top ten local podcasts of 2019
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Laura Ekstrand, Artistic Director of Vivid Stage, formerly known as Dreamcatcher Rep, in Summit, New Jersey, explores what it means to make art and culture in New Jersey.
Join her for smart, thoughtful conversations with local actors, playwrights, directors, and arts professionals.
May 2021 | Season 3; Episode 7: Joe Sutton - Storytelling Through Captured Human Behavior
On the season finale of Local, Laura chats with the incredibly talented Joe Sutton. They talk about his return to New Jersey, his native New Yorker bias against the Garden State, and overcoming the Jersey stigma to fall in love with Montclair. Joe went to grad school as a director, but almost immediately realized that artistic opportunities were greater as a playwright. Within years of leaving grad school, he was writing plays professionally and seeing them produced. Laura and Joe then dive deep into the art and craft of playwriting. Joe talks about putting his own personal life and psychology into his work, from the more extreme to the more realistic, and the relationship between stage directions and the visual world of the play. Also, what to do about those plays in the drawer...
Don’t miss Joe's Twirl play reading!
April 2021 | Season 3; Episode 6: Daria M. Sullivan - I Want to Learn as Many of the Things…
On the April podcast we’re joined by Dreamcatcher Rep company member Daria M. Sullivan — the M is important, don’t forget the M! Laura and Daria talk about how they first met, racism in the acting industry, the audition grind, and the challenges and triumphs of discovering your voice as an artist. Don’t miss Daria this month in Everything is Super Great: A Comedy, opening April 29, 2021, and as Madame 6 in the ongoing webseries Together Apart.
Don’t miss Daria as Six in Together Apart!
March 2021 | Season 3; Episode 5: Jason Szamreta - We are not just ONE thing
This month on Local, Laura talks with Dreamcatcher Rep company member Jason Szamreta. In this fun, light-hearted interview, they get deep into what makes Jason tick and what makes him fulfilled — including his enthusiastic eating. Jason discusses his decision to enter the field of social work in addition to acting, and how the two fields inform each other. They remember some favorite moments working together at Dreamcatcher, and look ahead to Jason’s role as Lil Nephew Balki in Dreamcatcher’s forthcoming web series Together Apart.
Don’t miss Jason as Nephew Balkie in Together Apart!
February 2021 | Season 3; Episode 4: Jeff Knapp - Come In and Make the Noises
Local is back! And to kick off the new year, Laura sits down with Dreamcatcher Rep’s resident Sound Designer Jeff Knapp. In this fascinating and intimate interview, Jeff talks his college radio DJ days, being a theater student at a school without a theater, and his infamous appearance in The Sound of Music as “Captain Von Knapp.” He goes on to talk being a theatre sound designer in the pandemic — from his foley work in Ways to Be Happy, to recording in-studio for the upcoming cabaret Kindred Spirits.
December 2020 | Season 3; Episode 3: Jessica F. Baskerville
Jessica F. Baskerville is a playwright based in New Jersey. She joins Laura for a fascinating and wide-sweeping conversation, covering the personal, political, and the life and work of a young creative whose work thus far has been intimately focused on community and sotries in New Jersey. Jessica tells Laura about attending Whitney Houston Academy in East Orange where she was a middle school drama major, making her way with determination back to New Jersey for college after attending high school in Maryland, and some of the projects she’s produced since graduating from Montclair State University. Jessica has delved into history and themes of community, culture, and race, her work has been produced at Luna Stage, Montclair’s Undoing Racism Committee, and in December she premieres a one-act play part of Dreamcatcher’s Holiday Bites. This conversation is not to be missed, and Jessica F. Baskerville is a name and a voice that we’re so pleased to get to know.
October 2020 | Season 3; Episode 2: David Lee White: It's My Medium
In this episode, Laura is joined by playwright and educator David Lee White. A longtime friend and frequent Dreamcatcher collaborator, David has worked with theatres and theatre programs across the New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania area. And this month with Dreamcatcher, we're thrilled to be virtually premiering David Lee White's audio play Ways to Be Happy.
David and Laura share a warm and lively conversation ”socially distanced on the Dreamcatcher stage” about the challenge of trying to write the current moment, how he first started writing Ways to Be Happy in grad school and how it was developed since, the welcome respite of taking a laugh break, and what his 10-year-old son thinks of his life and work as a playwright. We're so happy to share this conversation with the wonderful David Lee White and we invite you to join the conversation and tell us what you do to recharge and find happiness.
September 2020 | Season 3; Episode 1: Deonté Griffin-Quick: Envisioning What's Possible
In this first episode of Season 3, actor, singer, arts administrator, and advocate Deonté Griffin-Quick joins Laura. Hear Deonté discuss how he made his way into arts administration, how he uses his voice to advocate for diversity and equity in the arts, and how important it is for him to continue flexing his creativity as a performer.
September 2019 | Season 2; Episode 1: Betsy True: Art Informs Art Informs Art
On the season 2 premiere of Local, Laura sits down with powerhouse of the New Jersey theatre scene Betsy True. Betsy talks her love of working on new plays, the importance of respect and trust in artistic collaboration, and all of the many ways her artistic expression comes to life, now and throughout her career -- directing, teaching, singing, writing, and more. Don't miss this thoughtful, intimate conversation!
October 2019 | Season 2; Episode 2: Emaline Williams: Tilling the Garden
Emaline Williams is a charming, smart presence you can find in theaters all over New York and New Jersey, including at Dreamcatcher Rep and Centenary Stage Company, as well as in film and commercials. Hers is a face you see around Dreamcatcher Rep a lot — helping us run smoothly behind the scenes and lighting up our stage in some of this season’s upcoming programming. Learn more about her story as a young actor in New Jersey, the pros and cons of joining the union early, and all of the sleep she doesn’t get while pursuing a life in the theatre.
Learn more about Emaline:
November 2019 | Season 2; Episode 3: Jeff Ertz: The Art of Throwing Pickles
Jeff Ertz is a NJ-based singer-songwriter, who has been featured on ABC’s ‘A Million Little Things,’ NPR’s ‘Reveal,’ as well as right here, because he composed the theme song for Local. In this episode of Local, Jeff tells the story of his music, and how he found his way into a creative and technology-driven career in post-production. He wears many hats and has gained experience and expertise in a variety of production and post-production roles, including editing documentaries, post-supervising feature films, sound design, sound mixing, and more. Hear how storytelling is the thing that drives everything he does, and how making music keeps him sane.
Learn more about Jeff:
Music by Jeff Ertz & John Todd
February 2020 | Season 2; Episode 4: Nicole Callender: Mind, Heart, and Body
This month Laura sits down with Nicole Callender—stunt coordinator, stuntwoman, intimacy coordinator, and actress—for a fascinating and inspiring conversation. Hear how the past 25 years have led Nicole to this unique moment in her career and family life, how she shows up for all aspects of her life—and how acting feels like coming home.
March 2020 | Season 2; Episode 5: Julian Blake Gordon: Big Stupid Choices
This month Laura sits down with Julian Blake Gordon, an actor, classical pianist, and writer. Hear how Julian went from despising theatre to being a professional actor, how he experiences being a musician versus being an actor, and the importance of finding community and collaboration as an artist.
May 2020 | Season 2; Episode 6: Steve Harper: When I grow up I want to be BUSY
In this episode of Local, Laura turns to Zoom for a conversation with her college pal Steve Harper.
Steve is a producer on the CBS show God Friended Me, a co-producer on the HBO Max series Tell Me Your Secrets, and writer and creator of the original web series Send Me.
They discuss his work acting, writing, networking, and building connections and brand. They delve deep into the differences between writing for TV and writing for the stage, and discuss his side passion for life coaching.
Learn more about Steve at http://www.harpercreates.com
Music by Jeff Ertz & John Todd
June 2020 | Season 2; Episode 7: George Maull: Connect to the Music
In the final episode of season 2, Laura is joined via Zoom by George Marriner Maull, Artistic Director of the Discovery Orchestra. Maestro Maull is a conductor, violist, television host, and music educator.
Laura and Maestro Maull have an illuminating conversation on a range of topics, including how he founded the Discovery Orchestra and why the orchestra is so committed to teaching audiences the listening skills to viscerally connect to classical music. They touch on the history of recorded music, the current state of live performance, and their hopes for the future.
Music by Jeff Ertz & John Todd
Season One Episodes
September 2018 | Episode One: Playwright James McLindon on 'Dead and Buried,' playwriting, and theater
This month, in the premiere episode of Local, Laura sits down with playwright James McLindon to talk about his dark comedy Dead and Buried, which the Detroit Free Press calls “funny, sad and heartwarming, often at the same time.” McLindon discusses some of the inspirations for his play, as well how he thinks about his work as a playwright and theater in general.
Here's more on the study Laura mentions about theater and the synchronization of heartbeats:
October 20, 2018 | Episode Two: Lulu French on Teaching and Performing Improv Comedy
Hear Laura's conversation with New Jersey actor, improviser, and small business owner Lulu French. Lulu shares what it takes to teach and perform improv comedy -- to children, to adults, and to businesses -- and she brings out some of her go-to comedic characters.
Find Lulu at lulufrench.com and her business at rocketimprovcomedy.com
November 25, 2018 | Episode Three: Michael Aquino: Building A Creative Life
In the third episode of Local, Laura sits down with the multi-talented Michael Aquino, a musician, actor, and creative audio producer from Northern New Jersey. They discuss some of his latest projects and how his creative career has evolved over time. Be sure to listen to the end when Aquino performs an original song.
February 3, 2019 | Episode Four: Jessica Joyce on Art through the Lens of Synaesthesia
Visual artist Jessica Joyce joins Laura Ekstrand for a conversation about making art through the lens of Synaesthesia, a neurological condition that for Jessica means she can hear sound and also see the line and shape of its tambour. Hear how this sensory experience of the world affects Jessica's art, including the story of her amazing collaboration with dancers at UNRULY Collective.
March 21, 2019 | Episode Five: Dave Maulbeck on Art, Improv, and How to Play a Pony
Laura welcomes longtime Dreamcatcher company member Dave Maulbeck for a chat about his many artistic talents: acting, improv, comic books, and getting paid thousands of dollars to eat a hot dog.
Dave explains the impetus for co-creating The Kinetix, a comic book series centering around teenage superheroes with disabilities, and he talks about how his love of visual art influences all that he does, including acting. Enjoy the intimacy and fun of this conversation between these friends who have been making moments on stage together for 20 years.
April 21, 2019 | Episode Six: Clark Carmichael: How To Be A Consummate Actor
This month on Local - Laura sits down with her good friend, Clark Carmichael. They talk about his acting and directing methods, casting adventures, and raising a family. It’s a fascinating peek into the world, art and industry of working actors.