Next year will mark 50 years that Israel Horovitz’s stunning surreal play, LINE, will have been performing in NYC. Beginning its life at Ellen Stewart’s LaMaMa, ETC in 1967, the play moved to the 13th Street Repertory Theater in 1974 and has remained there ever since.
The original production has seen innumerable reiterations over its five decades, but now 13th Street Rep in association with Genesis Repertory (an arts & educational organization) will revive the classic in a version similar to its original form (which included a then-unknown Richard Dreyfuss).
A connection to the original production is its director. The production is helmed by Jay Michaels, who studied with Carol Ilson, the original director of the production at 13th Street.
The cast, as it did back then, is comprised of young talented artists emerging onto the New York theatre scene. The rotating repertory includes Angelica Adams, Daniel Berger, Mario Claudio, Nina Cudic, Robert I. Gottlieb, Ben Lerner, Conor D. Mullen, Brady Richards, Andrew Schwartz, Beth St. John, and Elliot Wygoda.
The new “March to 50” production begins October 17 @ 7:30 p.m. at 13th Street Repertory Theater (Joe Battista, artistic director) in association with Genesis Rep (Mary Elizabeth Micari, artistic director) and will run Mondays.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Robert I. Gottlieb: The first step in my creative process is learning the lines forwards, backwards and sideways. It’s difficult for me to explore the emotional life of a character if any part of my brain is dedicated towards thinking about the next line! The next step is to find a real-life person that I want to build my character from. Even if it’s just a passing glance on the subway of someone who looks like my character, I can use that as an archetype to build off. Next I think through the characters mannerism and speaking habits. Finally I write down a character bio: where they’re from, what they do and what powerful experiences they’ve had in their past life. If I can do all that I have a good sense of what that characters state of being should be the whole time I’m on stage.
Review Fix: What makes this different or special?
Gottlieb: Line! has such a rich performance history, I mean, Fleming has existed for 49 years! With that in mind, you want to make sure you’re bringing your own unique characterization to the role.
Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself through this process?
Gottlieb: I’ve never put on a show before with such a rotating cast (Line! has 2 actors for each role and we’re with someone different practically every rehearsal) so I’ve picked up some lessons in adaptability that I think will really help my acting going forward. It’s also incredible to see the passion Jay (Michaels, our director) brings to every rehearsal. I think there’s really something to learn from that.
Review Fix: How does it feel to be a part of something like this?
Gottlieb: I can’t tell you how excited and grateful I am to be carrying on such a great tradition!
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this production and for the future?
Gottlieb: I hope to leave this production having played a character that adds something new and different to the storied history of this play. My goals for the future are much the same. I hope to create different, honest and unique characters in all my performances. Outside of that, the ultimate goal is to do well enough at this thing we call ‘acting’ so that it’s the only thing you need to do.
Review Fix: What do you think your audiences will enjoy the most?
Gottlieb: The energy is so unique in our rehearsals. We’ve really taken to the experimental/surrealist nature of Israel Horovitz’s script and I think that will come through in each performance. Audience will see something zanny, fun and different every night we’re up there.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Gottlieb: I’m currently starring in a few short films that will be in production towards the end of the year. With Line! premiering on October 17, I have nothing in the pipeline on stage but I hope to continue to work off-Broadway and soon enough make my way on!