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:
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
January has been an amazing month for Outcast Café! We have spent the past two and a half weeks officially entering the production phase of making our second short film, Coyote Girl, the poetic version of the 90 minute play script Riley Ann Visits the Outcast Cafe. After spending about two weeks on location in Westfield, Illinois the team has dispersed and continues to work on post-production for the film as well as upcoming projects for the company. Here is the next installment of our adventures on location from the perspective of company member Gail Shalan (Riley Ann, Coyote) :
8:01 a.m.- This morning, at the Home Place, the cast and crew meets with the make-up and costume consultant for the film, Karen Eisenhour. Karen is a professor in the theatre department at Eastern Illinois University (in Charleston) teaching make-up and costume design as well as building puppets herself! Karen brings along a bright and eager student named Jason, who is an actor, writer and director, looking to produce his first feature film soon. For the next couple hours Karen and Jason teach Biggs and myself how to properly apply a makeup base and then age/ exhaust ourselves appropriately using shadowing techniques, exaggerated heavily for black and white film. In color we sort of look like a zombie-horror flick, but in color, we are spectacular! After consulting with Rick and Terry on our various progressions (or regressions), we move on to costumes.
11:48 a.m.- We break quickly for lunch. Chatting with Karen and Jason about their work and time at the University is a blast. Rick grills Karen on her film syllabus, and Jason grills Rick on making a movie. Turns out Karen is a bit of a neighbor to us Berkshire folk as she hails from our neighbor, Connecticut.
12:40 p.m.- Biggs and I change in and out of our many costume options and with the help of all our useful eyes (Rick, Terry, Karen, Jason, and Sims), we narrow down our costumes, scene by scene.
2:15 p.m.- Having made it through all of our looks, Karen makes an organized list and closet set-up. We move on to beginning a camera rehearsal with Rick (scenes 2/3, 5, 7, and 10) for blocking of the various shots in a more particular sense than our rehearsal yesterday. It’s been a long day. Make-up mysteriously takes an aggressive toll, but we feel good about powering through the first half of the film rehearsal and then finishing the rest up another day.
6:11 p.m.- The five of us head out to an amazing smokehouse in Charelston for dinner. This little recovering vegetarian is officially on a Chicken kick these two weeks. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em!