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In the Chair Podcast: Strasberg on Fyre

In the Chair, Season 1 Finale

On this special episode of In the Chair, our season 1 finale, Simone sits down with Trish Harnetiaux, Olivia Songer, and Blayze Teicher to discuss this Spring’s Practicum show: We Are Not Well. An exciting opportunity to reminisce, both host Simone and director Olivia are alumni of the NYU Practicum program! Listen in on all your favorite podcast platforms:

What is Practicum?

Designed to prepare students for the practical demands of the industry, Practicum is LSTFI’s capstone program for actors studying through NYU Tisch at Strasberg. In their final semester of training at LSTFI, students have the opportunity to audition for a select ensemble group. In collaboration with the Clifford Odets estate, LSTFI then commissions a playwright to meet the ensemble and write a brand new play for that particular group of actors. Over the course of the semester, the actors and playwright – along with a professional director and design team – will build the production from the ground up and work towards its ultimate world premiere.

In addition to taking weekly masterclasses with industry professionals, the Practicum students have the opportunity to witness and participate in the creation of a new work. With We Are Not Well in particular – which features a play within the play – the actors are able to experience the production process from all angles.

It’s been really interesting for the students to do the work of an actor, but also to get a sense of the production value that goes into making a show within the play. They’re getting a sense of what it takes on our end to put it up.

Blayze Teicher, LSTFI Producing Manager

We Are Not Well

This year’s Practicum playwright, Trish Harnetiaux brings to us We Are Not Well a dark comedy inspired the infamous Fyre Festival and Eugène Ionesco’s The Chairs.

The elevator pitch is that it’s called We Are Not Well and it’s about the marketing department of a failing American cruise line that has recently had some PR problems trying to rebrand themselves and relaunch. So, they come across an avant garde theatre company that’s been rehearsing a production of The Chairs in rural France for a very long time, and decide to debut that production onboard their cruise ship as they re-christen the ship and launch a new route through the Bahamas.

Trish Harnetiaux, Playwright

Not only is this play topical – dealing with issues of fraud, branding, and the desperation to be relevant – but it also allows the actors to delve deep into their Method training. As the original cast of the show, the ensemble is given the exciting and daunting task of creating characters with no prior history or points of reference. Director Olivia Songer finds this particular struggle to be a blessing and a reminder that there is no one answer.

No matter what you do, the audience looks at you and that role is you! It is you! They publish the script and it is your name under the original cast. What freedom there is in that and wonderful opportunities to go for it.

Olivia Songer, Director


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