I moved back west and took a job with Berkeley Rep handling donor relations and assiting with events.
I just had a one year anniversary with this job, something I have never had! It is exciting and terrifying. I enjoy what I do, love the company and my co-workers, though it can feel a little monotonous not working under a hole-filled parachute with a 7ft penis puppet…I’m moving up in the company and starting in September will be the special events manager which I am very proud of and grateful for. I tend not to plan my life ahead of time; that must be the artist, nomadic soul in me.
A Fantastic Puppetry Discovery (Kelsey Hogan)
Kelsey’s first encounter with the Puppet Babies (South Lee, MA 2011)
OC: We, too, know that traveling spirit very well;) Congratulations on all your hard work and many accomplishments over the past few years! We are so proud of you. Anything else you’d like to treat our readers to? Big life lessons? One more laugh? 
I do hope I can see Bob again…when you connect with a puppet it never really leaves you (and my non-puppeteer friends don’t get it). Having Biggs in my life, being a part of “The Dick and the Rose”, connecting with Tori, Caley, Dave, Ian, Ron, Dylan, Emma, Gail, Jenny, Jake, Evan, Barbara, Deborah (I know the list goes on, but for the sake of this sentence I’ll end it here) also will never really leave me. They pushed me to be better every day and make me who I am now. I don’t stay in a shell and won’t be reserved; my self-confidence has soared and I will be forever grateful for them.
The main lesson I learned is to take life by the 7ft. dick, if you will, and live your adventure.
Kelsey in action in The Dick and The Rose (with Gail Shalan).



#ThrowbackThursday: The Magic of Puppetry in Hollywood


The Skeleton of the T-Rex from the original Jurassic film. (Source: www.thebeardedtrio.com)
The Skeleton of the T-Rex from the original Jurassic film. (Source: www.thebeardedtrio.com)


Does this make us "Rude Mechanicals"?
Does this make us “Rude Mechanicals”?


Here’s a little #throwbackthursday for you all you Jurassic Park Fans! Don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see Jurassic World pretty much solely for the adept puppetry they still use in the franchise, despite all the technological advances of the last 20 years. As John Rosengrant (co-owner of Legacy Effects) says, “There’s some chemistry that happens between the actors and the piece” only to be captured through the magic of puppetry. Check out the process of building and manipulating the emotional death of the Apatosaurus in Jurassic World:

(Source: www.puppeteersunite.com)