Tag Archive | "Hamptons"

Mockingbird Brings Literature Alive at Bay Street Theatre

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Thomas Schiavoni, Jemma Kosanke, Carolyn Popp and HudsonTroy in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Thomas Schiavoni, Jemma Kosanke, Carolyn Popp and HudsonTroy in “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

By Annette Hinkle

Chloe Dirksen narrates as the older Scout in Bay Street Theater's "To Kill a Mockingbird."

Chloe Dirksen narrates as the older Scout in Bay Street Theater’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.”

Getting kids to connect with great literature isn’t as easy as it once was. These days the simple book vies for attention in an increasingly competitive world against the likes of video games, online streaming and social media.

Fortunately, Bay Street Theater has designed a sure fire way to get kids excited about the classics. Each fall, the Literature Live! program takes a classic novel that is typically part of middle or high school curriculums and brings it to life on the stage.

Now in its 6th year, this year’s Literature Live! offering is Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The play runs November 7 to 29 with weekday performances for school groups and weekend shows for the general public.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” is the story of Atticus Finch, a small town lawyer and the father of two young children, Scout and Jem, who becomes embroiled in controversy when he takes on the case of Tom Robinson, a local black man accused of raping a white woman. Passions and prejudice run deep in Depression-era Maycomb, Alabama, where the story is set. Atticus, a widower who is raising his children with the help of his housekeeper, Calpurnia, not only speaks frankly with them about the sensitive nature of the case he has taken on, but also tackles the issue of prejudice via the open hostility directed toward them all as a result, all while carefully avoiding the fostering of hatred and intolerance in his own children.

It’s a powerful piece of literature and director Joe Minutillo is in a unique position to turn it into a theatrical offering that is both educational and entertaining. For close to 35 years, he worked as a teacher in the Eastport/South Manor school district where he taught the classics, including “To Kill a Mockingbird,” to his students.

“If you took a poll of English teachers — and teachers in general — they would probably say this is one of the best novels to teach,” says Mr. Minutillo. “The narration throughout the story is so colorful, as is the way Harper Lee describes things. It’s almost impossible not to get the flavor of that time period in the south.”

“The thing about this play, it’s such a great opportunity to teach not just the literature part of it, but that time period of our history which is kind of ugly,” concedes Mr. Minutillo.

And it’s not entirely behind us.

Though the novel is more than 50 years old, Mr. Minutillo notes it remains as relevant as ever given the racial tensions that have boiled over in recent months in places like Ferguson, Missouri where an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, was killed by a white police officer in August.

“This is still happening,” says Mr. Minutillo. “I think teachers see that and realize the importance of it today. It’s not over. There is still so much work to be done on acceptance — whether it’s about race, religion or sexual preference.”

Because it is geared toward school-age audiences Mr. Minutillo has just 90 minutes to tell the whole story of the novel. For that reason, he has decided to rely on the narrator to fill in the gaps where characters and scenes can’t be included. In this production, that narrator is the adult Scout (played by Chloë Dirksen) who reflects back on the seminal events of her childhood and puts them into perspective.

It’s a bit of a departure from the script in which the Finch’s neighbor, Miss Maudie, is the narrator. But Mr. Minutillo felt strongly that because the book is written as a recollection of the grown up Scout, it made sense from an educational perspective to use her as the narrator’s voice.

“Everything I say is straight from the book – it’s the most gorgeous prose and so exciting to speak Harper Lee’s words,” says Ms. Dirksen, a resident of Sag Harbor who remembers reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” when she was 13. Though she hadn’t read the book since, the voice of Scout has stayed with her.

“There’s something special about the way this character is reflecting on her loss of innocence at a time when her world went from being quaint and small to the bubble bursting,” says Ms. Dirksen. “She comes to understand not just the darkness, but her father and what a hero he was.”

Atticus Finch is, indeed, one of the most iconic characters in American literature. Which means Scott Eck, the New York City-based actor who is playing Atticus, has some big shoes to fill.

“It puts a lot of pressure on the actor,” admits Mr. Eck. “It’s a lot to live up to from the literary, theatrical and historical standpoint. Atticus is a man who’s aware enough of the conditions of segregation to know what he’s up against.”

Yet he’s a character who is willing to stand up for what he believes in, even if it means putting his own children at risk.

“One of the great things Bay Street does is choose plays for their literary series to get the conversation started,” says Mr. Eck. “Theater is one of the best educators we have. If one student has his or her thinking changed by coming to this play, then it’s worth the whole run.”

“To Kill a Mockingbird” runs November 7 to 29 at the Bay Street Theater. The cast includes Chloë Dirksen, Cooki Winborn, Jemma Kosanke, Carolyn Popp, Rob DiSario, William Sturek, Jessica Mortellaro, Joe Pallister, Hudson Troy, Thomas Schiavoni, Scott Eck, Chauncy Thomas and Al Bundonis. In addition to weekday shows for school groups, public performances are offered at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. There will also be Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. on November 15, 22 and 29. Students are admitted free with a valid ID and adults are $25. Call (631) 725-9500 or visit baystreet.org for tickets.

Radcliffe, Temple, and Hill Toot Their “Horns”

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hornsposter

By Danny Peary

Horns, Alexandre Aja’s genre-bending adaptation of Joe Hill’s cult novel, opens theatrically Friday in New York City and elsewhere.  You can also see it on VOD. Just as Ben Affleck’s character is wrongly accused of murdering his cold-hearted wife in Gone Girl, a young man, Ig Perrish (Daniel Radcliffe gives still another excellent post-Harry Potter performance), is blamed for the rape and murder of his virtuous long-time girlfriend, Merrin (an appealing Juno Temple).  Unlike Affleck’s ineffectual character, Ig grows a pair of horns that have the power of making everyone he comes into contact with reveal their most despicable thoughts and desires.  Ig sets out to find the real killer, and as he gets closer, he increasingly transforms into the Devil.  He is even accompanied by snakes during his pursuit.  He may be the Devil and is capable of brutality, but he isn’t such a bad guy.  That’s one of the many quirks in this daring, well-cast and acted, zany hybrid that is at once a love story, a parable, a murder mystery, a satire, and a horror film with images that are not for the squeamish.  It’s a wild ride that I hope you take to the end.  On Tuesday, I was part of this lively roundtable with Radliffe, Temple, and Hill (Stephen King’s son) at the Trump Soho in Manhattan.  I note my questions.

Joe Hill, Juno Temple and Daniel Radcliffe.

Joe Hill, Juno Temple and Daniel Radcliffe.

Q: Joe, before this project got off the ground, what did you perceive would be the biggest challenge a filmmaker would face when adapting your book to the screen?

Joe Hill: I never thought it would be a film. I thought it was such a weird, unlikely story to be adapted.  My leaping off point was Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.  You have Gregor Samsa, a man with a meaningless job, waking up one day as a giant insect.  He was an insect even before he turned into an insect and even his family didn’t respect or care about him.  When he becomes a bug, the internal truth becomes external.  Horns is pretty much the same way.  In my other stories, even fantasies, there’s usually an explanation of a conventional sort.  But this is more surreal, magical realism, and very Kafkaesque.  It has a black sense of humor and a tragic love story and a lot elements and I thought that was so strange that I couldn’t imagine anyone really making it into a film.

Q: Daniel, what was your first impression of Joe’s book, which is quite different from his father Stephen King’s books.

Daniel Radcliffe: I wasn’t looking at Joe’s work through the frame of his father’s work.  I just viewed it as an incredibly original, daring, witty, and emotional piece of writing.  I was pleased how that transferred into a script. Obviously things change when a novel is adapted into a screenplay but the one thing you don’t want people to be upset about is the absence of the book’s tone.  What makes Joe’s book unique is that it rampages through different styles, and we have remained very faithful to that and hopefully fans of the book will respond to that in the film.

Q: How did you feel about a movie that mixes so many genres–romance, satire, crime, horror, mystery…everything?

DR: Joe has said how he likes old movies that did many different things, and one of my favorite films is A Matter of Life and Death [1946], which has some amazing flights of fantasy, including a court case in heaven.  It is very funny and imaginative, and also has real drama and dramatic tension throughout. It does everything successfully.  That’s what excited me about the script for Horns.  We live in a world of people who obsessively categorize everything and I like that this film is very hard to pin down.  If you can describe a movie in one sentence and do it justice, it’s probably not a very good movie.  I think Horns will take many sentences to define.

JH: I wouldn’t call Horns a horror movie exactly.  In bad horror you get the jock and the cheerleader and the geek and the virgin and other one-note characters, and the character who has the most dimensions turns out to be the serial killer.  I find that morally odious because I don’t want to root for the bad guy, I want to root for the good guy.  I don’t think horror should be about disgusting people, about shock, or about sadism, but about characters you can really love so that when you see them suffer you will root for them to pull through.  It should about empathy rather than nastiness, and a sense of humor and a sense of romance brings more to the story.  What we see more and more, especially in the last decade, are horror movies that do only one thing.  They’re only scary, or sadistic, or funny, or romantic.  Because that’s so much easier to market.  They know how to sell a movie like Ouija because all it does is try to be scary for an hour and a half.  But that’s not necessarily better storytelling.  I love ambitious storytelling.

DR: Also, if you were to look at your life as a film, you’d be very hard pressed to pin it down to being only one genre.  A script like this without a sense of humor wouldn’t be something I’d be interested in doing. Because even the darkest times in life often result in the use of humor even as a coping mechanism or something else.  It’s a lot more complicated and real this way.

Q: The movie is many things, but, Joe, what do you think of the original religious aspect in the book being toned down in the film?

JH: I don’t know if I agree that the movie toned down the religious aspect, I just think it has a lighter touch.  It doesn’t hammer you over the head with religious subtext and it’s good that it’s not a theology lecture because I doubt if people would buy a ticket to that. Ig is a giving, loving person who thinks about others.  And Merrin is also a giving, loving person who thinks about others. In that way, it has a kind of quiet, Christian idealism, I guess.  But it’s not a religious film like a Mel Gibson movie. [Laughter]

DR: It’s interesting that you can watch this film as a very religious person and enjoy it.  There’s a lot of Old Testament-style justice. And you can see Ig as sort of a Job figure.  But I think we’re using religious symbolism and imagery to tell the story of humans, rather than the other way around.

Danny Peary: What I find most interesting is that when you expect Divine Intervention and God to save the day and goodness to prevail as in many good vs. evil films, Ig must go back to being the Devil to get the job done.  At one point it’s stated that “God turns a blind eye,” so is God present at all in this story and is the Devil an antihero rather than a villain?

JH: There is one viewpoint that God and the Devil aren’t adversaries, they’re actually on the same side.  In some ways that makes sense if you think that God hates sinners and the Devil punishes them.  The first time we ever see him, he frees two people from a jungle prison where they are being held by a megalomaniac and awakens them to their sexuality at the same time–which is kind of awesome and progressive.

Juno Temple: Weirdly when you look at Ig when he become a devilish, demonic creature, you see that he’s in that guise for good to solve a horrible crime.  So it’s the idea of playing with good and bad and how good can be bad and bad can be good.

JH: I’ve always thought that the Devil is kind of a superhero and he’d fit right in with The Avengers.  He has superpowers and has a really cool look with the horns and red costume.

hornsdevilmakeup

Q: Daniel, how much of your look was makeup and how much was done on computer?

DR: It was all really there.  from I wore the horns and extensions and everything else. If there was some touching up in special effects, it was minimal. And there is only one snake in the film that is visual effects–it was actually a real snake but it looked like it was made out of rubber. [Laughter]

Q: Daniel, I saw you this year in the play The Cripple of Inishmaan and you were amazing.  You were the cripple in the play and now in this movie, you wear horns almost the entire time.  Can you talk about altering your body to play Billy and using props with Ig?

JH: I really enjoy being physical and being challenged with different roles.  With The Cripple of Inishmaan, I had to do something myself to change my body.  On Horns, the acting and attitude was obviously in my jurisdiction but the transformation itself was the work of other people and I was the beneficiary of it.  Any time you can look in the mirror, and you’ve gained distance between what’s looking back at you and the person you normally see in the mirror that’s a good thing.

DP: Joe, did you name Merrin after the priest who tries to rid of the girl of the demon in The Exorcist?

JH: I did.

DP: Juno, your character is portrayed as totally good, even angelic, keeping demons out of Ig while she’s alive.  Yet despite her being established like that she has premarital sex, which is progressive in that it breaks movie rules.

JT: First and foremost, Merrin is good, but she’s human good.  Being human is being naughty and nice, you’re going to be a bit of both.  I think that enjoying lovemaking can be seen as a sin, especially within her character.  But it’s complicated because she’s also truly in love with somebody and I think sex is a big part of being in love.   She is obviously this presence.  I truly feel you need people like Merrin in the world who just have this light around them.  You feel so happy and lucky to know them.  Do I feel she’s really good in a religious, angelic sense? No.  I think she’s human but, my God, I think she’s a good human.

JH: The Devil is okay with sex before marriage! That’s another reason he’s so awesome!

DP: Ig is a nice, caring, decent young man.  But if Merrin hadn’t existed, would he have gone down the wrong road with all of the other kids he grew up with?

DR: It’s really hard to say but it’s undeniable that if someone like Merrin walks into your life and adapts to who you are you and your lives become intertwined, then the relationship is going to be special.   It is special because Ig and Merrin meet each other in their formative years and they become for each other what the other one lacks. Seeing Ig as an adult and knowing about his past relationship with Merrin, I find it hard to even imagine what life would have been like for him if they had never met.  Probably it wouldn’t end like it does or as early as it does!   You know, better to have loved and lost.

JT: Yeah.

DP: Talk about that and the film’s tag line, “Love Hurts Like Hell,” which makes it clear we’re watching a love story.

JT: I think it’s a good tag line because ultimately when you look at this relationship it hurts like hell because his love has been taken away.  Not only has the love of his life been ripped away but also he’s suspected of murdering this young woman.  He did love her and everybody around her loved her. This is an honest love story in which Merrin and Ig are both wholeheartedly in love and I think have an incredible balance.

DR: Going back to what Juno said, Ig and Merrin are such a loving, committed relationship.  My mom and dad have been married for over thirty years and the institution of marriage is not something I have any personal problems with. But getting married doesn’t prove that you love someone.

JH: My favorite scene in the movie is when Merrin and Ig break up.  You have these two people who love each other so deeply and they say such agonizing and painful things to each other.  They obviously care for each other but stick their knives into each other over and over again.  It’s easy in films and novels to make it seem like bad things happen because of evil but actually a lot of bad things happen because of people trying to do the right thing. You almost always suffer because of love, not only because of hate.  People are much more likely to kill because of love than hate.

Q: Daniel, after shooting such emotional scene, when the director said “Cut,” did you go right back to being yourself?

DR: No. Particularly if you’re not done yet it’s not helpful to snap back to yourself.  By the time Juno and I filmed that diner breakup scene, we were getting along, but when you do intense scenes like that it kind of solidifies your relationship with the other actor. We shot it for two days and it was very emotional.  We were there for each other but because of the nature of the scene we needed to be in our own spaces as well.  It wasn’t possible to flip back and forth in and out of character.

Q: That was my favorite scene, too.  I was interested in whether they are looking at love in a child-like way, talking about their love lasting forever, or an adult way, realizing they might not know each other after all.

JT: I’m a hopeless romantic.  I believe in true love and that at any age you can fall madly in love with someone and it can last forever.   That also applies to friendships because I think love shows itself in many different ways.  I think it’s interesting that we can never totally know each other because that’s a joy of being human.  I think every human should have a bit of mystery because if you fully know someone you might not be in love with them entirely.  It’s the idea of having things that are only yours.

JH: That’s actually one of the things the story is about.  What does it do to you when you know everything about someone else, including their worst thoughts?  Would seeing their darkest places destroy your feelings for them?  I know that before I wrote the book my idea was to take this decent, sort of perfect young man and destroy him and turn him into Satan.  While writing the book, I discovered that destroying someone who is decent is harder than I expected.  Even when they are faced with the worst in the people they love, they can still find the power to forgive them and still care about them.  And for a pretty dark story, that’s kind of hopeful.

DP: Juno, at the film’s premiere, you spoke about Merrin being “a memory” because she’s dead when the picture begins.

JT: That’s something that drew me to the character.  Because memories are so precious.  Even as an actress, you draw on so many memories–memories of being sad or happy, or maybe being bored while taking a train from one city to another.  You wrack your brain for some of your favorite memories.  You can sit by yourself and laugh at your memories or be taken into another universe.  Memories are the most brilliant thing the human mind is capable of storing, I think.  Getting to play a memory was such an honor, especially to play the memory of someone who truly loves her.

JH: There’s also the Rashomon thing where we keep seeing her through other people’s eyes.

SPOILER ALERT

JH (cont’d): For instance, it’s great going into Lee’s head and seeing that he doesn’t get it.  He’s reading things in Merrin that simply aren’t there.

Q: The Devil’s not the villain in this movie.  It’s Lee, Ig’s long-time friend and lawyer.

JH: You have this character of tremendous malice in Lee Tourneau. He obviously yearns for Merrin, but what he really yearns for is to be complete. Ig is complete because he and Merrin together finish each other.  Lee has never had that and can’t imagine what that feels like. Max Minghella poured so much emotion into that role and it’s wonderful.  I really think that he’s one of the film’s secret weapons.  If there is one thing in the film that I think is so much better than what’s in the book it’s the depiction of Lee Tourneau.  In the book, he’s kind of the boogeyman.  He seems perfect but we know he’s an empty box, a hollow sociopath.  But in the movie he comes across as basically sort of a good guy with some nasty impulses.  You see a man, one of the bros, one of the friends, who could be guilty of sexual assault.  I’ve talked to people who feel that’s so real.  Usually the men who commit sexual assault and murder are not Ted Bundy figures.  It’s usually a friend, someone you trusted who took advantage.

END SPOILER ALERT

Q: Daniel, did you ever have a betrayal from a friend that you could draw on for the friendship between Ig and the real killer?

DR: No, no! I’ve never had a friend like that to draw on, which I’m very grateful for. [Laughter]  I’m sure I’ve had something but nothing that is comparable.  Obviously you draw from whatever you have experienced and with some friends we reached a point where we couldn’t be friends anymore but that’s not really the same thing.

Q: Joe, in regard to the issue of violence against women, I’m curious what it was like for you to write the scene where Merrin is raped and killed.

JH: I’m not sure how I can respond to that. [Note: Hill donates to the Pixel Project.] Indie rockers will sometimes say, “I don’t know how you can dance to that song because I was in such pain when I wrote it.”  And you kind of want to swat them because they seem so full of themselves and pretentious.  But Horns was a really unhappy and paranoid book that was written by an unhappy and paranoid man.  The whole thing is just kind of this muddle of being depressed and not feeling like I could write a novel.  The end came out really well and I’m proud of it, and for me it’s a lot easier to connect with and enjoy the movie because I have a little distance from it and I could just sit back and enjoy it while all these other people [like the director Alexandre Aja and screenwriter Keith Bunin] did the heavy lifting.  I don’t know how the actors had the courage to do what they did in the film. I want to know how you, Juno, could do that?

JT: Shooting something like a rape and murder scene is never going to be easy and shouldn’t ever be easy. When you sign on to play a character who is going to go through that, you have to be ready to do it. We shot in the middle of the night in the forest in freezing cold Canada.  It was important to respect Merrin and not wear a warm coat and not drink a hot chocolate, because if I was really her in that situation I would be so frightened.  As you said, Joe, someone you have grown up with and trust can turn on you just like that–it’s such a chilling thought.  Alexander Aja created such an intense environment that night.  It took a long time, it was cold, it was miserable in the right way.  I was so lost in it.  It was a horrible scene but I wasn’t going to be a starlet and say, “Oh, sorry I’m not going to shoot that.”  You have to go for it and let go and allow yourself to be frightened.  And to be honest, it does take time to shake it off.  You should respect a scene like that and for any woman who has gone through something like that I didn’t want to be fucking pampered when doing it.

DR: And you weren’t.  That was like your first or second day of shooting. I got there a week later and Juno had set such a high bar.  The crew was saying, “That girl stayed under those rain machines four hours without complaining.”  That was not representative of how most actors would be.

SPOILER ALERT

JT: Max is actually a very good friend of mine.  I see him on a regular basis because we’re neighbors in Los Angeles.  I know him so well but when Lee does that sudden shift in personality, it really was frightening.

END SPOILER ALERT

JT (cont’d): What was amazing about working with all these young actors was that we all just went for it.  All we could do was react to each other, so it was so great that we could trust each other.  That’s all thanks to Alex creating this universe.  You do it, and the next day you want to have cocktails together.  Everybody around you respected the position you’re in.  That was something I was blown away by when making this film.  Not only was that rape and murder scene brutal, there were a lot of brutal scenes.  Every single actor was challenged.  Even the kids who played us when we were young had challenges, physical challenges, real fear, hard situations.  I can say everybody respected that.

Q: Daniel, what was the most poignant thing for you in the film? Was it listening to Ig’s parents say awful things to him and reveal how they truly feel about him?

DR: That was horrible but the thing that brought me up short every time, whether reading it or doing it, was the scene in the treehouse in which Ig reads Merrin’s letter and finds out what was really going on with her.  That is what makes this story stay with me.  That love story Juno talked about is so key to the film.  We created this perfect, universal dream relationship between young lovers–which Joe then destroyed! [Laughter]  There is something so blissful and golden about it and I think everyone has had some version of that relationship, so what befalls them is hard to see.  But I believe the end of that storyline, with Ig reading the letter, makes the movie really special.

 

Seasonal Food Shines at Long Island Restaurant Week

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The Living Room Chef Mathias Brogie. Eric Striffler photo.

The Living Room Chef Mathias Brogie. Eric Striffler photo.

By Gianna Volpe

November is upon us, meaning time again to taste three courses of some of the South Fork’s finest for less than $30.

Long Island Restaurant Week now comes but twice a year—the pre-fixe promotion designed as a culinary stimulus for those who stay in the edible business off-season—saw it’s dates double in 2011 due to popular demand. The week is now featured in April, in addition to November. It was founded, and continues to be run by executives at the East Hampton-based Wordhampton Public Relations.

Nine South Fork restaurants are listed as participating in Long Island Restaurant Week between November 2 through November 9, including The Cuddy and Page at 63 Main in Sag Harbor, Almond and The Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton, Cowfish and Rhumba in Hampton Bays, The Living Room at c/o Maidstone The 1770 House in East Hampton, and The Patio in Westhampton Beach.

Reservations are encouraged for restaurants that allow such as the dates tend to fill up quickly.

“Just last night I had a little anxiety dream of like, ‘Oh my god, Restaurant Week’s tomorrow, we have 150 on the books and I don’t have staff,” joked Jason Weiner, the executive chef/owner of the participating Almond Restaurant in Bridgehampton, “It’s all good though—we get to see a lot of new faces, make some new friends and see some old friends, so it’s great.”

Regular menu items are often available as part of the price-fixe plated dinners and though many participating restaurants create dedicated menus for all of Long Island Restaurant Week, Chef Weiner said he likes to change things up at Almond.

“We’ll basically do a different miniaturized version of the regular menu every night,” he said. “A lot of places do low cost items that they can produce en masse, which is a fine way to do things as long as it tastes good, but the thing about Restaurant Week is you often get folks who don’t often come to your restaurant for the rest of the year…so I figure the best way to get them to understand who we are is to give them a taste of what our regular menu is about; that’s our approach to the week.”

Chef Weiner said he focuses on using local ingredients for his menu – “slightly whimsical” spins on classic dishes—counting Pike’s Farm and Marilee Foster in Sagaponack; Tom Falkowski’s Bridgehampton potato farm and Amber Waves in Amagansett among those local purveyors to provide him with produce.

“It’s all about ingredients,” said Mr. Weiner. “I’m lucky enough to be on the East End of Long Island, where even now my cauliflower, my celery, my cabbage, my Brussels sprouts; the greens and potatoes, are all coming locally.”

Almond’s restaurant week menus will feature such dishes as its Lamb braciole with bitter greens and polenta raviolini and a variety of steaks, including marinated hangar steak, a grass-fed flat iron steak and a 13-ounce New York strip, which may be chosen for a slight upcharge.

“We’ll also do one of our two soups, one of which is a smoked oyster and cauliflower soup,” he said. “We get our oysters from our friends over at Montauk Shellfish Company and our cauliflower comes from Pike’s Farm.”

Almond isn’t the only restaurant that will rely heavily on its regular menu to outline its restaurant week offerings. East Hampton’s The Living Room, restaurant of luxury hotel c/o The Maidstone, will derive its menu entirely from its regular fare.

“We want to give a representation of what we do year-round, not just something done specifically for that week,” said The Living Room’s restaurant manager Adam Lancashire. “We want people to have a three-course meal that will be available to them both the week after and the week before…We will be telling everyone that comes, ‘These dishes haven’t been watered down and we haven’t gotten a cheaper product to put it together; we stuck with our philosophy.”

The Living Room’s entrees will include its popular new poached cod and a beef Bourguignon Mr. Lancashire suggested enjoying with a glass of pinot noir.

“We’re very excited to be part of restaurant week,” he said. “It’s a good opportunity to show people what you offer year-round.”

If you’re searching for short ribs, try the participating Page at 63 Main in Sag Harbor as director of operations Eric Peele counted the dish among its planned restaurant week menu.

“We may rotate in and out a hangar steak, but we’ll always have fish on the menu,” Mr. Peele added. “Our standard far is what popular, like our rigatoni Bolognese and salmon.”

Long Island Restaurant Week begins November 2 and runs through November 9. For more information, visit longislandrestaurantweek.com. 

“The World Goes ‘Round” Brings Kander & Ebb to Southampton Cultural Center

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The cast of “The World Goes ‘Round, the Songs of Kander and Ebb.” Photo by Tom Kochie.

The cast of “The World Goes ‘Round, the Songs of Kander and Ebb.” Photo by Tom Kochie.

By Annette Hinkle

The legendary songwriting duo of Kander and Ebb have been responsible for some of the biggest hits on Broadway in the past half century. Composer John Kander and lyricist Fred Ebb first began their collaboration back in 1962, and in the years that followed, the pair wrote a prolific number of songs and scores including “Cabaret,” which is currently enjoying a revival on Broadway in the old Studio 54 space, “Funny Lady,” and, perhaps their most memorable (and biggest) hit, “Chicago.”

And because he has been denied the rights to produce “Chicago” time and time again (it’s been 17 consecutive years, but who’s counting) this fall, Michael Disher, director of Center Stage at Southampton Cultural Center, decided to approach the challenge from a totally unique angle by bringing the music of Kander and Ebb to the stage in an entirely different form.

“The World Goes ‘Round, The Songs of Kander & Ebb” kicks off Center Stage’s new season and the production is playing at the Southampton Cultural Center now through November 9. The show takes its title from a tune the songwriting team wrote for Liza Minnelli in the 1977 film “New York, New York.” That film’s title song, also included in the show, was, of course, a standard by Frank Sinatra.

Those expecting a night of musical theater filled with plot structure, intriguing narratives and a boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl again kind of experience may be disappointed. In fact, this production is not a structured play, but rather, a musical revue. Which means that audience members who can’t get enough of wall to wall song and dance numbers will get their fill and then some.

In this show, there are no sets, precious few props and the costumes consist of a simple selection of basic black wardrobe pieces. The songs of Kander and Ebb are the stars here, and to pull it off, Mr. Disher has assembled a varied cast of 10 singers and dancers, some of whom are admittedly more comfortable in the song and dance role than others. They include Richard Adler, Isabel Alvarez, Holly Marie Dunn, Sharon Mulvaney, Jaclyn Randazzo, Mary Sabo, Jack Seabury, Kyle Sherlock, Josephine Wallace and Edna Winston.

And though you won’t get the whole play, the music of “Chicago” is well-represented in this production with “All That Jazz,” “Class,” “Mr. Cellophane” and “Me and My Baby” all in the line up. Also expect songs from “Funny Lady,” “Kiss of the Spider Woman” and yes, Sinatra’s signature song, “New York, New York.”

Also expect to hear some long forgotten numbers that only true Kander and Ebb fans are likely to know, including a lovely rendition of “Colored Lights” offered by Ms. Dunn from “The Rink,” one of their less successful Broadway plays, and “My Coloring Book,” a song that comes not from a musical, but rather Barbra Streisand’s second album recorded in 1963. In this production, the number is performed sweetly by Ms. Randazzo.

Despite the fact that Kander and Ebb wrote their material in the last half of the 20th century, some of their numbers feel oddly dated today in an “aw, shucks” kind of way. Younger audience members may not always appreciate the sappy nature of some of the duo’s more sentimental pieces, but in some cases, that dated quality works well here. Particularly impressive in the first act is “There Goes the Ball Game” from “New York, New York.” Performed in this production by a trio consisting of Ms. Randazzo, Ms. Dunn and Ms. Alvarez, the singers’ Andrew’s Sisters-esque treatment of the song, with harmonies that are stellar, is evocative of another era in the best of ways.

But ultimately this revue show is at its best (and most dynamic) with numbers like “All That Jazz” when the whole cast gets into the act with more compelling staging and dance moves (thanks to choreography by Mr. Disher and Bethany Dellapolla).

Act Two begins on a particular high note with the versatile Ms. Sabo offering a very fun rendition of “Ring Them Bells” (from “Liza with a Z”). This narrative song tells the story of a young woman from Riverside Drive who travels the world in search of Mr. Right, only to meet the boy next door, literally, on a beach in Dubrovnik. The whole cast gets in on the act on this one as well, and the addition of ankle and wrist bells, along with the cleverly written lyrics and expressive singing by Ms. Sabo, add great charm to the piece.

There are fine moments too where multiple songs are offered at once to great effect. This technique is particularly effective when Mr. Seabury, Ms. Dunn and Ms. Sabo perform as a trio by offering up “We Can Make It” (from “The Rink”), “Maybe This Time” (from “Cabaret”) and “Isn’t This Better” (from Funny Lady”) simultaneously.

Mr. Seabury continues to shine in the final numbers of the revue, which ends on a high note with music from “Cabaret” in which he assumes the role of the Master of Ceremonies, first with “Money Money,” followed by the show’s title song. Finally there comes, “New York, New York” itself with a Sinatra-inspired imitation that is spot on.

What else could you possibly imagine ending the evening with? And when it comes to revisiting the music of Kander and Ebb, what more could you possibly want?

Center Stage at SCC presents The World Goes ‘Round, the Songs of Kander and Ebb through Sunday November 9, at SCC’s Levitas Center for the Arts. Karen Hochstedler is musical director. Other Kander and Ebb shows represented in the revue include “Woman of the Year,” “The Happy Time,” “Flora, The Red Menace,” “The Act” and “70, Girls, 70.” Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. on the stage of The Levitas Center for the Arts, 25 Pond Lane, across from Agawam Park in Southampton Village. General admission is $25 (students $12). Group rates are available and reservations are encouraged by calling (631) 287-4377 or visiting scc-arts.org.

Mary Ellen Bartley Leans Above the Page at Guild Hall

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By Annette Hinkle

 

On its surface, a book looks like a fairly simple object. But crack one open and you just might find a tool with transformative powers. Between the covers of a good book it’s possible to discover the essence of emotion, beauty, compassion or suspense. A book can be wholly meditative or a call to action.

For artist Mary Ellen Bartley, books are nothing short of pure inspiration. But for Bartley, it’s not what lies between the pages that is most important, rather it’s the form of the external package itself.

Ms. Bartley took top honors in Guild Hall’s 74th Artist Members Exhibition in 2012 and as a result, has been given a solo exhibition, “Leaning Above the Page,” which will be on view at Guild Hall through January 4. Included in the show are 19 images from five of Ms. Bartley’s ongoing photographic series — Standing Open, Paperbacks, Sea Change, Blue Books and Push 2 Stops. This Saturday, Ms. Bartley will host a gallery talk about her work at Guild Hall at 2 p.m.

All the photographs in the show were taken between 2004 and 2014 and while books are the overarching theme of Ms. Bartley’s imagery, she does not reveal titles or context in her work. Instead, she prefers to offer views of books stacked atop one another, lined up side by side, or viewed up close with pages slightly fanned. In these instances the imagery references the sculptural form books assume when viewed externally from various perspectives.

“Leaning Above the Page,” the show’s title, is inspired by the Wallace Stevens poem “The House Was Quiet and the World Was Calm.” The poem evokes the notion of understanding that can be had by slowing down, disconnecting from life’s external noise and simply allowing a good book to do its job through silent bonding.

“It’s the idea that within a situation of quiet and calm, there is the space and the time to try and find connection and meaning,” explains Ms. Bartley. “In this case, Stevens talks about a book, but it can also be art. It’s about receptivity, wanting to have the connection, that perfection of thought on a summer night, a unity with the art or the book.”

“To me, it’s so important,” says Ms. Bartley. “Looking at something slowly and carefully, reading something in a quiet house, finding meaning by going to see art or reading a book.”

“The form of the poem and its use of repetition induce a calm state,” she adds. “I try to do that in my photos.”

Ms. Bartley’s photographs capture the quiet complexity that all books potentially hold — be it through the varied hues of white found in the pages of a stack of paperbacks or the blue and green hardcovers which appear nearly painterly in her artistic treatment of them.

“I think an interesting thing about these images is they’re very much about suppressing the content and muting it,” she says.

When asked how she came upon the idea of using books as subjects, Ms. Bartley explains:

“I was looking for a still life subject I could photograph for an extended period of time and look at in different ways again and again,” she says. “That was in my mind, because I had gone to the Giorgio Morandi show at the Met in 2008. It was the first time that many of his paintings were seen together. I said, ‘I have to go and find my still life subject.’”

But after experimenting with a variety of objects in her photography, Ms. Bartley was less than thrilled with the results. Then, while visiting a friend, she came across a seemingly mundane tableau which she felt had a world of possibility.

It was a stack of paperback books.

“My friend’s daughter went to Horace Mann and had piles of her books from school stacked up, a few had the black remainder lines on the pages left from booksellers. It looked like a painting or sculpture.”

One of the main reasons Ms. Bartley was so attracted to books as subjects is the endless number of ways she envisioned being able to expand on the theme.

“When you have a routine, time, space, and the momentum of ideas, you start to create series and one leads to another,” she explains. “There’s a portal to that next idea and it comes from doing the work every day.”

In addition to the Paperback series of white pages against white backgrounds, there has been the Blue Books series and the Standing Open Series — which details the striking pages of art books by Agnes Martin and Hiroshi Sugimoto. Ms. Bartley has also expanded into the realm of her own previous work through Sea Change and Push 2 Stops, an intriguing series that references Bartley’s former life as a commercial photographer.

The white and gray translucent squares in the images in Push 2 Stops are actually acetate sleeves which were once used to store the transparencies from Ms. Bartley’s commercial work. Photographed through a light box, the empty sleeves became the subject of the series after Ms. Bartley came across them while sorting through 20 years worth of old film she had kept in a local storage facility.

“They raised the rent and I thought, ‘I should not be keeping this,’” explains Ms. Bartley who tossed the transparencies but kept the sleeves. “People who did photography years ago recognize what they are right away.”

And by working in series, Ms. Bartley is in the process of transitioning to yet another form in her work — book production. As part of “Leaning Above the Page,” Ms. Bartley has produced a catalog featuring the exhibit’s imagery along with the Wallace Stevens poem and an interview with Ms. Bartley conducted by fellow artist Ross Bleckner.

“I feel like it’s a natural next step,” she says of book production. “It’s more collaborative and not just me in my studio. I want to create the physical books, to hold them.”

“There’s a whole community of people who make books, read books and collect books,” she adds. “It’s like being a foodie —people are so invested in it.”

Mary Ellen Bartley: Leaning Above the Page runs through Sunday, January 4 at the Museum at Guild Hall, 158 Main Street, East Hampton. This Saturday, November 1 at 2 p.m. Mary Ellen Bartley offers a Gallery Talk about her work at the museum. Call (631) 324-0806 or visit GuildHall.org for more information.?

 

 

 

“Painting the Population” Looks for Funding

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Aubrey Roemer with "Leviathan: The Montauk Portrait Project."

Aubrey Roemer with “Leviathan: The Montauk Portrait Project.”

Aubrey Roemer, the Brooklyn artist behind the “Leviathan: The Montauk Portrait Project” has launched a kickstarter campaign to further the project, and her art, as she aims to publish a book of her work, and expand the project into Nicaragua and Indonesia.

“Leviathan: The Montauk Project” was started as Ms. Roemer began painting hundreds of portraits of Montauk residents on linens forged from the town, exhibiting them in four consecutive installations.

Now, Ms. Roemer hopes to travel to Chichigalpa, the lowlands of Nicaragua, through the La Isla Foundation, and document the chronic kidney disease and chronic renal failure epidemic facing sugarcane workers in the region.

“There is a near media blackout of the issue,” said Ms. Rowmer. “And we are looking to gain global attention through the archaic yet poignant platform of art making.”

After Nicaragua, Ms. Roemer also plans to travel to Indonesia to create an anthropological portrait study of the Buginese, an ancient group of seafaring folk scattered throughout Indonesia.

Lastly, the campaign will help pay for Ms. Roemer to join an artist residency at the Vermont Studio Center prior to her travels. During that residency, she plans to finish “Leviathan: The Montauk Portrait Project,” and prep it for publication.

Ms. Roemer is hoping to raise $3,000 by November 15, and already has $2,102 in donations through kickstarter by 38 individual backers. On every funding level, Ms. Roemer offers her supporters works of art to show her appreciation.

For more information, visit kickstarter.com/projects/1227894691/leviathan-montauk-to-lombok-painting-the-populatio

Do the Time Warp at The Suffolk Theater

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RockyHorror

Do a bit of a mind flip, and enter a time slip, with The Suffolk Theater’s presentation of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” followed by a Halloween After-Party, on Friday, October 31 at 8 p.m. The Suffolk Theatre is located at 118 East Main Street in Riverhead. There is a $20 bar/restaurant minimum to join in the madcap mayhem. For reservations or more information, call (631) 727-4343 or SuffolkTheater.com.

Sag Harbor’s Ragamuffin Parade Heralds Halloween

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Sam Snyder and Zach Landau were ghouls (of sorts) during the 2014 Ragamuffin Parade on Main Street on Sunday. Michael Heller photography.

Sam Snyder and Zach Landau were ghouls (of sorts) during the 2014 Ragamuffin Parade on Main Street on Sunday. Michael Heller photography.

Sag Harbor’s Ragamuffin Parade was held Sunday, bringing hundreds to Main Street, Sag Harbor for a costumed stroll ending on the lawn of The Custom House where games and tasty treats awaited the crowds. The parade signaled the beginning of a week of Halloween events leading up to the big day – Friday, October 31 where in Sag Harbor the chamber of commerce has sponsored a local pumpkin trail after school. Local businesses that are participating will have a pumpkin in their windows and will be ready for trick or treaters.

The O'Brien family wowed the crowd - as usual - with their depiction of the planets of the solar system.

The O’Brien family wowed the crowd – as usual – with their depiction of the planets of the solar system.

A scene at the Customs House lawn following the 2014 Ragamuffin Parade.

A scene at the Customs House lawn following the 2014 Ragamuffin Parade.

Elisa Ross was the Bride of Frankenstein.

Elisa Ross was the Bride of Frankenstein.

Nava Campbell was a Damage Doll.

Nava Campbell was a Damage Doll.

Brandee Torakis was a "Day of the Dead Señorita."

Brandee Torakis was a “Day of the Dead Señorita.”

Three little princesses and a kitty cat (aka Ella Menu) make their way down Main Street.

Three little princesses and a kitty cat (aka Ella Menu) make their way down Main Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Harvey” Watches Over The Hampton Theatre Company

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John Kern and Matthew Conlon.  TOM KOCHIE photo.

John Kern and Matthew Conlon. TOM KOCHIE photo.

By Annette Hinkle

This weekend, the Hamptons Theatre Company kicks off its 30th anniversary season with a production of “Harvey,” Mary Chase’s 1945 Pulitzer Prize winning comedy.

Which may help explain why last week, director Diana Marbury was running around like crazy hunting down a seemingly random list of unrelated items.

“I’m looking for Zippo lighters and a 1940s chair — it can be older than the 1940s, just not newer,” explained Ms. Marbury who, after nearly 30 years of association with HTC, freely admits to having several “starring sofas” in her home of various styles.

“My house is very eclectic,” she confides.

Chalk it up to another day in the life of a small town community theater company —one in which all involved jump in to do what it takes to get the job done — including the play’s director, for whom it isn’t unusual to be scouring the area for props.

“We all wear so many hats in the theater, it’s such a small group of people who make this happen,” says Ms. Marbury, who is also HTC’s artistic director. “It’s a miracle really.”

When HTC began, it was a community theater without a real home. Instead, productions were presented wherever space could be found. These days, the HTC is the resident theater at the Quogue Community Hall and the company now produces five shows between October and June. Because of its commitment to the community, the company has developed a loyal following and audiences appreciates the fact that HTC sticks around long after the summer folks flee for the winter.

“When we’re coming to the end of one show, we’re auditioning for the next,” says Ms. Marbury. “With the instant gratification people get these days through channel surfing, theater has fallen a bit by the wayside for many people. We’ve been very fortunate because the theater, as it stands today, has a great group of supporters who come to see every show.”

If live theater is the antithesis to on-demand entertainment, then as a play, in many respects “Harvey” is similarly a throwback to simpler times.

Amanda Griemsmann, Pamela Kern and John J. Steele, Jr.  TOM KOCHIE photo.

Amanda Griemsmann, Pamela Kern and John J. Steele, Jr. TOM KOCHIE photo.

“We thought this play was appropriate for the 30th season because it’s a wonderful classic,” says Ms. Marbury. “People are familiar mainly with the movie version, but plays are just so more intimate than film. People feel more of a connection in theater than film.”

“This is a very appealing play because it has such wonderful characters in it,” explains Ms. Marbury. “The basic story is very endearing and touching.”

The play tells the story of Elwood P. Dowd (played in this production by Matthew Conlon) a good natured, but somewhat eccentric man whose constant companion is an invisible six-foot rabbit named “Harvey” which, in Celtic mythology, is what would be referred to as pooka, something like a spirit animal.

“The idea is that you have this being watching over you and letting you know what’s happening next and how it affects the various people around you,” explains Ms. Marbury. “Elwood is kind of an everyman character. He’s very simplistic. He can never have too many friends and is very open to people. This spirit of Harvey has opened people up to him in terms of acceptance and makes people curious and open to discovery.”

As a result, Harvey becomes a devise used by Elwood to test the character of the people he encounters. Those willing to indulge Elwood’s fantasy by accepting the existence of Harvey prove themselves as empathetic and compassion beings. But one individual definitely not amused by the presence of Harvey is Elwood’s own sister Veta (played by Pamela Kern). She worries that Elwood’s over-active imagination will scare away potential suitors for her daughter Myrtle Mae (played by Amanda Griemsmann). As a result, Veta seeks to have her brother committed.

“‘Harvey’ is a test of sorts,” notes Ms. Marbury. “Watching the effects of Harvey on all the various people Elwood encounters is fascinating. There’s this wonderful spirit of being able to be free and not so be so based in reality all the time.”

The play comes to a head at the sanitarium where Elwood is taken to be “cured” of his rabbit delusions. When the medical professionals assure Veta they can make Elwood “normal” with a simple injection, Veta realizes that Elwood, even with his delusional flaws, is at heart a far better human being than most of those whom society would label normal. It’s an endearing message of love and acceptance that Ms. Marbury thinks the audience will appreciate.

“It’s a very warm human story and very simple,” she says. “It’s not a big body farce, it’s a kind of feel good play that warms the heart and brings a big smile to your face. Hopefully there will also be a lot of good laughs.”

Hampton Theatre Company’s production of “Harvey” runs October 23 to November 9 at the Quogue Community Hall, 125 Jessup Avenue. Shows are Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. The Hampton Theatre Company offers special dinner and theater packages in collaboration with the Southampton, Westhampton Beach, Hampton Bays and Quogue libraries. Tickets are $25 ($10 students). Visit hamptontheatre.org for tickets or more information or call OvationTix at 1-866-811-4111.

The cast also includes John Kern, Sebastian Marbury, Krista Kurtzberg, Russell Weisenbacher, John J. Steele, Jr., Doug O’Connor, Catherine Maloney and Martha Kelly. Set design is by Sean Marbury with lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski and costumes by Teresa Lebrun.

 

 

Keanu Reeves Talks About Playing “John Wick”

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By Danny Peary

An action-revenge thriller with a high body count, John Wick opens theatrically this Friday, and the advance word is good.  For the Australian magazine FilmInk, I went on a set-visit in Brooklyn last winter with five other international journalists.  Filming took place outside, in a large parking lot next to an abandoned bank. It was freezing, causing all of us to huddle around a space heaters between takes.  When we could brave the cold, we stood to the side and watched a shoot-out amidst several parked cars, a meticulously choreographed scene that took two days to film.  There was a lot of gunfire and well-dressed thugs fell dying into the mud, ruining their suits, and clearly the victor was the title character played by Keanu Reeves.  Afterward Reeves, in a dark suit and tie and with slick hair that was parted down the middle, sat in a tent getting his makeup reapplied. He wasn’t made up to look handsome.  He emerged with his face covered with scratches, cuts, and blood.  That’s how he looked when we did the following, very informal roundtable at a square table in the unheated building.  I note my questions as I represented FilmInk.

Keanu Reeves in a scene from "John Wick."

Keanu Reeves in a scene from “John Wick.”

Q: What are you shooting today?

Keanu Reeves: My character is trying to get to a Russian crime lord, Viggo, played by Michael Nyqvist.  To find out where he is, he first goes after Viggo’s son Iosef [Alfie Allen] and he has to kill his henchmen.

Q: Talk about your character.

KR: John Wick is a former assassin who worked for Viggo but fell in love and got married and kind of put his past behind him. He literally buried his past, his guns, in his basement. His wife [Bridget Monahan] passes away from an illness and she gives him her dog.  She tells him, you need someone or something to love. John Wick has been robbed of his ability to grieve and to have this kind of hope, but he got this gift from his wife. The son has two henchmen with him and they steal John’s car and kill the dog.  So he seeks revenge. The film plays with worlds. There’s the normal world he has lived in and the underground world from his past that he goes back into.

Q: You’re the protagonist in this, and you’re a cold-blooded killer.

KR: Yeah, it’s pretty Old-Testament. It’s not a New Testament story until, maybe,  the final scenes. The journey starts off, he wants revenge–maybe not revenge, but reclaiming.  Someone’s taken something from him, and instead of saying, Q: You’re the protagonist in this, and you’re a cold-blooded killer.

KR: Okay, I’ll deal with that loss and move on, he’s the kind of person who’ll say, No, you can’t take that from me. John Wick is a little extreme. Viggo describes John as someone you would send after the bogeyman.

Danny Peary: The most dangerous revenge characters are those who have nothing to lose. Does your character at this point have anything to lose?

KR: I guess the deepest and easiest answer is yes, his soul. It’s the good part of him. When this switch goes on with John, I don’t think he reflects a lot about the dark side that he goes into, but I guess if he doesn’t do what he does in the film and he doesn’t reclaim his good side, he’ll be lost in the dark side of death.

DP: With your character, there’s resurrection, but how can he allow his dark nature to take over in order to defeat all these people and still get redemption?

KR: I think it’s because when we first see John, we see the good side of him. He’s with his wife and he’s loved.  He restores old books. He’s a nice guy. I think of him as an orphan who went into the military and kind of got pulled out of the military. That backstory is not spoken about, but hopefully I can transmit that he’s not a monster. Because I feel like he’s relatable. When things that we love are taken away, I think we all strive to protect and reclaim them, so I think in terms of relating to this character and what he does, there’s some wish fulfillment.  If they did that to me, that would be my way of dealing with it! [Laughter] An impulse, a basic impulse.

DP: It’s like peaceful Viggo Mortensen being forced to resort to his old ways in The History of Violence.

KR: Yes. I don’t know, I sympathize with the guy.

Q: What was your weapons training for this?

KR: It’s been fun.  I’ve had some movie gun training in the past, so some of the techniques I was familiar with, but each character I play requires something different so I worked for a while with a gentleman from LAPD SWAT.  I also worked with a guy from the army, because I would be doing different kinds of weapon and tactical techniques.  So it was basically reacquainting myself with weapons and techniques while training new things on the job and trying to get it right under the circumstances. One thing I needed to get right was a tricky holster!

Q: What about training for hand-to-hand combat?

KR: I worked with some very accomplished jujitsu and judo practitioners. I’m very much a beginner, but when I can focus on certain techniques, I can hopefully get pretty good at them.  I hasn’t been easy, and my knees aren’t as fresh as they were ten years ago, but with experience comes efficiency–and I’m a lot more efficient.

Q: When you do something like this, is there an adrenaline rush or something that elevates your excitement levels?

KR: Yeah, this film gives me a lot of opportunities to do action.  They wanted me to not do everything.  The way that they’re filming, they’re doing some inserts but they’re very long takes, and you’re seeing it happen. They want me to do a couple of throws, jujitsu and some judo. Some neat things that I haven’t really haven’t had the chance to do much of before.  So I was excited by that. There are fight sequences when it’s Action!, and you have to go for it.  And there is an adrenaline rush.  But even the scene you saw today, it’s movie fighting.

Q: After months of training and the end of the shoot now, are you exhausted?

KR: I really love this project.  You know, you go into a project with lots of hopes.  We’ve been filming for a couple of months now and the directors, David Leitch and Chad Stahelski, have really realized all that I could hope for. We have a wonderful cinematographer, Jonathan Sela, a great cast, and the right tone for the film, so it’s going to be a unique genre picture.

DP: What do you mean by right tone?

KR: It has a real tone but it’s a hyper-reality.  It’s really hard-boiled. And I like that. It depends on your sense of fun, but for me it’s fun.

Q: Has directing given you a different perspective on the set, as an actor?

KR: Absolutely, and not only on the set.  While it’s definitely everything on the floor in terms of the camera and shooting, I also see things differently in regard to pre-production and post-production, and try to support the directors with everything involved with the picture.

Q: What is your relationship with the directors?

KR: I first worked with Chad when he was a stunt double on The Matrix.  That’s where I met him. We did the Matrix trilogy together. After that, I also worked on pictures with David. They went on to create a company called 8711, which is action design. They did a lot of second unit filming for some really big Hollywood movies. I’d seen their work so on the action side of it, I was really confident and excited about what they could do with the opportunity to direct. Working with them on the script and my character, I felt that they were so creative and understood the material really well.  They’re really collaborative, they pay attention to detail, they know what they want, they accept my help.  For me, it’s everything that I could look for in an actor-director relationship.

Q: What about a sequel for this?

KR: I don’t know, it depends on how they end this version, if I die or not. There’s a question about whether or not John Wick survives. We’ve shot different versions of the ending. John Wick, the Beginning! Yeah, I mean if they wanted to do something like that, I’d be game, hopefully with the same directors. I really enjoyed playing the character.  I still love acting, because every role has variety. Each role, including John Wick, has its puzzle and its journey. I really enjoy figuring it out and going on that journey.