Category Archives: VisionFest

Tinker to Evers to Chance

To quote Monica Westin of Flavorpill, “Mat Smart’s A Sudden Fluke of Physics, packs more humanity into a ten-minute love story than we’ve seen in many full-length plays.” Keith Griffith of the Chicago Reader describes the play as “diamond-hard.” LiveWire is proud to have Mat involved in VisionFest this year and we’re even more excited to be presenting the Chicago premiere of his theatrical and charming play The 13th of Paris this spring at the Greenhouse Theater Center (March 12 through April 17).

So, it is fitting we end our VisionFest3: Feast playwright’s profile with Mat as it will be just the beginning of more to come from us about this inspiring artist…

1. What is your favorite meal?
The Broham sandwich at Phil’s BBQ in San Diego.  It’s pulled pork covered in cole slaw and Phil’s BBQ sauce.  It got me through grad school.

2. Which three people (real or not) would you most like to sit down with for a meal?
Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers and Frank Chance.  The double-play combination for the Chicago Cubs when they won the 1907 and 1908 World Series.  “Tinker to Evers to Chance”  (Although I live in Minneapolis now, I grew up in Naperville and so I am — unfortunately, tragically and hopelessly — a Cubs fan.)

3. When was the last time you were together with your best friend? What did you do?
Two weeks ago in New York City.  We made pizza from scratch, watched baseball and talked about Ivo Von Hove.

4. What is your earliest theatrical memory?
In the summer, when we were very young, my sister and cousins and I would put on plays for my grandparents.  I remember painting a mustache on my face.  And that my cousin was very strict about following her script (she’s now a script supervisor in Los Angeles).  I never was allowed to write anything.

5. What inspired you to write this play?
My girlfriend and I take a lot of road trips, so I often spend time imagining worst-case scenarios.  Also, DIRTY DANCING blew my mind 8-year-old mind when I first saw it.

Come check out Mat’s play A Sudden Fluke of Physics tonight as we close our third annual short play festival, VisionFest3: Feast. Reservations can be made by calling 312 533 4666, or by emailing livewirechicago@gmail.com.

More info at www.livewirechicago.com/vision

Mat Smart is a current McKnight Advancement Grant recipient and a former two-time Jerome Fellow at The Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis. Plays include: Samuel J. and K. (Williamstown Theatre Festival and upcoming at Steppenwolf for Young Adults), The Hopper Collection (Magic Theatre and Huntington Theatre Company) and The 13th of Paris (City Theatre, Horizon Theatre, Public Theatre of Maine, Warehouse Theatre, Seattle Public Theater and upcoming at LiveWire) and The Bebop Heard in Okinawa (O’Neill Playwrights’ Conference). He is a co-founder of Slant Theatre Project in New York City and serves on the Board of Directors for The New Harmony Project. Undergraduate: University of Evansville. M.F.A.: UCSD.

Meatloaf with String Beans

Part of the VisionFest3: Feast line-up this year is the hilarious post-apocalyptic short play Jinxed by K. Alexa Mavromatis. While you will have to come and see the show to see how the world looks after, well, the end, as well as learn some basic rules on the game of Jinx, we’ve got the answers to some probing questions from Alexa about the piece, pie and catching up with good friends…

1. What is your favorite meal?
You’re probably thinking my answer is meatloaf with string beans [because of the characters’ names in Jinxed], but I have to say the traditional Thanksgiving menu is some of my favorite food. I love to cook, but generally don’t have the time to prepare full, proper meals. (Who does?) On Thanksgiving, I usually don’t cook a whole turkey, but try to collaborate with someone who wants to cook the bird. I make all the sides, from scratch: corn bread stuffing, sweet potato casserole, green beans almondine, yeast rolls. I’m good at it. I also have a friend who is something of a pie savant, so now I’m learning that.

2. Which three people (real or not) would you most like to sit down with for a meal?
Well, Stephen Sondheim and Eminem come to mind. They’re both insanely smart and it would be interesting to listen in on their conversation, but then I’m not really sure who completes this group. Maybe my friend Ernie. He and I used to talk about this kind of thing all the time, although I have to say that with his involvement, this would quickly turn into a much bigger dinner – likely involving Virginia Woolf, Carla Bley, Shakespeare, Kafka, Lou Reed, and Blair Brown. Ernie died about twelve years ago, so this would give the two of us a chance to catch up a bit, too.

3. When was the last time you were together with your best friend? What did you do?
One of my best friends from high school came up to Providence with her family last year, and one day in particular was a very ‘New England’ kind of day. We visited a lighthouse, ate stuffies, paid a visit to the Del’s Lemonade truck – it was a good time.

4. What is your earliest theatrical memory?
Ridiculous family antics, or actual theatre? My grandmother’s kitchen was a family gathering place, and always a show. For actual theatre, it would have to be seeing productions of shows like The Wizard of Oz, Annie, and Peter Pan when I was a kid. One specific thing I remember is a production of The Spiral Staircase. There was an old lady character in it, but when I saw the actress up close after the show, she was probably 30 years old. She had latex all over her face and hands to create layers of wrinkles. That’s crazy, magical stuff when you’re, like, nine.

5. What inspired you to write this play?
Basically these two characters were the little devils on my shoulder cheering me on, urging me to put some bad – or at least weird – behavior onstage. I have a tendency to write way too much talk and not enough action sometimes, and writing Jinxed was a way to remind myself that theatre, in its most basic sense, is stuff happening onstage. I owe a lot to Meatloaf, because it was all just a writing exercise until she called ‘jinx’ on Stringbean. That’s when I know it could be a play… I also love actors. They’re amazing. I wanted to give them something to play that would allow them to really cut loose and have a good time.

K. ALEXA MAVROMATIS’s play THE BACK ROOM was the 2008 third place winner of the David Mark Cohen National Playwriting Award, presented by the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival and the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. She is also the author of several short plays including BASTARD (a finalist for the Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Heideman Award in 2008), BONE CHINA (produced internationally and included in the Smith & Kraus anthology 2006: The Best Ten-Minute Plays for Two Actors), and a new post-apocalyptic comedy, JINXED. Alexa is a member of the Dramatists Guild, Theatre Communications Group, and Rhombus Playwrights.

Check out Alexa’s short play JINXED at VisionFest3: Feast this weekend (only 3 performances remain!)… More info at www.livewirechicago.com/vision

Conflicting and Complicated Feelings

Bilal Dardai is an ensemble member with The Neo-Futurists, where he writes and performs regularly in their late-night mainstay Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. He has also collaborated as a writer or actor with other companies in Chicago, most often with New Leaf Theatre, who produced his Jeff-nominated, world-premiere adaptation of The Man Who Was Thursday last year and will be premiering his new play Redeemers in November. Bilal can also be seen this winter performing in Backstage Theatre Company’s Chicago premiere of Memory.

LiveWire is proud to present Bilal’s short piece The Short Straw as part of our VisionFest3: Feast line-up. We asked Bilal some probing questions about his piece and here is what he had to say…

1. What is your favorite meal?
I’m a fan of Italian food in general, but I especially love a well-made gnocchi.

2. Which three people (real or not) would you most like to sit down with for a meal?
Dorothy Parker, Hunter S. Thompson, and Jon Stewart. I’d find that wildly entertaining.

3. When was the last time you were together with your best friend? What did you do?
Just a few weeks ago, for my sister’s wedding.

4. What is your earliest theatrical memory?
I played the troll in a first-grade classroom production of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. It would be the first of several times I would die onstage.

5. What inspired you to write this play?
A number of conflicting and complicated feelings involving my own younger brother.

Check out Bilal’s piece and more at VF3, which opened to a packed house last night. Reservations can be made by calling 312 533 4666 or by emailing livewirechicago@gmail.com. The festival runs Thu-Sat through November 13. See you at the show! more at www.livewirechicago.com/vision

More on Bilal at his blog, Creative Control

Novelty Folk Band

And now for something completely different…

Hey!  Hilary and Emily here, and we are Gretchen & Regina.  We are very excited to be the only novelty folk band performing with LiveWire’s VisionFest3: Feast!  You may have previously seen us at iO opening for both The Reckoning and JABLONSKI!, or maybe you caught our show Gretchen & Regina : Rule the World! with Pub Theatre, or maybe you know us from Chicago’s SketchFEST, or maybe from us doing weird things around town like a burlesque show with the Open Space Project…anyway…you can find us at gretchenandregina.tumblr.com and on FACEBOOK.  Or feel free to email us at gretchenandregina@gmail.com.

And now a video from Gretchen & Regina “answering” LiveWire’s tough 5 questions:

Check Gretchen & Regina out at VisionFest3: Feast – more info at www.livewirechicago.com/vision

More great stuff from Gretchen & Regina at http://vimeo.com/gretchandregi