But young Romeo will be older when You have found him than he was when you sought him: I am the youngest of that name, for fault of a worse.
Through the SPARC program at the LMCC, Artistic Director, Emily Davis, staged a Romeo & Juliet with members of the Lenox Hill Senior Center.
SPARC is a collaboration among the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Department for the Aging and the City's five local arts councils. This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the Department For the Aging.
Benvolio and her home-made torch
Romeo, Benvolio and Mercutio
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Department of Cultural Affairs
Very Serious Theatre
Shakespeare as it was meant to be done.
Without words and all the wrong props.
Messenger Theatre Company proudly presents our first show with the flexibility to be performed anywhere. Very Serious Theater was developed in public parks but lately we’ve been performing in schools. We’ll go anywhere! Anywhere that could do with a little sense of magic and wonder.
The shows are improvised by a company of actors in naïve masks (AKA larval or basal) and a provocateur. Each time they attempt to stage a Very Serious piece of classical theatre, they inevitably fail, much to everyone’s satisfaction. Tybalt rises from the dead. Romeo and Juliet are killed by alligators.
For Phase 1 of the project: Subsidized studio space provided by the A.R.T./New York Creative Space Grant, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Phase 2: Subsidized Studio Space provided by the League of Independent Theater
Very Serious Theatre
Very Serious Theatre is very serious.
Shakespeare as it was meant to be done. WIthout words and all the wrong props.
As We Like It
A playful two-woman adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, As We Like It features music, puppetry, dance and wrestling. Celia and Rosalind devise sports and play pretend. They take on all the roles, including themselves, as they explore love and their Daddy issues. The text is exclusively Shakespeare’s but the show belongs to Rosalind and Celia. These effervescent debutantes play games.
“If you like Shakespeare, OR if you kinda HATE Shakespeare, then this show is for you. In good humor and with fabulous ‘acting’ (or is it ‘playing’), Messenger Theatre Company brought As You Like It, to life!”
Pick of the Fringe – September 4, 2012From Katy Walsh, ChicagoNow, The Fourth Walsh: Among all the ribbons and hatboxes, this show is a pretty little package. Emily Davis and Sara Zimmerman devise and perform their two person adaptation of the Shakespeare classic. Clad in ball gowns, Davis and Zimmerman play an energetic and stylish game of dress-up as a classic. As cousins, Rosalind and Celia or lovers, Orlando and Rosalind, their antics are sweet adorability. The two ladies slip paper makeshift hats, belts, skirts on and off as they slip into a different Shakespearean character. Animated paper sock puppets fill out the rest of the ensemble. The whole story swirls forward with an impromptu make-believe vibe. It’s easy to believe we are watching kids pretend. They giggle. They sing. They chase ribbons. They kiss using their hands. Davis and Zimmerman sip from age-defying elixir and ta-da, they captivate! It’s that pure innocence that makes this story a delightful charmer. Just as I like it, AS WE LIKE IT is a fun-loving frolic! ChicagoNow
Messenger Theatre’s As We Like Itdistills Shakespeare’s play down to its essence, exploring the construction of individual identity as well as the – at times – messy construction of human relationships. Emily Davis and Sara Zimmerman construct the set and their costumes as they deconstruct the play, turning Shakespeare’s twice cross-dressed exploration of the self alone and in relationship to others back on itself to see how it might have played out differently if Shakespeare had a sister (or two) performing the same narrative. This production from the fringe reminds us that Shakespeare himself wrote plays from the margin of London, setting a modern cultural icon firmly back on his original edge. – Regina Buccola, Associate Professor, English, Core Faculty, Women’s and Gender Studies, Roosevelt University
As We Like It was developed in performance at the Chicago Fringe Festival (Aug 30- Sept 6 2012) and Wilmington Fringe Festival (Sept 28-30 2012.) It premiered in New York at IATI Theater October 17- October 27 2013.
As We Like It is made possible in part with public funds from the Manhattan Community Arts Fund, supported by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
As We Like It is made possible in part with public funds from the Fund for Creative Communities, supported by New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.
In the last few years we've done performances in schools. We've done Very Serious Theatre and As We Like It in elementary, middle and high schools. Our school audiences have been incredibly enthusiastic and sweet to us. Reach out to us to find out how you can sponsor a school performance or schedule a performance for your school.
We got great questions and delightful feedback from our audiences.
"It was funny and surprising." "Thank you for introducing me to a whole new Art! "I was amazed by your performance! I would like to see you guys performed again about Shakespeare because it was really fun to watch. Thank you!"
Developed at St. Ann’s Warehouse, “Seeing Inside” takes place under the skirt of Lou Andreas-Salome in the late 19th century. A toy puppet theatre, complete with black and theatrical lighting, is secreted within Lou’s gown. Lou weaves the ideas, discoveries and music of the era into an intimate reflective narrative. Featured are her lover, Rainer Maria Rilke and her friend, Sigmund Freud, as well as a taste of Ibsen. “Seeing Inside” takes us inside and then further inside to see what is beneath the surface.
Seeing Inside was developed at St. Ann’s Puppet Lab, Matt Acheson and Tom Lee, Directors, at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, NY 2011
It was subsequently performed at the Figment Festival and The Lost Circus.
A lunchtime slot in an out-of-the-way venue was never going to be an easy gig: but I left this show feeling happy, energised and chuckling to myself as I recalled all the little moments. I loved this show- physical comedy, clowning, a satirical eye for parodying itself, a really stunning pair of performers. Just when I thought I’d settled in and found a plateau of comedy, something new happened. Costumes transformed with a flick of the wrist, red noses became iconic and the universe of the play got turned on its head more than once. This performance deserved far more attention than it received- I hope they’ll be back next year to delight us some more!
fig. a: The Heart
fig. a: The Heart is a theatrical investigation of the scientific, metaphoric, mythical, and mystical aspects of the heart, as seen through the ages and through its secret chambers. When the play begins, Ruby has just had a heart transplant. Upon waking, she discovers she no longer knows herself. On her quest to find her old heart and the donor of her new heart, she finds herself in Venice, the Egyptian Underworld and visited by a number of Heart-y mythical figures. And Elvis.
Part play, part medical lecture and part philosophy. . .and all intriguing. It also has the most original finale that I've ever seen.
– Bev Sykes, The Davis Enterprise
Workshop production at the Mondavi Center in May 2007 Produced by UC Davis Department of Theatre and Dance
Brittany Barba, Claire Blackstock, Isaac Blackstock, Bradley Castillo, Christopher Jee, Melanie Julian, Lisa Klein, Christy Li, Daniel Reaño-Koven, Jzeela Refah, Jessica Rodriguez, Lauri Smith and Sara Zimmerman
Puppeteers: Shayna Carp and Dustin Murray
fig. a: The Heart
“Gainst nature still!”
The witches are nature itself (in form of a tree.)
Macbeth disturbs the very balance of the natural world with his attempts to control his fate. He’s never alone, however, as the earth itself may be watching his every move. “Thou sure and firm-set earth, Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear Thy very stones prate of my whereabout”
THE GREAT GOD MONEY is a mythological musical that explores one woman’s journey through the magical lands of money. Developed out of community workshops and audience questionnaires, the show wrestles with one of the thorniest issues of contemporary life with humor, catchy songs and office supplies.
“A witty and quirky musical comedy”
Crisp, smart, and amusing
THE GREAT GOD MONEY was performed as part of the New York International Fringe Festival in August 2005
THE GREAT GOD MONEY
Written and Directed by Emily Davis
Music by Emily Davis, Barry Gribble, Dmitri Kalmar, and Ben Morss
A contemporary retelling of a classic Russian folktale with masks and shadow puppets: In this magical tale, a young girl ventures into the dark forest and encounters the terrifying Baba Yaga and her house on chicken legs. With her doll’s help, she must complete the tasks Baba Yaga sets for her or be turned into stew!
From CBC message boards – Winnipeg Fringe Festival
Posted: Jul 20 2004, 08:31 PM
The Adventures of Baba Yaga
There are two dangers in fairytale theatre. One is that if you go for the magic and wonder of these ancient tales you run the risk of creating something twee and phony that will particularly turn off children (like my nine year old) who are establishing identities for themselves as reasoning beings. The other is that if you try to appeal to the sensibilities of smart, self-aware kids (and their parents) by modernizing the language, mixing humour with the magical plots, combining the old-fashioned fairy story cadences with contemporary demotic language (a la Shrek and Shrek 2), you entertain at the expense of the soul of the traditional tale.
Somehow, Messenger Theater has found a way to avoid both pitfalls in a production that’s funny, current, timeless and enchanting, even for a sophisticated kid like my son (or a moderately sophisticated kid like his old man).
Add to that some incredible value for budget conscious Winnipeggers. This is a very professional show, combining puppetry, masks, shadow puppets, gorgeous costumes and flawless acting. For a mere eight bucks it compares favourably with many of the touring shows in the Manitoba Theatre for Young People season.
katePosted: Jul 23 2004, 11:51 AM
adventures of Baba Yaga rocked my kids’ worlds (they are 5 and 8)
JohnDHustonPosted: Jul 19 2004, 01:09 PM
ADVENTURES OF BABA YAGA
This is NOT just a kids’ show!! This is a wonderful telling of one of the Russian folk tales about the wisewoman/witch Baba Yaga, told in a variety of theatrical styles: shadow puppet, mask, and panto.
Folk tales touch on our deepest hopes and fears, our dreams and nightmares. This production provides a magical world where anything may be possible and that’s what theatre of any sort is for, isn’t it?
Oh yes, it’s also great for kids.
The Golden Apple: For the Fairest
Complex, hilarious, timely and expertly delivered”
The Golden Apple: For the Fairest is a Trojan tragic-comedy featuring love, war, swords, sheep, a wooden horse, family, romance and death. Starring Aphrodite, goddess of love, Athena: goddess of wisdom and Hera: Queen of the Gods. See goddesses haggle over a golden apple at the expense of human lives! See Paris steal Helen, Queen of Sparta and bring war (and a thousand ships) to Troy! See Cassandra’s prophecies of death and destruction fall on deaf ears! Watch touching love stories unfold, betrayal unfurl, order unravel and tragedy descend!
Written and directed by Emily Davis
Puppet and set design by Shannon Harvey
Produced by Agathe David-Weill
Lighting Design by Tina Polzin
Costume Design by Matthew Simonelli
Music/Sound Design by George Henik
Fight Direction by Bethany Burgess Smith
Stage Management by Christopher L Thomasson
The Production featured: Daoud Ali, Amy Attaway, Julie Baber, John Capalbo, Courtney Cunningham, Myles Goldin, Jo Jo Hristova, Mina Kim, Jennifer McGeorge, Geeda Searfoorce, Steve Spehar and Jason Vail.
I thought Golden Apple was funny and thoughtful with stand-out performances. What I most enjoyed was the way you skillfully wove the theme of beauty throughout. Beauty as cruelty, beauty as folly, beauty as powerless and powerful. I am still thinking about Aphrodite’s epiphany at the end.
– Chris Cunningham
You had an idea to demonstrate, a particularly somber, nay, heavy one, and you did so very well. I was particularly impressed with Cassandra. The passion there: message, rebuff, message, frustration at more rejection, message, yet again obdurate NO, emotional collapse. Fine, there, really fine.
– Howard Laniado
I absolutely loved the show. It was amazing! It’s funny and poignant and the performances are awesome. It’s a great evening of theatre for all ages. It was so creative and visual with minimal staging that I shutter to think of what you could do with a budget!
– Jason Godbey
The Golden Apple is a delightful romp through a timeless tale. All in all, an entertaining evening with a stellar performance by Courtney Cunningham as Philoctetes, the fool. Cunningham is hilarious, the love scene with her foot will have you rolling in the aisles! Bravo Messenger!
– Leese Walker
I thought that the script was bright, witty, and original, offeringnew twists and immediate perspectives to material that has been so worked over that even “Hercules” got a shot at it. The mask work was clean and communicative to the point that when the masks came off to reveal the goddesses in human form, they were an extension of the goddesses themselves…or were the goddesses an extension of the actresses….i like that. And of course shannon’smasks and puppetry were beautiful, as well as expressive. The little sheep was a brilliant way to kick off the show. And then there is courtney…a bundle of energy with a razor sense of timing. she is funny as hell.
– Kevin Bartlett
Everything I saw was consistently fantastic. The show was a perfect example of the strength of successful ensemble work as it relates not only to actors, but also to director, musicians, producer and set designer. The text was complex, hilarious, timely and expertly delivered. I felt like you really stuck your knuckles in there and got to the good stuff, and with so much of the right mixture of humor and tragedy. And of course it was all very well executed by an outstanding cast who’s energy amazed me throughout. Distinct characters and obvious passion. ABSOLUTE FEARLESSNESS and great timing. I feel sort of funny saying that the goddess masks were beautiful because I feel like it’s so Obvious. They were “divine.” They were played with grace and elegance, without losing their plucky distinctiveness. All of the mythical romances were attended to with absolute conviction, taking us all along for the ride.
It’s so easy to forget how important these myths are. And how juicy.
The show felt new and exciting and important. It was one of those productions that other theater artists go to and think, “See, now thisis the kind of thing I want to be doing!” The whole thing was an inspiration.
– Vanessa Valliere
A show with great acting and a great script that had everything: romance, history, universal themes, comedy, tragedy, sword-fighting, and a guy in love with his foot.
– Donna Shaunesey
“The Lysistrata Rap” was created to be a part of the Lysistrata Project, a worldwide theatrical act of dissent against the war in Iraq. Using simple cardboard and papier maché puppets, our “Lysistrata Rap” re-told the story as recounted in Aristophanes’ play with our own special flavor.
Performed @ the United Nations and Grand Central Stationon March 3rd, 2003. We were filmed and interviewed by NY1 and CNN. Our first national press!
Written and Directed by Emily Davis
Puppets by Shannon Harvey
Produced by Agathe David-Weill
Assistant Directed by Alex Davis
Performed by Alice Cutler, Alex Davis, Jenny Deller, Brian Stockton, Steve Moramarco, Bekka Fink, Laura Fontaine and Brooke Volkert
“The Enemy” is a military Punch and Judy show that raises questions about war, murder and consequence. Joe enlists in the army because he wants to kill Nick, his sworn enemy. He comes into conflict with authority figures who applaud his attack on the Enemy but condemn his desire to revenge himself on a single man. Moral ambiguities arise concerning the difference between killing for one’s country and killing for one’s personal sense of justice. And it’s funny.
Performed @ HERE (as part of Basil Twist’s Puppet Parlor) on December 17th 2002
Performed @ The Brecht Forum as part of THAW! on March 2nd, 2003
To participate in future Surrealist activities, send an email with a Subject Heading that reads “Surrealism is Dead. Long Live Surrealism.” to info AT messengertheatreco.org. Surrealist content encouraged. Sending this emailwill both add you to our email list and put you on the surrealist list.