Doctor, caterer, therapist, lover. It’s been 217 days since the virus changed their lives. At 6 p.m. (Hawaii time), they’ll meet on ZOOM to discuss a tragic event that connects them all. But will this call tear them apart?
Driven by their mission to support and develop creativity, RiverArts has commissioned an original, innovative play to be performed live on ZOOM on Saturday, October 17 at 8:00 p.m. Written and directed by Hastings-on-Hudson resident, comic author, and playwright Melanie Hoopes (Netflix’s Bloodline, Here’s the Thing hosted by Alec Baldwin), Six Feet is full of tension, intimacy, and a cathartic, biting clarity. It’s a play about confronting emotions that are made more raw, volatile, and intense the more they are confined and shows us what happens when we rely on flat, 2D interactions to communicate things that are so much bigger than the spaces we inhabit.
How does one develop a piece to be aired live during this new normal? What does that creative process look like? Hoopes explained, “Each individual’s experience of living with COVID is vastly different. We have our own personalized combo platter of loss. Some of us are grieving loved ones, some of us have lost jobs or the chance to start new life adventures. Some of us never thought we’d be back living with our parents, yet here we are. What connects us, I imagine, is the loss of ‘the known.’ Certainty is hard to come by as we navigate COVID, a presidential election with so much at stake, the fight against racial injustice and the climate crisis. We’re going through so much together, yet the predominant feeling is that of being alone. I hope that the story and the experience of watching Six Feet will drive out some of the loneliness brought on by these strange, strange times and remind us to look to and lean on one another when our balance fails.”
As Hoopes’ work progressed, she expressed a need for incidental music to support and ground the play. Doug Coe, Artistic Director of RiverArts, immediately thought of composer Steve Horelick. “I’ve known Steve for quite awhile,” Coe said. “He has played in several RiverArts music tours, and I just had a feeling these two creative spirits would work well together. I love bringing creative artists together in collaboration. What I didn’t know is that Melanie’s husband, actor Ed Herbstman (who will also appear in Six Feet) and Steve serve as volunteer firemen together in Hastings.”
The task of creating music for a play differs from writing one’s own compositions. The play dictates certain moods and pacing. Horelick said, “Composing/performing music for theater is a magical collaboration. A music score often provides the emotional context that surreptitiously allows the audience to feel the power of the words and dialog. The best background music is the the music that you don’t remember ever hearing or thinking about. It’s just there doing it’s important yet invisible role of gently guiding the audience along on a theatrical journey.” Horelick will not only compose the score, but will perform it live during the performance.
Six Feet will be presented on Saturday, October 17 at 8:00 p.m.
A ZOOM link will be provided to registrants the day before the performance.
For more information and to Purchase tickets visit: www.riverarts.org.
CAST and CREW:
Jenny Bacon has brought characters to life alongside some of the masters of the American Theater, including Sam Shepard, Tony Kushner, Sarah Ruhl, Theresa Rebeck, Lisa Kron, and David Rabe. She has worked with groundbreaking directors Ivo van Hove, JoAnne Akalaitis, Daniel Aukin, Walter Bobbie, Robert Falls, Mary Zimmerman, Daniel Fish, and others, garnering awards across America and a Herald Angel Award from the Edinburgh Festival. She has appeared on American television playing a variety of unfortunate souls in horrific circumstances, and has had an absolutely wonderful time doing it.
A graduate of Brown University and The Integrative Sound and Music Institute, Anitra Brooks has toured the U.S. and world with Drama Desk Award-nominated puppet performers and masked musicians Big Nazo, Drama Desk Award-nominated “bad-ass masters of vocalogy” Hotmouth, and with Grisha Coleman’s dance and live music performance installation echo::system. In her 20+ years in New York City, she has performed at the Public Theater, Belasco Theater, LaMama, HERE Arts Center, Kraine Theater, Ohio Theatre, National Black Theatre, and other venues. She has also been featured in numerous television and radio commercials, television shows, and soap operas. As a recording artist, she has released two albums of original music: Flood in 2008 and I Walk in Your Light in 2015. She is the co-producer of the community ensemble project and play Where Are We Now?: Race, Pride, Class & Inequity, and teaches Music & Movement at the Greenwich Country Day School. She lives in Cos Cob, Connecticut with her husband and sons. www.anitrabrooks.com
Kelly Coffield Park started her acting career in 1978 at the Emelin Theater in New Rochelle, New York. She is thrilled to be back (virtually) in Westchester County! She is currently Zooming from Los Angeles, where her husband Stephen Park and she are holding down the fort for their kids in college. She is thrilled to be working with Melanie Hoopes again, after being part of Laurie Stanton’s Sound Diet.
Ed Herbstman is an actor and writer originally from Chicago, and is married to director Melanie Hoopes. His credits include the following. Film: Hustlers, The Big Sick, Ode To Joy, Arthur, TV: Manifest, Search Party, Alpha House, Pinkalicious. Theater: Second City TourCo, Laurie Stanton’s Sound Diet, Mantzoukas Brothers, Armando Show. Podcast: The Truth.
Stephen Park was born in Brooklyn, New York to Korean immigrant parents. He began his career as a stand-up comedian in New York City and soon after started acting in the theater. His first film role was as the market owner in Do the Right Thing which led to his next role in Quick Change. Upon moving to Los Angeles, he became a cast member of the sketch comedy television series In Living Color during the 1991-1992 season where he met fellow cast member Kelly Coffield, who eventually became his wife (and his castmate again in this show!). Stephen has been is such iconic movies as the Coen Brothers’ Fargo and A Serious Man, as well as Bong Joon-ho’s Snowpiercer. He is in Wes Anderson’s soon-to-be released movie The French Dispatch.
Jean Villepique left New Jersey to study theater and improvisation at Northwestern University. She stayed in Chicago, pursuing improv at the former ImprovOlympic theater, studying with Del Close, and then was hired by The Second City, Chicago. She wrote and performed in five reviews there before moving to New York. There she performed at the UCB and Magnet theaters before moving again to LA. TV/Film credits include The Office, 30 Rock, Sharp Objects, Better Call Saul, and Jean can currently be seen as Michelle Jones on AP Bio, streaming on the Peacock platform.
Nick Wyman is an award-winning actor who has acted in a dozen feature films and sixteen Broadway shows, most recently Network with Bryan Cranston. He was part of the original cast of The Phantom of the Opera, spent six years as Thenardier in Les Miserables, and performed in many other on-stage roles. Film credits include Die Hard With a Vengeance, Maid in Manhattan, and Planes, Trains and Automobiles. He has also appeared in television in Boardwalk Empire, VEEP, Elementary, and The Good Wife, among others. He served as President of Actors’ Equity for five years and his show-business how-to-book, Climbing Rejection Mountain was just published this summer.
WRITER and DIRECTOR
Melanie Hoopes writes for screen, radio/podcast and stage. Her credits include Bloodline (Netflix), This American Life, Lethal Lit (IHeartRadio/EEP), One Giant Leap: The Apollo Moon Landing 50 Years On (New York Times), Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing, and Unfictional. She is the creator of the long-running New York-based live episodic stage show, Laurie Stanton’s Sound Diet, a dark, modern twist on Prairie Home Companion.
Steve Horelick’s immersive, surround performances have entranced audiences from San Francisco to Berlin. His music with its glistening harmonies, evolving textures, and echoing rhythms is influenced by waves, eddies, spirals, harmonigraphics, and Fibonacci ratios. Steve’s main instruments are ones designed by the great instrument maker Donald Buchla, who designed Steve’s first “Buchla” in 1976. This way, Steve creates rich audio soundscapes filled with intricately shifting timbres and cascading rhythms.
Jeremy dePrisco has worked with children’s programming (Rainbow’s End Theatre Co.) and continued a decade’s long collaboration as sound designer/composer for director/writer Dr. Stephen Schrum (Penn State University, University of Charleston, Pitt-Greensburg Theatre Co.). Throughout the 2000s, Jeremy worked with the Bloomsburg University Alumni Players as sound designer for their summer murder mysteries with director James Slusser. Jeremy also contributed original music for Compassion Moves, a combined dance/poetry/music performance directed by Anthony Ferro. Jeremy has written grants, and supported organizations with live events (Noboborsho, Philadelphia Maker Faire 2019, Electro-Music.com). As a producer/engineer, Jeremy has recorded bands/soloists and released his own music as an independent artist. Most recently has ventured into the world of video synthesis and now offers his talents for streaming events.
ASSISTANT TECHNICAL DIRECTOR
Josh Govier is an audio video tech from Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. He has a strong passion for technology, the arts and all of the places that they intersect. He is a longstanding friend of RiverArts, first starting as a student, he has gone on to serve as a Videographer, Sound Recordist, and Music Tour Associate Producer.
In September 2018, Marie-Louise directed the interdisciplinary art performance project, Braiding. The show took two years to develop, was a RiverArts production and supported by an NEA grant. Braiding included 15 artists from 5 disciplines. Marie-Louise has studied directing and acting at the British American Drama Academy, the Royal Court, and Northwestern University where she earned her MFA. Ms. Miller worked as an assistant director with several theaters in West Germany. After the Wall fell, she was the first American with The Staatstheater in Dresden, Germany. She went on to do experimental work in East Berlin, and study directing at Ernst Busch Academy in East Berlin. In the US, she worked with playwright/ director Craig Lucas at NYC’s Rattlestick Theater and NY Theater Workshops, and for the renowned Romanian director Liviu Ciulei at the Seattle Repertory Theater. She has directed 24-hour musicals and been part of the SoHo director’s lab and Lincoln Center’s Director’s Lab. She has taught improvisation, acting/writing for the camera, character development, scene study, and movement. She has also created dynamic classes exploring inner voice through story writing, performance, and drawing.