Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Spotlight On...Michael Joel and Kaitlin Overton

Name: Michael Joel and Kaitlin Overton

M: Point Pleasant, New Jersey
K: High Bridge, New Jersey.

K: Both of us are graduates of Montclair State University’s BA Theatre Studies program.

Favorite Credits:
M: As a playwright, Youth + Blood + Roses and One. Four. (Zero). have been two favorites that stand out. And as a director, I loved working on Our Town and The Glass Menagerie and as an actor, Attempts On Her Life and One. Four. (Zero).
K: My recent favorites have been an original devised piece I did on a community supported garden called Recommended Servings and Richard Schechner’s Imagining O. As well, starting No Dominion and all of our recent projects have become favorites of mine.

Why theater?:
K: I think I can speak for Michael when I say that theatre opens up parts of us that are often scary or unexplored and through theatre we get to explore these parts of being a human.
M: It’s also fun and allows you to explore things you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.
K: I’ve enjoyed working in theatre in different aspects, too. I started out just in performance and now I’m a producer, and I honestly never thought I would be doing that and enjoying it, but it’s where a lot of my focus is and I’m excited that theatre can take you on these journeys, both as a character and as a theatre creator.

Tell us about Help me out here:
M: The show itself is, in a way, a reflection of its process: we’ve broken down the idea of having a task at hand and have each set out to complete said task in the show. Both characters are struggling with a task and need help; how they ask for it is different, and how they arrive at a solution is different as well. We explore helping each other, what it means to actually need help, and what that feels like.
K: We kept it simple by having simple tasks and only two characters. I think it’s also been helpful to have each other not only as the actors, but the writers and directors of this piece as well. It’s been a very intimate creative process.

What inspired you to create Help me out here:
K: For a few months, we’ve each been interested in doing a smaller-scale show that had a bare-bones feel to it and explored the current time in our lives: we’re both theatre artists trying to figure “it all” out, and want to communicate that artistically, while maintaining professionalism as a new theatre company. Help me out here came from that.
M: I texted Kaitlin one night and told her to start writing and keeping a journal, just about things that struck us, or when we had a bad day, for example, and we came together for a writing retreat in Martha’s Vineyard and literally just laid it all out on a table and got to work.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
K: Ensemble theatre is definitely something we’re both drawn to, and how an ensemble can collectively tell a story is something we are always exploring. We like to see this kind of theatre too.
M: I just went to see Before Your Very Eyes at the Public, A View from the Bridge, and we both got to see Lazarus, and all of those speak very strongly to the type of work we want to create and also enjoying seeing. It’s all very important work, all of these pieces are very important.
K: I’m very drawn to performance art, and when I interned with the New York Neo-Futurists, I hadn’t explored this venue of art much, but I fell in love with it, that living newspaper aspect they brought to performance.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
M: Ivo van Hove. I love his work so much.
K: If I ever even get to be in the same room as Anne Bogart, I could die happy.

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
M: Definitely all the ones I’ve recently seen and mentioned above. Also, A Curious Incident… and anything Elevator Repair Service or Theatre for a New Audience does.
K: I would agree, and add the New York Neo-Futurists’ Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind and anything from New York Theatre Workshop.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:
K: In my younger days, Zooey Deschanel, and then as more of a grown up, Mary Louise Parker, and the movie would be called "Dear God, Please Don’t Let Me Wake Up With My Hands Down My Pants".
M: Meryl Streep would play me and she would dress in drag and she would still win an Oscar. The title would be "A Thousand Miles" (Based on the song by Michelle Branch).

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?:
M & K: There are too many, we can’t just pick one!

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:
M: "Downton Abbey".
K: SAME! And also "How To Get Away With Murder", and "The Hills"…I love mindless reality TV.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?:
M: Hospitality, or some bullshit.
K: Unemployed.

What’s up next?:
M: We have a few projects in the works, I am working on a new play, and I just shot a movie so I should be seeing the final product in the near future.
K: We are meant to be collaborating on some new things with some of our favorite collaborators within the next few months so stay tuned!

For more information on Help me out here, visit For more on Kaitlin, visit For more on Michael, visit