Summer projects — a play, a solo show, a pilot, and readings!

Xandra Clark performing excerpts of POLYLOGUES at The Green Room, August 2017. Photo: Kelsey Crouch.

It's been a busy, busy summer, as I've been keeping positive and active amidst the chaos in our country and world. It feels more necessary than ever to devote myself to creative work that matters. So I've spent the majority of my time offline, writing and performing my own material around the city!

I finished writing a new draft of my play EVERYTHING YOU'RE TOLD, and I love where it's going. I took a thread of a story from the version developed at The Tank last year and zoomed in. The play now centers around two characters with very different ideological viewpoints who meet on the phone and then try to love one another. Obviously very relevant right now... We had a table read of the play last weekend, and so many diverse and messy thoughts and feelings arose in our conversation afterwards. It's feeling real!

I'm also developing a solo show of verbatim monologues developed from interviews I'm doing with a wide range of folks about their experiences with nonmonogamy. It's been a fun, hilarious, revealing, weird, and thought-provoking adventure, and feels good to laugh right now! I've already performed excerpts of it at Judson Church, Theaterlab, Queer Abstract, and The Green Room and am building it into a full-length show. Working title (pun and all): POLYLOGUES.

This week, I also got the chance to perform in a reading of Juilliard playwriting fellow Jessica Moss's new play CAM BABY at The Dramatists Guild Fund, directed by Molly Rose Clifford. Such a fast and furious play!

And on top of it all, I'm writing a TV pilot...but I can't say any more about that right now!!! It's a secret! Stay tuned....eee!

Enjoy the rest of y'alls summers, and keep on doing the good work.

Xandra Clark performing excerpts of POLYLOGUES at Queer Abstract, July 2017. Photo: Simone Davis.

We won the Best Original Web Series award!

The votes are in for the 2017 WhoHaHa Comedy Awards...and Period Piece won Best Original Web Series! All of us on the team couldn't be more delighted. The other two awards for which we were nominated were won by Amy Schumer and Melissa McCarthy—two badass women with whom I am honored to share the comedic glory!

Nominated for Comedy Awards -- alongside Melissa McCarthy, Amy Schumer, and more!!

Y'all, I'm so excited to announce that Period Piece, the web series I'm in, is up for all kinds of comedy awards from actress Elizabeth Banks's site WhoHaHa, alongside folks like Melissa McCarthy, Amy Schumer, Mindy Kaling, Kate McKinnon, Anna Kendrick, Issa Rae, and more! 

We were nominated for the following awards:
-Best Original Comedy Web Series
-Favorite Parody (for TWO episodes!)
-Best Impersonation

Check it out here: http://whohaha.com/awards/vote/. Winners will be announced soon...!!

(In the meantime, you can take a sneak peek at my blood-stained booty in the accompanying image to this post, taken from the "1800s Germany" episode.)

Working with Colt Coeur

Last week, I had the honor and the joy of serving as a Teaching Artist for the incredible theater company Colt Coeur's annual education initiative. I got to help design and teach a week-long spring break theater intensive for NYC public school students ages 10-15.

My fellow teaching artists were director Adrienne Campbell-Holt, playwright MJ Kaufman, filmmaker Anna Loyd Bradshaw, actors Genesis Oliver and Eden Marryshow, and lighting designer Grant Yeager.

Our students wrote some hilarious and fantastically strange plays! You can see us all perform them on Sunday, April 23rd, at JACK in Brooklyn, 6:30pm.

Our band at Mercury Lounge

A March highlight: our band The Year of the Hare played at Mercury Lounge, a NYC venue I've attended countless times to see musicians I admire perform. It was a dream!

Also, I got cast in a film... More on that to come! For now, some photos from Mercury Lounge:

Reflections on Privilege, parts I-IV

All four of the essays in my series on privilege, the arts, and identity have been published this month by the Theo Westenberger Estate. I've gotten some really interesting responses — keep 'em coming!

Here are the links:

"Reflections on Privilege, Part I: Ethnically Ambiguous"

"Reflections on Privilege, Part II: Thought Experiment"

"Reflections on Privilege, Part III: Waiting to Belong"

"Reflections on Privilege, Part IV: Make American Democracy Possible (Again?)"

Guest panelist at Stanford, and some new essays

Illustration by Kristen Rosa for Xandra's essay, "Reflections on Privilege, Part I: Ethnically Ambiguous."

Illustration by Kristen Rosa for Xandra's essay, "Reflections on Privilege, Part I: Ethnically Ambiguous."

The past couple months have been busy, busy, busy! In October, the staged reading of my play Everything You're Told went incredibly well, with an audience that laughed and cried and gave us some great feedback. I'm working on revising the play now.

In December, my alma mater brought me out to be a guest panelist at a Stanford Arts event for a series called "Art Is My Occupation." The students asked such compelling and thoughtful questions on how to begin making a career in the arts. I hope I told them some useful things!

Also in the last month or so, I've written a four-part essay series on privilege and the arts. The Theo Westenberger Estate is publishing the series, and the first article is out today! Check it out here: http://bit.ly/2jafj8e.

Colt Coeur readings, FiveMyles installation, and upcoming show at The Tank

It's been a busy six weeks or so since my last post! I participated in two new play readings at HERE Arts Center for Colt Coeur's annual Parity Plays Festival:

  • Flee by Stephanie Del Rosso, directed by Sash Bischoff, and
  • Flat Sam by Antoinette Nwandu, directed by Danya Taymor.

Both are amazing, fiery new plays that were incredibly fun to work on.

I put up a telephone installation on the sidewalk at FiveMyles, a very cool exhibition space in Crown Heights. You can pick up the phone and hear audio stories of people from the neighborhood with music. It's up September 10 to October 9. Read more (and listen to the audio if you miss the installation) here.

And I've been busy busy busy writing a new play! I shared an excerpt at Judson Memorial Church in September for their monthly curated Bailout Theater night, and I've got a reading of the full play, Everything You're Told, at The Tank in just two weeks! My collaborator, composer Ryan Hopper, and our band will be playing live music. I'm very excited!! Read more and buy tickets here.

P.S. I also had fun last week recording an interview for the BBC with one of the early female graffiti artists in NYC, Lady Pink, truly a cult figure in the 80s hip-hop/subculture scene. Gotta love a badass lady!

Anthology: Crown Heights — grants and online launch!

Anthology: Crown Heights, the performance project I'm creating with an ensemble of Crown Heights-based artists and in partnership with Weeksville Heritage Center, is going up at the end of April! I'm thrilled to have received funding from Brooklyn Arts Council through New York State Council on the Arts, Weeksville Heritage Center through Brooklyn Community Foundation, and a Stanford Young Alumni Arts Grant, and to have rehearsal space donated by the Brooklyn Children's Museum!

We launched online this week: check out our Facebook page and event!

Showing at The Tank on Thursday

I couldn't be more excited to be working with director Ellie Sachs and composer Ryan Hopper to further develop my documentary play Everything You're Told. We're currently working on an autobiographical story for the show about my dad's fall from religion and its effect on me, featuring recorded interviews, reimagined memories, and an original score/soundscape. 

We'll be presenting an excerpt of the show at The Tank on Thursday, February 18th at 7pm for the Spaceworks Showcase. Come check it out! http://thetanknyc.org/theater/479-spaceworks-showcase/

This one gets personal.

Readings, readings! At Ensemble Studio Theatre and more

The reading for Urban Omnibus at Greenlight Bookstore was so fun, and a packed house! Loved getting the opportunity to exercise my Indian accent while reading the winning essay, "The Wandering Women," by Maya Sorabjee, which takes place in Bombay. Check out the stories (recorded and written) here: http://urbanomnibus.net/2016/01/reading-as-seen-on-audio-included/.

I also had a grand old time (and lots of honey mustard pretzels) at Ensemble Studio Theatre's First Brew this month, reading for Jeff Tabnick's new play, "The Problem of Verisimillitude."

Public reading on Wednesday - come!

It's been a busy week! Two days ago, I performed some excerpts from A New Crown Heights, my currently developing work, at Brooklyn's celebration of #WakingtheFeminists on Nollaig na mBan (Women's Christmas in Ireland). We were plugged in the Irish Times!

On Wednesday January 13th, I'll be reading a story at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn. The publication Urban Omnibus is hosting the public reading at 7:30pm to celebrate the launch of their newest book "As Seen On [ ]." I'll be reading the winning essay from their 4th Annual Writing Competition. Also featuring actors from The Associates. Come join! https://www.facebook.com/events/1495547807418023/

Creating new work with The Associates, and some violin!

This November and December, I've been rehearsing with the awesome theater company, The Associates. They formed out of the apprentice program at Actors Theatre of Louisville and have put up some really compelling pieces of theater in the past year. The Associates invited me to join them at rehearsals these two months to help them create new work. I've been loving playing with the team!

Check out their website here:
http://www.theassociatestheater.com/.

In the music world, I played violin and sang backup vocals for the newest song from The Year of the Hare (aka Ryan Hopper). The song, "Interiors," was released last month. Listen here: http://theyearofthehare.bandcamp.com.

Mini performance, and teaching at Stanford

Xandra Clark, Jabari Brisport, and Elizabeth Gray performing at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn, NY. Photo credit: Anelia Varela.

Xandra Clark, Jabari Brisport, and Elizabeth Gray performing at the Old Stone House in Brooklyn, NY. Photo credit: Anelia Varela.

This past Thursday, I performed two sneak-peek scenes for the new play Port Cities at the Old Stone House, a historic Dutch home in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Port Cities, written and directed by Talya Chalef, explores the Dutch settlement of Manhattan, the birth of Wall Street, and the legacy of slavery from then to now. I play the archaeologist Katrina who digs up the past and her own complicated history. The projections (by Sofy Yuditskaya) looked beautiful on the old house!

The day after that performance, I flew to sunny California, which is where I am now for the next week. Stanford, my alma mater, has hired me to teach five storytelling/performance workshops -- three for students, two for staff. It's great to be back on the west coast!

Summer happenings

A still from "Drifting in Daylight" in Central Park.

Welcome to my new website! Hope you enjoy checking it out.

Currently, I’m rehearsing as part of the five-person devised ensemble cast for Talya Chalef’s Port Cities, a new play that will go up at the Waterfront Barge Museum in Brooklyn in May. We had a showing at Dixon Place in July.

Earlier this summer, I acted as Selma Blair’s character Cecile from the movie Cruel Intentions as part of Creative Time’s Drifting in Daylight exhibition in Central Park, directed by David Levine. Performances ran May 15-June 20. I also flew to LA to shoot for the feature film Indiscretion, starring Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino and Cary Elwes. I play Riley Evans, a millennial Rachel Maddow type with her own news show.

A still from "Everything You're Told" at Brooklyn College. From left: Oliver Hill, Nolan Green, Kristin Swiat, and Xandra Clark.

In between acting jobs, I’ve also been developing my own play, Everything You’re Told, which uses true stories to explore why we believe what we believe about each other, and how it might be possible to change those beliefs. The stories are told through audio interviews, live storytelling, music, and dance. A public work-in-progress showing was presented in May at Brooklyn College’s TV Center.

And I've been conducting oral history interviews with Crown Heights, Brooklyn, residents for a performance project about the neighborhood in partnership with Weeksville Heritage Center. I've met with some awesome local performing artists too, with whom I'll be collaborating. Stay tuned for more soon!