Thursday, May 28, 2015

Spotlight On...Brian Rady

Name: Brian Rady

Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas

Education: R. L. Paschal High School/ Northwestern University

Favorite Credits: Singing for Joan LaBarbara (as a purple nun) and Tori Wrånes (whilst bicycling) at Performa 13, performing solo-cabaret style at The Brooklyn Lyceum and around town, and of course, working in many facets for all of the Rady&Bloom projects, most favorites are definitely The Orange Person, The Girl of the Golden West, and, now The Upper Room!

Why theater?: It's all about getting everyone in the same room at the same time. You learn a lot about people's intentions pretty quickly. It's all out in the open, and it's all about people. No lies.

Tell us about The Upper Room: The Upper Room is a new play with original music inspired by the back-to-the-land movement. The tenets of the movement are more relevant than ever today, with rising sea levels in New York City, and the introduction of miles of pipeline beneath our feet. How can we find simple quality food? How can we relate to the earth? How can we react to a rapidly changing ecosystem? Aided by myth and offbeat religious practice, a strange new possibility for sustainability and survival emerges from these questions. Set on an island way off the north coast of Maine, the last participants of a once thriving commune meet the sea. Anxious and restless, the quorum gathers around the table in their upper room to confront the rising water and certain members' curious ailments. A darkly humorous consideration of spirituality and the dangers of our changing environment combines with a live mixed score by the incredible Catherine Brookman.

What inspired you to create The Upper Room?: We knew we wanted to make something with Catherine Brookman's music. And we knew we wanted to make something about these feelings we've been having, building up and accumulating like an avalanche over the last 3 to 4 years: a concern for our health and the integrity of the food we eat and where it comes from, and a concern for the chemicals and the elements we are constantly exposed to with or without our knowledge/ consent. There seems to be a continuous and increasing stream of awareness and information about how rapidly we are degrading our earth. How it is warming, how the sea is rising, the decimation of species, the lack of concern for biodiversity, etc. There are so many things happening and so many things we can be doing. We began to feel that what we might lack most as a society is a sense of spirit, an overall sensitivity for all life forms as we know it. A spirituality. Thus, the themes of The Upper Room: environmentalism meets spiritualism meets the gorgeous music of Catherine Brookman. Other sources that became incredibly important to us were the lives of Helen and Scott Nearing (authors of "The Good Life"), the grandmother/grandfather of the back-to-the-land/ homesteading movement as well as Iris Murdoch's novels "The Bell" and "The Unicorn," by Karen Blixen's short story "Babette's Feast," and by selkie and mermaid legends at large.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Sandra Bernhard's whole life and life's work is a key key key inspiration! The work of David Neumann is hugely important to me. I think his recent I Understand Everything Better was a masterpiece. I also love the work of Dean Moss, Sarah Michelson, and Martha Clarke. Mary Zimmerman's work has also hugely inspired both me and Jeremy for a long long time.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: It'd be awesome to get to be a part of process of Lee Breuer's. Also I think I'd do really well with a devoted pianist/ accompanist/ arranger to take with me wherever I go if anyone is interested.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I went absolutely cuckoo for Jenny Schwartz's Iowa at Playwright's Horizons. Another amazingly beautiful/ lasting show musically was Liz Swados' La MaMa Canatata.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: We want to make a movie version of The Orange Person. I should probably be played by Nick Sutton as he was in Harmony Korine's movie "Gummo".

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Maybe the original Chorus Line at the Public.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: "Bob's Burgers".

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Tending a farm somewhere by the sea. Or, maybe more realistically, I would be dreaming of tending a farm somewhere by the sea.

What’s up next?: We will begin work on O this summer through the HERE Artists Residency Program (HARP). O is a play with original music and visual art designed and directed by Rady&Bloom, written by the fantastically lovely Alex Borinsky, and composed by our dear frequent collaborator Joe White.

For more on Brian, visit