Meet the Playwright: Meron Langsner, Burning up the Dictionary

Meron Langsner at VTG’s first reading of Burning up the Dictionary

Meet Meron Langsner (who yes, I know, you’ve met before – but you probably haven’t heard the story of his worst first date ever yet!). This is the fantastic man who wrote Burning up the Dictionary, which will play from November 28 to December 1!

How did you get involved in theatre? What is your first theatre memory?
I took a Modern Dance class as a freshman in college because it was something that was recommended to me as a martial artist.  I got into theatre through dance. My first theatre memory is seeing a production about the life of Jim Thorpe when I was six or seven years old on a school trip.

What is the best story you have from a first date? (can be a terrible first date, or maybe the best one ever!)
This is a long story made very short: A date was once arrested in front of me, handcuffs and all, on our way to see a show.  This was a person I had just met, and I was wondering about what the demands of chivalry were in this situation.  After she was taken away and I was asking a different police officer on the scene what I needed to do to bail her out, I mentioned to him that it was a first date.  The officer laughed and said “you know you’re going to get lucky if you bail a girl out of jail.” All in all it was a pretty surreal evening. I recently started working on a short piece about this that I’m calling The Demands of Chivalry.

Do you think celebrating Valentine’s Day is corny?
Yes, but with the right person that is part of the fun.

What’s your favorite love (or anti-love) song? Why?
I really enjoyed various versions of Somebody That I Used to Know that were circulating, though that song has been a bit overplayed.  I was listening to Arson and Ghosts by Matthew Breinrich when I was working on some of the scenes in BUTD.
http://www.myspace.com/matthewbreinichmusic/music

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Meet the Crew: Angel Veza, Fight Director and Movement Specialist

Meet Angel, who has not only choreographed all of the fights in this show (including an over-the-top giant ninja robot battle!) but has also taught our actors movement (like tango and racquetball!)

If theatre is not your full-time job, what do you do on the side? What do you enjoy about it and how does it connect to your life in the theatre?
I work in the Development Department  at City on a Hill Charter Public School in Roxbury, MA. I’m the Admissions Coordinator and support all fundraising efforts. I love my job because I get to help students and their parents through the application and enrollment process at City on a Hill, which can be overwhelming for many of the families we serve. There’s a lot of great high schools out there, but I know City on a Hill has definitely changed lives for some of our students. One day I called a student to tell her she had been accepted to City on a Hill. She literally screamed. She thanked me and told me I saved her life. If she didn’t get the offer to City on a Hill, she would have had to attend one of the lower-performing high schools in Boston, and she knew that this acceptance would help her get to college.  Unfortunately, I haven’t found a way to directly connect my job with theatre yet. The whole experience has been both draining and exhilarating. I love it.

What is the best story you have from a first date? (can be a terrible first date, or maybe the best one ever!)
My best first date was with a lead guitarist from a band. He performed at a fundraiser I hosted. On our first date, he cooked me a three-course meal. Everything was from scratch and executed beautifully. Seriously, the presentation was lovely and the food was delicious. He was interesting, intelligent, talented, and  clearly a great cook. Conversation was never dull; he made me laugh; and there wasn’t a single awkward moment… It was the perfect first date.

If you could go on a date with one celebrity, who would it be and why?
Joseph Gordon Levitt. He’s so talented and charming. Plus, have you seen him smile? Those dimples!

Do you think celebrating Valentine’s Day is corny?
Nope. Some of my most treasured memories were created while celebrating Valentine’s Day. Plus, with the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives, it’s nice to have a day that reminds all of us to take some time to really love and appreciate the people in your life.

What is the best gift you ever received from a significant other?
The best present I ever received from a significant other was a piece of artwork he made while he was working at GE Aviation. He took parts of a plane and welded the most beautiful sculpture I had ever seen. It had these little details that touched on everything significant in my life – from the unforgettable moments we shared to the things I’m most passionate about like education. What was really creative was how he included pipes from a jet engine to be used as vases for flowers. I love flowers. It was the most thoughtful and gorgeous present.

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ANGEL VEZA (Fight Director) makes her Vagabond Theatre debut. She recently served as Dr. Langsner’s Assistant Fight Director at the American Repertory Theatre and at Company One on The Lily’s Revenge and Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, respectively. Her recent acting credits include: Within The Lines (Urbanity Dance Company), The Problem, and The Jumbonaut Combat Showcase (Tufts University) as well as industrials with ZoomTilt and Steadman Productions. Angel is the Admissions Coordinator and Development Assistant at City on a Hill Charter Public High School.  She is a recent graduate of Tufts University and has also trained at the Vampire Cowboys Rabid Vamps Fight Studio in NYC.

Meet the Crew: Santiago Cárdenas, Musican

Santiago during a brainstorm for live sound in Burning up the Dictionary

Meet Santiago Cárdenas, the absolutely FANTASTIC musician who organically created an original score for Burning up the Dictionary! For more about Santiago and his music, check out his website (or read below!)

How did you get involved in theatre? What is your first theatre memory?
I guess I never got tired of the idea of ‘play’. So theater was something I enjoyed doing growing up. As a musician, the opportunity to play for live theater is really enjoyable, especially because of the liberty it generates.

If theatre is not your full-time job, what do you do on the side?
I work as an assistant for a person with a disability. It is a wonderful job that keeps me in good perspective of myself. Its fun 🙂

How did you get involved in this production? What has been your favorite thing about working on the play so far?
Sam told me/ asked me about it and I said ‘yes’ . Getting to use actors’ involuntary and voluntary rhythms to find the music makes it a unique process, because it can’t be the same twice, even if we are playing the same thing over the same lines.

What is the best story you have from a first date? (can be a terrible first date, or maybe the best one ever!)
I remember when i was in 7th grade I went to Starbucks with a girl I liked. I wore my brothers turtle neck (huge on me), and somehow managed to hit my face against the window, spill the chocolate over myself, and rip the sleeve of my brother’s sweater.. 😉

What’s your idea of a romantic vacation?
no sleep and plenty of amazing food, open spaces and Nature

What’s your favorite love (or anti-love) song? Why?
I’ve just seen a face, Beatles. It just got caught in my head, you know?

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Santiago Cárdenas was born in Bogotá, Colombia (1988). He moved to the USA when he was nine and has been a musician at heart ever since he first picked up a guitar. He studied classical guitar in Boston under Robert Ward and then travelled several times to Granada, Spain, to study Flamenco guitar and “palmas”. Upon his return, he attended Berklee College of Music from which he graduated as a Professional Musician. Santiago’s interests range from Flamenco, Brazilian and Cape Verdean rhythms to Jazz, Classical music, World Music pedagogy and ethnomusicology. He is a composer and is working on his first non-commercial studio recording this Spring. He performs and teaches in the Boston area.

Meet the Crew: Josh Friedensohn, Technical Director, Set Designer

If you weren’t in theatre, what would you do?
I’m an engineer by education, so I suppose I would follow that path. I really enjoy working with my hands and seeing the things I plan and design come to life in a physical form. So I could see myself going a variety of ways with that: anywhere from architecture to roller coasters!

What has been your favorite thing about working on the play so far?
My favorite thing about this play so far is that we’re working in a rather challenging space tech-wise. It’s taking a lot of creative thinking to transform Rehearsal Hall A into the kind of intimate playing space we want it to be to fit this show. I’m incredibly impressed with what our fantastic crew of designers has come up with so far, so please come out and see the fruits of their labor. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

What is the best story you have from a first date? (can be a terrible first date, or maybe the best one ever!)
This is rather embarrassing, and not true to my character at all (I swear!), but I once met a woman and went on one date with her using a pseudonym. It wasn’t until just before our second date that I actually told her my real name, and to her credit, she took it in stride and the second date did take place! I’m glad to have that story, but I will never do something like that again.

If you could go on a date with one celebrity, who would it be and why?
Princess Leia, of course!

What one trait (physical or personality-wise) do you find most attractive?
I find honesty to be an incredibly attractive quality. A woman who can seamlessly mix candor with humor instantly has my attention.

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Josh has been with Vagabond since day one and is proud to once again attach his name to a VTG production. Josh is originally from Irvington, NY and currently works as an Acoustics Project Manager for Electric Boat in Connecticut. But, as usual, no distance and nobuddy will stop him from working with this wonderful group of individuals. He has been graced with an amazing team of designers, technicians and artists who have worked together seamlessly to develop a world for this story to take shape in. He would like to thank James, Eveleen & Erica for their tremendous support on this production and Meron for providing an incredible landscape for us to explore our creativity. Enjoy the show and keep smiling!

Double Your Impact!! Burning up the Dictionary and Movember

Our Technical Director, Josh Friedensohn is participating in Movember this year and will match your gift to Burning up the Dictionary by donating the same amount (up to $50 per person) towards the fight against prostate and testicular cancer when you contribute to both causes! Full instructions are below, but first some info on Movember!

What’s Movember!? During November every year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces, in the US and around the world. With their Mo’s, these men raise vital awareness and funds for men’s health issues, specifically prostate and testicular cancer initiatives. Once registered at movember.com, men start Movember 1st clean-shaven. For the rest of the month, these “Mo Bros” groom, trim and wax their way into the annals of fine moustachery. The program raises funds in the US support prostate cancer and testicular cancer initiatives.

Through this charitable giant known as Movember, Josh is hoping to support two great causes! Starting today, your contribution to Burning up the Dictionary can also support men’s health!

Josh has graciously created this $300 challenge to match your donations to VTG’s Burning up the Dictionary Indiegogo page with a donation to Movember when you donate to both causes!

Here’s how it works:

  1. You go to Josh’s Movember site and donate any amount that you would like to his cause.
  2. You go to VTG’s Burning up the Dictionary Indiegogo Page and donate the amount to be matched (Josh will match up to $50 per person). You can still donate more than $50 and partake in the perks of the campaign! Make sure to use the same name you used for your donation on Josh’s Movember page.
  3. Email josh@vagabondtheatregroup.com with the name you used on both sites.
  4. Josh will match the donation you made to Burning up the Dictionary by making an equal donation to Movember to support cancer research.

And of course, come out to see Josh’s Mo’ in full force during the run of the show, November 28 – December 1!

The fine print:

  • In order for your donations to count towards this promotion, both donations must be made on or after November 13, 2012.
  • You may not choose “anonymous donor” on either site, and the names you use to donate must be identical.
  • The promotion ends once the total amount of matched donations equals $300 (or the Indiegogo campaign ends), but you are still more than welcome to donate to both causes!

Meet the Crew: Eveleen Sung, Assistant Technical Director

How did you get involved in theatre? What is your first theatre memory?
A full-blown theatre summer camp. I think I was 12. We did the junior version of Schoolhouse Rock and learned about everything that went into putting on a production. I remember loving building the simple platform set we had, and I mouse-whispered/sang a duet at the beginning of “We, The People, Preamble.”

If theatre is not your full-time job, what do you do on the side? What do you enjoy about it and how does it connect to your life in the theatre?
I’m a web developer for the Interactive Design office at Boston University. I sit in front of a computer all day playing with websites. It’s awesome. I think the aspect I love most about theatre is being able to look behind a presentation in how it was put together. Building a website (among many other things, really) has the same kind of notion. Watching the puzzle pieces come together is infinitely more satisfying than just finding a completed one.

How did you get involved in this production? What has been your favorite thing about working on the play so far?
Josh. (Hi Josh! 🙂 ) I sort of stepped out of the theatre world after college, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying getting back into it. It’s been eerily familiar and so comfortable.

What is the best story you have from a first date?
Maybe not the best story, but a good story nonetheless. We went to see a play, and he fell dead asleep. To be honest though, it wasn’t the best show to choose for a date. But the experience was hilarious. And awkward afterwards.

If you could go on a date with one celebrity, who would it be and why?
Hmm, Lee Pace. I want to squish his face.

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Eveleen has absolutely adored her first production with the Vagabond brethern group. She was actively involved with theatre groups throughout high school (International Thespian Troupe, #57) and college (BU Stage Troupe and BU on Broadway). She has participated in numerous productions onstage, offstage, and in the pit, but she finds technical theatre by far the most rewarding. Memorable past credits include: Galaxy Video, Set Designer; Man in the Flying Lawn Chair, Production Stage Manager; Betty’s Summer Vacation, Assistant Technical Director; Reefer Madness, Technical Advisor; The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Set Designer. She also loves swing dancing.

Meet the Cast: Cassandra Meyer, Suzie-Fay

Meet Cassandra Meyer, who is playing Suzie-Fay in the upcoming production of Burning up the Dictionary (tickets on sale now!) As a Vermont native, Cassandra says that her ideal romantic vacation would be someplace quite, preferably at a cabin in the woods (but hopefully not like this one)!

If you weren’t in theatre, what would you do?
Probably get a lot more sleep. Live in a cleaner apartment? Perhaps archeology. I’ve wanted to go to Egypt since I was in grade school and saw my first mummy… My best friend and I used to dig up bits of broken pottery and try to put them together with super glue.

If theatre is not your full-time job, what do you do on the side?
I work at an intellectual property law firm during the day- mostly assisting with US patent prosecution. It has almost nothing to do with theater, but does allow me to pay my rent! It also offers entertaining moments when my colleagues ask what I’m doing over the weekend…

If you could go on a date with one celebrity, who would it be and why?
Eddie Izzard. It would be a hilarious time, and he would have better makeup and shoes. Plus we could laugh over the first two times I met him and was so star-struck I couldn’t put an intelligent sentence together. Or Olivia Wilde. Because she’s hot.

What is the best gift you ever received from a significant other?
A trip to Ireland. Ireland has a special place in my heart and I’m sure I talk about it far too often. Clearly, my significant other was listening. I don’t think I had jumped up and down for a present since I was a kid. There was a lot of jumping up and down!

What’s your favorite love (or anti-love) song? Why?
There are so many of both of these out there… but Cry me a River, by Julie London is beautiful and Song for the Dumped, by Ben Folds Five is so funny! [you can find the entire cast and crew’s love/anti-love playlist on Spotify here!]

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Cassandra Meyer received her BA in performance from Northeastern University and has also studied at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, Ireland. Previous credits include: Twelfth Night (Arts After Hours), Girl Hopping (Sugar Cereal Productions), The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (Happy Medium Theater Company), Picasso at the Lapin Agile (Winthrop Playmakers), The House of Yes (Apollinaire Theatre Company), The Dining Room and The Winter’s Tale (Bad Habit Productions), Polaroid Stories (Tinderbox Stage Company), and the films Marranos (Charles River Media) and Skin & Bone (Milk and Cookie Productions). To L, always.