#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).



Fondly Remembering “Flyering”

Courtesy of one of our original Ministering Angels, Dylan Wittrock, we are happy to send you on a journey down memory lane. Here is a compilation video of our promotional efforts on the Royal Mile at Edinburgh Fringe 2011, shout out to Bob and Mickey for all their hard work:

Puppets in Edinburgh: The Royal Mile and Beyond

As promised on our previous blog post about Gail’s adventures with puppets, here is the second installment of the journey, Edinburgh:



If you’ve ever had the fortune of attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival you know what a glorious shit-show the Royal Mile is during the month of August (Side note: this chaos goes on for a bit longer than you’d think as in typical Scottish fashion, “the lang Scots mile” [Tam O’Shanter, Robert Burns] stretches approximately 12% further than what we know as a mile in the good ol’ US of A).

















(The Royal Mile photo credit ESB )  (Kelsey Hogan and Bob working the Mile, photo credit ESB)

There are people EVERYWHERE: some tourists, some theatre fanatics, some poor locals who didn’t manage to join the annual mass exodus, but mostly performers of all shapes and sizes pushing the crap out of their Fringe shows on the many passers by. It’s a fantastic place to go if you came for the Festival and the measly brochure detailing hundreds of shows with a brief paragraph and tiny image is not offering you enough vivid detail to make an educated decision, or you came to see the sweet little city, but stayed on for a few too many days and have run out of things to do, or if you want to see some previews of what you might buy tickets to like the fabulous La Putyka Circus pulling out their stops on stilts, or discover new favorite bands like The Buffalo Skinners, or you just want to shop around for vested, bearded, talented cuties most likely possessing a delightful accent and then blog about it .














(A fellow puppet on the Mile, photo cred. ESB)


























(The Buffalo Skinners, photo cred. ESB)


























(A Royal Mile Extravaganza, photo cred. ESB)


The Royal Mile during Fringe is a lot of things, most specifically chaos, and being asked to busk on the streets in the misty, often rainy, Scottish weather to garner attention for your show can feel like a thankless effort…






















(Defeat feat. Dylan Wittrock and Kelsey Hogan, photo cred. ESB)

… until you get a puppet.














(Mickey on the Mile, photo cred. ESB)

Once we put the puppets on, swarms of people turned heads, stopped to listen, or even have a conversation with Mimi or Mickey or Bob, our little puppet babies. Children were dragging their parents over and we were explaining on repeat that there were elements of the show (such as a 15 ft. long Dick puppet)





















































(Some of our flyers we gave out on The Mile, design by Outcast Cafe and ESB)


which may not be appropriate for their four-year old, which still didn’t deter the adorable little girl in a polka dot dress who made friends with Bob and came to visit daily with her grandmother. The work became play, and it was a lot easier to stop feeling like an annoying, nagging asshole, when it wasn’t you who was doing the nagging, but a little, loveable piece of foam and cloth on your hand.










(Babies love Bob, photo credit ESB )


These little buddies not only became the highlight of the show for many, but also became one of our main draws and the some of the hardest workers in our company. I remember the sense of inspired delight when the babies would “pop!” through the drape and ripples of laughter would occur, or later they would meet their short ends when drowned to death, and some would be moved to tears. What had started as a solution to a delicate aspect of our storytelling ended up becoming much more in bringing us a whole new audience, a different sense of charm and reality, and a harking back to ancient themes of storytelling and play, as we tend to do at the Outcast Café.

We belonged to a new club, the unofficial Puppet Club, which would turn out to be one of our best assets in marketing but also a great new exposure to some like-minded artists using like-minded “tools” of storytelling. We saw many fascinating, entertaining, sometimes ridiculous, sometimes incredibly dramatic and moving new works during our month at the festival. The use of music, poetry, dance, projection, and circus arts were all inspiring and provocatively employed. But what stuck with me most, the shows I still talk about, were the ones that belonged to the Club, the ones which utilized the transportable magic of puppetry.

I remember a rainy afternoon in Edinburgh, when most of the cast and crew put on our wellies, or whatever else we were keeping dry with, on and marched down to a vacant lot behind a brick building to discover a rag-tag gypsy tent unfolding off a rickety trailer. Upon entering, we discovered the very stuff of enchanted fairie-folk tales children (and us whimsical adults) only dream of: many rows of closely fitted benches arrayed with multicolored pillow cushions facing a spectacular little stage on which we witnessed the most magical puppet play, Little Matter by The River People. It was an epic coming of age/ morality tale full of whimsy and warnings, and was told primarily by handcrafted pieces of wood, fabric, paper, and other tidbits; secondly by a bunch of talented musically inclined riverpeople






(Our Hero in Little Matter, source www.threeweeks.co.uk)


This was not our only puppet foray at the Fringe. Some of our other favorites were the amazing performances by Blind Summit and Cirk La Putyka.

In Blind Summit’s The Table we watched several pieces of well-sculpted cardboard transform into the crotchety, grumbly, 24” tall little man who promised to perform “the last 12 hours of Moses’s life on top of a table.”1980-0064-2












(Our Friend from The Table, source http://trampenau.co.uk)


In Cirk La Putyka’s La Putyka, puppetry played as an element in this circus extravaganza, when a beautiful woman in a red dress, waltzed romantically (and drunkenly) with this “man” here:cirk-la-putyka










(Drunken Waltz from La Putyka, source http://www.sideshow-circusmagazine.com)


Throughout the witnessing of these mesmerizing instances of story telling, I continued to be surprised by how “real” it all felt. I was stunned by the fact that I felt more connected to the inanimate objects most of the time, than I did the very humans who interacted with or manipulated them. It was in Edinburgh that I first discovered my passionate belief in puppets and forever wanted a membership to the Club.

(Moved to Tears feat. Gail Shalan, Kelsey Hogan, and the Babies, photo credit ESB)


                                                                                   Written by company member Gail Shalan