Kathryn Meister
Freelance Stage Manager

Blog

Personal musings regarding various aspects of theatre

All I Really Want is Representation in Theatre

FRIENDS. I CANNOT CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT THAT IS THE NEW MUSICAL “JAGGED LITTLE PILL” BY ALANIS MORISSETTE.

If you’ve been paying any attention to the Broadway theatre scene, you’ll have noticed that it’s become increasingly more inclusive and not just stories of cis straight white men not facing consequences (yes I’m bitter about Dear Evan Hansen, don’t @ me). From Head Over Heels to Fun Home, and Paula Vogel’s amazing production of Indecent to The Prom, we’ve seen more wlw representation on Broadway that wasn’t just the butt of the joke.

 

What I’m super excited about though, is the inclusion of an explicitly non-binary character in Jagged Little Pill, played by Lauren Patten. While Lauren identifies as a cis woman, she did her duty in researching and striving to accurately portray the character of Jo (including working with Ezra Menas, who uses they/them and he/him pronouns, and was the understudy of the role) during the show’s run in Boston. I was truly amazed to see a representation of someone like me onstage. Seeing a non-binary actor’s involvement in the creation and development of a non-binary character in the commercial theatre realm, in my opinion, gave Jo that much more honesty and authenticity that nearly burst my little enby heart. And, spoiler alert, they don’t die at the end!

 

While it would not be true Alanis fashion to only focus on one storyline, this show is packed chock full of issues, including rape culture, opioid addiction, white savior complex, and definitions of queer relationships. It was a hot mess, but a fun and amazing hot mess when it was up at the American Repertory Theater. According to the New York Times, Eva Price, a lead producer on the project, confirmed that they are reworking parts of the plot of JLP to accurately reflect the shifting landscape of the world today. I can only hope that the attention to Jo and their storyline is not reduced or cut.

Currently on Spotify is a playlist of the songs that were in the musical, minus the two new songs that were written explicitly for the musical. Jukebox musicals may be tired and on their way out, but You Oughta Know that this one will definitely be one for your own messy journal entry of angst, warmth, and a channeling of Alanis Morissette’s specifically Fuck-You spirit.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/3UtQLwW5AwxQaIpssIJXB3

Scotland and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

This summer I was very lucky in getting the opportunity to travel with a show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  This was my first time traveling abroad with a show, and I honestly couldn't have asked for a better team to travel with. Hyena was written and performed by Romana Soutus and premiered at La Mama in March in addition to going on afterwards to the United Solo Festival in NYC where we won for Best Experimental, Best Lighting Design, and Best Sound Design. The play examines and demonstrates the many slights and micro-aggressions women experience growing up and living in the world. Dealing with our beast within and what we cage versus what is shown to the world. So all in all it was a fun show.

Our team we took consisted of five amazing women: Our writer and performer, our amazing producer, our phenomenal director, and our brilliant lighting designer, not to mention myself. While abroad we all had to wear multiple hats - from props purchasing and preparing food, to bleaching and washing the white babydoll dresses, to marketing in the streets and gay bars to get people to come see our show.

The energy in Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival is nothing to sneeze at either. You are one of hundreds of shows trying to get people to come in and see your performance against street performers, folk operas in churches, full on rock concerts, and political comedies in a theatre that looks more like the trailer you took class in during elementary school. The buzzing on the sidewalks almost feels akin to the streets of New York and how much you have to navigate the sheer number of bodies on the sidewalk. I almost ran into a Scottish older woman one day and got thoroughly talked to, though I could easily imagine how many curse words would have been in the same interaction had it happened on the streets of midtown or soho.

But the Hyena team didn’t come here to just play and marvel at the Scottish countryside. We came here to open our insides and expose the vulnerability and rage contained in the container of a woman. And we were well received. Premiering this show at La Mama created a beautiful framework that I think we really got to eviscerate and play with in the tiny, underground, and almost claustrophobic space at the festival. This was one of the best shows I have ever worked on and look back at the experience and all three iterations with supreme fondness and affection for all those involved. Specifically thanks to our writer-performer of course, Romana Soutus, director Rachel Levens, producer Amy Surratt, lighting designer Cecilia Durbin, and our sound designer Gareth Hobbs.

Finding the Time

This year has been so amazing and so tumultuous that I am so thankful to take a moment just to relax.

lavender fields

 

After working on twelve productions last year (can you believe it?) My resolution this year evolved a bit to incorporate the need to expand my personal life. I am so happy and so thankful that to start this year I have only worked on two productions in the span of four months and now have time to recover from surgery.

It’s been amazing and I am so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had, namely, I got to work on a truly visceral solo performance at La Mama that is going on to bigger and better things and to work on the biggest musical I’ve done to date, mostly solo.

Thanks to both of these (and the emails I continue to receive about gigs) I have no doubt that I made the right decision in moving to New York. My life and my heart are here and I am so excited to continue working this year on such amazing projects. But I am also very content to begin to have a life outside of the theater. I think that many of us get caught up in getting the next gig and finding our next project that we don’t stop to figuratively smell the roses. I have been putting in fifteen hour days regularly between my shows and my survival job that taking this time in recovery has really opened my eyes to how enjoyable life can be in this crazy city of ours.

If you have a second, seriously, just sit down and breathe. We work in one of the best cities in the world and create amazing works of art that I think we forget that we should take time for ourselves. I know I will.

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Additionally, don’t be afraid to try new things!

Year End Theatre Retrospective

Posted on December 31, 2015by Kathryn Meister

 I stole this from thankyoufiv.tumblr.com

Shows I Did In 2015

  • Darkroom Series 8 (showcase, SM)
  • Darkroom Series 9 (showcase, SM)
  • Merrily We Roll Along (PSM)
  • Tech Five (showcase reading, SM)
  • Cymbeline (PSM)
  • Pope! An Epic Musical (ASM)
  • Brush Strokes (PSM)
  • Flight School (Sound Design, PSM)
  • Carefully Taught (PSM)
  • Two Bugs Are Better Than One (tour-continued, SM)
  • Emilie (reading, Lighting Design)
  • Hunter Gatherers (Sound Design)

Shows I Saw (Not in order because I can’t remember)

  • In the Soundless Awe
  • Emilie
  • The Temple, or Lebensraum
  • Cabaret
  • Blogologues: The A.S.S. Strikes Back
  • Rex
  • Hunter Gatherers
  • The Artist and the Scientist
  • No One Loves Us Here
  • Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
  • Book of Mormon
  • You Can’t Take it With You
  • Cymbeline (The Public)

BY THE NUMBERS:

  • Total Plays/Performances I Watched: 87
  • Plays I Watched by Women: 6
  • Plays I Watched by Men Who Aren’t Shakespeare: 18
  • Plays by Shakespeare: 1
  • Shows Developed by Co-Ed Duos or Ensembles: 5
  • Plays I Worked by Women: 4
  • Plays I Watched by Authors of Color: 1
  • Plays I Worked by Authors of Color: 1
  • Plays I Freakin’ LOVED and wouldn’t shut up about (in bold, excluding those worked on): 3
  • Plays I Wouldn’t Recommend (unindicated): 3
  • Plays I Travelled To See: 1

Exciting Theatre World Things 2015

  • Hamilton
  • New Broadway theatre to be built announcement
  • FUN HOME
  • The Wiz
  • Former actor of mine from LA makes his Broadway debut!

Theatre Resolutions 2016

  • Keep working
  • See more plays
Award Winning: Merrily We Roll Along

Originally Posted on October 5, 2015

In my time here in New York I have been so privileged to work on so many amazing projects and meet so many amazing artists. On September 21st, I was lucky enough to attend my first awards ceremony for the New York Innovative Theater Awards where the show I worked on from March to May was both nominated for Outstanding Musical and one of my actors was nominated for Outstanding Actress in a Featured Role. To say I was over the moon is an understatement. And then, at the ceremony who should step out to present the award for Outstanding Musical? None other than Alice Ripley. I am so happy to have been a part of an amazing team and so proud of the work we did for the sake of theatre. This award is just icing on the cake.

Additionally, during our production we got an email from Stephen Sondheim congratulating us on our production and expressing his apologies that he was unable to attend our show. I am still floored that that happened.

Found Space Theatre versus Outdoor Performance

 

Originally Posted on September 10, 2014by Kathryn Meister

Making a transcontinental move is no easy feat.  Neither is graduating from a highly accredited four year university.  Put those two together in the space of two weeks and you’ve outlined how stressed, crazy, exhilarated, and scatterbrained I’ve been for the past three months.

 

To say that this year has been a game changer is putting it mildly.  Since I’ve been in New York, I have completed two shows: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Love’s Labour’s Lost both with the lovely Boomerang Theatre Company.  It has been such a great experience working with outdoor theatre and especially with what I perceive as two types of outdoor theatre; namely ‘found theatre’ and ‘staged outdoor theatre.’

A Midsummer Night’s Dream was located in Central Park in this lovely overhang of trees near the Upper West Side entrance on 72nd Street.  We got to rehearse in the space from day one and really felt the rise and fall of the terrain, molding the blocking to it.  For the lovers to get lost amongst actual trees and premiering ON midsummer (June 21), it became a magical production full of laughter and discovery.  The magic didn’t just come from Puck and the fairies however, each group brought their own unique spark to this production and I truly had a blast working with everyone.

While Love’s Labour’s Lost on the other hand, did not have that kind of blocking evolution with the space, where it was staged in front of the massive New York Public Library on the Upper Terrace of Bryant Park, it did have a kind of grandiose authenticity to it.  Where the French courtly ladies are forced to remain outside of the the Court of Navarre’s grand castle due to an oath sworn by King Ferdinand, the gesture from the Princess to the Library perfectly established where the action was taking place.  A small platform stage was set up on the gravel to create a sort of mini-thrust stage and invited the audience to pay attention to what was happening.

Each performance had its benefits and downfalls, but both were the perfect example of such awesome theatre that occurs in New York.  This is the reason why I moved here and why I am constantly amazed at all of the wonderful magical things happening in theatre.  I look forward to all of the amazing opportunities that are ahead of me!