Bonus – Episode 107 of Off Off Webseries

As some of you may know, I have a webseries that I do with my talented friends called Off Off about several guys in their late 40s/early 50s trying to keep an Off Off Broadway theatre alive.   This is an episode that was actually shot a while ago, but for various reasons didn’t get released until today!

Synopsis: With the looming threat of the theater space being either torn down or turned into office space, Carlton, Blake and Johnny meet up with Georgina,the owner of the building (who also happens to live in the apartment over head), to try and work out a deal to extend the life of the theater.

Guest starring:
Joan Barber
Pëtra Denison
Lexie the Dog

Series regulars:
Stephen Bittrich as Blake, the playwright
David Marantz as Carlton (aka Jim), the artistic director
Dan Teachout as Hank, the jack of all trades
Robert Arthur Wilson as Johnny, the actor
Dennis Gagamiros as Derrick, the costume designer
Lisa Peart as Sammie, the stage manager
Kendall Rileigh as Bethany, the intern

Series DP:
John Painz


Episode 024 – Jessi Blue Gormezano and Joe Jung – Project Theater and Our Bar NYC


Jessi_Blue_and_Joe_Jung_1Joe Jung and Jessi Blue Gormezano are a talented and adorable theater couple.  I was first introduced to their work with a production of the dark comedy, The Secretaries, produced by their NYC company, Project Theater.

And then when a production of my play Home of the Great Pecan was done at The Drilling Company, we were lucky enough to get Jessi in the lead for that fun Texas romp.

In 2009 they formed a site specific theater experience which has been going strong ever since called Our Bar, which is set – surprise! – in a bar.  It’s a great NYC experience where the audience feels like it’s literally in the middle of the show – and can drink and eat at the same time!  And there always seems to be live music afterwards often performed by the jug band, The Saltcracker Crazies.  So the party goes on well after the show!

Please enjoy my time with the very entertaining, Jessi and Joe.  And don’t miss Our Bar which is the first Wednesday of every month; the next show is called Stuck, and it’s on May 7th, 2014.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Hello Jessi and Joe! The beginnings of Project: Theater (3:11)
  • Backing up in time, how the stars aligned and these kids met (8:43)
  • How I was introduced to Jessi and Joe during the run of The Secretaries by the Five Lesbian Brothers (15:04)
  • My Custom Van by Michael Ian Black (20:40)
  • Joe gets a great job in Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson (23:46)
  • The OurBarNYC experience, the jug band origin (31:50)
  • Jessi Blue in Home of the Great Pecan (45:25)
  • Jessi Blue, the writer emerges, Mark My Words (48:42)
  • Joe has very specific news on upcoming projects (50:15)
  • How to start a theater company (53:08)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting or Horrible Audition Stories” – Joe’s first (56:26)
  • Jessi’s audition story (1:08:21)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.  URO has a concert coming up.  Click the link to find out more!

Episode 023 – Steve Sherman – Actor in University of Tennessee Masters Program


Steve Sherman in Spamalot at the Clarence Brown Theater


Jessi Blue Gormezano and Steve Sherman in Home of the Great Pecan. Photo by Lee Wexler.

I was introduced to actor Steve Sherman by my buddy Dave Marantz, and he was great in my play, Home of the Great Pecan as Deputy Diggity.  I liked him so much I asked him to be in a workshop to help me develop a new play I’d been working on called Hole.

That was in New York City.  As it happens we are both in Tennessee at the moment, he as a student in University of Tennessee’s graduate acting program which is connected to the Clarence Brown Theater — a LORT Theater.  And he’s in Spamalot which is opening there tonight!

It was great to get the perspective of an actor who had been out in the professional world and had gone back to school.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Hello Steve! His beginnings and how he got the bug (2:58)
  • Producing his own work in New York City (On Campus) and developing new work (5:44)
  • Improv in LA  (8:31)
  • Going back to school – Grad school at University of Tennessee (10:25)
  • Living in the South, long distance relationship (13:14)
  • The plan – teaching or acting (16:04)
  • Working with the Clarence Brown Theater (18:12)
  • Teaching an improv class and taking classes as a student (23:25)
  • After the masters program (28:58)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting or Horrible Audition Stories” (30:14)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.  URO has a concert coming up.  Click the link to find out more!

Episode 021 – Scott Baker – Actor, Bally Master, Santa


Scott_Baker_Bally_Master_02Scott Baker is truly one of a kind on this earth.  He is the barker or bally master for the Coney Island Freak Show in the summers.  In the winters he is often (when not acting in films or plays) Santa Claus in one of the big department stores.  He was in the legendary show Oh! Calcutta! for 12 years on Broadway, and he also did some porn acting in the 70s-80s!  Quite an amazing and varied life!

He and I met doing theatre Off Off Broadway at the Drilling Company years ago, and he was my muse there in the beginning when I was writing a lot of bizarre comedies for which he was so perfectly suited.  He added his unique stamp to all of those short plays.

Interestingly the interview took a dark and serious turn when we talked about his experiences being mugged in NYC.  NYC is a safer city now, but the area where he’s lived (and in other areas around the 5 boroughs) the city has gone through some major changes through the years.

I promise you will enjoy this talk with Scott Baker!

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Hello Scott! How we met — Two Eggs and La Mouche (3:49)
  • Bally Master a short documentary film about Scott Baker  (8:17)
  • The Coney Island Freak Show — three kinds of freaks (12:00)
  • Early inspirations, Frank Lentini and Gilbert Mysto Magic Set (16:30)
  • How to learn how to pound a nail into your head or eat fire, Coney Island Side Show School (20:32)
  • Winter job, Santa Claus (24:56)
  • How Scott got to New York (25:51)
  • Scott performs in adult films – “Rupert!” (27:23)
  • Oh! Calcutta! on Broadway (33:12)
  • How Times Square has changed, being mugged by gunpoint (37:30)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting or Horrible Audition Stories” (44:00)
  • Kitschy interests and new project: Elvis, Santa, John Wilkes Booth, Frankenstein (50:43)
  • Cancer survivor — of the soft palette (55:16)
  • Remembering director, Richard Harden (59:29)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.  URO has a concert coming up.  Click the link to find out more!

Episode 019 – Corybungus – Off Off Radio Theater


corybungus_posterWelcome to Off Off Radio Theater with the short play Corybungus written by Stephen Bittrich.

Hijinks ensue when a bookshop customer tries to return a defective “OED” (Oxford English Dictionary) because it’s missing words.  This fast moving skit is a nod to the works of Monty Python.

The Returns Man is played by Steve Sherman.

Mr. Weiner, the Customer, is played by Stephen Bittrich.

An interview with Steve Sherman coming soon in a future Off Off Pod episode!

Corybungus was originally performed by The Drilling Company in an evening of New York themed one-acts by Stephen Bittrich called Big Apples.


Episode 017 – Victoria Campbell – Adventurer Filmmaker and Actor


Victoria_CampbellI’ve decided Victoria is amazing and fearless.  And I don’t know if she’d define herself as an “Adventurer” but after talking to her I felt like that word needed to be in the title of her interview!

We got to know each other when she was in a production of my play, Home of the Great Pecan at The Drilling Company, and over the years I’ve seen two of her films, House of Bones (about her lovable, eccentric family and childhood home on Martha’s Vineyard — not to be confused with a horror film of the same name!) and The Hunt for Good Americans where she and a friend traveled across this great country finding and filming all sorts of cool characters.   [I’ll put up links to see these films as they become available.]

I had heard a few stories about her most current project where she daringly finagled her way into Haiti 7 days after the earthquake of 2010.  I knew there would be some amazing tales about that journey, and, boy, I was not disappointed.  You must listen!

By the way, the Haiti documentary, Monsieur le Président, is playing TOMORROW as part of The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival at 10 am at the Chilmark School. Check out this great article from the Martha’s Vineyard Times.

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • Hello Victoria; growing up in Martha’s Vineyard in an artsy family (3:12)
  • Film: House of Bones  (10:39)
  • Film: The Hunt for Good Americans (18:55)
  • Back road hookers in Ely, Nevada, Crow Reservation in Montana  (21:06)
  • Blues man, Razorblade, in Clarksdale, Mississippi (27:22)
  • Film: Monsieur le Président; the Haiti Earthquake in 2010 (32:29)
  • The aftershock 6.2; drafted as a “nurse”  (36:22)
  • The Voodoo Priest, Gaston (41:50)
  • Ukrainian transgender in Canarsie, NY (52:11)
  • “Bizarre, Interesting or Horrible Audition Stories” (53:17)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.  URO has a concert coming up.  Click the link to find out more!

Episode 014 – Hamilton Clancy of The Drilling Company – part 2


DrillingCompanyInterviewClancy2In the second part of the Hamilton Clancy interview we visit stories about the Theater Ghost, a horrible audition story, how Drilling Company helped to raise money for the kids at PS87, and actors teaching Sunday school.

Don’t forget that Drilling Company is now running The Norwegians by C. Denby Swanson and directed by Elowyn Castle with the following cast:  Hamilton Clancy, Veronica Cruz, Karla Hendricks, and Dan Teachout. The stage manager is Mary Linehan, and the house manager is Milena Davila. Go to the website for more info:

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Intro  (0:00)
  • The Drilling Company Theater Ghost as told by Dan Teachout (5:19)
  • History of space – Mark Zeller (10:03)
  • The new one-act read-aloud, Stephen plays a trick (12:25)
  • The Drilling Company starts producing full-length plays (15:25)
  • The haunted house at PS87, Zombie Labs (16:58)
  • The Discovery Series for developing new plays (19:15)
  • In Memoriam: Edwin Owens and Richard Harden (21:58)
  • Actors teaching Sunday school (25:24)
  • Now playing over 100 performances, The Norwegians (32:08)
  • Hamilton’s bad audition story, the toy fair (35:24)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.

Episode 013 – Hamilton Clancy of The Drilling Company – part 1


Stephen Bittrich & Hamilton Clancy on stage of The Drilling Company Theater

In 2000 I was introduced to a theatre company called The Drilling Company which at that time produced new one-acts in themed evenings.  They’ve since branched out into full-lengths, play development and even Shakespeare in the Parking Lot on the Lower East Side.

I can’t think of many plays I’ve written in the past 14 years which have not been in some way inspired or nurtured by The Drilling Company, which is helmed by my friend, Artistic Director, Hamilton Clancy.

In part 1 of this two part interview, Hamilton and I talk about the history of the company as they begin their 16th season.

Don’t forget that Drilling Company is now running The Norwegians by C. Denby Swanson.  Go to the website for more info:

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Welcome Hamilton and audience  (1:49)
  • How the company began, and the first show (7:00)
  • Second show Neighbors and how I met Drilling Company (12:59)
  • Company member Scott Baker’s Kringled (15:15)
  • The one-act evenings and the themes (18:58)
  • The Drilling Company Theater space on 78th Street (22:12)
  • Why is the company called The Drilling Company (25:08)
  • Political theatre, George Bush years (27:53)
  • A man of many hats, including writer (31:27)
  • Shakespeare in the Parking Lot, crap on the moon (37:33)
  • Dave Marantz’s story about the sword/knife fight in the parking lot (45:53)
  • In the Car stories, the birth of the read-aloud (49:48)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.

Episode 012 – Gioia De Cari of Truth Values




Photo by John Olson

My friend Gioia De Cari created a very successful one-woman show called Truth Values: One Girl’s Romp Through M.I.T.’s Male Math Maze which has had 95 performances in 45 theaters in 17 states with over 17,000 audience members.

In this interview we talk about the development of her show as well as her background as a mathematician at M.I.T.  The show has create a serious discussion about women in STEM fields.  The writing of the show was in part spurred on by a quote from the former president of Harvard, Lawrence Summers who infamously (and publicly) suggested that the reason women weren’t more represented in STEM fields was because of innate gender differences.

[Please note: Gioia wrote me in horror after the interview realizing that she had had a brain fizz and said “Bill Clinton” when she meant “Barack Obama” at the 9:20 mark of the interview.]

If you’ve ever wanted to write and perform your own one person show, certainly Gioia may be held up as a model of success.  Or if you’re interested in the topic of gender inequality in education, you’ll enjoy her point of view!

Topics covered in the interview:

  • Introduction.  Welcome to New York!  (0:00)
  • Hello Gioia De Cari.  The acting impulse.  MIT. (2:52)
  • The beginning of her one-woman show, Truth Values (7:15)
  • Tips from Wynn Handman about writing a one person show (11:43)
  • Gioia trying to fit in at MIT (14:49)
  • How she started booking the show into theatres around US (20:43)
  • How she figured out the business end of touring (24:30)
  • Political writing, can art change people or policy? (31:31)
  • Stephen didn’t realize he was sexually harrassed in the workplace (34:39)
  • Writing again after a hit (39:37)
  • Gioia’s most horrible or bizarre or interesting audition experience (46:15)
  • Go eat at Chirping Chicken at 77th and Amsterdam! (51:44)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.

Episode 011 – Off Off Topic – Midnight Cobbler


The Empire State Building – NYC

I’m heading to New York City in less than a week to capture a bunch of podcast interviews and see old friends.  Here’s a shot of one of the most beautiful buildings in the world on a night when it was showing off my favorite colors — the deep blues.

In this short and sweet episode I tell one of my New York stories — about going to a midtown luxury apartment building at midnight to meet a complete stranger for freshly made peach cobbler!

Don’t forget the upcoming “live” podcast event at The Drilling Company Theater, 236 West 78th Street, 3rd floor on February 11th, 2014.  I’ll be interviewing Artistic Director, Hamilton Clancy.  The event is free. Donations welcome.  Come be a part and then hang out afterwards.

Topics covered in the podcast:

  • NYC here I come! (0:00)
  • The flood (6:27)
  • Live Podcast at the Drilling Company of Tuesday, February 11th at 7 PM (9:44)
  • The midnight peach cobbler story (10:28)
  • Exceptional people in New York (16:20)

As usual my buddy Sal Clemente (of Ultrasonic Rock Orchestra) who wrote the podcast theme song, “Here We Go Again,” plays us out.