WRRR Cast Interview: Carissa Halston

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Our production of White Rabbit Red Rabbit is less than two weeks away! We hope you’ll join us at OBERON to discover Nassim Soleimanpour’s top-secret show.

And in the meantime, we hope you’ll read on for interview with our own Carissa Halston. She’ll be performing on opening night, Monday, November 14.

 

So much of White Rabbit Red Rabbit is a mystery. You can’t read the script, can’t memorize the script, can’t rehearse anything. We, of course, love the idea—but what makes this sort of risk attractive to you as a performer?

I’m coming at the show from a different entry point than Sam and Jen, in that I instigated the production to begin with. The first time I heard about White Rabbit Red Rabbit, Randolph and I were at the Philly Fringe Festival for my 33rd birthday. And as I read through the descriptions of each play, I was forced to choose between WRRR and a show called The Adults.

Obviously, since I’m performing, we did’t see WRRR that night. But the conceit of the production—performing a show you’ve never seen or read—was so memorable that it floated back up in my mind when I read about the New York production this summer. But, being the stubborn person I am, I thought, “I don’t want to go all the way to New York.” Then I realized one surefire way to see the show was to produce it here.

As for what makes it attractive to me as a performer—I’m a big fan of creative risk. I think every artist should embark on a journey to undertake work that truly scares them.

So, here’s the official word: this prospect of performing this show scares the hell out of me. Which is the main reason I’m doing it.

The possibilities that accompany performing a work you’ve never read or seen are wide open. What are you most excited about?

There’s a moment that happens when you’re performing a live show. You’ll hear actors talk about the way an audience changes the material. And they’re right—an audience makes a scene completely different than when you rehearse to an empty room. There are no rehearsals here, but it goes beyond the lack of practice.

The bond between the audience and the actor is the work. By that, I mean the play itself, but also the effort. The follow-my-lead of it all. The are-you-with-me-so-far? relationship. The moments when the actor is leaning forward and the audience is leaning too, and the thing that catches them is the material wed to the delivery.

That’s what I’m most excited about. The symbiotic relationship between the actor and the audience and the work.

On stage, you’ll be holding a script and reading the words as you’re about to speak them. This setup could be limiting. How do you connect with an audience when you’re constrained in these ways?

I’m big on eye contact. There’s a rhythm to most scripts that gives you room to maneuver. A pause for breath. And in those moments, I’m hoping I can look out and see that the audience is with me. I’m hoping to find the cadence, and find it quick, so I can adjust to the mystery, so to speak. So I can find a place to stand, even if it’s not the surest footing. And, if nothing else, at least I’ll know where I’ve been as it goes on.

Are there any other steps you’re taking to prepare to perform White Rabbit Red Rabbit? (Reminder: Googling is against the rules.)

I keep telling myself, “This is and is not a cold reading.” But since it’s a monologue, I’m also telling myself I have to carry it off without flubbing a line. I’m so concerned about mispronouncing or tripping over a word. So the thing I’m going to try to do is remember to take my time. Because the faster I’m going, the starker the interruption will be if I stumble.

Outside of this show, what else are you working on creatively?

For my own writing, I’m currently working on a novel called Conjoined States, which centers on our country’s dangerous fascination with morality, how it encourages surveillance and judgment, and how that constant monitoring results in different types of “passing” as a necessary means of survival. Racially (many of the characters are either mixed race, unaware of their ethnic background, or have a different identity forced on them that doesn’t match their ethnicity [e.g., a Middle Eastern philosophy professor grapples with the fact that she's targeted as an outsider, but she's "white" according to the government because that's how Middle Easterners are documented in the US]), religiously (mainstream Christianity, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Islam are all part of the book), and health-wise (mental health issues get denied or repressed, and disability and disfigurement [harder to deny] are acknowledged but not discussed). With all of that cheery material covered, the book is also about trust and abandonment and how we can learn to retain the former in the face of the latter, even if it involves destruction along the way.

For other AP work, I’m thrilled about the chapbook we’re publishing next month—Krysten Hill’s debut collection, How Her Spirit Got Out, which is such an important series of poems about the way black women cope when they’re confronted with personal and political violence, and specifically how one black woman walks many paths in order to arrive at selfhood. Plus, Jill McDonough recently had these choice words for the collection: “These poems are a middle finger tucked in the hip pocket of your favorite dress.” Plus, check out these covers:

 

 

 

Read more about Carissa and the rest of the cast at the WRRR page, and to see Carissa in White Rabbit Red Rabbitreserve your seats for opening night, Monday, November 14!

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WRRR Cast Interview: Sam Cha

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Just a few more weeks until our production of White Rabbit Red Rabbit comes to OBERON!

We recently checked in with cast member Sam Cha (who’ll perform on Wednesday, November 16) to see how he was preparing for the show.

 

So much of White Rabbit Red Rabbit is a mystery. You can’t read the script, can’t memorize the script, can’t rehearse anything. We, of course, love the idea—but what makes this sort of risk attractive to you as a performer?

a) Performance is about being terrified and then turning that terror into something useful. (For loosely defined values of “use.”) When you can’t prepare for the performance, you’re even more terrified, and so, in theory, unless there’s a sort of terror-singularity thing happening, where you accelerate into terror faster than you can accelerate out of it, you’ll be a supernova of sublimated fright. This doesn’t attract me, per se, but it strikes me as something I’d definitely like to try.

b) Ever stand on the edge of a subway platform and think I’m definitely not going to jump, but what if my body has other ideas?

c) On roller coasters, I always envision the freak accident: the arm lopped off, the tongue bitten in half, the g-force induced heart attack, etc. I love roller coasters.

The possibilities that accompany performing a work you’ve never read or seen are wide open. What are you most excited about?

I’m not sure, so I’m going to be oblique.

I wrote in college. Then I stopped. It was years before I managed to write anything that wasn’t a close reading or an annotated bibliography or a prospectus. When, eventually, I did write a poem, I went to an open mic. I was feeling lonely. There’s this wonderful moment that happens and then passes—I think probably at the speed of sound–where the words leave your mouth and they haven’t quite registered with the audience yet—and you feel kind of weightless, like school’s been cancelled and you have the day off, like maybe you don’t have to be human anymore, you can just be a thin membrane, like the one in a kazoo, buzzing with air.

On stage, you’ll be holding a script and reading the words as you’re about to speak them. This setup could be limiting. How do you connect with an audience when you’re constrained in these ways?

I’ve never actually interacted with an audience in any other way.

I think of it as an opening-up, I guess. A signaling of vulnerability (which I guess in my head signals honesty signals authenticity signals look people something here is actually happening). (This doesn’t mean you’re actually vulnerable, of course, but you have to look like it.)

Are there any other steps you’re taking to prepare to perform White Rabbit Red Rabbit? (Reminder: Googling is against the rules.)

My friend Jade is feeding me these improv exercises. Also, monologues. Lots of monologues. Also, I plan to go to the Cantab and recite other people’s poems on the open mic. Will any of this help? I don’t know! I haven’t Googled anything.

Outside of this show, what else are you working on creatively?

Right now I’m working on a long poem that is sort of a riff on a couple of lines from Wordsworth. So far it’s about: the garden of Eden, procrastination, the sudden death of one of our neighbors, chessplayers in the Harvard Square Pit, and the shape of tragedy. If it sounds ADD, that’s because it is—when I write, I waffle between trying to leave almost everything out and trying to put everything in, but on balance I’m really mostly a collector, a magpie, going from shiny thing to shiny thing, in the hopes of making some kind of memorable temporary (slash temporal, I guess?) pattern.

 

Read more about Sam and the rest of the cast at the WRRR page. To see Sam in White Rabbit Red Rabbit, head over to OBERON and reserve your seats for Wednesday, November 16!

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Help support Aforementioned

Last Friday, Oct 7, we—Carissa Halston and Randolph Pfaff; cofounders, editors, and publishers of Aforementioned Productions—were in a car accident. The car was a rental (we were going to a friend’s wedding), and while we have collision insurance, we don’t have liability insurance.

Neither of us have been to the hospital, though we both sustained minor injuries. But one of the reasons we didn’t go to the ER is we honestly can’t afford it. We pay for our insurance entirely on our own (that is, not through an employer).

And we pay for Aforementioned the same way. With the exception of preorders, we pay for everything on our own. We’ve worked for free for eleven years, and we’ve lost money every year. We produced 24 online issues of apt in the first five years, and five years of weekly content after that. Five years of Literary Firsts. Nine books over six years. Hundreds of writers’ work: edited, proofread, designed, packaged, published, hosted, curated. For free.

We know we’re not alone in this. We know how it goes: non-profits are labors of love.

The problem is we suddenly can’t afford ours.

And the fact is: we are Aforementioned. If we run into a financial problem, it makes it nearly impossible to continue funding AP.

Since starting in 2005, we’ve never asked for financial assistance. We’ve never had a fundraiser. We’ve always paid for whatever we needed on our own. Over and above donating thousands of free hours, we’ve paid for web hosting, printing books, paying apt contributors, shipping materials and shipping costs, business cards, advertisements, book release parties, attending trade conferences, exhibiting at book fairs, travel and lodging for both, etc.

At this point, we’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars into AP. And despite that investment, it’s still really difficult even asking for help. We wouldn’t do it if we thought we could avoid it. But right now, we need your support. We need help paying for the projects we’ve committed to producing in the next three months.

Namely, a very large expense: we’re producing a limited run of White Rabbit Red Rabbit at Oberon in November. The show will cost more than $4500 to produce.

We’re also publishing Krysten Hill’s monumental debut, How Her Spirit Got Out, in December. And in January, we’re putting out the seventh print annual of apt.

These are expenses we had accounted for—until last Friday.

To be clear, these projects are going to happen regardless of how much money we raise, but the truth is that future projects are in jeopardy because of the car accident.

We don’t want Aforementioned’s successes to be contingent on our financial situation. We’re looking into possible ways to secure financial stability once we get out of this rough patch, but in the meantime, if you have the means to help out, we’d really appreciate your support.

 

HOW CAN I HELP?

If you’re in the Boston area, the best way you can support us is by buying a ticket to see White Rabbit Red Rabbit. The show is running Nov 14, Nov 15, and Nov 16. Tickets are $20-$30. And if you need a reason to see the show, just check out the press and the cast.

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HOW CAN I HELP IF I’M NOT IN BOSTON?

If you’re not in Boston (or can’t make the show), you can still support us in four ways:

1/You can send us a tax-deductible donation via GoFundMe! No matter how small (honestly), we appreciate every donation. And if you’re really committed to helping us out, you can even set up a recurring payment.

 

2/You can preorder Krysten Hill’s urgent, necessary debut, How Her Spirit Got Out, which Jill McDonough praised: “These poems are a middle finger tucked into the hip pocket of your favorite dress.”

 

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3/You can subscribe to apt: three years for just $30! And issue 7 is shaping up to be great–with work by Joanna Ruocco, Sonja Condit, Gregory Crosby, and more!

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4/You can buy back issues of apt or any of our critically acclaimed, award-winning books!

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I DON’T HAVE A LOT OF TIME. CAN YOU JUST GIVE ME THE SHORT VERSION?

If you’ve ever enjoyed any of our books, or a story or poem or essay at apt, if you’ve ever attended a Literary Firsts reading, or one of our book release parties, if you’ve ever come to one of our events and had a really great time, we hope you’ll support us now that we need it most.

And if you’ve already ordered a book or bought a ticket to WRRR, thank you. We couldn’t continue running AP without your help.

With immense gratitude,

Carissa Halston and Randolph Pfaff
Co-Founders/Editors
Aforementioned Productions

HOW HER SPIRIT GOT OUT, Liam Day at BBF, and a staged Aforementioned Production

Friends, it’s finally summer! We’re reading as much as we can, working on apt 7 (which is going to be astounding—fiction by Joanna Ruocco and Sonja Condit; poetry by Doug Paul Case and Gregory Crosby!), and planning a slew of upcoming projects!

Among them:

Krysten Hill’s debut poetry collection, How Her Spirit Got Out

This is going to be such an important book. As our EIC, Carissa Halston, mentioned recently at Entropy magazine: Hill “questions all the ways black women’s bodies are commodified, used, and disregarded. There’s a great amount of urgency in [her] work, not only for its political relevance, but because she renders each poem as a weapon or a shield and uses both for self-defense.”

It’ll be on shelves this December, pre-sale coming soon!

Liam Day at the Boston Book Festival

Afforded Permanence was a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award in poetry last year, so we’re so proud to have him representing AP (and AP) and the Massachusetts Poetry Fest at the Boston Book Festival this year!

Liam will be reading in Copley Square on Saturday, October 15. Keep your eyes peeled for the official schedule at the BBF site.

An exciting, nearly announced theatrical event

We’re so excited to produce a limited run of an experimental play—but we have to wait a bit longer before we can officially announce it.

But we want to give you a glimpse, so here’s what we can say so far. It’s a one-person show with a revolving cast, and it’ll feature our co-founders, Carissa Halston and Randolph Pfaff, alongside AP stalwart Jennifer O’Connor. If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Jen perform, get ready, Boston: she’s a delight.

Be on the lookout for more info soon, on stage this fall!

Aforementioned at Mass Poetry Festival this Saturday!

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Boston friends, come see us on April 30 (this Saturday!) for the 2016 Mass Poetry Festival!

At 12:15, founding editors, Carissa Halston and Randolph Pfaff, will be part of a panel called Small Press, Big Love.

As the publishing landscape transforms, and the writing population expands, the role of small presses is becoming increasingly more significant. Join us as we talk with the founding editors of three independent presses about the kind of work they’re looking for; the relationships they cultivate with their authors during the revision and publication process; their innovative strategies for getting poetry out in the world; and the ways they’re actively working to increase diversity.

We’ll be talking alongside Liz Kay and Jen Lambert of Spark Wheel Press, and Enzo Silon Surin of Central Square Press. Also, the panel will be moderated by apt contributor, Danielle Jones-Pruett!

And if you can’t make the panel, worry not—we’ll be selling copies of apt, Underlife and Portico, They Used to Dance on Saturday Nights, and Afforded Permanence at the Small Press and Literary Fair! Stop by and see us!

Reviews and readings for ANATOMIES

Susan McCarty’s Anatomies continues to wow critics and readers–it was on the November/December SPD bestseller list again and recently reviewed by Kelsie Plesac at Blotterature: “The stories, impressively diverse, are woven together by one thing: they cannot seem to shake their theme of the body, particularly pertaining to illness and injury. These intimate and personal themes get at the human truths of fear and triumph, and leave the reader as infected as each of the characters.”

Susan also did an interview at Blotterature, wherein she talked about her current project, working with Carissa at AP, and how to best approach the ups and downs of writing.

If you’re in the Iowa City area, stop by Prairie Lights on Friday night or the North Liberty Community Library on Saturday night to see Susan read and pick up a copy of Anatomies!

 

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Release party for ANATOMIES

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Dear DC-area readers, in light of the past two days of good news from SCOTUS, let’s change that old adage to, “Good things come in threes.”

On that note, we hope you’ll join us at The Black Squirrel in Adams Morgan on Monday, June 29 at 7pm to celebrate Susan McCarty’s debut collection, Anatomies! Susan will read alongside Matthew Kirkpatrick and Caren Beilin, and there will be much to celebrate indeed.

Can’t wait to see you there!

Aforementioned at AWP!

AWP event poster_REV2Readers, we’re less than a week from AWP!

If you’re going to the conference, we hope you’ll swing by table 1920 during the book fair and say hello. We’ll be offering apt subscriptions at a discount and back issues for a song, and we’ll be raffling off an ARC of Susan McCarty’s debut collection, Anatomies, to anyone who buys any AP wares during the conference!

Plus, we’ll be tabling with our friends at Little Fiction | Big Truths, and throwing an offsite reading on Thursday night at Lee’s Liquor Lounge, featuring Angela Palm, Amanda Leduc, and our own Carissa Halston for Little Fiction, and have Gillian Devereux, Dolan Morgan, and Susan McCarty representing Aforementioned! It’s going to be such a great night, so we hope to see you there!

Release party for AFFORDED PERMANENCE

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Please join us on Thursday, January 22 to celebrate the release of Liam Day’s debut poetry collection, Afforded Permanence!

Featuring live music by Colin O’Day and readings from Krysten Hill, Danielle Jones-Pruett, Randolph Pfaff, Daniel Evans Pritchard, and Liam Day! Hosted by Carissa Halston.

ABOUT THE BOOK
Thirty poems inspired by Boston’s MBTA bus routes, Afforded Permanence chronicles the travels of a lifelong Bostonian and the passing lives of the people who ride alongside him.

RSVP at Facebook (where our lives are lived online)

 

READER BIOS

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Liam Day has been a youth worker, teacher, assistant principal, public health professional, campaign manager, political pundit, communications director, and professional basketball player. His poems have appeared in Slow Trains, apt, and Wilderness House Literary Review. His op-eds and essays have appeared in Annalemma, Stymie, The Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and The Good Men Project, where he is the Sports Editor.
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Krysten Hill is originally from Kansas City, MO, and currently lives and teaches in Boston, MA. She received her MFA from UMass Boston. She has featured poetry at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, Cantab, U35 Reading Series, Mr. Hip Presents, Literary Firsts, and The Encyclopedia Show Somerville, among others. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Muzzle, PANK, apt, Amethyst Arsenic, ROAR, Write on the DOT, and Oddball Magazine. Her greatest desire is to form a collective of women poets who travel around teaching the power of voice to the girls on front porches who wonder what that aching in their chests is all about.

 

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Danielle Jones-Pruett is a recipient of a 2014 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. She received a B.A. in English and psychology from Jacksonville State University, and an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best New Poets 2014, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cider Press Review, Southern Poetry Review, and many others. She currently lives in Salem, Massachusetts, with her husband and sons, and is program coordinator for the Writers House at Merrimack College.
 
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Randolph Pfaff’s poems and essays have appeared in Poet Lore, Barrelhouse, PANK, and H_NGM_N, among others. He edits a literary journal called apt and runs a small press, Aforementioned Productions.
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Daniel Evans Pritchard was born and raised in Quincy, with family roots in Dorchester and Roxbury, and is a graduate of both Boston College and BC High. Poet, translator, publishing professional, and critic, he is the founding editor of The Critical Flame, an online journal of literary criticism, as well as digital marketing advisor to AGNI magazine and a board member at VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. His work can be found in Little Star, Fulcrum, The Battersea Review, and elsewhere.

Upcoming TWTKCD readings!

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On Thursday night, we had the pleasure of visiting WORD in Greenpoint for the release party for Dolan Morgan’s That’s When the Knives Come Down. (Check out photos from the reading on WORD’s Tumblr, and a short video of Dolan’s reading on Instagram!)

If you’ve not yet had the pleasure of hearing Dolan read, we strongly encourage you to go to one of the following events:

Friday, Sept 5
Washington, D.C. – Petworth Citizen – 7pm
Barrelhouse Presents Aforementioned Productions…Dolan reading with Carissa Halston and Randolph Pfaff (that’s us!)

Saturday, Sept 6
Akron, OH – Annabell’s Bar & Lounge – 6pm
The Big Big Mess Reading Series…Dolan reading with Natalie Eilbert and Caryl Pagel

Monday, Sept 8
Brooklyn, NY – Franklin Park – 8pm
Franklin Park Reading Series…Dolan reading with Marie-Helene Bertino, Scott Cheshire, and Justin Taylor

Hope to see you at one of the readings!