The FACES of Face to Face 2020

The finale to an award-winning season of Face to Face Films is a play featuring characters from the cacophony of characters created in the original works for Face to Face Films. “One of the things that has always excited me,” said Anthony Laura, founder and artistic director of Face to Face Films, “was the idea of creating a universe of characters that overlap with each other.” FACES has become an accidental parable of the true meaning of life. Unique individuals coming together in harmony and with a positive goal. Saturday, December 19, will show how that can happen using characters from myriad plays and films all under the watchful eye of Anthony Laura.

“After working on some incredible plays this year from other writers, I was able to concentrate solely on directing and how to bring out the thoughts and ideas from these other plays.  As we began expanding the number of company members, I had ideas of what I wanted to write for each of them specifically.  I came up with the idea around September or October of doing a universe-type play where I would take characters from previous plays and films I’ve done and mix them with new characters and upcoming characters to be featured in our some of our web-series.” Laura’s idea has now come to pass. “Connecting the worlds was easier than I imagined, but the most fun I had was writing for these actors.  They’re all so talented and it was great to revisit old characters with them in different circumstances and see how the company members fit into characters that I previously thought I put to rest.”

After a spirited holiday interview with the majority of the ever-expanding company of Face to Face, several of its artists shared thewir own thoughts on enteruig into this unqiue universe.

JOSH ADWAR: (Playing Adam Silvers from the feature film “Shadows of Life”): Adam, is a character that is a dynamic, three dimensional character just like all characters in the Face to Face world.  He has a heartbeat that comes to life off the page.  Adam is going through some battles internally, mainly with sexuality.  I think that’s my favorite thing about it.  To me when people think prostitute, they think someone who knows who they are sexually.  Adam is still figuring it out which is why this scene has a few twists.  My first thought when I read this was there’s a lot going on here and want to portray this character honestly.  This scene isn’t on the nose relatable but I think everyone has had a moment where they didn’t know what they want and then something happens that they didn’t expect.  There’s so many people who struggle with sexuality and I’d like to do right by those people.  

TOM ARROWSMITH (Playing Jimmy Hogan from the feature film “Shadows of Life”): My character, Jimmy, comes from a film that Anthony made called Shadows of Life, in which Jimmy pined for Alice; a young woman who attempted to end her sexual anorexia by enlisting Adam, a sex worker. The film ended with Jimmy eagerly accepting Alice’s invitation to dinner. The scene we are presenting in Faces takes place much after, when Jimmy reaches out to Adam in order to address his own feelings of anxiety and inadequacy concerning Alice’s liaison with Adam.  I always love reading new material and it’s a pleasure to work on a piece that’s written as thoughtfully as Anthony has here. Without hitting you over the head with it, Anthony injects subtle vulnerabilities into his characters that make you instantly feel for whatever struggle they’re going through. Through witty yet realistic dialogue, the characters reveal themselves and we are invited to watch them change. As an actor this is the ideal kind of material to work on. It doesn’t stop you from suspending your disbelief, and even though circumstantially, I am very far from Jimmy, I very easily found a way to relate to him. I think this piece touches on incredibly universal feelings of self-doubt and identity unrest in a way that I found very captivating from the first read. 

GABE CALLEJA (Playing Doctor Kyle Pratt, a new character to the Face to Face Universe): Dr. Kyle Pratt is a new addition to the Girl with the Red Hair universe. He counsels a young Hayley Jones through her trauma, providing her with the clarity and guidance she needs to persevere.  I thoroughly enjoy reading for psychologists so I was quite thrilled with the opportunity to do so again. Dr Pratt is a very astute and compassionate professional who is eager to help his patient overcome her situation. I take great joy in navigating his thoughts and pauses as he maneuvers to find the right thing to say.

VIVIEN CARDONE (Playing Doctor Michelle Watkins from the play “The Girl with the Red Hair”):  The character I am playing is Dr. Michelle Watkins. She is the head doctor at Carmella Grace Psychiatric Hospital. Dr. Watkins was originally written for Anthony’s play “The Girl With The Red Hair.” She holds a very special place in my heart, because she was the first major role I worked on with Anthony that we were able to present to an audience. She also marked my debut in my first full-length stage production. I think Watkins was perhaps the most misunderstood character from Girl, because she carries so much internal pain and doubt that she tries to keep hidden, and it is so easy to vilify her. And I feel very honored that Anthony has trusted me with such a complex character that is very easy to portray wrongly.   When I first read the material, I was so excited to see all the amazing characters and worlds Anthony created just meld together so beautifully. It really encompasses and celebrates everything that we as individual artists and as a unified group have worked so hard to bring to life. It truly honors the human experience and the trials, struggles, pains, and connections we make in this journey through life. I’m just so excited to perform it on the 19th! 

ALEX COMMITO (Playing Coury Lewis from the play “The Girl with the Red Hair”) My character Coury is basically the vulnerable, loving, painfully honest child we all are at our core.  But he has deluded himself as a protective mechanism, so he doesn’t have to face the world feeling so naked.  Instead of facing his own pain he escapes into fantasies, and plays out delusions where his fear is externalized as “clones” trying to kill him… this way he doesn’t have to own his trauma.  Honestly, Coury is the man.  He has so much courage in his reserves he doesn’t even know about, and he has so much genuine sincerity it breaks my heart.  I was surprised that so many different scenes and characters could be strung together without feeling disparate.  The interconnectedness of this “universe” had a weird depth that reminded me of David Lynch.  The interconnectedness of the whole made each scene strengthen the others, and gave me a feeling of the work as a whole, rather than component parts.

JOSE DURAN: (Playing Barry Parker, from the feature film “Korinne”): My character Barry is a recent widower trying to raise his 7 year old son Victor after his wife, Samantha, commits suicide. He’s visiting his sister in law, Korinne, at the psychiatric hospital where The Girl with the Red Hair takes place. Barry has given himself the difficult task of telling Korinne that Samantha has just, two days ago, killed herself.  When I first read the scenes in Faces, not having read The Girl with the Red Hair or any of Anthony’s previous work, I have to say I was blown away by the level of artistry in his writing. The characters are multi layered and complex and the relationships are everything but ordinary. I found myself getting emotional and deeply affected when I read through my scene for the first time and as an actor that’s the most ideal situation and a clear sign that you’re dealing with some great material. Anthony’s writing is brutally honest and specific to many mental health issues evident in our society but not always talked about. Raising awareness through this beautiful work and using it as a tool to de-stigmatize mental health is something that I am honored to be a part of. 

EMMA DUBERY (Playing Korinne Moore from the feature film “Korinne”): My character Korinne Moore appeared in an early film of Anthony Laura’s back when Face to Face Films was just beginning. At the time of the film, the character of Korinne was struggling with Bipolar disorder and after losing her friend Jane to suicide, we watch her slowly descend into madness. She starts seeing a hallucination of her deceased friend and ultimately becomes unable to differentiate the real world from the imaginary one she has created for herself. The film ends with Korinne appeasing her sister Samantha, agreeing to get help, all the while knowing the hallucination of her friend Jane will be there with her, standing by her side. Anthony carries the theme of mental illness through much of his work, which has allowed a character like Korinne to fit very neatly into the universe. It has been nice to see how she is linked to the world of The Girl With The Red Hair and to the Face to Face Universe as a whole. I really enjoyed the material, although I was sad about the death of Korinne’s older sister, Samantha. I definitely didn’t see that coming! I had no closure when I finished shooting Korinne, having left the character in a very unstable mental state, so it has been nice after all this time to revisit her and know that although she is still has a long way to go, she is safe and has people looking out for her. 

RAND FARIS (Playing Eve Craven from the play “The Girl with the Red Hair”): Q.1: From the little interactions I’ve had with Eve’s experiences and life so far,I am finding many layers to her. I am just starting to wet my feet. What I am initially discovering about Eve, is her vulnerability that is hidden underneath her masked persona. She is tough yes, but she is also so so soft. She hasn’t had many moments in life that have allowed for her softness to grow and blossom, and therefore (it seems) she has found a way to guard it well. Due to the incidents in her life leading up to where she is today (when you see meet her) Eve has accepted her life and where she’s at and who she has become. She is realistic with her perspective on the world. When she speaks she speaks with a brutally truthful tongue, where it’s almost seems as though she is desensitized to the trauma, until she allows herself to reflect back on moments she pushed away. When I first read the material, I was really excited. Eve’s character is very honest and upfront. When you are given a script that is fearless that way, you can’t help but open yourself up. As I read the material, I felt myself opening up with each sentence, then image, and then emotion. I felt hurt by the end of it. I felt a feeling of longing, but also as I said, acceptance. And that is a tough place to be, to long even when you’ve accepted your situation for what it is. 

KRISTEN HASTY (Playing Signourney Reno, a new character to the Face to Face Universe): My character is Sigourney Reno, she’s the niece of past attorney general Janet Reno. Jamey Reno was the AG when the Waco Siege. Sigourney buys the hospital where Girl with the Red Hair takes place.  Sigourney is a very interesting character. When I first read it she surprised me because she’s so self aware especially for having all this power and wealth. She feels for those around her and wants to make the world a better place. She exemplifies what we hope people with money and power can be.  

DAN KELLY (Playing Thomas Mitchell, a new character to the Face to Face Universe): I play a new character to the Face to Face Universe, Thomas Mitchell, son of Harold “Mitch” Mitchell, whom I recently had the honor of portraying in our recent production of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” The new material is a fantastic paraidgm shift from what we know about Mitch and Blanche’s story. Whereas the whole world knows Blanche Dubois, young Thomas struggles to know her, just as he struggled to know his father, only finding out of their love from old letters recently found in the attic. It seems Mitch left Thomas with not much in the way of happy memories, but this new discovery ignites a spark that pushes Thomas further to find out the true nature of his father’s love life. As always, Anthony’s writing is tight, clever, and wrenching. And playing opposite Jose is a blast as well.

KELSEY O’KEEFE (Playing Dakota Star, from the upcoming web-series “Dakota Star”): My character is Dakota Star. She’s a 19 year old girl who deals with the things she struggles with– such as her sexuality, her relationship with her mom, and her self image– by creating an imaginary friend named Lucie and living in this fantasy world she creates for herself. Dakota relates to the Face to Face Universe because she once had an encounter with Eve from The Girl With the Red Hair. Eve and Dakota had just met on the street, and Eve was crying. She asked Dakota if she ever felt alone, to which Dakota replied untruthfully “no.” Dakota, similarly to many of the other characters in this universe, struggles with mental health. This is the main thing I think that connects all the characters.   When I first read the new material, I was fascinated by how Anthony managed to make all these different worlds connect. Each character is somehow related to the others, even if in some distant way, and I think this is cool because it shows how really everybody is connected emotionally in some way because of the things that we all go through. So I really thought it was a great way to portray to audiences that you are never alone in the struggles you deal with. All the dialogue was also written eloquently yet truthfully at the same time. I was just super excited to see it all come together. 

ALEXANDRA ROONEY (Playing Young Hayley Jones, from the play “The Girl with the Red Hair”): I play young Hayley Jones from The Girl With the Red Hair.  I was in the show in December in NYC as the younger version of the main character Hayley.  I was excited and nervous when I read the new material.  I’m so excited to share more of the story of Young Hayley.  The scene is powerful and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of it.  I was a little nervous because there are some difficult emotions in the scene and I was hoping that I would be able to do a good job.

RHEANNA SALAZAR (Playing Hope Phillips from the upcoming web-series “I Am Sabrina”): My character fits in so well with the Face to Face universe, paralleling the theme of duality that is present in many face to face productions. Anthony has highlighted twin characters previously, and I really identify with that when playing a character who shows two very different faces to the world. The journey she follows trying to figure out which one is really her will have the depth and complexity that makes all of the characters in this universe so compelling.  When I first read the new material, I was so impressed with the variety of connections the characters have to each other and to the face to face universe itself. Whether connected through intimate knowledge of multiple other characters, or through characters they’ve never even laid eyes on. The level of detail really gives the feeling of immersing in the face to face world.

KRISTEN SEAVEY (Playing Clarissa Potter from the short film “Azure”): Clarissa is the twin sister of Loren, and though she hasn’t  seen her in years, Loren’s energy guides her in life. Clarissa was originally a character written for Azure, and is now placed in the hospital with characters from Girl with the Red Hair.   Clarissa quietly yearns for human connection, despite the fact that she hasn’t found many people who instinctively understand her—until today—and for the first time in her life, she is choosing to invite people in to create a safe world of hope together.  I’m a very playful actor, and my favorite way to discover a character is to dive in first, and ask questions after. There were so many idiosyncrasies and nuances written into the character that I think allow for a continued flexibility in exploration, and something beautiful to build on. Each run through I discover something deeper and new. I love that as a viewer, you’re watching a small slice of life from each character, and as you go along you hear names from previous characters, not realizing the Easter eggs along the way.

SAMANTHA YESTREBSKY (Playing Azura from the play “The Girl with the Red Hair” and the upcoming web-series “Azura): My character is Azura who was originally in The Girl with the Red Hair. She’s very high energy and optimistic, and has a layer of mystery about her.   When I first read the new material I was excited to jump back into The Girl with the Red Hair, it felt like reuniting with an old friend.  It was really lovely getting to see everyone in the company come together for the first time. Seeing everyone working together made me excited for our 2021 season! I was intrigued by the amount of character development I saw in characters who I didn’t know much about from the first couple of runs of The Girl with the Red Hair.

Summing it up, RAND FARIS, commented: Faces is a really special show for many reasons. Firstly, it combines together all of Anthony’s characters. Original characters stemming directly from Anthony’s creative mind. Second, he has managed to connect them all to one another. That’s the hard part. but just like all the work that Anthony produces so effortlessly, the connections seem so seamless, as though that is how they were meant to come together, without making them come together purposely for this one show. Third, all the characters in Faces that Anthony has birthed were born in different times of his life, for different reasons, and all have a different story to tell. Meaning, they each reflect Anthony’s expertise from the past and presently. I like to think of Faces as Gallery showcasing different avenues into Anthony’s mind. 
Having all these characters exist together in one piece is pretty remarkable, since that is not how they exist outside of Faces, but so easily could, and Faces is a perfect example of that. 
That’s what I truly love about Faces. How all these characters who have their individual perspectives on the world, coupled with their unique story to tell, can somehow, have a connection to one another in a way that allows all these worlds to collide into one script. It proved to me that a well written character can exist anywhere you place them in the world, and does not necessarily have to live under the same roof it was born into. Characters can continuously grow, develop, transform and adapt, just as reality suggests. Faces exemplifies that. 

Face to Face Films is scheduling no less than two dozen new works across three media and as many platforms in 2021. Find out more at https://www.facetofacefilms.net/work

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