Review Fix chats with Ella New, who discusses her role as director in “Chasing The River.”
About Ella New:
Ella has her MFA from Goldsmiths, University of London. In 2019 Ella directed the SIX CORNERS play, by Emmy Nominated Keith Huff (Mad Men, House of Cards, American Crime). THREE MONTHS WITH POOK by Jack Feldstein at SOHO Playhouse; DEAN OF STUDENTS by Alex Kveton at Chain Theatre NYC; NEIL SIMON’S LAST HIT by Jack Feldstein at Workshop Theatre and FALLING IN LOVE WITH MR DELLAMORT by Paul Doust at The Slipper Room. Ella is the director of the CHAIN PLAYWRITING LAB founded in 2019, which is supported by Chain Theatre and Department of Cultural Affairs NY.
About the Chain Theatre:
Chain Theatre is a production company whose goal is to create artistic work that is accessible, relatable, and invokes a visceral response in the audience through the mediums of theatre and film. We provide opportunities for average New Yorkers to experience challenging subject matters and universal themes found in new works and classics alike. New York City is the rare American city that provides opportunities within theatre, film and television; the Chain breaks down the walls between these mediums and showcases the work of writers, actors and directors both onstage and onscreen.
The Chain provides a platform for seasoned professionals, emerging artists and true independent filmmakers to share their personal stories and original ideas with our communities. Our convenient location allows easy accessibility to share the work with audiences from all boroughs.
Review Fix: What was the inspiration for this project?
Ella New: The themes are inspiring to me; the playwright creatively and thoughtfully explores the ordeal of childhood trauma and how a young womxn navigates the consequences of trauma. The playwright, Jean Giebel, has developed the play through a culmination of research and workshops, and it’s inspiring to direct the play for the first time in full production. I’ve also worked with Chain Theatre before, and I love working in a collaborative, creative environment.
Review Fix: What is your creative process?
New: I read the play over and over so I’m fully connected to the tone and the themes in my own imagination. It has been great to have Jean to talk with in the early stages of preparation. I love the transition of moving from the page to rehearsals. I would consider myself an actors director, and I spend quite a lot of time with the actors discovering exactly who these characters are, where they’ve come from, what they want etc. I believe these discoveries will inform everything from body language, movement, dialogue and character relationships.
Review Fix: What did you learn/are learning about yourself through this process?
New: I realized this is the first time I’ve directed a play with heavy moments of stage combat, and that is something I’d like to learn more about! This is a beautifully written memory play, and I’ve learned how we perceive our memories & past is always shifting, sometimes distressing, but can be incredibly healing.
Review Fix: Tell me about the cast. What makes them special?
New: They’re all incredibly talented. The characters require a lot of physical and emotional depth from the actors and I’m proud of their work. I would encourage everyone, including actors in training to come and see their work.
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this piece for the future?
New: It would be great to see the play continue onwards after our run to another theatre or touring. It’s creative, affecting and in many ways educational, it should be shared with the world.
Review Fix: Bottom line, why must someone see this production?
New: It’s a powerful story about a young woman’s experience of childhood trauma, and her journey of facing her past. It’s inspired by the experiences of many young women, and I think it’s a tribute to them, and the power of the human spirit.
Review Fix: What’s next?
New: The week after Chasing The River opens, across the lobby in the Chain Studio we will present the equity-staged readings of the Chain Playwriting Lab http://www.chaintheatre.org/2020-lab
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks Chain theatre and Jean Giebel for inviting me to be part of this project.