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BWW Blog: Siobhan O'Loughlin - Theatre of Neighborhoods


(Most of) the ERD Team at the
2016 New York Innovative Theatre Awards

Several months ago, I took fifty baths in New York City. That's more than basically any adult I know who lives here.

It went beautifully. Elephant Run District helped me to create a model that I have been using for the show's life ever since, and they got such great press for Broken Bone Bathtub. Beautiful press. All the press. We sold out those 50 baths. Thanks to hard working Elephants, that lovely shout out cited above from the New York Times, and my friends who promoted me (generously) at Nonsense NYC and my dear, beloved Noah Nelson from No Proscenium.

But what I'm going to focus on with this post (after writing about the awesome staff of Elephant Run District last month), beyond the audience, is the hosts. HOSTS!

Broken Bone Bathtub is theatre of generosity. It requires someone really, really nice to let me get naked in their home in front of a bunch of strangers that they may or may not know. It is also theatre of the neighborhood: in New York City specifically, we were able to perform in so many different neighborhoods and areas that might be convenient for folks to get to. You could even walk to a show if you happened to be in a hood we were performing in. This felt increasingly important to me, as the city is getting more gentrified and people are feeling more and more isolated. We all really like the idea of going to a show at someone's house in your neighborhood, and meeting people who live near you, and shaking their hand and smiling. What a nice thing.

So, that became the mission, and that's what we did. January featured an encore at Dom's home in Park Slope (because, popular venue and "iconic bathtub") and then we moved on to the Bronx, where my gorgeous friend Buddy lives. Buddy wrote to me a year ago and said, "Are you performing at my house uptown? We've got turntables, massage tables, and a cat. Let's do this."
And thanks to Buddy, I not only had a personalized massage accompanied by a DJ (YES to uptown vinyl supreme), but we were an editor's choice in the Riverdale Press, got a sponsorship from the Bronx Beer Hall, and a weekend of passionate audiences INCLUDING a 9 year old.

In Manhattan, my friend Deb Of the 4th-U Artivists (who I performed with in 2014 as Eve Ensler in The Good Body!) had a GORGEOUS room that fit actual folding chairs on the Upper West Side. In Chelsea, Aimee's friend (and now my friend) Mindy gave us charming hospitality matched with the best patio and view of Manhattan we've ever seen.

We were all over Brooklyn. ERD company member Ethan Angelica hosted us in his bachelor pad in Dumbo (he's from Minneapolis! And his friend saw Bathtub there!) and a woman arrived with her husband who had a serious leg injury which strangely bonded the entire group.

My friend Becca Lynch, who trained me as a joker through Theatre of the Oppressed NYC in early 2014, hosted us for two nights in Prospect Heights, being extremely supportive and accommodating and allowing an extended snow date after we had to cancel for the Giant Snow Fall of 2016. Guy Yedwab managed to squeeze eight audience members in her bathroom, and her cats delighted us, and I still can't thank her enough for the love and support she gave to me personally.

One of my very closest friends ever from Towson University Department of Theatre Arts, Nick Staigerwald, had us for two consecutive Sundays to perform matinees in Bushwick. Nick made olive tapenade that made Justin cry, buffalo spiced cauliflower that made me cry, and somehow, both nights, I left his house pretty intoxicated.

In Bed-Stuy, we were hosted at the Honey Comb Home by one lovely young Jeremy Friedman, who provided massages AND bubble bath. These shows were some of my absolute favorite, with a surprise appearance by my friend Henry (whom I hadn't seen in YEARS) and his beautiful girlfriend. The four of us stayed up late into the night, eating vegan snacks, drinking tea, and cuddling on the floor (re: Brooklyn).

In Boerum Hill, Dominique and her husband Aeron threw a completely kickass party, with homemade vegan cakes and strawberries with ganache, salsa, a hummus/muhamara blend, and wine. This performance was really special to me, (1) because Dominique's home/bathtub is INCREDIBLE and (2) because I met Dominique through being a nanny of children at the same school as her own children. In other words, she's a fabulous, extremely generous, cool AF, MILF of a mom who hosts the hell out of a Saturday night, AND both of her children-Zadiyah and Aiyana, were able to watch the show. Which felt like a real gift. And were the youngest audience members I'd ever had-ever. Four years old.

We had a surprise performance out in Asbury Park where Martin Denton, founder of Indie Theatre Now (and publisher of mine and Chris Harcum's scripts) now lives. We did two shows in the gorgeous bathroom and wonderful home of his generous sister Anita. The first show had my childhood babysitter and her husband in attendance (really!!!) and the second featured three shamans who predicted my future and granted me the opportunity to get over my own damned issues. (It is nearly impossible to describe What Happens in the Room).

There were only two nights in Queens this time around-one night in Long Island City hosted by Don, the man behind Mission to Ditmars. Don's bachelor pad was marvelous, his bathtub was STUNNING, and Justin and I could not stop giggling when we set up the space. Our second night in Queens was an Astoria abode from my cohort and past band mate, Dave Bobb, where we pretty amazingly packed numbers of people into his bathroom clown-car style, met folks from Queens, and the minds behind Versailles 2016.

Finally, I want to shout out my dear, wonderful friend Eric, who I know from the world of solo performance, and who had us in Fort Greene. He bought tickets for friends. He had awesome appetizers. And last year, when I was in my actual cast, feeling depressed and broken, Eric had me over to his home. He bought special bubble bath for me to use and gave me his warm robe to wear afterwards, and we stayed up late talking that night. Eric, you are wonderful. This show came about because of you.

And several months later, we won a New York Innovative Theatre Award.


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Siobhan O'Loughlin is a Brooklyn-based writer, performer, activist and award-winning playwright who tours her solo work internationally. She is a Moth Story Slam Champion, a (read more...)