AUDIENCE EAVESDROPS ON SECRET PHONE CONVERSATIONS IN NEWEST PRODUCTION BY PLAYWRIGHT BARRIE COLE
“Reverse Gossip” opens April 26; Premiere Production in
Walnut Spaceship Studio, Bridgeport Arts Center
Barrie Cole pictured, Photo credit: Jen Moniz
Playwright Barrie Cole was intrigued by one-sided phone conversations in public spaces, but felt they could be juicier for those who enjoy eavesdropping (who doesn’t?). That is the inspiration for “Reverse Gossip” written by Cole and directed by Jen Moniz. “Reverse Gossip” opens April 26 and is the inaugural production at and by Walnut Spaceship Studio, Bridgeport Arts Center, 1200 W. 35th Street, Suite 1430 “Reverse Gossip” runs through May 11 with performances on Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 and are available at ReverseGossip.BrownPaperTickets.com.
“Reverse Gossip” began in 2014 when Cole wrote a series of monologues meant to function as one side of a telephone conversation. Working with her longtime collaborator and director Moniz, they enlisted dozens of actors, photographers and videographers to participate in the public performance of these monologues on the city’s transit system. They took to the trains and conducted a wide ranging live performance experiment multiple times over the course of a two year period. In 2017, the first staged version of this monologue project premiered at the Prop Theatre as part of the Rhinoceros Theater Festival.
“Riding public transit, it’s impossible to not overhear phone conversations,” Cole said. “But usually those conversations were about mundane things. I wanted to hear conversations that were funny or strange, conversations about looking, feeling, and being human, conversations about making sense of the world so I decided to write some and I thought they might make an interesting performance. I thought what if phones, which usually distance people on the train from each other, could be used to bring people together instead?”
For this production of “Reverse Gossip” the audience is seated as if on a train to submerse the viewers into the voyeuristic experience. “Reverse Gossip” is performed by Brook Celeste, KellyAnn Corcoran, Cat Jarboe, T-Roy Martin, Ira Murfin, Briavael O’Reilly, Robert Puccinelli, Miles Oliver Sennett, and Vicki Walden.
Walnut Spaceship Studio is a new performance venue and production company operating out of Bridgeport Arts Center. The venue is curated and operated by Paul Leisen, who is also the producer for “Reverse Gossip”.
Tickets are $20 and are available at ReverseGossip.BrownPaperTickets.com There is free parking in a lot and on the street. There is an industry night on Monday, May 6 at 8 p.m. and a pay-what-you-can option at the door.
Brook Celeste (actor) performs regularly at Prop Thtr and with Curious Theater Branch. She recently played the deranged and spectacular Hosty Bodine in Savannah Reich’s “Pestilence: Wow!”
Barrie Cole (playwright) is a playwright, writer, and performer. Some of her plays include: “Reality is an Activity”, “Meaning is Tricky”, “Elevator Tours”, “Fruit Tree Backpack”, “I Love You Permanently”, “Clumsy Sublime”, “To Relax and Laugh”, “Something Made Up”, “Peacock Jazz” and many others. Also a writer of multiple essays, short stories, and performance works, she has performed or read her work at many live literary events and venues around town including: Write Club, Story Sessions, Essay Fiesta, Paper Machete, This Much is True, Truth or Lie, and more. Earlier this year she performed a collection of solo pieces, entitled “Language Can Fly” at the Prop Theatre.
KellyAnn Corcoran (actor) has been acting directing and writing in Chicago theater since 1992. Most recently she directed, “The True Cost” for Still Point Theater Collective and is currently performing in “BiPolar Bitch.” Her essays can be found on Wattpad.com and Medium.com.
Cat Jarboe (actor) a performer that uses public transportation on a frequent basis with wildly mixed feelings. She can usually be seen walking to stations and scowling. She is very humbled to be a part of this production with such a talented group of rascals.
Paul Leisen (producer) is a designer, academic philosopher, and developer. He carries a BS in Speech/Theatre from Northwestern University, and has a background in Chicago fringe theatre performance, and design. He has worked with the Curious Theatre Branch, Theatre Oobleck, and the Rhinoceros Theatre Festival. He recently designed and built the Dollop Coffee empire, and earned his PhD in social political Philosophy from Loyola University.
T-Roy Martin (actor) is a musician and actor. He is a founding member of The Billy Goat Experiment Theatre Company, a member of The Curious Theatre Branch, and has worked with Theatre Oobleck, Prop Theatre, Teatro Vista, and other companies around the city. He strums and sings with the bands 80 Foots and The Crooked Mouth.
Jen Moniz (director) is a theatrical director, producer, and stage manager. She has collaborated with Barrie Cole on a number of projects, including the original productions of “Reality is an Activity”, “Meaning is Tricky”, “Elevator Tours”, “Clumsy Sublime”, and a remount of “To Relax and Laugh”. In 2015, she began collaborating with Cole on a guerilla performance art project which evolved into this staging.
Ira S. Murfin (actor) is a theatre and performance scholar, artist, and public programmer. He is currently Assistant Director for Programming with the Guild Literary Complex, a PreAmble Scholar at Chicago Shakespeare Theater, and performance editor for the journal Requited. Critical and scholarly publications include Performance Research, Journal of American Drama & Theatre, Theatre Topics, andTheatre Journal. His performance work has been presented by MCA Chicago, Links Hall, Rhinoceros Theatre Festival, Chicago Cultural Center, Block Museum of Art, Tritriangle, and Sector 2337, among other places. He holds the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre & Drama from Northwestern University and an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Briavael O’Reilly (actor) has been doing theater in some form for most of her life and was most recently seen in “The Skriker” at the Rhinoceros Theater Festival. She invites you to eavesdrop on her weekly as Bri the Barefoot DJ on CHIRP Radio. Catch O’Reilly next onstage this fall with Curious Theater Branch.
Robert Puccinelli (actor) has been involved in this project since it was performed on trains throughout the city. He is an actor, stand-up comedian, filmmaker, photographer, and adjunct professor of digital media at Depaul University where he also received his MFA.
Miles Oliver Sennett (actor), originally from the Pacific Northwest, has close ties with Prop Thtr where he most recently house managed "2 Unfortunate 2 Travel" directed by Zach Wineberg. On stage he often performs under the name Steak Richardson, a pseudonym for his self described "Neo Western" found text performance art act. Steak has performed in Portland, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Chicago and has collaborated with Adult Swim's David Lieba Hart. Additionally, he currently hosts "I Hate Mondays", a monthly presentation of short new experimental work by a variety of up and coming artists.
Vicki Walden (actor) is an ensemble member of Curious Theatre Branch, where her most recent credits include: “(Not) Another Day”, “One Boppa”, “Ionesco’s Rhinoceros”, and “March!”. She appeared in Cole’s “Reality is an Activity” and “Clumsy Sublime”. Walden has performed in a host of shows as an ensemble member of Cook County Theatre Department, Lucky Pierre, and DOG, a theater company. She also plays bass in The Crooked Mouth.