NY Fringe Festival Special: CATCHING THE FISH with Kristin Hanggi and John Davisi
LA Ovation Award winning director Kristin Hanggi (bare, Rock of Ages) is back in New York, directing CATCH THE FISH, what promises to be a clever new play written as a response to the popular Vanity Fair article "Rich, Jaded and Lost in L.A." It plays at the New York Fringe Festival August 18-26 and I sat down with Kristin and her producer John Davisi to catch up, learn about the play and more...
So, tell our readers about this new play which has brought you both back to New York for at least the next few weeks...
Kristin: We're doing this play called CATCH FOR FISH, which was written by a 26 year old playwright named Jonathan Caren. It's set in LA and it was really interesting, as it was based on the Vanity Fair article by Nancy Jo-Sales, who was a reporter from New York. She came to LA to expose the scene of the "Paris Hilton" generation. While she's there, she gets caught up in it all and finds herself drawn, as she's writing this article, to this group of people. What's really interesting about the play, is that it's really all about the dynamic of relationships and false personas and this desire to create a "fake person" to protect yourself. Everything in the play is so real...experiences that we all have and the girl who's trying to find her own identity factors in as well.
John: Each of the characters has a duality with what they're posing to be vs. what they actually are. Their past dictates what their future life should be...it's a real life drama.
Kristin: It's about how you eventually come to terms with yourself and drop the fake persona as life forces you to come to grips. It's of course set in LA where everything is about facades, but it's from a New Yorker's perspective so it's got many dynamics.
Tell us about Jonathan Caren, this young new playwright that you're raving about...
Kristin: We're so excited because he is so talented. I read it and the first couple of pages in, I was like "oh wow!" This kid has a great command of the language, wrote wonderful dynamic characters and I couldn't put it down.
John: The article that the lead character in the show is writing is based on the Vanity Fair author, as a takeoff of her journey. Jonathan witnessed her researching her article and wrote the play about it.
How did you find the play, or did the play find you?
John: The play found Kristin first.
Kristin: There's an actress named Zibby Allen on Grey's Anatomy, who's just been recently introduced as the one who's going to try to steal "McDreamy" away. She's a good girlfriend of mine and she had been offered the play in a workshop production of it in LA and she asked me if I'd read it and would come aboard.
I love new works, and was excited to sink my teeth into a play and as a musical theatre director, really help bring out the vibe and the feel of a play.
Please tell me that you've added music to it as well?
Kristin: Sorry, no singing characters, but we have added a musical back drop to the show.
How did you two start working together?
John: Kristin and I decided to start producing together back in January, and to start developing projects together. We developed a new company called Wonder Falls Entertainment. When she was approached with this script, she asked if I wanted to come aboard and produce it. I loved it, met with Jonathan the playwright and thought he was just brilliant and so incredibly bright and talented.
To me, he just writes the human condition like I've never read. Everything he writes grabs you, and you feel like you can recognize it, or you've lived through it.
Kristin: The relationships in this play...you feel like someone came and read your diary. That's what I felt when I read this play. Oh my God, he knows what it's like to be inside my head!
John:You find parts of yourself in every single character.
How did you and John meet?
Kristin: We went to UCLA together, and we'd go to college parties together and ended up not actually at the party, but going outside and talking.
And how'd you get into the theatre world John?
John: I was a director of finance and HR and worked for LiveNation and other companies. I had my own theatre company on the side in LA, so I was producing / acting and composing myself on the side.
Kristin: What I was focusing on was developing my own work. In my 20s it was about developing new musicals and then we got together and decided to start our own company to develop new works that we love and that we thought others could fall in love with too.
That's a great vision, and I can't wait to see the play. Before I let you go Kristin,I have to ask about bare. The show is back "in the news" again - are you still involved with it?
I'll somehow always be involved with my heart. It's a project that came out of my early 20s and this desire to find ourselves. I still work a lot with Jon Hartmere (book and lyrics), we actually worked on a project for Disney recently and wrote a children's book together. I think that all three of us that developed that show found it together, and are just embedded in it forever.
They're starting to license bare, and I'm going to see the first licensed projection in New Jersey for its opening, and I can't wait to see it and to go and support it!
For more information on CATCH THE FISH, visit http://www.catchthefishplay.com/