Zack Calhoon interviewed several Queerly Festival participants for his series “People You Should Know!” We’ve pulled some especially interesting bits here and encourage you to read the full pieces.
Name: Carole Montgomery
Show: Funny Never Gets Old
When did you know that you wanted to be a performer and director?
Since I was about 8 or 9, for being a performer. I decided to become a director after I got much older as I saw my comedy gigs starting to dwindle because of my age. Full interview Name: Maggie Metnick Show: Man Up Who or what has been the biggest influence on your work as an actor thus far?
My biggest influence would probably be old Commedia dell’arte shorts my professors made me watch in college. The character in Man Up is inspired by Stephen Colbert and Matt Berry. More recently I’ve been inspired by Maria Bamford. Full interview Name: Cassel Show: JOSIAH How have you been holding up during the pandemic?
I am coming around now. . . . The pain of ripping off the Band-Aid of gas lighting is waning as I come to terms with the racial indiscretions and degradations endured that had been subdued or dismissed because, well, I bought into the lie that there was no racism in Canada; we were not like the States. We were just about to begin a tour of JOSIAH when we were all locked down. Uncertain of the duration of this inconvenience, there was still hope to continue the touring. Then George Floyd was murdered and all hell broke loose. We realized that this “Covid thing” was serious and that it was going to last for a while. Black Lives Matter burst into our collective consciousness, and the curtain of lies concealing the morally decrepit wizardry was pulled back to reveal the naked deformity of systemic racism. With time to focus intently on the current issues, I began to understand that I had drunk the Kool-Aid; liters of it. Memories of the past fifty years of living in Canada (we left Jamaica on my seventh birthday) began to resurface. . . . I was angry, depressed and confused for about a year and then, through the show, it began to change. I began to realize that it was pointless for me to sit and stew in my anger and that I had this viable vehicle that addresses the very nature of these disturbing issues. Pandemic restrictions began to lift. Third vaccinations were administered and we could begin to hope again a little. That was enough to jump full swing into the show and find a way to use it to spread the word about Josiah Henson, and how, though not directly enslaved, we are still facing similar issues of race discrimination, hate crimes, police brutality, inequity and injustice. Full interview Name: Lena Horné Show: Come What May: An Evening With Lena Horné Tell me about Come What May. What do you love most about working on the show?
“Come What May” is a lens into my spirit. The music and lyrics were all carefully curated by me to take the audience on a journey, a journey from my digital beginnings in drag all the way to this beautiful moment at the Queerly Festival. I’m in love with the surprises along the way. The chords that grab me from time to time, painting an even more detailed picture than I ever could. The smiles as I reminisce in the moment. The vulnerability I didn’t know I had. Full interview Name: Sam Kaseta Show: KINGS When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? I’ve wanted to be a writer and composer since I was very young. Writing was my escape from a young age, when I always cast myself as the knight in shining armor – or alternatively, as the gender-confused outcast. In terms of music, I remember sounding out church hymns on our electric keyboard and analyzing what made the songs sound a certain way. This habit continues in my current practice of score study. Full interview Name: Marie Anello Show: Spektorology Tell me about Spektorology. What do you love most about working on the show?
What I’ve loved most about working on this show is realizing that I could actually pull it off! This has been the culmination of so many years of learning how to say yes to my own creative instincts. I’d always dreamed of building a show around Regina Spektor’s music, but I kept finding excuses not to pursue it (It’s too weird! I should do something more mainstream! I’m not ready! Etc, etc.). Suddenly, the minute I committed to doing the show, all the pieces started falling into place right away. My collaborators Chevy Lace and Stephen Murphy jumped in with so much enthusiasm and their support really helped me realize that I was actually going to be able to make this show what I wanted it to be. This whole process has really taught me how to get out of my own way and do the dang thing! Full Interview Name: Fortune Cookie Show: Books and Burlesque: An Evening of Lore & Allure What else are you working on right now?
I am working on trying to incorporate my two ridiculously cute purebred ragdoll cats into a burlesque show somehow but I need to first find a venue that will allow live animals. I am also working on finishing some short stories to submit for publication and planning to read a mountain of books this summer as I work on dreaming up the next BOOKS AND BURLESQUE show with my co-producer Rosie Tulips. Full Interview Outside of “People You Should Know,” Queerly curator, FRIGID staff member Jimmy Lovett, was interviewed for Hollywood Soapbox. Name: Jimmy Lovett Show: None of them or all of them, depending on how you look at it How important is it for the arts to celebrate Pride month (and Pride throughout the year)? Queer culture and the arts have heavily overlapped for a long time, especially in the New York theatre and arts scene. The arts have provided an avenue for queer people to express themselves for generations, even when that expression had to be coded or metaphorical. Theatre is a space where it’s more socially acceptable to explore identity and emotion, and theatre in the Village in particular provided a sanctuary for countless queer people over the years. Celebration of queerness in theatre is also meaningful to me personally. As a queer person I have met so many other queer people through my work in the theatre. It’s a place where I’ve made friends and found community. The Queerly Festival gets to help other queer artists find that community as well. Honestly I’m not sure where Pride would be without the arts. The clothes and costumes, the parade floats and the music, the dancing and the drag shows — all of these are art. Even banners and signs held high in protest of the treatment of LGBTQAI+ people are a kind of art. Art is how we express ourselves and how we share our stories, and queer representation matters. Full interview
As the first week of the 8th annual Queerly Festival draws to a close, we updated this roundup of press the fest is getting. We also had some of our artists interviewed, which you can read more about here. TDF featured not one, but two FRIGID Festivals in their list “10 Summer Theatre Festivals to Try in NYC,” Queerly and The Fire This Time! Of Queerly they wrote, “Put on your lavender-colored glasses for FRIGID New York’s eighth annual Queerly Festival, a grab bag of solo shows, stand-up, improv, drag, even a ditty called Big Gay Love Story, the Musical.” They also shouted out Funny Never Gets Old, Jackson Sturkey and the Big Turn On, and As Sylvia. In their June 9th article, “GO Out! The Hottest NYC Pride Events & Beyond 2022,” GOMAG: the Cultural Roadmap for City Girls Everywhere featured several of our shows. Shoutouts went out to Funny Never Gets Old, As Sylvia, Man Up, Big Gay Love Story, the Musical, and Thank You for Coming Out. Hosts Meghan and Holly of the Thesis On Joan podcast put out an episode all out queer-central shows to catch during pride! listen to the whole thing to really fill out your calendar or jump to 01:02:10 to hear about Queerly, including shoutouts to As Sylvia, Books and Burlesque, and Kings. Listen here. Thinking Theater NYC: News and reviews from New York City’s off-Broadway and independent theater scene, a blog run by local college professors, shared the entire festival lineup with their readers! Check it out here. In their post “June 2022 New York Theater Openings” New York Theater by Jonathan Mandell included the opening of the festival with special shoutouts to Big Gay Love Story, the Musical, Come What May, and As You Will. TimeOut New York officially recommends Queerly! They also featured Queerly in their “Things to Do in NYC This Weekend” roundup for June 17!-19th. Broadway World was ahead of the curve, posting the festival lineup back in May, in their article “FRIGID New York to Present 8th Annual Queerly Festival.” Big Gay Love Story, the Musical even got their own feature!
TimeOut says: Frigid New York hosts this annual showcase of subversive LGBTQ comedy, storytelling, short film and theater, curated by Jimmy Lovett. Offerings include an improvised showing of As You Will by William Shakespeare, a drag show “Come What May: An Evening with Lena Horné,” a drag king special based on the lives of the so-called “Great Men of History,” and “Thank You For Coming Out,” an intentional space where the performers know their queerness is the superpower of the scene and not the joke. See the full piece here.
NJ Agwuna, who directed the world premier of Megan Bandelt’s what she found at the 12th Annual FRIGID Festival in 2018 has been awarded a fellowship in film and television directing from the Drama League. Chloe Rabinowitz for Broadway World reports: “Selected from hundreds of applicants worldwide, they will be publicly introduced to the professional theater community during the 88th Annual Drama League Awards, which will be held on Friday, May 20, 2022 at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City. More information can be found at www.dramaleague.org.” Read more about the 2022 Drama League Directors Project Recipients here. Read more about what she found here.
by Stephi Wild for Broadway World Join us for The Squirrel’s presentation of America’s longest running talk show that’s somehow still on, Gut Reaction Live, with this episode’s host, Avery Meow-Mix (Laura Ornella). This episode breaks down the events in Topeka, Kansas, where the unthinkable has happened: Someone stole the teacher’s prized broach during a field trip to the local waste treatment facility. Who could do such a horrible thing? Fear not, because Gut Reaction Live is here to pick up the pieces and investigate the truth. At the reins of this hour-long talk show on the fritz is new daytime host (the show just can’t seem to hold down a host for very long!) and narrative genius Avery Meow-Mix, and she’s asking the important questions. As a series of live interviews unfold, get to know the eyewitnesses, students, teachers, workers, and passersby who were at the scene of the crime that fateful field trip. Meow-Mix is everything you want in a daytime TV host: nosy, unhinged, and willing to put in the work to get to the bottom of the situation! It’s just too bad everyone quits this show because they can’t handle its twists and turns. Part improv, part characters, and 100% antics, this show masterfully turns the quotidian into hilariously high drama. Read the full article here.
By Stephi Wild for Broadway World On February 10, 2022 New York City’s Obie Award-winning The Fire This Time Festival will release an anthology entitled 25 Plays from The Fire This Time Festival: A Decade of Recognition, Resistance, Resilience, Rebirth and Black Theatre. The book, published by Methuen Drama an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing, contains 25 10-minute plays originally produced by the eponymous festival, which has become the destination for emerging and early career playwrights from the African diaspora. While the past decade proved to be some of the most tumultuous times in modern US history, the resilience and will of the Black community has continually pushed forward by opening up dialogues and sustaining advocacy. Nowhere has this been more apparent than at the Obie Award-winning The Fire This Time Festival in New York City. From inequality in education and healthcare, skewed and negative images of Black people in mainstream media, racism in policing, widespread gentrification and its effects on multi-generational Black neighborhoods, and the growth of Black love, The Fire This Time Festival was there and has borne witness. This page in their Black history is now documented in the pages of this anthology. Together, these pieces bookend the Black experience in the U.S. from 2009 to the present day: from the hope for further progress and equity under the Obama administration, to the existential threat faced by Black people under the Trump presidency. Click to read the full article.
New York City – Nov 2021 — FRIGID New York is happy to welcome our new Resident Artistic Director, Kevin R. Free, an old friend of the family from the early Horse Trade days. Kevin has been the Producing Artistic Director of The Fire This Time festival, the curator of our Queerly festival; he started The Reparations show together with FRIGID in the summer of 2020, sponsored this fall by a NYSCA REstart NY Grant and we are very happy to be taking our professional relationship to a new level this season.
Kevin R. Free has been an actor in over 100 professional productions, director of over 30 professional, semi-professional, and educational theater productions, narrator of over 400 Audiobooks, the voice of Kevin on “Welcome to Night Vale,” voice of Terry Elder on “Give Me Away,” Resident Artistic Director, Frigid New York, co-creator and star of award-winning web series “Gemma & The Bear!” former Producing Artistic Director of Obie Award-winning Fire This Time Festival, former Curator of Queerly Festival. SemiFinalist, Eugene O’Neill Playwrights Conference, 2013, Doric Wilson Independent Playwright, 2014, FluxForward 2015, FringeNYC Overall Excellence in Playwriting, 2016, NYSX Diversity Cohort 2018. www.kevinrfree.com; @kevinrfree
Kevin will be directing FRIGID New York’s Resident program, Including Something From Abroad, another NYSCA REstart NY Grand recipient; Infinite Variety Productions, currently embarking on a small Italian tour; and Saudade Theatre the first and only theatre company in the United States dedicated to producing original and thought-provoking work grounded in the Portuguese-American consciousness.
Kevin will be stepping into the role vacated by Kelley N. Girod, FRIGID’s new board president and The Apollo Theatre’s new Director of New Works. We wish Kelley the best in her amazing new job and look forward to taking yet another professional relationship to a new level.
FRIGID New York will present the 10th Annual Gotham Storytelling Festival at The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery), November 2-14. Performances will also be available to livestream from home. Tickets are available on a sliding scale ($20 in-person; $15 online, suggested) and are available for advance purchase at www.frigid.nyc/tags/gotham. Not even an ongoing pandemic can stop the tenth annual Gotham Storytelling Festival! This year’s fest is sure to touch on the good, the bad, and the most outrageous of 2021. Whether you’re looking to escape into someone else’s story, to commiserate with an artist, or to dive into what makes this year so insufferable, Gotham has something for you. Join legendary hitters and new friends for an international event that’s sure to alleviate some of the year’s aches. Read more at Broadwayworld.com!
By Dan Meyer for Playbill Zhailon Levingston (Jenny Anderson) The lineup for the 13th annual The Fire This Time Festival, inspired by James Baldwin and his novel The Fire This Time, has been revealed. Zhailon Levingston (Chicken & Biscuits) will direct six world premiere short plays written by Agyeiwaa Asante, Rachel Herron, Fedna Jacquet, Marcus Scott, Phillip Christian Smith, and Lisa Rosetta Strum. Presented by Frigid New York at The Kraine Theatre, The Fire This Time will run January 17–February 6, 2022, with performances also available to live stream. The festival was founded in 2009 by Kelley Girod to provide a platform for playwrights of African and African-American descent to write and produce evocative material for diverse audiences. Click to read the full article.