Sunday, August 16, 2015

Spotlight On...Gabriel Vega Weissman and Brian Reno

Name: Gabriel Vega Weissman and Brian Reno

GW: Rockville Centre, NY
BR: Portland, ME

GW: South Side High School & Skidmore College
BR: Skidmore College

Favorite Credits:
GW: As a director, I would have to say an adaptation I did of Athol Fugard's 1968 teleplay Mille Miglia about the english race car driver Stirling Moss and his navigator, Denis Jenkinson. I had the opportunity to direct the piece at the Williamstown Theatre Festival this summer with members of their extraordinary non-equity acting company.  Athol is such an inspiration to me and the Miglia is the first piece of his I've directed. I hope to spend my career working through the rest of is plays.
BR: Gabe directed me as Nought in Mankind, a medieval morality play performed by our Medieval Literature class. I played a personification of Apathy and drew off the energy of our fellow classmates for inspiration. Killed it.

Why theater?:
GW: There's a certain amount of unpredictability which is truly thrilling. It's never going to be exactly the same twice.
BR: Theater allows you the ability to take risks, experiment with new ideas and concepts, and show your mistakes to a room full of people.

Tell us about Loose Canon:
GW: Loose Canon is an evening of six short plays that take on the subject of consumerism in America while satirizing the work of famous playwrights throughout history. We have Moliere in IKEA, Chekhov in a Taco Bell and Beckett on a Delta Airlines flight as well as pieces playing with Shakespeare, Sophocles and Mamet.

What inspired you to write Loose Canon?:
GW: Well, we're so poor, we're always looking for something fun to do together. We were encouraged to submit a piece for a short play festival and decided that we wanted to write something having to do with IKEA (though I can't remember exactly why...) so we went to the IKEA in Brooklyn and set up shop in the cafe. The Swedish names of all the furniture got us thinking about how they rhythmically worked together and we decided that it would be fun to do a take on Moliere - so the play is in rhyming couplets. I was assistant directing at the Vineyeard Theatre at the time and every day after rehearsal for about a week I'd ride the subway (and bus, and shuttle) to Red Hook and we'd work together in the IKEA cafe. We then learned we had the previous year's submission date and theme so we began to write another piece about a Greek chorus of children at the birthday party of a very selfish child. 2.5 years and 4 plays later we opened at the Scranton Shakespeare Festival and are off to FringeNYC.
BR: Gabe and I were killing time in IKEA, discussing the perfectly designed sets and enjoying the suspiciously cheap café, when we realized we sounded like a couple of characters from a Moliere play. We decided to start working on a Moliere style play set in an IKEA, in IKEA. We enjoyed the finished product so much, that we took other styles and put them in other settings and created a full length play.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
GW: I love stories about our humanity. I'm drawn to the work of playwrights such as Athol Fugard, August Wilson, Thornton Wilder, Conor McPherson, Tarell Alvin McCraney, Chekhov, Rajiv Joseph, Doug Wright, Dominique Morisseau, Colman Domingo, Eugene O'Neill, Martin McDonagh to name a bunch. I also love to laugh - I'm lucky to have a friendship with Brian where we laugh a lot, often confusing those around us. So when we work together I'm really interested in working the other side of my brain which is wild and silly and stupid. Brian brings out the stupidity in me...
BR: Anything that rings true. And puppet theater. Love puppets.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: 
GW: I think it would be David Hyde Pierce. I've admired him as long as I can remember as an actor. He's intelligent and has a gift for comedy and timing. As a playwright, I would love to work with him as an actor or director!

What show have you recommended to your friends?: 
GW: Fun Home is really great. And at the risk of sounding redundant, so is Hamilton.
BR: Anything at Ars Nova in Hell’s Kitchen, NYC. They’re doing a ton of really interesting stuff, whether its cabaret or drama.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?:
GW: Hmmm...Tony Shalhoub? That would be pretty great.
BR: Adam Scott, even though I don’t have that hair quaff, and “Loose Cannon on Loose Canon.”

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: 
GW: Top three: Roger Rees' Nicholas Nickelby, the original productions of Fugard's Blood Knot and August Wilson's Fences.
BR: The Our American Cousins run at Ford’s Theater

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: 
GW: "Diners Drive-Ins and Dives" that to laugh at Guy. I definitely think there's a hint of Guy Fieri in Loose Canon...
BR: The NBC daytime trifecta: Jerry Springer, Steve Wilkos, and Maury Povich

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: 
GW: Probably running a wine shop with Brian somewhere...or teaching high school english.
BR: Running a wine store with Gabe

What’s up next?: 
GW: I'm assistant directing the world premiere of David Mamet's China Doll on Broadway, directed by Pam MacKinnon and starring Al Pacino.
BR: We’re working on a short play for the Williamstown Theater Festival, and a new musical

For more on Loose Canon, visit