Review Fix chats with actor, director and producer Michael Bordwell, who discusses his newest works and his goals for them.
About the Productions:
The American Theatre of Actors will present two dynamic works by controversial author and influencer, James Crafford: Moves and Countermoves: New Works by James Crafford. Performances are January 22 – February 2, 2020 (Wednesday – Saturday @ 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.) in The B.E.T. (Beckmann Experimental Theatre) of the American Theatre of Actors Complex, 314 W 54th St, New York City; (212) 581-3044 for tickets.
The Chaos Effect doesn’t need a butterfly or the span of the universe. It can be two people and the right – or wrong – words said at the right – or wrong – time. James Crafford a highly vocal political advocate and acclaimed author of stage and film has given director, Michael Bordwell, two works that explore the relationships between people and the decisions and actions that cause a rift in the general order.
“The Game Is Not Over” explores the relationship between a man and the two women in his life – his wife and his former lover. A simple living room becomes a battlefield as the wife confronts the former lover.
“After the Hanging” explores the aftermath of a racist hanging of an African-American man in the deep south. The aforementioned man’s wife confronts one of the witnesses to the lynching.
The plays feature a repertory company of seasoned professionals familiar with Mr. Crafford’s work and the landmark American Theatre of Actors: Alan Hasnas, Thomas J Kane, Tzena Nicole, Valerie O’Hara, and Meredith Rust; with a special appearance by stage and film actor/director Laurie Rae Waugh in “After The Hanging.”
About Michael Bordwell:
Michael Bordwell is an actor, director and producer who has worked in various venues for several companies in the NYC Area. As a director, Michael’s work has been recognized with various awards from the American Theatre of Actors, the Strawberry One-Act Festival and the Manhattan TheatreSource. Having studied at Hofstra University, where he received a BFA with a dual specialization in Performance and Production, Michael has enjoyed being able to explore all facets of theatre since graduating almost 20 years ago. This is the second time he has collaborated with James Crafford having directed his pieces “In Some Room Above the Street” and “Polly Come Home Again” at the American Theatre of Actors in the Fall of 2017. Past directing credits include The Rubout; Ex-Wall Streeter, 35, Likes Cars; My Dinner with Amy, Losing Sleep, In Loving Memory as well as over 20 one act plays. As an actor, Michael starred in the world premiere of The Sandman as well as countless other roles including both contemporary and over 15 Shakespearean roles. They would like to give a special thanks to DLW Photography.
Review Fix: What was your inspiration behind this project?
Michael Bordwell: One of the key pieces of inspiration behind this project that made me so excited to work on it, was that both of these 1 acts feature a pair of strong female characters who aren’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in and refuse to back down just because somebody disagrees with them. These pieces are crafted in such a way that often the more important ideas come from moments of silence and realization in the as opposed to always just being about the written dialogue. If this sparks a conversation about the importance of listening to one another and learning to have the patience with one another, I feel I will have accomplished my goal in directing these pieces.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Bordwell: I’m a collaborator at heart. I need to work with people who want to tell a story, do the work, and enjoy being around one another. Creating art is one of the greatest things we can do in life and to have the ability to share it with others is incredibly fulfilling. As the director of these two pieces, I needed to make sure I found the right people to play the right roles. Once the piece was cast, I put my actors through a series of improvisational activities related to the stakes of the play. We delved deep into the characters that they were playing to really understand why they are even in the situations that they are in. A big part of the process was experimenting and trying things that worked, trying things that we weren’t sure would work, and trying things that we knew wouldn’t work at all. This was part of the fun of finding the critical moments that we would be able to devise as we formulated the pieces. While I have directed several pieces of the last few years, it had been a while since I returned to my improv roots and was able to explore this with my actors in order to help them find the characters they were playing and create the moments that would play both humor and tents so that we would create an engaging piece for the audience with multiple layers.
Review Fix: What did you learn / are learning about yourself through this process/production?
Bordwell: I am learning that it is OK to sometimes do productions with taboo topics. Often times work based on the topics that are presented in these plays, such as infidelity or racism, can be divisive and I generally tend to want to be a people pleaser. So it was fun for me to learn to stretch myself a little bit with the topics that I work within and I can’t wait for the next one.
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this for the future?
Bordwell: It’s difficult to say what my goals are for the future of this production. However I do believe that these pieces are incredibly strong and need to be seen in this 1st in eration because the work at this cast of performers does is nothing short of outstanding. Obviously, based on the work, I do look forward to having a chance to partner again with both the writer and the theater is important.
Review Fix: What’s Next?
Bordwell: It’s so rare that I am actually able to have a next, just because my day job in education can be quite time consuming. But, I am at a fortunate place in my life right now because I actually have two projects on the horizon. The first will be where I have an opportunity to act in a new play directed by my colleague, Laurie Rae Waugh, entitled What About Walter? in April, and reuniting with my frequent collaborators Jessica Jennings and Alaina Hammond on a one act festival that I will be producing, acting and directing in in the early summer.It’s so rare that I am actually able to have a next, just because my day job in education can be quite time consuming. But, I am at a fortunate place in my life right now because I actually have two projects on the horizon. The first will be where I have an opportunity to act in a new play directed by my colleague, Laurie Rae Waugh, entitled What About Walter? in April, and reuniting with my frequent collaborators Jessica Jennings and Alaina Hammond on a one act festival that I will be producing, acting and directing in in the early summer.