Continuing our coverage of the pairing of LaMaMa and Planet Connections Theatre Festivity for THE FLOOR IS LAVA, a full-scale run of a show that premiered as a workshop presented by the acclaimed Farm Theater Company. Opening May 9 and running through the 19th, at The Downstairs | 66 East 4th Street; Thursday to Saturday at 8PM; Sunday at 5PM; $25 Tickets; $20 Student/Senior Tickets. www.lamama.org or call 212-352-3101.
NOTE: Padraic Lillis Founding Artistic Director of The Farm Theater Company will lead a talkback with playwright Alex Riad, director Glory Kadigan and actors Kailah S. King and Andrew Goebel
Playwright Alex Riad explained the show as the stress of having to succeed. With that in mind, we meet Sean, voted “Most Likely to Succeed” in high school, is not looking so successful a decade later. Reuniting with his high-school buddies at the launch party of their friend’s hugely successful app is certainly making his situation that much tenser.
John DiMino, an NYU Tisch grad with credentials that include Stella Adler and the Actors Studio; and Andrew Goebel, who boasts appearances with Manhattan Theatre Club and Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, have a connection to playwright Alex Riad.
“Andrew and I met through the playwright Alex. Alex and I became friends and Andrew was already an old friend of Alex’s. Then just through the semi-often shindigs Alex would have at his apartment we met. Nothing like scotch and a chill spot to hang and make new friends,” says DiMino; “I have read this play and many other works in progress in Alex’s living room, but the last project I worked on for Alex was his web-series, “What Am I Doing Here?”. I had a pretty ridiculous cameo as one of those costumes people in Times Square. I’ll let you see for yourself which one,” joked Goebel.
John added that he and Riad worked together on this play when it being produced at the Planet Connections Theater Festival: “I was in a public reading of the show before that (Also playing Matt) which was produced by the Farm Theater. That was my first time meeting Alex and experiencing his work. I think Alex is an incredibly talented playwright. He writes in a way that bridges the gap between generations of playwright. He writes like the masters of old like Arthur Miller and the masters of the new like Annie Baker merged into one playwright. His vision into the hearts and minds of millennials is striking and deep and is on full display in this show. He writes incredible fast moving dialogue that gives an actor so much to hold onto. The words are specific and important. I hold myself accountable to be word perfect for his shows. Since then Alex and I have established a lovely working relationship and are huge fans of each other’s work as well very close friends,” he concluded.
This sparked more questions about collaboration:
Tell us more about your collaboration with Director Glory Kadigan, and your experience with La Mama and/or Planet Connections thus far.
Andrew: I always appreciated when everyone on a team can collaborate without the egos getting in the way of the work. That’s how I’ve felt this process has been so far, everything in service of the play while also listening and debating our own interpretations of the piece. Glory nurtures that environment, and I feel empowered to speak up if something isn’t working for me. As far as La Mama, the coolest part for me is working in a theater that has so much history and such an comprehensive body of work, spanning so many different mediums of art and performance. Even while rehearsing, we have the occasional dance rehearsal happening above us, while hearing an entire orchestra below us.
John: Glory is a lovely director. She pays attention to the details, cares about the work and trusts her actors to get to the places they need to go. She’s a collaborator and adheres to the old theater adage of “letting the best idea in the room win”. She also cares about her actors and understands the nuances of the particular stress and intensity that the theater life contains. La Mama has been wonderful. The consistent rehearsal space is amazing and makes us feel like we have a place to call home even during rehearsals. The tour of the archives was amazing and it’s incredible to be even a tiny part of such a storied theater.
Tell us about why “The Floor Is Lava” is an important story to tell.
Andrew: At its core, it’s a story of friendship. For the entirety of the play, we are taken on a journey through how friendships evolve over time, how they degrade, and asking the question “are my personal friendships building me up or breaking me down?” Untimely, it’s up to the audience to decide what healthy connections look like, but I hope people leave the theater thinking about their own past friendships. It also shines a light on Silicon Valley and the Tech Industry. This whole industry has some of the richest and youngest people in the world, and it’s fun for me to get to examine what that feels like, going through the highs and lows of the tech market. Another facet that gets explored is the idea of substance abuse in this culture, and what it looks like when people are given money and power at a young age.
John: The Floor is Lava is an important story to tell because it looks the question of millennial success dead in the face. Our generation inherited a strange world in the middle of one of the greatest and fastest technological changes in the history of human kind. And it left us confused. The ideas of success our parents may have instilled in us don’t necessarily match the ideas of success we have distilled ourselves from the world around us. Happiness is a whole new ball game in this world to this generation. This show looks at that and all the struggles our generation faces while existing between the poles of success and spirit.
Andrew: Getting back into the grind and auditioning, some short films I worked on last year are being edited and I’m excited to see how those turn out! I’ll be working with a director later this summer while he is workshop a new piece at the Drama League. I also work for Apple, so I’ll be going right back into this world.
John: Andrew and I don’t have anything together scheduled. But I will be starring in Alex’s newest play, The Wild Parrots of Cambell in a production later this year!