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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hey, y’all, sorry we missed January! We were busy making the movie Coyote Girl, or hadn’t you heard? While we garnered much inspiration from the expansive Heartland and the howling coyote friends, we didn’t get out to see much. Luckily, we were tipped off to a very cool puppet happening that took place at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in DC by DCist contributor Anya VanWagtendonk (read her article here) while we were half-way across the country making our cool puppet happening. Over the holidays, Woolly Mammoth hosted our #inspiringfellow of January & February: The Old Trout Puppet Workshop:
We feel particularly inspired by this odd and fantastic self-proclaimed: “motley gang of artists churning out ideas for a whole heap of unlikely things: puppet shows for adults and children, sculptures, films, music, books, plays, paintings, and pedagogy.”(source) The show that VanWagtendonk shared with us, Famous Puppet Death Scenes, is a celebration and exploration of the fears, anxieties, and curiosities we have about death through the safe and illuminating medium of puppetry. In a very puppet-y way, the show turns these horrors on their heads and into joy and amusement… the ups and downs of which we at Outcast Cafe know well from our work on The Dick and The Rose.
But we also feel akin to the Old Trout folk, in their beautiful exploration of puppets on film, their ambitious world travels, and of course, their broad exploration of the light and dark, the holy and bawdy, the ins and outs, the passage through the veil.
Old Trout Puppet Workshop, we salute your detailed and gorgeous bravery in storytelling and look forward to taking in a show down the road! Thanks for the inspiration, #inspiringfellows !
Check out this stunning music video they made for Feist’s song “Honey, Honey”:
Can’t get enough of them…Although we may have missed the U.S. leg of the run, if you are interested in catching Famous Puppet Death Scenes, the show is still touring in Canada and here are the dates I pulled from their website:
February 3 – 22, Majestic Theatre, Eastglen High School, Theatre Network, Edmonton, AB