PEN PAL by Shaun Fauntleroy

Had such a fantastic time yesterday shooting Pen Pal! Richard Lovejoy wrote this beautiful script and Laura Maxfield of MaxFly Films (who is an INCREDIBLE director!) directed it.

Also on hand were Jordan Smith (Assistant Director), Kent Meister (DP, Kent Meister Photography), and Morgan Zipf-Meister (Set Designer, Producer, Craft Services, and all around bad ass). It was a great day, and the fact that the entire production team is filled with wonderful, crazily talented people was a huge part of that. 

The Pain and the Ecstasy by Shaun Fauntleroy

 From L to R: Yours Truly, Ilana Stein, Neil LaBute, Stephen Dexter, Cecilia Copeland (Photo credit: Joel Stigliano)

From L to R: Yours Truly, Ilana Stein, Neil LaBute, Stephen Dexter, Cecilia Copeland (Photo credit: Joel Stigliano)

Last night was the season launch of New York Madness' sixth glorious season. As a topic, our guest playwright, Neil LaBute chose "Racial Madness." Needless to say, it was a poignant, and at times uncomfortable, evening and thinking back on it I'm reminded how grateful I am to be a part of this company and last night's event. I'm still processing last night, and I'm blown away that despite the hard truths and differing viewpoints there was so much love and generosity in that room. I felt safe going into unsafe places and that, and being a part of last night, is invaluable. That's what it's all about, right? I also met a lot of rock solid artists which is always a bonus. 

The pieces I had the pleasure of performing in were:

BE SOCIAL, by Micheline Auger
directed by Ilana Stein
with Stephen Dexter & Shaun Bennet Fauntleroy

THIS IS NOT A PLAY, by Joshua Young
directed by Lu Bellini
with Charles Everett, Shaun Bennet Fauntleroy, and Eric Percival

NY Madness Season 6 Launch! by Shaun Fauntleroy

  Photo by Aaron Eckhart

Photo by Aaron Eckhart

NYM Launches its 6th Season!

Neil LaBute
(Featured Guest Playwright)

Directed by Marco Calvani

Tuesday, September 22nd
8:00pm

The 16th Street Theater
330 West 16th Street, NYC

Read Catching up with Neil LaBute here.

With NYM Writers and Directors:
Dennis A Allen II, Directed by Michele Travis
Micheline Auger, Directed by Ilana Stein
Cecilia Copeland Writer and Director
Tanya Everett, Directed by Rebecca Nyahay
Judith Leora, Directed by Roberto Cambeiro
Michael Panes, Directed by Shira-Lee Shalit
Joshua Young, Directed by Lucia Bellini

Featuring: Tocarra Cash*, Erin Cherry*, John Concado*, Caitlin Cooke, Lucy DeVito*, Stephen Dexter*, Charles Everett, Shaun Bennet Fauntleroy*, Amy Gaipa*, Clinton Lowe*, Andy Lucien*, Michael Markham*, Galway McCullough*, Eric Percival*, Celestine Rae*, Stacey Raymond*, Shayna Small*, Joel Stigliano,  Marissa Wolf.

* Courtesy of Actors Equity Association

#SpeakUp: The Street Harassment Plays by Shaun Fauntleroy

 Pictured: Holly Chou (Photo by Isaiah Tannenbaum)

Pictured: Holly Chou (Photo by Isaiah Tannenbaum)

I'm thrilled to have been a part of this collaboration with Flux Theatre Ensemble. #SpeakUp featured the work of seven playwrights reflecting on their feelings of being victims of street harassment and catcalling. The performance was September 2, 2015 at 7:30pm at Judson Memorial Church's Assembly Hall, 239 Thompson St, NYC.

More information and details HERE.
You can read a write up of #SpeakUp by StopStreetHarassment.org HERE.

#Speakup...the day of by Shaun Fauntleroy

  Image design by Isaiah Tannenbaum

Image design by Isaiah Tannenbaum

I cannot believe #SpeakUp is here. I’m a little overwhelmed and the magnitude of it all is struggling to seep in. I’ve spent so many years bouncing from project to project, trying to figure out what and where I should be, and all of a sudden I’m living the dream. Seeing women’s eyes light up when they clue in to the fact that a group of people dedicated a night to the silent scream in their hearts to say, “What was said/done to you was wrong,” makes me feel a peace like you can’t imagine. The notion that anyone should think of abuse as “something that just happens to me because I was born this way” is bullshit, and I’m calling it out. We’re calling it out. 

Five months ago, I had a conversation with Gus Schulenburg of Flux Theatre Ensemble about a theatrical event that would give voice to female-identified victims of street harassment. Today, I’m holding in my hands powerful, moving pieces written by the six playwrights who generously agreed to loan us a bit of their hearts and come on this journey with us. You have to understand something, these playwrights aren’t just friends of mine who agreed to help out, these women are artists that I’ve long adored and admired…artists I’ve looked up to. I first heard Pia Wilson’s work at the Public Theater’s inaugural Emerging Writers Group reading series in 2008. Her beautiful play Red Rooster was being performed and I, hungry for more African-American female role models, was hooked. I met Nandita Shenoy through Flux, and her boundless capacity for wit, self-reflection, and biting social commentary made me an instant fan of hers. I can’t even count the times I’ve heard something she wrote and suddenly felt my innermost secrets had been exposed. I was introduced to Maria Alexandria Beech through NY Madness when we both wrote for their “Radical Bias” event. I remember thinking, “This artist is unafraid and unashamed. How lovely.” Her writing gives me courage and hope. Her writing makes me cry. Lauren Ferebee is another incredible writer I met through Flux. She gives you the sense that she is always aflame and her work is smart, bold, funny, “feministy”, and filled with poetry and rhythm. I’m a sucker for poetry and rhythm. Sol Crespo is one of the Flux CP’s and is a bit of a revolutionary. If you’ve met her, you know this. She’s sweet, and funny, and sings like some kind of a f-ing angel, but through #SpeakUp I’ve learned that she can also write. Perhaps next week I’ll learn that she’s also a surgeon, or something. She casually drops skills on me like it’s nothing. Nicole Pandolfo is my dear, dear friend. We met about eight years ago during a one-act festival and I’ve had the honor of getting to know her and her work over time. Her writing is raw, funny, and encapsulates the agony and the triumph of the human spirit in ways that break my heart. I love this woman. I am so, so honored and overwhelmed that these six artists are a part of #SpeakUp.

To bring these beautiful pieces to life, we have Nicole Betancourt, Hanna Cheek, Holly Chou, Beth Ann Hopkins, Bianca LaVerne Jones, Vanessa Kai, and Anna Rahn. Some of these actresses’ work I know, some I don’t. What I do know is that they’re all powerful, magnificent artists and I can’t wait to see what they do tonight. I am so, so grateful they’re a part of this. I’m so grateful that they’re bringing these soliloquies to life.

For directors, we have DeLisa White, who I've worked with several times before and is amazing. She's so perfect for this project. Heather Cohn, who is a powerhouse mother and artist with a smile that lights up the room, Sol Crespo, dropping yet another skill, and Emily Hartford, who has wrought such lovely things from my piece that during rehearsal I thought I was listening to something someone else wrote.

Working with Flux on this has been a dream, so much so that several times a week since we’ve begun I wonder if this is all really happening. They are some of the most giving, patient, and gently perfectionistic people I’ve met. They always seem to be awake (I suspect they’re robots) and I get e-mails at all times of day and night from them, letting me know they’ve handled some new task or had some new wonderful idea. Their passion for art, community, and truth (and the fact that they basically let me step into their family and lead a project) blows me away. The entire #SpeakUp producing team, Gus, Heather, Isaiah, Sol, Alisha, Emily, and Dina, are some of the most beautiful, gracious, and kind people I know. Their integrity, patience, and generosity astounds me and I am infinitely grateful to them. I'm also grateful to the rest of the Flux CPs who have supported this project in various, wonderful ways (Kia, Kelly, Rachael, Jodi, Becky, Chinaza, and Will!)

My only regret with #SpeakUp is that I wasn’t able to involve voices from the LGBTQ community, as the numbers of street harassment victims in that community are huge and heartbreaking. I tried, but with limited time and not having enough people on my radar it didn’t happen. That’s a failing on my part. This project has made me realize that I don’t personally know enough LGBTQ artists and I’m working on that. If you see these pieces tonight and think, “they didn’t include me,” please forgive me. That sucks, and I’m really sorry. We see you, too.

So, that’s it. That’s all the love I have to spill this morning. I’m off to write a paper on Richard III and how a psychopath can still be a multi-dimensional character in drama. If you’re coming to #SpeakUp, then I’ll see you tonight. If you can’t make it but have sent encouragement, thank you — from the bottom of my heart, thank you. Who knows what tomorrow will bring, but today is a good day.

B"H

BURNING by Shaun Fauntleroy

 The director, playwright, and cast of  Burning .

The director, playwright, and cast of Burning.

Last night I had the extraordinary pleasure of reading the character of "Rose" in Ginger Lazarus' haunting play, Burning for Resonance Ensemble. Burning is the contemporary half of Resonance's upcoming season, which will be paired with Cyrano de Bergerac this winter. The reading was the culmination of a week-long workshop investigating and developing the play, and will took place at the Director's Company, 311 West 43rd Street, 4th Floor. 

The workshop performance featured Resonance Ensemble Members Alberto Bonilla, Chris Ceraso, and Shaun Bennet Fauntleroy, as well as Vanessa Aspillaga (Broadway's ANNA AND THE TROPICS and THE CLEAN HOUSE) and Zachary Clarence.

In Burning, Cyrano has become Cy, a woman kicked out of the Army for being gay, who, like Cyrano, suffers from insecurity that prevents her from pursuing love. The play is not only a fresh take on the Cyrano story, it tackles critical contemporary issues of gender inequality, discrimination based on sexual orientation, and military abuse. Ginger’s work has been honored with the John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award and an IRNE nomination for Best New Play.

More info on Resonance's upcoming season HERE.

NY Madness Encore! by Shaun Fauntleroy

 Winter Miller, playwright

Winter Miller, playwright

On March 29th I was granted the opportunity to rejoin the folks at NY Madness, this time as an actor! The theme, chosen by the incredible Winter Miller, was A Question of Sanity, and I performed in Judith Leora's play "We Smell Their Skin" alongside Joel Stigliano, Lauren McCune, and Stacey Raymond.

The details:

A QUESTION OF SANITY
The Cherry Lane Theatre 
38 Commerce Street
8pm

Writers: Micheline Auger, Cecilia Copeland*, Tim Errickson, Tanya Everett, Cara Jane Francis, David Hilder, Judith Leora*

Directors: Jeff Aldrich*, Roberto Cambiero*, James Fauvell*, David Shane, Shira-Lee Shalit, G. Warren Stiles*, Ilana Stein*, Michele Travis*

Actors:  Dennis Allen II, Reuben Barsky, Rachel Collins*, Jody Christopherson*+, John Concado*+, Bernard Davis, Shaun Bennet Fauntleroy+, Vince Gatton+, Michael Gregory+, Laura Hooper, Rose Jensen, Sevrin Anne Mason*+, Lauren McCune+, Karla Mosley+, Romy Nordlinger*+, Stacey Raymond, Ed Stelz, Joel Stigliano*, Sara Thigpen+, Anna Van Valin*+

*denotes NYM company member     +denotes Actors’ Equity member

Follow New York Madness on Twitter by clicking here!

Write Out Front by Shaun Fauntleroy

In August, 2014, I participated in Write Out FrontWrite Out Front, begun by Micheline Auger, is: 

An installation of up-and-coming and professional playwrights writing new plays in the storefront window of the Drama Book Shop. In each two-hour time slot, a different playwright will write their play while the screen shot from their computer is projected onto a 42" monitor facing passersby on the street. 

I had the honor of writing alongside Stephen Adly Guirgis, Nat Cassidy, David Cote, Padraic Lillis, Crystal Skillman, Gina Femia, and many other incredibly talented playwrights. This was a thrilling experience and I'm happy to say I got a lot of work done. It looks like all I needed to ignite productivity was a storefront window!

The public is able to support and follow the playwright via the Theaterspeak Blog, FB page, Twitter (@writeoutfront), Instagram and follow the development of the play and the writer after the installation ends.

NY Innovative Theatre Awards! by Shaun Fauntleroy

On Monday, July 21st The New York Innovative Theatre Awards celebrated their 10th year of nominations for excellence and innovation in Off-Off Broadway.

Representing New York Theatre Review, Jody Christopherson and I live-blogged the event for the NY Innovative Theatre Awards. It was an incredible night and an insane amount of fun!

Here are a couple of press links that include the list of nominees.

Playbill.com
Broadwayworld.com

Lafayette Salon Series | London Assurance by Shaun Fauntleroy

Every now and then I get asked to participate in Mac Brydon's Lafayette Salon Series. He gathers a group of actors to read a play at The Players, and it's always great fun. This month, we dusted off the old RP to read Boucault's London Assurance. I seldom get to use that dialect these days and it was wonderful to stretch those muscles again.

Such an honor to be amongst these artists for a time.

Cast:  
Alfred Gingold | Alex Fast | David Lansbury | Roland Johnson | Shaun Bennet Fauntleroy | James Engel | Stewart Walker | Jane Cortney | Mac Brydon

An Appeal to the Woman of the House | Retro Productions by Shaun Fauntleroy

As an actor, I had the privilege of working with eight of the loveliest, most professional, imaginative, and collaborative actors one could imagine. There was so much love on that set and in the dressing room, and the chemistry between all of us onstage was palpable and wonderful.

Read More

Understand Our Ground | Flux Theatre Ensemble by Shaun Fauntleroy

On Wednesday, November 6, The Flux Theatre Ensemble's Food:Soul–Understand Our Ground, will be held at Judson Memorial Church in conjunction with their Bailout Theatre event. Rather than working with a single script, we'll be collaborating with playwrights, choreographers, poets and other artists to develop artistic responses to the Trayvon Martinmurder, trial and the diverse cultural reactions that followed...

Read More