2016-2017


 photo by Kent Meister

photo by Kent Meister

My first full-length play (Latter Days) was produced at Ars Nova in early 2017; later that year, I began co-writing The Assembly's first musical — with a score by Nate Weida, my old high school classmate. Meanwhile, I continued creating new plays with a wide range of glorious downtown weirdos.

Then in spring 2017, two incredible projects dropped out of the blue.

Clubbed Thumb Summerworks, which I’d first auditioned for a full decade earlier, offered me a role in their 2017 season.

Three weeks later, I got another unexpected offer — a five-month national tour of Small Mouth Sounds — based on my audition for the show's Ars Nova premiere two-and-a-half years before.

In the theater, progress takes years, sometimes decades — and then happens overnight.

 

 Robert and Clara Schuman

Robert and Clara Schuman

GHOST VARIATIONS

Closed Reading

January 3, 2016

by Anna Elliott, dir. Jess Chayes

with Edward Bauer, Emily Caffery, and Emily Louise Perkins

Role: Robert Schuman

The Assembly

A high-octane, hilarious take on the strange lives of composers Robert and Clara Schuman and their circle.


odorizome

Dance Recital (Kabuki)

January 17, 2016

My first kabuki dance recital.

Inspired by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman's Pacific Overtures, as well as other Kabuki-influenced Western artists such as Bertolt Brecht and Ariane Mnouchkine, I began studying the traditional Japanese form of dance theater in the summer of 2015.

 Ben (left) with the performers of  Odorizome , all students of Sachiyo Ito (center, with flowers)

Ben (left) with the performers of Odorizome, all students of Sachiyo Ito (center, with flowers)


 playwright Peggy Stafford

playwright Peggy Stafford

Everything Is Here

Workshop Production

January 22-25, 2016

by Peggy Stafford, dir. Sanaz Ghajarrahimi

with Laura Esterman, Kathleen Tolan, and Lizann Mitchell

Role: Grant

Clubbed Thumb Directing Fellowship @ 440 Studios

"In a senior center community in the suburbs, three women mark time in a common room that looks out on a man-made pond.  Remembering what was and wasn't, what might have been, and acting out scenes from A Streetcar Named Desire."

A pared-down production in a rehearsal studio, Everything Was Here was fully staged and off-book.


Certain Poor Shepherds

Closed Reading (Screenplay)

January 29, 2016

by Helen Schulman, dir. Teddy Bergman

with Havilah Brewster, Danny Deferrari, Jamie Effros, Nicole Golden, Mikaela Feely-Lehman, Tommy Heleringer, and Rosalie Lowe

Role: Kevin

Pearl Studios


 above, Ben Beckley and Anne Gridley in  Due To Events;  below, a scene from  Due To Events

above, Ben Beckley and Anne Gridley in Due To Events; below, a scene from Due To Events

Due To Events

Production

February 4-27, 2016

written and directed by Eric John Meyer and Jean Ann Douglass

with Laura Campbell, Anne Gridley, and David Skeist

Role: Lawyer

Human Head Performance Group @ The Brick

"Inspired by the 18th-century French novel Voyage Around My Room, a travel journal of the author's forty-two days under house arrest, Due to Events follows the mental excursions of a modern woman bound to her own home while awaiting a court date that may never come. She has little to occupy her but a world-traveling Lawyer [Ben Beckely] who writes letters he never sends, a house cat who writes plays she can’t understand, and a government-issue Squirrel-o-phone."

 

Evanston Salt Costs Climbing

Workshop Production (Excerpt)

February 8, 2016

by Will Arbery, dir. Jess Chayes

with Jeb Kreager, Elena McGhee, and Rachel Sachnoff

Little Theater

"A polar vortex. A new city plan. Heated permeable pavers. They should write a thing about what it’s like on the roads, with the salt."


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ANOTHER KIND OF SILENCE

Workshop

February 9-13, 2016

by Lauren Feldman, dir. Will Davis

with Robbie Berry, Danielle Davenport, Julie Fitzpatrick, John McGinty, Eli Pauley, Mara Stephens, and Alexandria Wailes

Role: Peter

New Georges

Lauren's latest remarkable drama features both deaf and hearing actors, and as much signing as speaking.



THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY

L'AVANT HIER

Closed Reading

February 10, 2016

by Israel Horowitz

with Caitlin FitzGerald, Kathryn Kalucki, Francisco Solorzano, Sawyer Spielberg, and Camile St. James

produced by Glory Kadigan

Barefoot Theatre Company

I played a Frenchman who falls in love with an American (Caitlin FitzGerald (Showtime's Masters of Sex)) the night before he witnesses a horrifying act of terrorism at a Paris nightclub.

Horowitz was apparently responsible for horrifying acts of his own. A year-and-a-half later, a New York Times expose alleged several incidents of harassment and assault spanning decades.

 playwright Israel Horowitz

playwright Israel Horowitz


"Humans" from the show's fall 2017 premiere at the Philly Fringe Festival

 

A PERIOD OF ANIMATE EXISTENCE

Workshop

February 14-16, 2016

dir. Dan Rothenberg

with Will Eno, Troy Herion, and Mimi Lien

Pig Iron

Over the course of fifteen years, I'd auditioned for director Dan Rothenberg for three different projects (involving multiple callbacks).

This marked our first time working together.


MEN'S ROOM

Workshop

February 17-19, 2016

by Sarah Delappe, dir. Morgan Green

New Georges (Audrey Residency)

Sarah DeLappe and Morgan Green decided to boldly go where no female creative team had gone before: into the men's room. For three days we discussed, improvised, and invented everything that can go on behind the one door forbidden for women to enter.

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Heartplay

Benefit Performance

February 20, 2016

by BEN BECKLEY, after the play by Heiner Muller

dir. Jess Chayes

The Assembly @ The New Ohio

Inspired by my work on Another Kind of Silence in February, I incorporated sign language into the Heartplay I wrote for 2016.

A couple comes together one last time after a painful breakup. They can't help talking about the 2016 primaries (she's a Bernie supporter; he loves Hillary Clinton). From time to time, they break into sign language, and the silent text, adapted from Heiner Muller's Heartplay, offers an oblique subtext for the scene, reflecting the broken hearts of the two characters.

The play culminates with a terrifying Kabuki-inspired Trump dance.


The Iceman Cometh

Closed Reading

March 10, 2016

by Eugene O'Neill, dir. KatieRose McLaughlin


    

 

 


 

I Will look forward to this later

Production

April 4-23, 2016

by Kate Benson and Emily Perkins, dir. Jess Chayes

with Edward Bauer, Vinie Burrows, Linda Larson, and Emily Perkins

Role: Samuel

The Assembly @ The New Ohio

The Assembly's latest featured the ghost of a Great American Writer who haunts his hapless son Samuel, a failed novelist so self-critical and distraught he can barely finish a sentence.

Working on I Will Look Forward in 2015 and 2016 made me adept at playing inarticulate characters, and I drew on this peculiar skill for my work in Everything Is Here, Crush, Small Mouth Sounds, and Pose.

Meanwhile, I'd become more articulate physically. I'd been studying Kabuki dance for a year, and we incorporated a hanamichi (long central path from the audience) and a couple of mie (heightened physical poses).


COMPLEX: A comedy

Closed Reading

April 24, 2016

by Dominic Finocchiaro, dir. Sanaz Ghajarrahimi

with Andrew Butler, Lena Hudson, Vanessa Koppel, Anastasia Olowin, and Vincent Santvoord

Role: Jeffrey

"Something strange is going on in the apartment complex. When residents start turning up dead in ever more gruesome ways, it’s left to busybody tenant Todd to sort out the mess and stop the bleeding. A dark comedy about modern living and other forms of mass murder."


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spring fling - crush

Production

April 28-May 8, 2016

Behind the Wall

by Krista Knight, dir. Matt Dickson

Role: Cockroach
 

Crush

by Greg Moss, dir. Anne Cecelia Haney

Role: Geoff

 Ben in "Behind the Wall" (above) and "Crush" (below)

Ben in "Behind the Wall" (above) and "Crush" (below)

You Were Crushed

by Ariel Stess, dir. Ben Kamine

Role: Man

F*IT Club at IRT

Krista Knight's "Behind the Wall" featured five short vignettes in the life (and afterlife) of an obsessive cockroach who falls fatally in love with a human woman.

Greg Moss' "Crush" cast me as an anxious ex-smoker — well, current smoker — who reluctantly takes part in "The Not-Creepy Dating Event For Singles Who Want to Fall in Love". In spite of — or maybe because of — his total honesty about his deeply neurotic existence, he ends up with a pretty incredible woman (The TEAM's Jill Frutkin).

I stepped into Ariel Stess' play midway through the run, when an actor had to drop out. An elliptical story of heartbreak, "You Were Crushed" has echoes of Gertrude Stein, though the weird balance of deep emotional pain and light, airy wordplay is vintage Stess.

 


HOME/SICK

Production (Tour)

June 9-July 3, 2016

created by the ensemble, dir. Jess Chayes

with Edward Bauer, Kate Benson, Anna Abhau Elliott, Luke Harlan, and Emily Perkins

Role: Tommy

The Assembly @ The Odyssey Theater (Los Angeles)


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THE SISTER

Production (Tour)

August 8-28, 2016

by Eric John Meyer, dir. Jess Chayes

with Erin Mallon, Alley Scott, and Justin Yorio

Dutch Kills @ The Studio/Paradise at St. Augustines

Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Edinburgh, Scotland)

Immediately following this run, my wife and I hiked the 500-mile Camino de Santiago in northern Spain.

 

Looking Back, It May Not Have Been Ridgefield High's Best Production of Our Town

Closed Reading 

November 2, 2016

by Augie Praley, dir. Isaac Klein

with Chance Carroll, Whitney Conkling, Maggie D'Ambrose, James Fouhey, Jenn Lyon, Linda Lee McBride, Will Manning, Preston Martin, Thomas Constantine Moore, Emily Louise Perkins, Kim Ramirez, Kelly Rogers, Peter Sansbury, and Trevor Vaughn

Role: Thornton Wilder

Chez Praley

"Equal parts earnest love letter and meta dissection of Thornton Wilder's masterpiece, Augie Praley's play takes the awkward and the cringe-worthy, the hilarious and the tragic, the epic and the unbelievable, the ordinary and the extraordinary, and explores what it means to be human today."

With a large cast and a limited budget, Augie and Isaac's exploration of what it means to be human today continued without equity actors when they mounted the full production at The PIT later in 2016.

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MIND THE GAP

Workshop

December 7, 2016

by Lorraine Andoh, Mary Daniel, Alice Gordon, Taylor Grant, Barbara Hazen, Leila Henry, Gerald Kaufman, Pam Perlman, and Elizabeth Rosen

with Michael Bradley, Susan Burns, Cassie Gilling, Erica Lance, James J. Lorenzo, Shannon Molly Flynn, E. Okobi, Andres Robledo, David Siciliano, and Matthew Van Oss

New York Theatre Workshop

Mind the Gap brings together teens and elders to write plays inspired by each other's lives, then brings in professional actors to perform them.

In "The Shepherds," written by senior Gerald Kaufman based on an idea by teenager Mary Daniel, I played a powerful politician, celebrated as a hero after a devastating world war it turns out he orchestrated to seize power. (He imparts this unsettling revelation to his reluctant son.)

In "The Final Play," by Mary based on Gerald's idea, I played a suburban parent disappointed by his son's decision to pursue a career in the theater.

In "The Age Shifters," written by senior Elizabeth Rosen based on an idea by teenager Bassira Souare, I played a happily married old man. When his wife decides to shift to a younger age through the magic of modern science, something goes wrong, and she ends up an infant. Initially distraught, he muses, "I've always enjoyed being a father."

Other roles included an abusive alcoholic father and a skeptical in-law.

In other words, I played five different types of crummy dads.


Heiner Müller's Discovery of America

Performance

December 12, 2016

The Mission: Memory of a Revolution

by Heiner Müller, dir. Jess Chayes

Segal Center, City University of New York


setting free the bears (that's not the title)

Closed Reading

December 12, 2016

by John Russo

with Havilah Brewster, Christian Jacobs, Michael Micalizzi, and Ronald Washington

I played a Confederate Civil War re-enactor who awkwardly attempts to justify his period-perfect gray uniform to an African-American neighbor.

(It's awkward.)


odorizome

Dance Recital (Kabuki)

January 22, 2017

My second kabuki dance recital.

(Video available on request.)

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Latter days

Production

February 13-March 11, 2017

by Ben Beckley, dir. Jess Chayes

with Will Dagger and Tony Torn

Dutch Kills @ Ars Nova

I'd written Latter Days on the Starcatcher tour, and as you might expect from a drama written by an understudy, it's very much about waiting.

 Tony Torn and Will Dagger in  Latter Days

Tony Torn and Will Dagger in Latter Days


 Christian Borle

Christian Borle

THE RESISTIBLE RISE OF ARTURO UI

Benefit Performance

February 20, 2017

by Bertolt Brecht, dir. Teddy Bergman

with Arnie Burton, Peter Bartlett, Christian Borle, Bill Buell, Kevin del Aguila, Ethan Dubin, Greg Hildreth, Justin Perez, David Rossmer, James Saito, Joe Tippett, and Elvy Yost

Woodshed Collective @ Judson Memorial Church

Inspired by Hitler's rise to power, Brecht's play chronicles the ascent of a vulgar sociopath, a fascistic gangster who lies and cheats his way to the top.  Any similarities to current political figures were... not coincidental.


HOME/SICK

Production

March 9-25, 2017

created by the ensemble, dir. Jess Chayes

with Edward Bauer, Kate Benson, Anna Abhau Elliott, Luke Harlan, and Emily Perkins

Role: Tommy

The Assembly @ JACK

 The Assembly on the set of  HOME/SICK  (photo by Kent Meister)

The Assembly on the set of HOME/SICK (photo by Kent Meister)


 Beto's play was commission by the Stella Adler Studio.

Beto's play was commission by the Stella Adler Studio.

YOU'RE NOT ALONE (Anymore)

Workshop

April 18-19, 2017

by Beto O'Byrne

with Riti Sachdeva, Lipica Shah, and Ashley Ortiz

Role: Artem

New York Theatre Workshop

"Inspired by NYC’s homelessness epidemic, this play attempts to discover the meaning of homes, homelessness, and collective action, through the story a group of archaeologists desperately trying to uncover the truth of an undeveloped piece of property, the real estate mogul [Ben Beckley] intent of inserting condos onto it, and the community around it that knows what will happen to them if either were to succeed."


THRIVE, or WHAT YOU WILL

Reading

April 29, 2017

by Lauren Feldman, dir. Larissa Lury

with Lily Balsen, Danielle Davenport, Annie Henk, Susan Heyward, Jax Jackson, and Rachel Lin

Role: Philibert Commerson

New Georges

In 1769, Jeanne Baret became the first woman on earth to circumnavigate the globe — after spending most of the voyage disguised as a man. An epic journey written with tremendous intelligence and heart, this unconventional 18th-century love story begins in pre-Revolutionary France and spans half the world.

 Philibert Commerson

Philibert Commerson


Whose sister are you anyway?

Reading

May 13, 2017

by Leopold Zappler

with Juliana Francis Kelly, Will Dagger, and Tony Torn

Torn Page Productions

In Tony's words, "a bizarre farce about a inbred, incestuous Austrian family". 


THE WORLD MY MAMA RAISED

Production

May 20-30, 2017

by Ariel Stess, dir. Kip Fagan

with Jordan Baum, Reyna de Courcy, Ethan Dubin, Zoë Geltman, Mike Iveson, Annie McNamara, Ronald Peet, Madeline Wise, and Danny Wolohan

Roles: Chad the Cop, Friend's Dan the Dean

Clubbed Thumb

In 2008, I'd auditioned for my first show at Clubbed Thumb's Summerworks, purveyor of "funny, strange, and provocative new plays" and one of the great downtown theater companies in New York.

Ten years later, The World My Mama Raised marked my Summerworks debut, in a new play about the systemic brutality of the prison-industrial complex and the structural inequalities that restrict the lives of marginalized people in America. Surprisingly funny and weird, it featured a character named Poopface (Mike Iveson) and a demented cop (me) who wants to spread the word that the local white suburbs are a "war zone".

   

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Ecclesiazusae

Podcast

May 28, 2017

by Jonathan Goldberg, dir. Portia Krieger

Maria Dizzia, Amanda Duarte, Jan Leslie Harding, Robert Emmet Lunney, Jocelyn Kuritsky, Paco Tolson

Role: Schuyler Colfax

This inaugural installment of a proposed NPR podcast on women who have run for President of the United States chronicles the story of America's very first female candidate, Victoria Woodhull (Maria Dizzia). As with most of Jonathan Goldberg's work, the script was irreverent, silly, and meticulously researched.

My character, Ulysses S. Grant's Vice President Schuyler Colfax, wasn't a fan of Woodhull's — or of female candidates in general. "If women are meant for such things then Providence and Time shall give them!"


untitled watergate play

Reading

June 5, 2017

by Mia Rovegno, dir. Matthew Paul Olmos

with Michael Billingsley, Veracity Butcher, Alfredo Narcisso, and J.J. Perez

Role: G. Gordon Liddy, Barrett, Haldeman

The Lark

Matt Olmos is working on a play about a different kind of patriot than we normally see onstage: one willing to sacrifice even his own integrity for the country he loves.

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HOLIDAYS IN/coyote

Workshop

June 19-25, 2017

by Adam Burnett, dir. Jess Chayes

with Kate Schrader

Roles: Pool, Official Fellow

Tofte Lake

Jess and I spent a week on an idyllic lake retreat in upstate Minnesota with playwright Adam Burnett, choreographer Lisa Nevada, video designer David Pym, and actor Kate Schrader.

The remarkable dramaturg Liz Engelman, who shepherded Tony Kushner's "Reverse Transcription," runs the place.

Adam's theatrical extravaganza incorporates home videos from his childhood in Topeka, Kansas; actors portraying trees and buffalo; a Republican anti-environmentalist seduced by a trickster coyote; and a dollhouse — complete with Barbies and action figures — made to look like a Holiday Inn.


bartleby in the castle

Workshop

July 7-10, 2017

by Ben Beckley and Nate Weida, dir. Jess Chayes

with Kelechi Ezie, Sam Gonzalez, and Ronald Peet

The Assembly


THRIVE, or WHAT YOU WILL

Workshop

June 29-July 17, 2017

by Lauren Feldman, dir. Larissa Lury

with Lily Balsen, Annie Henk, Susan Heyward, Jax Jackson, and Rachel Lin

Role: Philibert Commerson

New Georges (Audrey Residency)

By dissecting patriarchal attitudes in 18th-century France, which define much of the loving but problematic relationship between Philibert Commerson and Jeanne Baret, Thrive sheds an uncompromising light on 21st-century American gender relations as well. For women — as we'd seen in November 2016 — authority, respect, and legacy are still hard to come by.

The only cis male in the cast, I found I had both a lot to draw on and a lot to learn.


SMALL MOUTH SOUNDS

First National Tour

August 28, 2017-March 4, 2018

by Bess Wohl, dir. Rachel Chavkin

with Connor Barrett, Edward Chin-Lyn, Orville Mendoza, Brenna Palughi, Socorro Santiago and Cherene Snow

Role: Ned

August 30-September 24:
Long Wharf Theater (New Haven, CT)

October 11-December 10:
American Conservatory Theater (San Francisco, CA)

January 11-January 28:
The Broad Stage (Los Angeles, CA)

February 16-March 4:
Arscht Center (Miami, FL)

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 playwright Matt Olmos

playwright Matt Olmos

untitled watergate play

Reading

September 18, 2017

by Mia Rovegno, dir. Matthew Paul Olmos

with Michael Billingsley, Vivia Font, Eric Miller, and Juan Villa

Role: G. Gordon Liddy

The Lark


SEAGULLMACHINE

Workshop

September 11-October 11, 2017

By Anton Chekhov and Heiner Muller

Dir. Jess Chayes and Nick Benacerraf

with Edward Bauer, Chris Hurt, Jax Jackson and Layla Khoshnoudi

Role: Trigorin

The Assembly

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 A portrait of playwright Rae Binstock, courtesy of The New York Studio School.

A portrait of playwright Rae Binstock, courtesy of The New York Studio School.

POSE

Reading

December 15, 2017

by Rae Binstock, dir. Whitney White

with Cynthia Adler, John Bambery, Julia Greer, Olivia Khoshatefeh, Jessica Ko, and Zdenko Martin

Role: Silas

The Hearth

For years, Rae Binstock posed as a nude model for student artists working in New York studios. Inspired by her experiences, Pose chronicles the empowerment and insecurity of being stripped bare.


 An artist's rendering of Jeanne Baret, the 18th-century cross-dressing botanist lover of Philibert Commerson.

An artist's rendering of Jeanne Baret, the 18th-century cross-dressing botanist lover of Philibert Commerson.

THRIVE, or WHAT YOU WILL

Workshop

December 19, 2017

by Lauren Feldman, dir. Larissa Lury

with C. Bain, Lily Balsen, Danielle Davenport, Rachel Lin, and Christina Pumariega

Role: Philibert Commerson

New Georges

After our April 2017 reading and July 2017 workshop of Thrive, we met in December to explore the tricky scenes in which actors drop character to interrogate Jeanne about her aspirations and accomplishments — and about her troubled, troubling relationship with Philibert Commmerson.