#inspiringfellows: December/ January


Yes, it has been quite a while since we’ve done one of these, we know. But the good news is we have been busy in our own creative den huddled away making puppets and plays for some time.

Look how far this guy has come! ...More updates on Coyote 2.0 soon!
Look how far this guy has come!
...More updates on Coyote 2.0 soon!
…More updates on Coyote 2.0 soon!

Now that our Fall Workshop of Riley Ann Visits The Outcast Café has come to a temporary close, we’ve had some time to get out there and get inspired again… Check out our December/ January #inspiringfellows: Imaginary Beasts!


Gail worked with core Imaginary Beasts company member Kiki Samko in The Winter’s Tale in August. Kiki described incredible ensemble, view-point-eque workshops with like-minded theatre makers as well as shared gorgeous picture of these masks with Gail…

Imaginary Beasts presents me.nag.er.ie
Imaginary Beasts presents me.nag.er.ie


And since then, she has been waiting for an opportunity to see what Imaginary Beasts is all about!

Imaginary Beasts is a Boston-based self-proclaimed “incubator for adventurous theatre making.” A delightful ensemble of brilliant physical actors come together to bring the Boston theatre scene a mix of traditional and non-traditional theatrical experiences.

A month or so ago, Gail had the pleasure of attending their most recent workshop of me.nag.er.ie — a year-long development of a movement-theatre collection inspired primarily by Jorge Luis Borges’ The Book of Imaginary Beings

A wonderful and inspiring source text.
A wonderful and inspiring source text.


It was a stunning exploration of humanity, mythology, and the connections we strive to build through images, music, bodies, and movement to create story. men.ag.er.ie was shared in their resident space, The Charlestown Working Theatre, and will be performed for the public at the Boston Center for the Arts this April (1-23). We can’t wait to see where they take it!11866314_10153437878077488_4640336239080971665_n


In the meantime we’ll be at their annual Winter Panto (this year it’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz) soaking up some traditional delight in a style akin to everything we adore. It doesn’t get much better than raucous song and some guaranteed audience participation!

Poster for this year's Panto
Poster for this year’s Panto


Humpty Dumpty – Panto style!
Using puppets in Kerplop!

You can get tickets to The Wonderful Wizard of Oz here: http://www.bostontheatrescene.com/season/iWinter-Panto-2016-The-Wonderful-Wizard-of-Ozi/

You can find out more about Imaginary Beasts here: http://www.imaginarybeasts.org/imaginary_beasts/About_Us_.html

Join us in following them on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook  (all hyperlinked… click away)!






COYOTE GIRL Accepted Again!

We’ll see you at the Route 66 Film Festival on Saturday, November 7th. Our film will be playing in Session 5 held between 7 and 10 pm. The festival is in Springfield, IL, just West of  our shoot location on the Biggs’ Farm in Westfield.

Screen Shot from opening of "Coyote Girl"



The Route 66 Film Festival is in it’s 14th year and we are very honored to be a part of it! We are looking forward to experiencing this festival that claims to have “something for everyone” from shorts to features, experimental films to docs, local to international films.

On their Facebook page they state:  “The general theme of our festival is journey, whether emotional, physical, spiritual or personal. We strive to introduce audiences to talented artists from around the world, as well as the American Midwest.” 

You can see more of what they are about and keep up to date on their announcements by following them here: https://www.facebook.com/TheRoute66InternationalFilmFestival/info/?tab=page_info

But, of course, we’ll keep you updated, too.

Rick and Biggs on set for Coyote Girl

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!

Puppetry feels like:


Happy National Poetry Day!


Starlings in Winter

by Mary Oliver


Chunky and noisy,
but with stars in their black feathers,
they spring from the telephone wire
and instantly

they are acrobats
in the freezing wind.
And now, in the theater of air,
they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;
they float like one stippled star
that opens,
becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;
and you watch
and you try
but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it
with no articulated instruction, no pause,
only the silent confirmation
that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin
over and over again,
full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,
even in the leafless winter,
even in the ashy city.
I am thinking now
of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots
trying to leave the ground,
I feel my heart
pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.
I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.


COYOTE GIRL – Official Trailer

Going to NAFF this weekend and want a teaser? Can’t get out there but want more COYOTE GIRL?

Boy, oh, boy are we excited to share this with you! With our SNAFF premiere behind us and playing again at NAFF this Sunday night, we thought now would be a great time to finally share with you the trailer for COYOTE GIRL.

Without further ado:

Accepted Again!

Very proud to announce that we have been officially selected at the New Art Film Festival 2015 in Champaign, Illinois! Good news for our Mid-Western pals (and for us), y’all have another opportunity to catch a screening!



Our short film, COYOTE GIRL, will be playing amidst a select group of other locally made films on the evening of Sunday, October 4th, 2015 at The Art Theater Co-op. We are featured in the final film block, starting at 9pm.




Taking place amidst the twin cities of Champaign and Urbana, NAFF shares a hometown with the University of Illinois, as well as the Boneyard Arts, Ebertfest, and the Pens to Lens Festivals. We are honored to be a part of this art-film fest that aims to showcase the “unique collection of Illinois-produced independent films” at “one of the oldest, continually operation, purpose-built movie theaters in the United States.” The Art Theatre Co-op is a true community home, surviving it’s 102 years when in danger of closing, over 1,000 folks from near and far joined together to show their support and buy shares of the theatre, keeping it alive as a thriving co-op space. IMG_8586-2-620x310

Looking forward to being a part of such a history and hub for Art-Films in the heart of our country!


“You’ve been gnawing at my bones ever since.”

Stay tuned for the COYOTE GIRL trailer for your own viewing coming to the blog soon!

#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.

#inspiringfellow: August

Our August #inspiringfellow article is a guest post by Artistic Director Robert Biggs:
Hello, Biggs here. Gail Shalan has been chief cook and bottle-washer for outcastcafe.com since Mighty Acorn put us on the digital map last October. She has blogged, posted, linked and promoted  faithfully, trusting that you are out there and paying attention. Thanks for hanging out with us. Hope you are enjoying our story. Today I lift up Gail as Outcast Café’s Inspiring Fellow. Tenacious, smart,  clever and kind, she inspires me as an actor, puppeteer, puppet maker and friend. Thanks, Gail. And congratulations on your role in THE WINTER’S TALE.
Maiden Phoenix Presents THE WINTER'S TALE
This month Gail has been playing Paulina/ Mopsa in Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company’s all-female production of The Winter’s Tale. This opportunity for Gail is close to our hearts because of our shared passion of the plays of William Shakespeare. Gail grew up watching Biggs breathe life into many of Shakespeare’s best characters, most distinctly his wonderful Fools. Biggs first directed Gail in an 8th grade production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, then a year later in Twelfth Night. Throughout their time collaborating on Biggs’ own works, the delight and power of Shakespeare’s story telling arose again and again.Gail was able to work some of the skills  she’s honed with Outcast Café into The Winter’s Tale, helping to devise and tune-up a puppetry approach to the infamous stage direction: exit pursued by a bear. This dynamic puppetry moment moved a patron to say “the way that famous stage direction… was staged in this production was amazing,and sure to be a “theater moment” that will linger in my mind for a long time to come” (Daniel Boudreau, MPTC Event Page).
"Go together, you precious winners all; Your exultation partake to every one." Gail as Paulina (far right) with Perdita (Lelani Ricardo, center right), Hermione ( Cassandra Meyer, center left) and Leontes (Juliet Bowler, far left)
“Go together, you precious winners all; Your exultation partake to every one.” Gail as Paulina (far right) with Perdita (Lelani Ricardo, center right), Hermione ( Cassandra Meyer, center left) and Leontes (Juliet Bowler, far left)
We celebrate Gail’s hard work with the  Maiden Phoenix Theatre Company, whose mission is to employ 51% females in all areas of production, actively working to change the gender disparity in our theatre scene. Having spent the better part of her life training and studying Shakespeare’s work, playing one of the most powerful and tenacious roles in Shakespeare marks a well-deserved right of passage.


"What's gone and what's past help should be past grief..." Gail as Paulina (left) with Leontes (Juliet Bowler).
“What’s gone and what’s past help should be past grief…” Gail as Paulina (left) in rehearsal with Leontes (Juliet Bowler). (photo cred: Cassandra Meyer)
“Whose honorable thoughts, thoughts high for one so tender, cleft the heart that could conceive a gross and foolish sire blemished his gracious dam!” Gail as Paulina ( right) tells off Leontes( Julirt Bowler, center) as court watches on ( pictured: Sarah Mass, left). (Photo cred: Jeff Butcher)
“I beseech you, do not receive affliction at my petition; rather let me be punished, who have minded you of what you should forget.” In both images Juliet Bowler as Leontes ( left) begins a reconciliation with Gail as Paulina ( right) (photo cred: Jeff Butcher)


She also doubles as the hilarious lady-clown, Mopsa, bringing the house to much needed laughter and delight, playing with her talented scene partners Allison Paige Gilman (Dorcas), Cassandra Meyer (Clown), and Sarah Mass (Autolycus) .


Bohemia in it’s full glory with most of the MPTC Winter’s Tale cast! (Photo cred: Ona Johnston)
In rehearsal in Bohemia Gail (right) plays Mopsa with Clown (Cassandra Meyer, center) and Dorcas (Allison Paige Gilman, left).
In rehearsal in Bohemia Gail (right) plays Mopsa with Clown (Cassandra Meyer, center) and Dorcas (Allison Paige Gilman, left). (Photo Cred: Alyce Householter)
"I love a ballad in a print o' life, for then we are sure they are true!" Gail as Mopsa (center-right) with Clown (Cassandra Meyer, far right), Autolycus (Sarah Mass, center-left), and Dorcas (Allison Paige Gilman, far left)
“I love a ballad in a print o’ life, for then we are sure they are true!” Gail as Mopsa (center-right) with Clown (Cassandra Meyer, far right), Autolycus (Sarah Mass, center-left), and Dorcas (Allison Paige Gilman, far left) (Photo cred: Alyce Householter)
For one more weekend you can catch her performance for FREE at the Nathan Tufts Park right off of Powderhouse Circle in Somerville, MA.
 For more information about the show (and weather updates) check the Facebook invite, Maiden Phoenix’s page, twitter, and website.
For more about Gail browse our website, or check out hers. Also, follow her on twitter and instagram.