Brand new theatre company Five Point Productions brings their first endeavor to American Theater of Actors this month! We caught up with founding member Andy Striph to learn more about the group's origins and what this production is all about.
THEASY: Tell us a little about Five Point Productions? Why was the company created and when? What is its mission?
ANDY STRIPH: Five Point Productions began in the Syracuse University drama department. Katie Lynch, Peter Sansbury, Will Pullen, Dario Caudana, and I agreed that we wanted to produce new work and tell stories that we weren't hearing told. In winter 2012, we saw a workshop of American Games (then called Cells For The Honey) by Kevin Slack and were immediately drawn to the story. Flash forward to spring 2013 when we were debating what story we wanted as our inaugural production; we read a new draft of American Games and knew it had everything we wanted and more. Kevin came on board as a full-time producer and we pitched the show to The Araca Project, a program set up through The Araca Group, that gives new production companies a crash course on producing shows in an Off-Broadway theater. Our mission is to produce the work of emerging playwrights and to create artistically compelling theatre for our audiences. Founded in 2013, Five Point Productions hopes to continue working with young artists to push the boundaries of what theatre can be and what it can accomplish.
THEASY: Who are the artists behind Five Point Productions?
AS: The members of Five Point Productions are Dario Caudana, Will Pullen, Peter Sansbury, Katie Lynch, Andy Striph, and Kevin Slack. Other than the producers stated above (including the fact that Kevin is also this show's playwright), Phil Blechman is our director for American Games. He directed The Black Book at The American Theater of Actors last year through The Araca Project. The cast includes Matt Maretz as Henry Wool, Taylor Hays as Patrick Hayes, Chelsea Niven as Laura Hargrove, Gabriel Wright as Jason McKittredge, Malcolm Yancey as Roy Russell, John Walter as John Wool, TJ Clark as Howard Kissell, Hayley Palmaer as Cheryl Seager, and Sam Palitzky as Rick Cashner. While they may not be official Five Point Production producers, this show would have gone nowhere without our stage manager, Catie Salebra, as well as our designers: Simon Brett, Chris Deluise, Joel Behrman, and Ellie Engstrom. We also received a lot of priceless support from Mike Escalante and Lisa Bondi.
THEASY: What is American Games about and what can audiences expect when they see it?
AS: American Games is about baseball phenom Henry Wool, a pitching prospect with the potential to be one of the greatest in the sport. After a slight injury, however, Henry stuns the world by retiring from the game well before his prime, choosing to deal with the consequences of fame, love, power, and history. Audiences should prepare for a story about far more than just baseball. While baseball is no doubt part of the story, audiences do not have to be baseball fans to realize this story greatly deals with a man who decides to turn away from what so many people yearn for: the spotlight and media attention given to celebrities and athletes. More than anything, it's a story about whether or not one man can handle all of life's responsibilities; a difficulty most of us face everyday.
THEASY: What are you most excited about with American Games? Why is the show right for Five Point Productions?
AS: Where to begin!? I think we're most excited about just seeing everything come to total fruition. We all saw this play as a one-act in a small black box theater with a set of chairs and rehearsal blocks. Now, we're in an off Broadway house with a dream cast from a New York City professional casting call and audition process, professional designers, and a new two-act story that is unlike anything we've seen before. This show is right for FPP because it's such a new, exciting voice in storytelling. Many of us had the opportunity of studying and seeing a lot of NYC theater ranging from off off Broadway to Broadway and nobody is telling a story like this in this style. The speed in which these characters think, speak, and act are a delicious hybrid of Aaron Sorkin and David Mamet tackling an issue that does not always get the attention it deserves.
THEASY: What are your long term goals for Five Point Productions? Where do you see yourselves in 5 years? 10 years?
AS: All of as at FPP agree that this show will not be our last. We've already started scouting out plays that we're looking to produce as readings and productions. Each of us have learned a ludicrous amount from producing this show and know how to attack the next project having learned from our previous missteps. We've also begun forming a circle of artists and designers that we know and trust. In the time we've all been in NYC, we've all seen a lot of new work and hear a ton of exciting new voices. Who knows what the next 5-10 years have in store, but if we get to keep telling stories that audiences haven't heard before, I predict we'll all be a little better off than we were the day before.
Catch American Games at American Theater of Actors, 314 West 54th Street. Performances are September 3, 4, 5 at 7PM; September 6 at 8PM; September 7 at 2PM and 8PM; and September 8 at 2PM. Tickets are $20. For more show information and to purchase tickets visit fivepointprod.com.