What. A. Year. Or 15 months.
My creative output has been uneven, but my consumption of pop culture has been giving me life, as the kids say. In no particular order, I recommend:
1. The podcast "You're Wrong About"
2. The fictional Danish series "Borgen" on Netflix -- women in politics and media
3. Re-watching the movie "Sneakers" -- especially after watching "The Hot Rock"
4. The Criterion Channel -- going down the rabbit hole
5. "In & Of Itself" on Hulu
6. The Tiles game on NYTimes.com
7. The Roots' song "Tomorrow"
8. Lindy West's book about popcorn movies, Sh*t, Actually
9. The play "Gloria" by Branden Jacobs Jenkins
11. Danielle Ate the Sandwich singing "The Trapeze Swinger" by Iron and Wine
12. Buffalo Cauliflower bites, inspired by Alamo Draft House, but with eggwash
13. My Friend Anna by Rachel DeLoache Williams
14. "Murder at Middle Beach," "The Vow," and "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" on HBO Max
15. "Farmhouse Fixer" on HGTV, featuring NKOTB Jonathan Knight
I realize all of these items are incredibly basic. Like, basic-er than basic, with an extra chai latte pour-over. But no one is reading this! So I can live my best basic life and look back on this someday.
My father, Stephen I. Lipman, was an avid lover of art and entertainment.
He loved music, movies, opera, and theater, and read voraciously. He could sing show tunes from musicals he had performed in high school, and had broad, eclectic taste in pop music, movies, and TV. When he came to NYC, he would catch an opera or a play, or both.
He enjoyed other people's artistic expression enormously, and was often front row at my performances, grinning at me. When I pick a new show to work on, I ask myself, what would my dad think? If I thought it would intrigue him, I knew I was on the right track.
He died on September 27, 2019. He really was a helluva guy.
I dedicate my 2020 season of my theater company to his memory.
2018 was a big year for me and my production company, Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions.
I devised a new play, Relentlessly Pleasant, set in an all-female co-working space, was awarded a Puffin Foundation Grant for the piece, performed a staged reading in April and a full-out production in October 2018.
The play got a wonderful response; OnStage called it "wonderfully written" and recognized the incredible cast.
I've written a pilot and TV "bible", adapting the story for TV, and we'll see where that goes.
And, I am reaching out to any and all interested theater companies looking for a piece with 8+ great roles for women. I have my feelers out, and if you know of any women's colleges, female-led theater groups, or companies that like a good thought-provoking comedy, please let me know!
StageBuddy.com's review is a rave!
"Jones and Lipman play off each other really well, bring to life the play's examination of how these women try to make sense of their own life choices through the successes and failures of the other ...creating a profound and profoundly funny must-see play."
4 shows left! www.tictheater.com and 1-800-838-3006 - November 2-5 @ 7:30 PM at Shetler Studios, 244 West 54th Street, 12th Floor, NYC.
Photo by Peter Welch (c.) 2016
I began producing theater after getting my MFA in acting from the Actors Studio in 2004.
Of course, I had no idea the breadth of tasks and skills that producing entails... I just knew I wanted to make my own opportunities.
I produced 2 plays with a friend from grad school and then hung up my own proverbial shingle with Tongue in Cheek Theater Productions in 2006. I've been producing thought-provoking comedies ever since.
32 productions later and counting... the short answer to "What is a producer?" is... a person willing to do everything that needs doing.
Yet that makes it sound like a chore, and it isn't (at least for me!). I love to make lists of things that need doing and then ticking each off as I go: obtaining the rights, submitting paperwork to Actors Equity, hiring cast and crew, audition sides, costume measurements, design meetings, ordering props and furniture, and... rehearsals, and bookkeeping, and promoting the show. The list is long but I love the variety and getting to work with other people who pour their talents into it, too.
So I guess a better answer to this question is, "a lot of fun."
Every new show is exciting and nerve-wracking, and it all starts with learning the script and your lines in particular.
Happily, Rapture, Blister, Burn, my next show, is really well written (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize!).
The playwright, Gina Gionfriddo, uses very organic patterns for her characters, with qualifiers like, "I mean..." and "right?" I love how they soften the text and make it seem spur-of-the-moment, but I don't want to start adding them inadvertently. I have to justify why they exist in some spots but not others.
And so it comes down to learning my lines and really thinking up why the character has these pauses and seeming "throw-aways." Obviously they exist for a reason and are hints at what my character is thinking as she says these words aloud.
Here's my favorite line so far:
GWEN: It's just... It's what you said, right? It's that forty-something thing where you start thinking about the life not lived.
Great, right? It basically tells you she's checking in with the other character in the scene. She hesitates, then checks in with her, then quotes the other character. And that, in a nutshell, is Gwen.
This fall, I'm thrilled to be performing in the play Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo.
'Gwen,' my character, is a frustrated 40-year-old woman who strives to keep her family on track. When her successful grad school roommate comes back to town, Gwen's insecurities bubble to the surface.
I'm also producing, and we're casting the show this coming week -- wish us luck!
Here's a sneak peek of the artwork for the show, which I just designed.
We showed Sine Wave yesterday to the very supportive AGR (Actors Green Room) 72-Hour Shoot Out Festival crowd at Professor Thom's in the East Village.
More soon as we make any further edits!
In April, I was cast in a beautiful short film called ENDO, about a woman meeting up one last time with her young mistress.
It was a great shoot, from start to finish, mostly because everyone involved was smart and fun.
I met two great filmmakers -- Alicia Ramirez and Shea Johnson -- who were part of the creative team, and we got to talking about working on something together later this summer.
And now it's happening! Alicia had an idea about a story called Sine Wave, about a conversation between two women, who knew each other a long time ago, and meet up years later. One woman's life is on an upward trajectory; the other is on a bit of a downward trajectory... hence the reference to a sine wave.
We're shooting this film in conjunction with the Actors Green Room 72-Hour Shoot out, which means we're given a theme to integrate into our film, and everything -- rehearsal, shooting, editing -- must happen from Friday at 1 pm through Monday at 12:59 pm.
While I've shot web series in a relatively quick turnaround, I've never done a film under these constraints, and I'm really excited to see how it all comes together. More soon, including photos from the shoot!