Jersey City Theater Center's season runs from September to June which includes three distinct thematic series. This season opened with the theme of Fear. "We are are committed to inspiring conversations about the important topics of our times through progressive and invasive performing and visual arts programming that embrace diversity of Jersey City, bringing its community closer together and improves quality of life for all." - Olga Levina (Artistic Director)
TLN met up with Dan Pieraccini (curator of The Box - Fear Edition) to chat about the closing event taking place on Friday December 8 and about the JCTC community.
Kuz: Hey Dan, thanks for chatting with The Latest Noise about your upcoming event The Box - Fear Edition, can you give us some background on Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC)?
Dan: Often people confuse the place with the company. JCTC is a company that was developed to bring relevant art and culture to the community and to bring up questions of our time and to discuss them. Each production generally has a Talk-Back at the end. We deal with local JC artists and regional artists. It’s not limited to just dramatic, but also theater and dance. Now with White Eagle Hall we can add touring acts as well.
Kuz: Can you explain the Talk-Back at the end of a show?
Dan: Right after a show, we generally bring out the director or writers, it’s usually about 30 minutes, it’s a question and answer. For our new play reading series that’s where audiences can talk about what did or didn’t work.
Kuz: And how does the season get organized?
Dan: Olga Levina is the Artistic Director. Lia Romeo picks out our play readings, Lisa Strum helps curate the theater, Donna Scro is our dance curator, I've brought in some musical acts.
Kuz: What about the space itself?
Dan: The space itself is called Merseles Studios, which also has an artist space that we rent out and they can display their work during the JC Art Studio tour. Current artists include Robert Piersanti and Frank Ippolito, the gallery space which is curated by JCTC each season which is based around a theme. Right now we are in the middle of “Fear” and that’s up the entire season and it ends with The Box. The Box started as a showcase because we didn’t have anything to end the season. People would come in the beginning when we had the big opening party. At the end the artists would just come and pick up their work, so we asked, "what haven’t we seen during the season?", we haven't seen a lot music, spoken word and multimedia art. It started with pulling together some people and then we had them write on the theme.
Kuz: How many seasons have you had with the Box?
Kuz: You have curated all of closing Box events, what has stuck with each iteration? What are you learning?
Dan: My idea was to create a variety show, in a way it’s an adult talent show, because everybody can attempt to experiment with other arts they haven’t done, we have a visual artists sing songs, a dancer who made a multimedia mixed art piece. It’s an intimate space and people can really experiment here and feel safe. The thing that I never really had a say over but it became, is this warm and gooey, everybody loves each other, taking part in each others art. With the Fear show there are a ton of collaborative efforts of people who have met at the Box and are now working together to create pieces.
Kuz: Any performances that have stood out?
Dan: Ariel Guidry, her coming and playing was what ultimately had us having her be the first local artist to open WEH. That happened with The Box. Sylvana Joyce has been someone we wanted to be part of for a long time. There is a MC for the evening too, the main MC is Anthony Wills Jr., he's really cool, an actor but he has such a personality and takes on a character for the shows. That way the framing of it all, you can't watch the performances without thinking about the theme.
Kuz: How is it structured?
Dan: 3 acts, I like to do the most impractical possible couplings, not to drive the tech people crazy but to never have a dull moment. The way we can use the space is to have stage-left there might be a piano performance and then the lights go down and there will be a new performance stage right. As crazy as we can get it. I try to start it off with a bang and end it with a collaboration.
Kuz: What are you excited about for Friday?
Dan: I'm excited for Sylvana's performance, she's going to kick it off. Terry Haman, he's got quite a project. We actually had more submissions than ever we had to make some cuts this time, Jersey City everyone is great, but now we can really look for the best. The initial vision of the night was to have it be more in the background, people hanging out, but people are quiet and respectful of the performances. Everyone is so excited and supporting it. The coolest part is the experiential stuff, it's probably the only time you are going to see it.
Sylvana Joyce, Morphine Epiphany, Nicholas Ciavatta, Fernando Ayres,Kenny Jaworski, Frank Ippolito, Gary Van Miert and the Sensational Country Blues Wonders, Nerissa Tutiven, MahJ, Ali De León, Jason Coletta, Rachel Therres, Zeynep Bozok, Max DiBiaggio, Nancy Mendez-Booth, Gina Tolentino, Shaun Fletcher, and Terry Haman with Ariel Guidry and Alishia Taiping