"Smartphones: A pocket-size farce" A new comedy by Emilio Williams opening July 19th, 2012 at Trap Door Theatre (Chicago)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Dancing in my underwear

Dancing in my underwear to FM Belfast from Iceland!

Their song "Underwear" has inspired a moment in the show that wasn't on the original script. I can't say anymore without ruining the surprise!

Perfect soundtrack to celebrate Geraldine Dulex and Gabriel Dib's B-days!

All I can say for now is THANK YOU, GABRIEL DIB! And Happy B-day.

Viva FM Belfast, silly but not stupid!

Friday, June 29, 2012

The making of...

After an intensive week of rehearsals, the cast is taking a break this weekend. The theater celebrates the last performances of the hit play Anger/Fly, and their beautiful set will be gone by Sunday night. (God, can the ephemeral nature of theater be any more cruel?)

Next week, Smartphones will start taking over the stage... little by little... first the sets designed by Brian Sidney Bembridge, then the light designs by Trap Door company member Richard Norwood, who came to see a run through, the music by the Brazilian composer Gabriel Dib, a riot, and finally the wardrobe designs by Tonette Navarro.

The actors have already made some great progress developing the physicality of their characters. The basic blocking has been arranged. But we continue to improve, clean, making every movement more meaningful and sharp. I think often of Moliere, and the play I did in school, back in Madrid, playing Trissotin, as an actor, in "Les Femmes Savantes" (The learned women). Twenty years later I've been very inspired by the clean movements of that farce and by how much fun I had being on that play.

The biggest challenge for all of us is to follow the wicked and broken internal logic within the script of "Smartphones". At times, the ridiculous theater requires from actors to jump into the material without any floating devices, and leaving aside naturalistic acting methods, tools and tricks of the trade... and that is a lot to ask from actors who have invested years and tons of money in becoming "good actors". Yes, the ridiculous theater works in that scary realm of the "good bad-acting". (And what the hell is good acting, anyway?)

The characters of Smartphones move from one moment to the next as if they had fish memory, and they didn't remember what happened earlier. They seem to be void of intentions, or have very passing intentions that are not very meaningful.

The cast could have not been more generous in indulging me and my vision for the show, always taking everything I suggest to a higher, surprising level of excellence and hilarity.

I can't wait to see the final product!! And be able to laugh as a audience member.

In the meantime, I continue to be "happy as a clam".

I'm the luckiest S.O.B. in Chicago. Below some pics by cast member Jodi Kingsley...

A self portrait by Geraldine (Amelia) and Jodi (Chantal) 
taken with a Smartphone during a run through this week.

The great Antonio Brunetti. 

Custom Designer Tonette Navarro and diva Geraldine Dulex.

Chris Popio continues to be the hardest 
working member of the cast. ;-)

Thursday, June 28, 2012



Written and Directed by Emilio Williams (Spain)

Cast: Antonio Brunetti, Geraldine Dulex, Jodi Kingsley and Chris Popio.

What happens when our lives become more absurd than an avant-garde play?

“Smartphones" is the new comedy by Spanish award-winning playwright and director Emilio Williams.

The play is a madcap comedy, both a parody and a tribute to the great theater of the absurd, and the surrealist films of Luis Buñuel, such as “The exterminating angel” and “The discreet charm of the bourgeoisie.”

Last March the play received its first public reading in Spain at the world-renowned Teatro Español. Luis Maria Anson, a leading cultural critic wrote in the Sunday edition of El Mundo newspaper a raving review: “The author has placed a mirror between Samuel Beckett and Yasmina Reza to reflect the new realities of human relationships. (…) He has threaded together perfectly-pitched dialogues with profound thoughts and social criticism.”

Emilio Williams is increasingly known in his native Spain as one of the most interesting new voices on the alternative stage. Since 2007, his profound comedies have gained him both critical and audience acclaim. His work has been produced in Spain, France and the United States.

Earlier in 2010, his play “Tables and Beds” (Camas y Mesas) was selected among 80 works from 12 countries the winner of the 4th Premio el Espectáculo Teatral. In 2011, his farce “Medea’s got some issues” opened at the KGB in New York City. This summer another of his plays, “Your problem with men,” will receive its world premiere at Teatro Luna in Chicago. He will also be co-directing with Molly Brennan the bilingual version of “That’s weird, grandma" for the Barrel of Monkeys.

Set Designer Brian Sidney Bembridge/ Scene Shop: Means of Production/ Lighting Designer Richard Norwood / Costume Designer Tonette Navarro / Original Music Gabriel Dib / Stage Manager Gary Damico / Make up Designer Zsofia Otvos/ Graphic Designer Michal Janicki / Fight Coreography Justin Verstraete/ P.R. Austin Hassett/ Assistant Director Mariana Leite

This production has been supported by Instituto Cervantes Chicago and International Voices Project.

Opens: Thursday, July 19th at 8PM- Closes: Saturday, August 18th, 2011 at 8PM
           Runs: Wednesday, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8PM
           Admission: $20, with two for one admission on Wednesday and Thursdays.

TRAP DOOR THEATRE 1655 West Cortland Ave. Chicago, IL 60622

For Reservations: 773-384-0494 or online www.trapdoortheatre.com

Monday, June 25, 2012

We’ve got a monster!

Last night we did a whole run-through of the show we’re building. The actors are practically off book and the general blocking has been staged. 

I said: “We’ve got a monster!”

Now we have to make the monster pretty: polish those edges, dress him up, put some make up on him  and bring all the elements of the production together, getting the monster ready for graduation day. (July 19th)

Still, too early to know what the final product will be… but I’m feeling great about the process! And that is all I can do today.

The team is working amazingly well together. We’re committed to make this a happy and fun process for all involved. Sometimes in theater, especially in the alternative scene, artists have a sense that true art can only come from suffering, pain and personal drama.

I have always fought that misconception.  I believe actors are so abused in drama school, and by toxic directors that when they encounter encouraging, positive directors they may feel that maybe they’re not working hard enough. Sometimes people act as if they would think that making theater should not be fun. And that backstage drama and personal fights are just a part of the creative equation.

I refuse to accept all that.

The kind of comedy I’m interested in building right now, high farce & ridiculous theater, requires a level of playfulness that we can only achieve by having an absolute blast with the material and with each other. And I am. This time around, I am. And I love my playmates.

Otherwise, what is the point?

If I wanted to be unhappy, I would have chosen a profession that was, at least, better paid.

Emilio Williams

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Reader: Best of Chicago- Trap Door Theatre

From this week's Reader:

Best String of Theatrical Stunners : THE LAST FOUR PLAYS AT TRAP DOOR THEATRE

Trap Door Theatre is almost literally a hole in the wall: you reach it through a deep, narrow crevice between two buildings. And the programming can seem equally inaccessible. Under founder and artistic director Beata Pilch, the company specializes in what their mission statement calls "challenging yet obscure" works, often by European playwrights with avant-garde sensibilities, dangerous politics, and/or histories of awful behavior. You don't go to Trap Door for an easy time. But you can very definitely go there for a good one. And lately, an astonishing one. Although the ensemble have had successes in the past, their four most recent shows seem to be signaling a new level of mastery—canny choices, vividly realized. I've seen three of those shows: Peter Handke's acerbic They Are Dying Out, Werner Schwab's gleefully nasty Overweight, Unimportant: Misshape—A European Supper, and the latest marvel, directed by company member Kate Hendrickson, Anger/Fly (through 6/30). Of the one I missed—The Word Progress on My Mother's Lips Doesn't Ring True, by Matei Visniec—Reader contributor Justin Hayford wrote that the "production is relentlessly provocative, impossibly beautiful, and apt to haunt you long after it ends." Based on experience, I can absolutely believe him.

 —Tony Adler

Antonio Brunetti in Anger/Fly

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Possessed by Studiobema…

The first time I walked into the Trap Door Theatre, I knew I had found my place in the world. The theater is at the end of an alley, behind the restaurant Jane’s. Inside, it looks like your quintessential European alternative theater space.  But my true door to the universe of Trap Door Theatre was the posters designed by Michal Janicki at Studiobema covering the walls of the lobby area.

If you know who Janiski is, chances are that you are, like me, an unconditional fanatic. If you don’t know him, please visit his website and get lost in his sequestered, cracked, stunning universe… he is not only a designer but an accomplished photographer and filmmaker with a very personal take on life as we should know it.

I went to see the world premiere of his movie Trupiak at the Oracle Theater. He spoke at the end of the screening and I was so star-struck that I felt like a twelve year old girl in a Justin Bieber concert. So, I didn’t even dare to talk to him to say congratulations.

Then, thanks to the safe distance of Facebook, I gathered the balls to send him a copy of my manuscript and I begged him to help us in any way possible. I wish Michal would have co-directed Smartphones with me! But he is a busy guy. Thank God, at least, he agreed to help with the poster and the promotional shots of the cast (see below previous entries for his pictures of the cast).

Michal has given me many ideas for Smartphones. His creative generosity has no limits. Many of them are just lines of poetry that resonate in my head while we’re in the rehearsal room. Most were like riddles whispered by a small person in a dream sequence by David Lynch. Some others were like Haikus turned into lyrics for a song by Yma Sumac. When you talk to Michal you become a kid again, your eyes get really big, and you feel you are riding a rollercoaster ride inspired by the movie “House” (Hausu, 1977).  (He has even suggested a title for my autobiography! I'll say no more.)

Maybe one day I will have the genius (and the budget) to put his ideas on a stage!!!!

But for now, I’m on that difficult spot to be impatiently awaiting for the arrival of his poster design for “Smartphones”. It’s a tough wait but knowing that, for sure, when that poster gets on my e-mail box it will be as one of those rare Christmas Days when Santa doesn't disappoint.

Emilio Williams

This is the first of many poster that Michal Janicki 
 has designed for Trap Door Theatre. Wow!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Rubbing shoulders with Anger/Fly

I'm pinching myself... I'm rehearsing at Trap Door Theatre, my favorite theater in Chicago!

Is this really happening to me?

We're rehearsing off hours around the set of Anger/Fly that miracle play directed by Kate Hendrickson and written by my generous and talented colleague Ruth Margraff. I've seen that show 4 times and I'm coming over for one more this weekend, before it closes June 30th.  The play is surprising, twisted, challenging and/but so much fun to watch. Everytime I see it, I discover a dozen new details that I had missed before. And I laugh my ass off every single time.

I'm hoping some of their talent will transfer to our play by rubbing against the white sets designed for Anger/Fly by wonderboy Mike Mroch.  (Mike did the sets for some of my favorite shows last year including Progress at Trap Door and Brand at Red Tape)

In the meantime, we're trying to make sense of our play at hand, the silly "Smartphones", but not too much sense, I hope. I always worry that over-analyzing intentions during this part of the process may take away from the magic of absurdism. I'm increasingly haunted by the notion that there is nothing less real, and more fake and boring, than naturalistic approaches to theater.

At the end of the day, we human beings don't have clear objectives, agendas, every time we open our mouths. We, I believe, are random and inconsistent more times that we dare to admit. And the only way for me to be "real" is to be truthful to our profound falseness as human beings.

Emilio Williams

Photo from Anger/Fly at Trap Door Theatre

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Geraldine Dulex plays Amelia

Swiss actress, and Trap Door Theatre Company Member, Geraldine Dulex plays the hysterical Amelia.

Geraldine has been one of the key driving forces behind this world premiere. Her work on this play is going to be a revelation for old and new fans of Trap Door.

At the Trap Door Theatre, she was last seen in "Overweight, unimportant: Misshape". She has also been seen in other Trap Door favorites such as Minna, First Ladies, 12 Ophelias, The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant and Emma. Géraldine produced and starred in Ebb and Flow Theatre’s inaugural production of Anthony Neilson’s The Censor which won an Orgie Award. She is also a recipient of an artist grant for her one-woman show Fawn. Her Chicago credits include: Steppenwolf, Eclipse, Fox Valley Repertory, Theatre-Hikes, Prop and The Mime Company. www.geraldinedulex.com

Photos by Michal Janicki at Studiobema
Make up and hair by artist Zsofia Otvos

Chris Popio is Barnaby

Chris is also a Trap Door Theatre company member. Although, at first, we toyed with the idea of him playing "Dagobert" against type, we finally decided to have him played "Barnaby" the bully, sexy, husband of Amelia.

Chris has been a revelation to me as an actor, friend and colleague. I can't wait to work with him in the future!!

Photos by Michal Janicki at Studiobema
Make up and hair by artist Zsofia Otvos

Meet Chantal

Chantal is played by Jodi Kingsley. Jodi has been the last one to join the cast and quite a discovery to work with.

Jodi's local credits include Seanachai, Boho, the Annoyance, and the Bailiwick, and she has worked regionally with the Houston Shaw Festival, The Actor’s Forum, and The HBO/WB Workspace in Los Angeles, among others.

She is co-Artistic Director of the DIVISION theater company, and will be directing their production of Mad Forest next fall.

Photos by Michal Janicki at Studiobema
Make up and hair by artist Zsofia Otvos

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Antonio Brunetti will play "Dagobert"

Antonio was last seen on Trap Door Theater playing the Tramp in Anger/Fly, by Ruth Margraff. He has also appeared in They Are Dying Out, The Word Progress On My Mothers Lips Doesn’t Ring True, Hamlet Machine and Chaste, all at Trap Door Theatre, where he is a company member.

Recent productions elsewhere include End of Plays Fest with Ex Pat Theatre; an Out of Site Spectacle with Walkabout Theatre; 1001 and The Franchise in Sketchbook 11 with Collaboraction, where he is also a company member.

European stage credits include: Oleanna and The Glass Menagerie with Altesschauspielhaus in Stuttgart, Germany; The Graduate at Stuttgart Theatre Center; A Midsummer Nights’ Dream in Dublin, Ireland; Fool for Love in Berlin, Germany. Antonio is represented by Big Mouth Talent.

Photos by Michal Janicki at Studiobema
Make up and hair by artist Zsofia Otvos

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Cast announced

Tonight, we proudly announce the cast for the world premiere of "Smartphones" in Chicago. Trap Door Company members Antonio Brunetti, Geraldine Dulex, Chris Popio, together with the great Jodi Kingsley. And we will have a very special collaboration from John Gray.

 Opening night: July 19th at 8pm.