Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Meet the Company of "What, Lamb! What, Ladybird!"

Meet the company of the NYC premiere of What, Lamb! What, Ladybird! 

Nadia Brown (Ensemble) is a recent grad from Marymount Manhattan College with a BFA in Acting, and recent credits include the role of Annabella in 'Tis Pity She's A Whore, and Marina in Pericles, Prince of Tyre.

Dani Martineck (Ensemble) is a New York-based actor, writer, and lab manager. Dani recently appeared in Twelfth Night at The Secret Theatre (Viola) and played five seasons with Tennessee Stage Company's Shakespeare on the Square. She has previously appeared with Bad Quarto in Hamlet, The First Quarto (Guilderstone, Gravedigger). Look for her next in season 2 of UnProductive: The Web Series.

Courtney M. McClellan (Ensemble) excitedly joins Bad Quarto again for What, Lamb! What, Ladybird! after performing in The Second Shepherds Play (Gill/Mary) last winter. Credits include: Whatchamacallit (Disciple) with the Skeleton Rep and Ripper (Lizzie/Mrs. Lusk) in NYC, Hamlet (Gertrude) and The Comedy of Errors (Adriana/Courtesan) with NC Shakes and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest in Nashville (Nurse Flinn). Other Nashville credits: A Raisin in the Sun and Once on This Island. Regional credits: Chicago (Mama Morton), Big River (Alice), and The Sound of Music (Sister Berthe) with Weathervane Playhouse (Newark, OH); Romeo and Juliet (Lady Montague/Lady Capulet/Benvolio), Macbeth (Witch/Malcolm), and A Midsummer Night's Dream (Titania/Helena/Quince) with NC Shakes. BA Communications/Theatre, Hampton University; McCaskill Studios, NYC.

Keaton Morris-Stan (Ensemble) is thrilled to be working with Bad Quarto Productions. She has most recently worked with The Public Theater and Target Margin Theater. She has also been in a number of short and independent feature films. More about Keaton can be found on her website at

Sarah Sawyer (Ensemble) recently moved to New York after training at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in England. Theater Credits: The London Cuckolds (Tobacco Factory), Romeo and Juliet (Phoenix Symphony), Jane Austen's Emma (Arizona Theatre Company), Little Women (Lyric Opera Theater). Film: You Can't Hear Me, Broken Leg

Charlene V. Smith (Playwright) is a director, actor, and scholar working in the DC metropolitan area. She has a BA in English and Theatre from the College of William and Mary and an M.Litt and MFA in Shakespeare and Performance from Mary Baldwin College in partnership with the American Shakespeare Center. As a writer, she has live-blogged for the American Shakespeare Center during the 2011 and 2013 Blackfriars Conferences, presented papers at the Shakespeare Association of America, and was the head editor on a book of essays produced by her MFA class, Rogue Shakespeare: Stagecraft and Scholarship in an Ensemble-Based MFA Company. She is an Equity Member Candidate and the Artistic Director of Brave Spirits Theatre. What, Lamb! What, Ladybird! is her first play.

Alex Dabertin (Director) is a recent graduate of Columbia University where he co-directed the King's Crown Shakespeare Troupe's acclaimed 2015 outdoor production of Much Ado About Nothing. What, Lamb! What, Ladybird! is his first directorial project with Bad Quarto Productions, but he has appeared on stage with the company, most recently as Hamlet in 2016's Hamlet, the First Quarto. He wants to thank Charlene V. Smith and Tony Tambasco for giving him this opportunity, as well as his Juliet, Elizabeth Kipp-Giusti.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Directing What, Lamb! What, Ladybird!

Let me start plainly and truthfully: I hated Juliet for a long time. In high school, I thought Romeo and Juliet were the dumbest, most immature idiots ever to roam the English stage. I thought that they were rash and unthinking, poor decision makers unworthy of my empathy. At the same time, I was also super jealous of Romeo’s heartthrob status..

Bronze statue of Juliet in Verona, Italy
In retrospect, I did not understand a lot about emotions in high school. I was not an adventurous person, and the few stories from that time that involve the opposite sex are mainly useful only for their comic value. I was as immature as I blamed Romeo and Juliet for being.  But as I got older, fell in love, and worked my way through college, self-doubt, and not thinking of myself as God’s gift to the world, I calmed down on Romeo and Juliet. I still think Romeo is a bit of a dick (“Oh, no,” he says, “my girlfriend (that I never spoke to) is becoming a nun. That jealous bitch!”), but I now respect his ravenous desire.

And Juliet is a lot cooler to me.

Olivia Hussey in Franco Zefferelli's
1968 Romeo and Juliet.
For me, maturation has been growing into the realization that love and our connection to each other is all that we truly have in this world. The other things that we focus our attention on like power or money or success are hollow scarecrows meant to keep goading us forward, and Juliet comes to realize that. Juliet is nothing if not full to bursting of real, equitable love. Her conflicts all arise from an excess of love and connection. Where should she put her faith, to whom should she entrust her love? In the end, Juliet decides to love Romeo to despair. That is not a choice I would have made, lying there in the dusty, fetid tomb. But I am not Juliet, and though I know that connection is all there is, I am not as deep a spring as she is.

Claire Danes in Baz Luhrmann's
1996 Romeo + Juliet
But so often younger audiences scoff at Juliet--older audiences sometimes, too. Why? Why did I not listen to Juliet when I was her age? That is the question that animates my philosophical attachment to this play. Juliet moves beyond even archetype in Shakespeare’s hands to the realm of totem, but I want to think about why we keep rejecting her, even when the thing she stands for is the best thing in the world.

I am lucky to be building on a strong foundation in the script for What, Lamb! What, Ladybird! by Charlene V. Smith. The arc that Charlene constructs in What, Lamb! What, Ladybird! shakes me and resonates with me. It is my animating question made particular and personal. The shift Charlene sculpts from self-denial to self-acceptance, even self-embrace, is a difficult one to accomplish in life and in theater, but Charlene does it with poetry, refreshing simplicity, and deep intelligence. And Charlene’s rooting of the question “why do we reject Juliet?” in her own struggles with her own identity lets the play also resonate with our larger cultural discussion of whether one can be feminine and feminist at the same time.

Charlene V. Smith in the
premiere production of
  What, Lamb! What, Ladybird!
Doing this effectively will, however, require more than my confidence and long hours of thinking. It will require a smart, focused cast that is willing to put themselves into the play. I love staging; I love devising the images that an audience will all see the same, but read differently. I also love teasing intention and image out of text, walking blindly with an actor along the script, lighting it as we go. But I cannot know, in some ways, the struggles of being uncomfortably feminine. That is not a problem my particular body has faced.

That is why I decided on an all-female cast. By knowing that their collective knowledge and experience bolsters my own, and will, hopefully, correct me, frees me to do my job. I can mold space, voice, and rhythm, then, knowing that we can, as a group come to some well established answer for my questions, though it will certainly not be the only one.

Directing plays is a puzzle. It can be a simple puzzle, or a difficult one. Directing an all-female play about Juliet is a wonderful challenge that plants its feet and demands that I change who I think I am in order to get to the bottom of it. I love it when a play acts exactly like its subject.