It's a hot news day in Taos creative circles when four of our most dynamic thespian women join forces to start their own theater company.
It's a hot news day in Taos creative circles when four of our most dynamic thespian women join forces to start their own theater company. Those women are actors Rita O'Connell and Gina Gargone, director Chelsea Reidy and Taos Center for the Arts Executive Director Colette LaBouff, who have created the new company called Curling Iron Productions.
The group's official debut performance, Simon Stephens' 2015 play "Heisenberg," is being staged at the Stables Gallery of the TCA, 133 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. The show opens Thursday (Nov. 7) for a two-week run.
Reidy is directing the enigmatic love story, with Mikala Martinez and Joel Larson playing two unlikely strangers whose lives are changed by a chance encounter in a London train station.
We asked Reidy about Curling Iron's creative ethos. "We're an extended group of theater makers, thinkers, designers and technicians who want to create engaging and relevant live performance in unique ways," she said. "The four of us have been collaborating in different configurations for some time now, and each project we have undertaken as a group has had a special kind of joy about it. We are all interested in producing contemporary, gender-equitable theater, and in challenging ourselves and our audiences with modern material and creative use of space."
"It can be difficult to find artistic collaborators who share both vision and working style," O'Connell said. "In acting with Gina, being directed by Chelsea and producing alongside Colette, I always come away with the deep sense of satisfaction born of working with like-minded peers. This is not to say that we never disagree. We constantly disagree. But we disagree with logic and laughter and an intention to come to consensus, and that makes us better friends, better people and better artists."
Reidy credited O'Connell with finding the play and suggesting it for the group. The title, Reidy explained, has no connection to TV's meth kingpin Walter White's "Breaking Bad" alter ego, other than both names being inspired by theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg.
"Georgie, Mikala Martinez's character, describes the Heisenberg uncertainty principle during a scene. What's neat is that there is also something uncertain about the Georgie character. Something we can't quite put our finger on."
Martinez has amassed an impressive list of acting credits in just three years in Taos. "I was immediately drawn to the script because of the language," she said. "So much is communicated with what is hidden in the words. I have a lot in common with the character, but it's the differences between us that keep me really interested in her.
"Georgie, my character, is very high energy. I, myself, am not. Maintaining a high energy level for an hour and change without stopping, without leaving the stage, is a quite challenging. There are no traditional scene shifts. There is no intermission. There are only two of us and we are together throughout the entire play. It's never not both of us. There are no backstage moments of collapse. Oh. And the lines. Georgie just talks and talks and talks and it's all written so beautifully that I don't want to forget a single word."
She spoke appreciatively about her director and co-star. "I've wanted to work with Reidy since her directorial debut. I think she's so smart and so creative and so excited to try new things. Her creativity overflows and she holds space for her collaborators to create alongside her. Working with Joel Larson has been really exciting, too. He is so talented and understands his craft so well."
Veteran actor Larson studied with Chicago's legendary Steppenwolf Theatre and has performed, in his own words, "thousands of shows over the years," including an extended stint in Las Vegas hotels. "I play Alex, a man coming to terms with his lifetime of choices," Larson said. "He is like an immovable object, when he meets with an irresistible force from the changing world around him. This project is a dream come true for me. I have done a lot of funny things onstage, and a lot of dramatic things, but this is somehow different.
"The script by Simon Stephens reaches deeply into my heart, and in the richest of moments allows me to touch the soul of another actor. I'm very privileged to share the stage with Mikala Martinez, a brilliant and dedicated actor, with such grace and brilliance that it humbles me. I'm especially grateful to be working with Chelsea Reidy, a powerful director with vision and the courage to play lion tamer with this roller coaster of the script - if that's not mixing my metaphors too much."
The nontraditional staging in the Stables Gallery space means that at times during the play, the action moves from one part of the room to another, with the audience following.
"It means that actors and audience are in a dance together," Reidy said. "We've decided to try a few things with this project and I'm very curious how the audience will react. There's no sitting back and zoning out. If you want to hear and see this play, you will have to stand up every 10 minutes and negotiate a new seat. Will people hate this or love this? I have no idea.
"And I'm looking forward to finding out. There is enough seating for all audience members at all times. For two scenes, the most ideal vantage points may be from a standing position for half the audience. These two scenes are 10 minutes in length, and not back to back. If someone needs special assistance, we are ready to make accommodations."
The performance is stage-managed by Jazzmine Freedom, with choreography by Travis Webb.
"Heisenberg" will be performed Thursday through Sunday (Nov. 7-10), and then Nov. 14-15. There are two opportunities to see the play each evening, at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $15. They can also be purchased via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Audience members can show their tickets for 15 percent discounts at Doc Martin's at the Taos Inn, Lambert's of Taos, Martyrs Steakhouse and Donabe Asian Kitchen.
Upcoming shows on Curling Iron Productions' 2020 calendar include the musical "The Last Five Years," in January, and the comedy "The Revolutionists" in April. For additional information, call the Taos Center for the Arts at (575) 758-2052.
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