LuxeMonitor | Artist Questionnaire

'Summer Shorts' at 59E59 Theaters

An open secret among savvy theater goers and Midtown East residents, 59E59 theaters boasts a diverse and powerful annual program at this delightful off-broadway location. Occupying a modern, slick building just a couple of blocks off the south-east corner of Central Park, complete with a full service bar featuring live jazz bands, the venue’s three stages host hard-hitting theater work alongside experimental formats and original, lighter entertainment fare.

Summer shorts 2018 (currently playing until September 1st,) is a seasonal festival delivering a unique collection of intelligent, humorous and poignant short American plays, now going on its 12th year. Consisting of two 90-minute evenings running in rotation, both series A and B seem to bear a resemblance in the order of the program, building up from slice of life pieces to poignant tales of relationship, secrets and hope.
Series A kickoff with the meta LIVING ROOM, exploring a self reflective day in the life of the last two white people on earth, through to the sharply written, witty and hyper-realistic KENNY’S TAVERN, and culminating in GROUNDED, a surprising masterpiece of dialogue prowess, impressive acting and tongue-in-cheek directorial flow which does the bitter-sweet story justice (‘Grounded’ unites an all-star team of director and Academy Award winner Alexander Dinelaris, with New York Times best selling author of 20 books Chris Bohjalian, on his first foray into playwriting.) Series B starts off with THE PLOT, an exploration of the age old child-mother tug of war, placed in – naturally – a cemetery; next comes IBIS, cleverly designed to solve a mystery by blending the genres of film-noir, thriller and coming of age tale; lastly, Neil Labute’s SPARRING PARTNER is a convincing work, quickly pulling the viewer into an complex emotional situation, and proving an apt example of the creative possibilities inherent in the art form which is the one-act play.

Summer Shorts Founder and Artistic director J.J. Kandel, himself a former festival performer and director as well as an accomplished film and stage actor, does a superb job curating and steering this year’s festival, striking a balance of established veterans and up-and-coming talent. J.J. took the LuxeMonitor Artist Questionnaire – here are the results:

1. What is Summer Shorts? An annual event where audiences can get reacquainted with some of their favorite American playwrights, and discover new talent

2. Describe your art – use as many keywords as you like: Quality, concise, digestible, intimate, thought-provoking, affordable

3. My favorite color: Green

4. Your favorite quote/life mantra: Deal with what is, not what isn’t or might be

5. Favorite animal: Dachshund

6. Place I’d like to visit: Iceland, Portugal, Ireland, Fiji

7. Cities I’d like to live in? Vienna, Rome, Vancouver

8. Artists that influenced me: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cate Blanchett, Norman Rockwell, Edward Norton

9. If I wasn’t an actor/artistic director: I’d like to try architecture

10. Where do you feel you or your soul is from – today: Whole Foods

11. If you had a time machine, what year do you punch in: 1885

12. What is most missing in the world today: Good conversation

13. Character trait you hate most: Perfectionist

14. Drug of choice: Red Wine

15. What’s most important to me? Finishing what I start

16. My greatest extravagance is: Good food and drink

17. When do you lie: When I get caught

18. What I dislike most about my appearance: My dashing good looks

17. When and where were you the happiest: Traveling the world working on films

18. What is acting: The art of getting out of your own way