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The Drama in Dysfunction that Inspires Joan Bigwood

January 13, 2018

An interview with Joan Bigwood, playwright of Or Current Resident

Interview by Jen McAuliffe

Joan in the zone with her muse, Brenda.

What inspired your upcoming play, Or Current Resident?
I had a date with a guy, a fellow writer, who then disappeared for over two years. One day, I got an email from him asking me where I thought he had been all that time. “Prison?” I responded. “How did you know?” was his reply. He had been implicated in an embezzlement he hadn’t committed and his lawyer failed him in the due process. I took him out for his first steak dinner in a very long time and learned everything I could about life ‘inside’. We remained close friends until his untimely death from cancer, but he lives on in the character of Teddy Finch.

Tell us a little bit more about your observations of a dysfunctional family and household?
I’ve made a lifelong study of households, starting with my own and branching out into grade school friends’ family systems, and beyond. I was always mesmerized by the range of dynamics I witnessed over my childhood: parents who overdrank, siblings who fought with fists and teeth, dinnertime performers, sulkers, debaters…kids who assaulted their parents, parents who belted their kids…mothers who simpered and bellowed in the space of an hour; I positively feasted on the unbridled exuberance of dysfunction that thrives behind closed doors.

What makes for realistic and impactful writing about a dysfunctional family?
Humor. If you can figure out a way to make dysfunction funny, you can help others find the moments of connection, which is, in my opinion, the point of theater. If life is improv, which of course it is, I make the decision a majority of the time to see the humor in it, and share that with others. Humor defangs dysfunction and transforms it into eccentricity, which is a much more forgiving lens through which to view our collective downward spiral as a doomed species.

“If you can figure out a way to make dysfunction funny, you can help others find moments of connection…”

Is the Finch family based on your family?
The Finches are modeled after a family I never met: the three generations that had inhabited my home in Palo Alto. They were ultimately forced out by rising rents and failing employment, but left behind a bedroom ceiling in the garage, a makeshift bathroom carved out of a storage area, two random door bells on the side of the house, and a sad, desiccated lawn. I was haunted by that multi-generational family, knowing through local gossip that one of the grandchildren had had a rough time in school…all of this crept into my story of a guy coming back from a long stay away to a town transformed in his absence.

Is there a character you particularly resonate with in Or Current Resident and why?
I relate well to Mason. Even though this is very much an ensemble piece, the play is ultimately Mason’s journey to manhood. He is a people pleaser, whose art consumes him, but whose family distracts him one hundred percent of the time. I always felt growing up that I had so much to express but no way to rise above the din. My British father always used to say to me, “You talk the most incredible amount of piffle in a limited amount of time.” It has taken me a lifetime to turn that piffle into art.

I have often been told, “write what you know.” What are your thoughts on this?
I like to say, “plausibility is a fiction writer’s best friend.” My creative world is dominated by the question “What if…?” From that place of playful curiosity, I come up with my ideas. Then it is a matter of finding out about what I need to know, though honestly, only enough to fool my audience. I can write about four people living on a weather station not because I know the first thing about life on a weather station but I am fascinated by people in relationships. Thank God for the internet, because I can get way more than I need to convince you that my characters are legitimately on a weather station while we explore everything but their actual work there.

Krystle N. Adams*, Curry Whitmire*, and Betty Hudson* appear as Jill, Mason, and Mimi Finch in Or Current Resident.

What are some of your favorite plays?
I love plays about families. The Seagull, A Doll’s House, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, You Can’t Take it With You, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, A Raisin in the Sun, Little Foxes, Master Harold and the Boys, every musical I have ever seen, Shakespeare’s comedies, anything by Caryl Churchill…the list would extend to the end of the page if I had more time to recall all the great shows I have seen or read. Theater is the best way I know to live lives we have not been privileged enough to be born into.

What would you like your audience to take away from Or Current Resident?
That stories can change, to quote a line from the play. That everyone needs a home of some description and no one should be deprived of the right to a warm place to sleep, preferably in the company of people who care. That as long as people are needed, have a place to go, or a thing to do, they stand a chance.

Who will this play appeal to?
When someone in a family changes dramatically— say, when an addict gets sober, or a felon turns over a new leaf— the entire family must adapt. That dynamic is rich for dramatic tension, misunderstandings and maladjustment. That is where theater is at its most gripping. When the ecosystem is thrown off balance, certain types of behaviors and relationships simply die off as new ones are forged. Darwin would have a field day with the Finches, and I think anyone who is enamored with the idea of possibility as a catalyst for change will get something out of this play.

****

Or Current Resident
February 3 to 25, 2018
Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. (at E., 10th Street)
Presented by Theater for the New City and Squeaky Bicycle Productions
Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM, Sundays at 3:00 PM. Added Monday performances Feb. 5
& 12 at 8:00 PM. $18 general admission, $15 seniors & students. Pay what you can at Feb. 12
performance.
Box office (212) 254-1109, www.theaterforthenewcity.net
Running time: 90 min

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Get your tickets for Joan Bigwood’s “Or Current Resident” NOW! 😃 🎇 🎉

January 11, 2018

We hope you came out to enjoy our annual event: All Guts and Some Glory on Monday night. Shoutout to the amazing winning scene Performance Review and all the people who fought in the battle of the year and came out on top: Robert Zander Norman (playwright), Katey Russo (director), Jessica Mortellaro (actress), and Jeff Johnson (actor). We laughed, we cried, we drank a little (too much) wine, and now we are recovered and eager to announce you can now get your tickets for our upcoming show: Or Current Resident by Joan Bigwood!

Our victorious team from Performance Review left to right: Robert Zander Norman, Jessica Mortellaro, Katey Russo, and Jeff Johnson.

This show is a must see this year, so it’s a good thing we have an extended run of four weeks at the Theater for the New City in February! Or Current Resident explores the very nature of truth in our modern, tech-driven world.

Or Current Resident by Joan Bigwood
The multi-generational Finches have weathered a rapidly-changing community in the heart of Silicon Valley crammed together in rambunctious harmony. Or Current Resident throws the covers off an eccentric little universe that has survived on fortitude and self-deception; a universe that now lies shivering in the cold glare of unexpected, untenable revelations. Find out more about the amazing team we have bringing this production to life, and purchase your tickets via the link below!

BUY TICKETS

Mark your calendars for opening night on February 3rd and be sure to reserve your tickets ahead of time!
Follow us on our social media accounts (@SqueakyBicycle) to get updates on the show, funny memes to get you through the cold days ahead, and for ticket giveaways leading up to the show.

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Today is the day! All Guts and Some Glory is happening TONIGHT @7! 😃 🙌 🎊

January 8, 2018

Tonight is the night! All Guts and Some Glory is happening at theTheater for the New City @7pm tonight. It is going to be our best one yet, and it’s not too late to reserve tickets for this pay-what-you-will event! Click here to reserve your spot to witness a night of tears and hilarity. You will not be disappointed! Plus, I’ve heard through the grape vine (ha!) that there will be wine and some salty snacks. Don’t forget, we need you to be our judges! What could be more enticing than a night of drinking cheap(ish) wine and judging people? (don’t worry, we all know it sounds like a good night!)

Reserve your seat, or just come out tonight! Keep an eye out for our Instagram Takeover today as we take you on a journey through a day in the life of our very own: Robyn Michele Frank. She is going to be sharing her journey leading up to the event tomorrow night!

See you soon for the battle of the year!

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Start 2018 off right by attending All Guts and Some Glory on January 8th!

January 3, 2018

Happy New Year! We hope you’ve been able to stay strong in your 2018 resolutions these long three days (we purchased gym memberships… Does that count?) In just one week, you will have the chance of a lifetime (or until next time) to witness our annualAll Guts and Some Glory event! Start your year off the right way and reserve your seat here today. This exciting scene battle between six playwrights takes place on January 8th at 7pm at the Theater for the New City. This event is pay-what-you-will, so you can keep your resolution to save some money and still have a great night filled with laughter and tears! We need you to judge our winner, so start planning your best judging outfits today! If you want to see more about who you will be judging, click here.

Oh, and before we go, we have some great news: WE DID IT! Our flash fundraiser campaign Operation: Handlebars for the Holidays was a success! With our online campaign and a few donations via the good ol’ postal service, we surpassed our goal. Thanks to all of you for helping us reach a whopping $5,500! Stay tuned for more about Or Current Resident to see the awesome art your support makes a reality.

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Happy (almost) new year🎆🎉! Get your tax deductible donation in before 2017 ends!

December 31, 2017

Happy holidays and Happy (almost) New Year! Today marks the last chance you have to make your tax-deductible donation to Squeaky Bicycle for the 2017 year!

After Christmas, we announced our end-of-the-year fundraising campaign- Operation Handlebars for the Holidays. We aimed to raise $5,000 by January 2nd in order to keep producing quality shows for your in the upcoming season. This is the time for giving, and you have shared so much with us already! We are incredibly grateful for this. If you haven’t given yet, but meant to (or just forgot because of the Christmas wine), there’s still time! Check out our campaign here, and donate before the new year in order to be able to write it off on your upcoming taxes!

Keep an eye out for updates on our upcoming events: All Guts and Some Glory on January 8th, which is a friendly scene competition between six amazing playwrights in which you get to judge the winner of it all! We also have Joan Bigwood’s original play Or Current Resident taking place in early February, 2018! Follow us on our social media accounts (@SqueakyBicycle) for upcoming announcements as well!

In the meantime, thank you for all your generosity and for making 2017 our best year yet! We hope to only get better in 2018, and we couldn’t do it without all of you. Happy New Year, friends!

Thanks in advance for your support!

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Happy Holidays! Get ready to kickoff Operation Handlebars for the Holidays!

December 27, 2017

We hope your holiday was magical this year, and that it only continues to get better this season! With candy canes, festive lights, snowy days, and sweet smelling candles, we know your holiday spirit must be bright. We need your help making our season even brighter! It’s the season for giving, and we are asking for your generosity as we kick off our flash fundraiser: Operation Handlebars for the Holidays! With all the giving you’ve been doing this year, anything you can share to help us get some new handlebars for our Squeaky Bike is greatly appreciated!
Our new fundraising goal is to raise $5,000 in 6 days. We like to dream big, and we hope you are dreaming right along with us. You helped us reach our last flash fundraising goal, and we were able to get Squeaky some fresh new wheels. Now we’re looking to step up our steering game with some new handlebars as we prepare for our world premiere production of Or Current Resident by Joan Bigwood (Feb. 3-25). These new handlebars will help to point us towards our goal of producing a fantastic upcoming show. Read about where we are heading here! All donations prior to January 1st are tax deductible for 2017, so it’s like we are giving you a little something in return (think your Great Aunt’s tube socks you get every year for Christmas). Any donations made during the new year just show that you are eager to start your year out the right way! This flash fundraiser startstoday, so visit below to give whatever you can, and be a part of another incredible Squeaky Bicycle Productions season!

Thanks in advance for your support!

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Save the Date for Or Current Resident!

December 19, 2017

We have an exciting announcement for you today!

Save the date for the world premiere of Joan Bigwood’s original play: Or Current Resident. This poignant comedy, developed through our annual Reading Lab program, will be running at the Theater for the New City for a special extended run of four weeks. This show is a can’t miss event, so be sure to keep an eye out for tickets!

Or Current Resident by Joan Bigwood
The multi-generational Finches have weathered a rapidly-changing community in the heart of Silicon Valley crammed together in rambunctious harmony. Or Current Resident throws the covers off an eccentric little universe that has survived on fortitude and self-deception; a universe that now lies shivering in the cold glare of unexpected, untenable revelations.

Directed by Brandi Varnell
Presented at Theater for the New City
155 1st Avenue (between 9th and 10th Streets)

Evening Shows (8pm)
February 3rd, 5th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 12th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 22nd, 23rd, and 24th.

Matinees (3pm)
February 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th.

$18 tickets available soon! (Don’t worry, you’ll get another email when they’re ready!)

90 minutes, no intermission

Featuring:
Betty Hudson*
Bettina Goolsby
Krystle N. Adams*
Curry Whitmire*
Carly King
Michael Vitaly Sázonov*

*Appearing courtesy Actors’ Equity Association

Stay tuned for more details, but in the mean time, be sure to reserve your tickets here for our upcoming event: All Guts & Some Glory! Follow us on our social media accounts to stay tuned for ticket giveaways leading up to the show.

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Get in the Ring for Round TWO of Guts and Glory! 💪🏆

December 15, 2017

Squeaky Bicycle Productions’ Velodrome Company presents our annual event: All Guts and Some Glory! Join us for this pay-what-you-will event at Theater for the New City on January 8th at 7pm. It’s a battle of wits that pits playwright against playwright, actor against actor, and has been known to make enemies out of friends (people get real serious about their bar tabs). This incredible competition includes six short scenes written by some very talented playwrights. The best part of this battle royale, is that you get to judge who wins all the glory!

GET TICKETS

In order to best prepare you for your very important judging duties, we now introduce you to our playwrights:

Returning playwright Emily J. Daly brings with her to the ring Tonight We’re Gonna Party. This short play will be directed by Kate Garfield and star Madeline Ruskin* and Sheila Joon*. 

Next, we have returning playwright W.M. Akers. Akers is returning from last season’s winning play Dead Man’s Dinner. He will be competing with The Most Dangerous Cat in the World directed by Jeff Johnson. This piece will feature Ari Rossen*Robyn Michelle Frank, and Marzy Hart.

Third, we have another returning competitor: Jeff Johnson who comes armed with End of Vacation. The play will be directed by Squeaky Bike’s own Kathryn McConnell, staring Alan Winner*, and Jackie Krim*.

Up next, we have newcomer Elizabeth A.M. Keel with her short play Roadside. This will be directed by Natalie Johnson, starring Catherine Rogala* and Katey Russo. Keel may be new to the arena, but she’s coming to win!

Next we have Natalie Johnson’sFirst Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes a Baby in a Tiny New York City Apartment Holy $hit this is a Huge Carriage. Directed by Alan Winner and staring Mary Sheridan*, Omar Gonzalez, Kevin Russo, and Nicole Dalto, this piece is sure to be a serious competitor!

Lastly, we have returning playwright Robert Zander Norman’sPerformance ReviewDirected by Katey Russo, this short will definitely keep your attention! Norman’s play will star Jeff Johnson and Kate Garfield*

Keep an eye on our Instagram Story (@SqueakyBicycle) and our Snapchat (@SqueakyBicycles) to see what the amazing artists working on this event go through during rehearsal. Reserve your ticket here today to ensure you don’t miss out on this sure-to-be-amazing show!

*Appearing courtesy Actors’ Equity Association

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All Guts and Some Glory: Save the Date! 💪 🙆 👊 🏆

December 1, 2017

Are you ready for a display of prowess so strong, you’ll need to BYOA? (bring your own armor, for those who are new to the battlefield). We are pleased to announce our annual All Guts and  Some Glory event, coming January 8th, 2018! This amazing show pits playwright against playwright, actor against actor, and even friend against friend in the fight to show who has the guts to go for all the glory. It’ll be a night to remember, and you won’t want to miss it! 

More details about the event are coming soon, but for now, make sure to save the date!