Jenn Haltman and Becca Schneider on Between Two Boroughs, and their production of Charise Greene's Cannibal Galaxy: a love story / by Declan Maloney Drummond

Cannibal Galaxy featuring Becca Schneider and Dominic F. Russo Photo credit Maria Baranova.jpg

Can you tell us a little bit about the mission of Between Two Boroughs, and how the company came to be?

Becca: Jenn and I started working together almost by accident. Back in 2013, a friend and I worked on a scene from Theresa Rebeck’s The Understudy for an alumni event with our alma mater, Muhlenberg College. It went really well, and afterward, I didn’t understand why that had to be the end of it. So I decided to figure out how to produce it, and that night at the after-party, I asked Jenn if she wanted to direct and make it happen with me.

Jenn: We had our first production meeting the next morning, and seven months later in May of 2014, we had a one-weekend run at the Secret Theatre in Long Island City.

Becca: After that experience was so successful and we learned that we worked well together, we dove right into producing our second show the following year, Charles Mee’s Summertime, at the Gowanus Loft in Brooklyn.

Jenn: It was during the early development of our current production, Cannibal Galaxy: a love story, that we finally worked out our core mission statement, which boils down to the idea that we choose projects that scare us – as producers, as a director, and Becca as an actor. We’re not interested in playing it safe or easy. We foster a community of artists who are willing to take risks, and we aim to incite conversation about our world.

How did you connect with Charise Greene, and what drew you to Cannibal Galaxy: a love story?

Becca: I’ve been friends with Charise for six years or so and introduced her to Jenn when we went to see her in a Blessed Unrest production.

Jenn: We’d been looking for our next project and knew we ideally wanted to produce a new play.

Becca: I had actually read Charise’s play a while back and asked her if Jenn could read it, too.

Jenn: And just under two years ago, we all sat down to talk about possibly working together.

Becca: As for what drew us to the play...I mean, what doesn’t? It’s Caryl Churchill meets Charles Mee, but it’s Charise’s voice through and through.

Jenn: We had been very interested in working on something with cultural and political relevance. And this piece also falls into the category of “impossible plays” which fits our mission statement beautifully. And the stage directions! Who wouldn’t want to try and tackle “Eloise explodes into stars” or “the vending machine comes alive”?

How has the casting and development process been, and how involved has the playwright been?

Jenn: Our development process started with two readings in the fall of 2016 followed by two movement workshops in the spring and summer of 2017. We had auditions back in March and started rehearsals in the beginning of May. Being a casting director by trade, I had already compiled a great list of people I knew I wanted to bring in, and I’m always excited to meet new actors through the casting process. It’s also an amazing thing to be able to wear the director’s hat, because at the end of the day, I have a lot more say in the room.

Becca: Charise has been very involved since the beginning, from development to casting to tech. She came to a full week of tablework so we could all work through the script together, and then we sent her away for a couple of weeks so we could put the play on its feet. 

What do you hope that the audience takes away from this play?

Becca: I hope people walk away feeling things that might have been buried or numbed recently because of what’s happening in our country. I want this piece to assist in starting a dialogue, but ultimately, I would love it if people left feeling moved.

Jenn: In addition to that, I hope audiences see that we can laugh through difficult situations. In fact, it’s healthy. I personally think it’s quite necessary, but then again, I basically perform stand-up any time I go to the doctor.

What’s next for the future of Between Two Boroughs?

Becca: We both need a vacation.

Jenn: Oh yeah!

Becca: This production took a lot out of us, so we’ll take a little time off. Regroup.

Jenn: Plus I’m getting married this summer.

Becca: And I’m officiating! So really, that’s our next Between Two Boroughs production.

Cannibal Galaxy: a love story is playing at The New Ohio Theatre till June 17th.

For tickets: https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pr/991113

 

Cannibal Galaxy featuring Becca Schneider, Jason C. Brown, Dominic F. Russo, Olivia Oguma, and Robin Galloway Photo credit Maria Baranova.jpg