Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why Repulsing the Monkey?

Michel Eichler calls his new play "Repulsing the Monkey" but why?

Repulsing the Monkey is a Tai Chi maneuver. Formally called Step Back and Repulse Monkey, it has been elegantly explained, on "The posture implies the gentle application of energy. Success lies in retreating because you refuse to use strength against strength. Retreat and then wait for the right time to counter-attack."

To find out who's Repulsing the Monkey in a shot-and-beer bar in Pittsburgh, and why, you'll just have to see the show... Tickets are moving well but still available at:

Monday, August 10, 2015

Familiar Faces

Repulsing the Monkey director Kevin Six tells us why he uses certain actors -- a lot.

Kevin Six and Jewell Karinen in the Coffee Shop Chronicles.
I don't think you'll ever hear a director or a producer tell you they had trouble casting a show before it opens. But every director of every production has trouble casting. This is because, as many directors have stated; directing a production is made considerably easier with a good cast.

You hear all the great stories after the show closes and the director and producer look brilliant for having cast a certain actor. But, trust me; they struggled with every casting decision. Any director or producer is going to go a little mad until the cast is just right.

Steve Smith and Laura Bohlin in Simply Sci-Fi.
This is why I have come up with a go-to list.  It's not in writing, there is no actual list, but when I read a play, certain faces and voices take over. When I look to cast, I remember those voices and the good times I've had on stage or giving direction.

With Repulsing the Monkey, we got exactly everyone we wanted for the staged reading. The cast of the full production is not that cast. But -- and this is why I think Theatre is my actual religion -- miracles happened in casting and we got people who are good at what they do, bring tons of experience and talent, and are fun to work with.

Joshua Jones in Calendar Girls.
To me, the most important part is the fun. At a certain level, everyone has talent. When it comes right down to it, I am going to cast the person I know well over the person I don't. This is because I know what their habits are, how they approach a part, and how fun it is to work with them.

Do I get casts full of these familiar faces? No. I've worked with everyone in the cast but some only once. The thing is, if you get a critical mass of good, fun people, your show is going to be better. Better than any show where people had to "make it through" to performance.

For the non theatrical reader, opening night is the time when the director and actors part ways. No more direction, no more notes, no more anything. The director has just got to hope that he/she imparted enough of his/her vision on the cast and that the momentum generated carries the show forward. The Repulsing the Monkey cast is a momentum machine!

Kevin Six and Tyler C. Jiles
I have been lucky enough to cast people I trust in every role; people I have worked with in every role; people you will like (or hate depending on the demands of the part) in every role. I resisted the urge to audition people -- especially because we loved the cast so well after the reading that we offered them first right of refusal.

But who are they? Oh, yes. The cast of Repulsing the Monkey:

Danny the native Pittsburgher -- Steve Smith
Janey his sister -- Laura Bohlin
Dylan the native Californian -- Joshua Jones
Kylie, native Californian Yoga instructor -- Maelyn Gandola
Ethan the native New Yorker -- Tyler C. Jiles
Sophia the uptight native New Yorker -- Jewell Karinen

Repulsing the Monkey, by Michael Eichler, will be performed at the Kensington Club at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays from August 25-September 3, 2015. For tickets visit