Forever is a mighty long time…

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We’re back!  And we hope you’re as excited as we are.  Yes, we realize we’ve been away for what seems like forever, but we swear it’s for a good reason!  Despite our absence, thank you for remaining loyal and checking in with our team.  Nothing makes us happier than knowing we are part of an amazing, loyal and engaging community.

 

Our absence has not been in vain; we’ve been traveling, networking and making art magic with creatives all over the world. Theatres, movie sets, board meetings. New York, Paris, New Orleans–we’ve been busy little chicks.

2468C9291-ABBE-5B42-9191127EB0A6FC25Speaking of travel and (international) relationships, we’ve just returned from London, England, and had more than a fabulous time. From seeing the marvelous play Fabric written by the delightful Abi Zakarian (and we’re not just saying that because she’s our friend), to spending a majority of the trip at Women and War presented by the So and So Arts Club, Black Chick Media was all about empowerment, education and advocating for the arts.

Fabric, directed by Tom O’Brien and starring Nancy Sullivan, is a one woman play about Leah, “…who lost her friends, family, career, and dignity. Forced to move for a third time following a harrowing court case, she relives painful events in her past as she sorts through all the stuff that has accumulated in her spare room: clothes she doesn’t wear, books she doesn’t read, things she doesn’t need anymore. Leah desperately tries to unpick just where it all went wrong and who or what is really to blame.

FABRIC deals with the aftermath of a rape that isn’t believed and confronts the traditional roles still expected of women; questioning how much has changed since the sexual revolution of the 1960s.”

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L-R: Actress Nancy Sullivan, Writer Abi Zakarian, Director Tom O’Brien

It’s fierce, raw, powerful…a tour de force and just what is needed. Is it a feminist manifesto? Sure (is that even a bad thing?). But only in so much as it’s a story that highlights the patriarchal laws that oppress, regulate and condemn women’s bodies and rights… the standards set up by some omnipresent societal leaders who say how we should behave, who we should love, how we should look.

We’ve all been Leah at one time or another.  If it’s the cute plucky Leah who falls in love with a stranger in a bespoked suit, or if it’s the Leah depressed and trapped inside herself after a traumatic experience. This is a story that resonates and is more than familiar even if you’ve never personally experienced what Leah has; we all know someone. We’ve seen the news, read the papers, heard the conversations.  It’s a story that’s all too familiar and painful.  What we love most about Fabric is that the entire story is told from Leah’s perspective.  All characters, all action, all fear anger happiness and rage–seldom do we hear from women by women about women.  We love that the play is unpretentious; it meets you where you are, accepts who you are, and trusts you enough to take you on the journey.  If you learn nothing, if you leave this play unchanged, you should consider questioning your morals and basically your entire existence.

Thank you Abi for writing such a brilliant character and story that transcends all cultures, space and time. Leah is all women everywhere, and we can’t wait to see this piece stateside!

If you happen to be one of the lucky people heading to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival I highly recommend you see this unforgettable show (and also Mary Seacole but more about that tomorrow!).

We can’t wait to make magic with this fabulous creative.

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Keya Crenshaw & Abi Zakarian

Love

BCM

 

Inspiring Women: Abi Zakarian

Recently, we had the pleasure of interviewing our friend, London based playwright Abi Zakarian.  We met Abi whilst in London in December of 2013 for the So and So Arts Club Women in Art event, where her intricate and brilliantly written piece, LuLu 7 played to great acclaim.  Thank you Abi, for being this months Inspiring Woman.

Abi’s plays include: THE BEST PIES IN LONDON, produced by Rift Theatre and YourAreMine, as part of the immersive Shakespeare in Shoreditch Festival; THIS IS NOT AN EXIT, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company for The Other Place, Stratford-upon-Avon and transferred to the Royal Court; LULU7, produced by So&So Arts at the Tristan Bates Theatre, SWIFTER, HIGHER, STRONGER, produced by Roundpeg Theatre at The Roundhouse; LITTLE FURIES, commissioned by and rehearsed reading at Soho Theatre, and A THOUSAND YARDS, which was produced by Feast Theatre at Southwark Playhouse.

Previously a writer on attachment at Soho Theatre and a current member of the RSC’s writers group, she was also one of the writers involved in the playwright-in-residence Schoolwrights 2014 scheme in East London schools; the two plays created with the students were showcased at both Soho Theatre and Rich Mix.

Abi is currently under commission for theatre companies TREmers and YouAreMine.

Represented by www.alanbrodie.com


abizakarian hs5Tell us about yourself

I’m an Armenian-British writer living and working in London. Married to a theatre set designer and have a dog called Monty.

Tell us a bit about the work you do, both artistic and otherwise. What sort of projects do you work on?

I work on a combination of commissions and my own projects which my agent sends out on spec. I write plays mainly but am interested in musicals, TV and film writing too.

What have you written?

I’ve written seven full length plays (four produced), two produced short plays, two plays written as playwright-in-residence in two east London schools, and a TV comedy-drama series (as yet un-produced but fingers crossed).

                                                               Tell us about the best part of your work.

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This is Not an Exit

Writing. Writing. Writing. Then seeing it change and grow when other people get involved; and then seeing an audiences reaction. The tiny silence just after the last line of a play.

Is your work strictly local, or do you have a national/international reach?

Well, since I live in London that’s ‘local’ to my work; I am working on new commissions for a regional tour and Edinburgh festival and I hope to get my work on overseas soon too.

Tell us a bit (more) about what you stand for.

I am a feminist. I don’t write as a feminist however, writing has no gender as far as I’m concerned, but many of my plays do explore gender politics.

How do you manage your day and career?

With discipline. When I first started writing I was also working full time as a picture editor for a national newspaper. I would come home, have dinner, then go and write for at least one hour each night. It took me a year to write my first play, but it taught me to be disciplined. And to not talk too much about what you’re writing. The more you talk about it the less you write it.

What do you hope to achieve with your work?

To make people question their beliefs, their views. To provoke. As long as there is a abizakarian hs 2residue, a tiny thought that lingers, then I’ve done my job.

What is the long-term vision for your writing? Do you partner with other creatives/companies locally or in other areas?

I want to keep writing plays but also hope to develop TV and film scripts. And I’m really keen to get my musical projects up and running. I am a huge fan of musicals and love the work of Stephen Sondheim.

Who were you most excited about meeting/working with?

I’ve loved working with all the directors, actors, creatives and crews on each project. It’s all about collaboration and seeing what happens when you let your work go and be grown.

When you’re not busy acting as a fabulous writer, what is your daytime job? (If you have another)

I’m lucky enough to write full time. I occasionally contribute to a design and lifestyle blog (I love art, design, architecture) though.

For you, what is the hardest thing about writing? What is your favorite written piece of work?

Hmm. I think the hardest thing about writing is completing a piece; as in, I don’t know that anything I write is ever truly ‘finished’, if that makes sense? I can finish a play, but quite often, the thing I’m writing about is still changing, developing and playing out in a wider sense of the world. My favourite piece of written work is my first produced play ‘A Thousand Yards’; it was such a purely cathartic play for me to write and it feels the most honest and immediate still.

If you could meet anyone in the world dead, or alive, who would it be, and what would you say?

Oh man, this is difficult…I think I’m going to have to recreate the first act of Caryl Churchills Top Girls and have a dinner party with five women: Artemesia Gentileschi, bell hooks, Septima Zenobia, Emmeline Pankhurst and Mary Shelley. An eclectic bunch; I think we’d all drink a lot of fine wine into the early hours and set the world to rights. Or take it over.

Who is your inspiration/role model? What or who has inspired you to write? Do you have a

Best Pies in London

Best Pies in London

favorite quote?

Many people inspire me: from my mother to friends to people I work with. I also take great inspiration from many writers and artists; I studied art history and architecture at university and love wandering around the National Gallery or the two Tate’s in London; art inspires me. In particular the painter Paula Rego – her work is very allegorical and dreamlike, the artist Louise Bourgeoise’s work is extraordinary and rich in visual metaphor, and I love Cindy Shermans self-portraits; the constant reinvention of the self is a particular fascination of mine. In terms of writers there’s just too many to list! But I am a huge fan of Samuel Beckett. In fact my favourite quote is from his prose piece ‘Worstword Ho’: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” I have this printed out above my desk and it never fails to keep me going if I’m blocked or doubting my work. It also reminds me that it’s OK to fail; that there’s no shame in it.

What are your upcoming projects? Where can we see you next?

I’m currently working on two new commissions; the first is a one woman show being produced for a regional tour of the UK during summer 2015, the second is a new play for Edinburgh Festival 2015. I’m also collaborating on a site specific immersive piece and developing a new musical.

This is Not an Exit

This is Not an Exit

What are your passions?

Working for change. Art.

Define yourself in one word.

Determined.

Thank you Abi. It has been both an honor and a privilege speaking with you.

Love

BCM

Lights…Camera…Action!

Recently, I had the honor of sitting down with actress Francesca De Luca.  Born and raised in Hammersmith, London, England, Francesca, who is also a musician and dancer, has played such classic characters as Shakespeare’s Titania, to playing a decapitated ghost and working opposite Joan Collins on television.  Quite a varied career indeed.  And one filled with much excitement and fun; we should all be so lucky.  I am happy, and very lucky indeed, that we met last year while I was in New York City on business, and that we are finally able to sit down for a long, and entertaining, chat. So, go ahead, make your nice hot cuppa. Grab a few choccy biscuits, and read along.

 

Photo by Matt Harquail - © Matt Harquail

Photo by Matt Harquail – © Matt Harquail

Tell me a bit about the work you do, both film and otherwise. What sort of projects do you work on?
I  started out doing more theatre in London where I have been based my whole life. I love to play a wide variety of roles whether theatre, film,  tv or voice-over. A challenge is what I love. I have done Shakespeare playing Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream which toured the UK, and played roles in modern plays like Carla, a Texan in Kennedy’s Children which was on for a month to packed out audiences in Camden’s well known Etcetera Theatre.
I have worked with Joan Collins on a tv program shown on mainstream UK TV called “Strange But True” where I played a ghost who was a countess in Venice and had her head chopped off by her husband because she was unfaithful! This was based on a true story!
I am very good at accents and character work so always like to stretch myself. Also, I love comedy as much as drama. The main thing is, I like to move an audience to make them feel something, make them cry or laugh or enlighten them in a powerful way. I love a great script that lifts off the page and has layers and a great character arc. That’s why I love productions from HBO like The Sopranos or The Wire or AMC like Breaking Bad. Inspirational!

When did you know you wanted to be an actress?  What was your first role?

In my teens I always watched theatre and I remember going to the RSC and seeing productions with my mother. I remember seeing a production of Richard II with Jeremy Irons and I criede watching it. Afterwards, I went to the stage door to speak to Jeremy and he came out in his dressing gown! I told him how moved I had been and thanked him for his wonderful performance. I wrote to him again and told him it made me want to be an actor and that I wanted to move people too. He was so lovely and invited me to his next production and gave me some advice. I will never forget that.

In my sixth form at school, when I was 17, I was offered the role in a play of a flirty nurse or a 50 year old German, hunchback, owner of a lunatic asylum who goes mad at the end of the play! I decided I would definitely play the hunchback and take the amazing challenge. (Even though the nurse would have made me a lot more attractive to the boys in the school!) My best friend saw me on stage and didn’t recognize it was me, and asked my mum when I was going to come on stage after I had been on for a while. After playing this role, I was one hundred percent certain that acting was going to be my life.

Francesca, you are most well known for being in the cult film Orpheus and Eurydice playing a lead role opposite Oliver Reed. What was it like working with him?
Amazing! I couldn’t believe that I would be acting opposite him, an actor I had admired hugely as I was growing up. He was a very lovely genuine man, very humble and passionate about his role. He was so accomplished that in filming he was able to do perfect first takes.

You played the sorceress Algeoniki in this film, In both this and The Voice, which we will get to a bit later, you kill people! You seem to be quite the chameleon, from sorceress to secret agent… I won’t say anymore because that would be spoilers, but what do you find enjoyable about those roles? What do you feel they give women?  Do you enjoy playing baddies?
Ha ha! Yes, I love playing baddies! Much more fun. I see it that I am so nice in real life and have a chance to play at being bad in films and explore a part of myself that I wouldn’t otherwise! Although I like contrasts in characters, so they are not one dimensional. I like it when you don’t expect the character to do what they do, like killing someone and what drives them to do that; how they feel after and so on. I like strong, interesting women in film and especially baddies, for instance Kill Bill and Monster, both films I love with strong female leads.

Joseph Gatt, also an English actor, who played Charon in the film has gone on to major stardom starring in Star Trek Into Darkness and The Game Of Thrones. Perhaps you are Hollywood bound?

I hope I am! I love the States. Yes, it was great working with Joseph on the film and he was a genuine and talented guy then too. It’s wonderful to see his success. Hollywood can definitely give me a call too!

How do you feel about the international film community? Do you find it easy to access? Inclusive?  It seems to be changing a bit; how do you feel about that?
Yes it is much easier to access now especially with twitter. I was seen on twitter by the director Magda Olchawska who saw my show-reel and cast me as a lead in her feature film which was shooting in Poland fairly recently.  It is easier to interact with directors, producers, casting, actors etc and it really feels like a huge global community of sharing and helping and supporting. So many films are made now because of Indiegogo and Kickstarter crowd funding platforms and it is the filmmaking community on twitter that are often the people who support each other in these projects.

How does one become and remain active in the acting community?

I think it is important to continually train and go to acting classes, film acting classes, sight reading etc. Through that you meet like minded actors and can share information and support each other. I have been a member of London’s The Actor’s Centre for many years now, and they also hold events which I have been part of. And I was recently on a panel there to help advise younger actors just out of drama school. I have also been training the past year and a half at Anthony Meindl’s acting studio in London and when when he has been in London for masterclasses, which has been wonderful and an important part of my life.

Now, 
let’s talk about your film The Voice, which was part of the 48 hour Film Festival and shown at The Prince Charles Cinema Leicester Square on the 6th of October of 2012. It was directed by Verster de Plessis and produced by Nic Holman. 
Tell me about that. Sounds fascinating.
Ah! It was lovely to see the film at The Prince Charles Cinema. It is one of my favorite cinemas in London. I enjoyed  working with Verster and Nic and my co star Jason Wing. And yes I was pretty creepy in this if I do say so myself! Not a happy ending! The organizer of the festival complimented me on my acting which was nice.

What do you think of today’s entertainment trends?
I see now that tv is becoming better quality than many films. With HBO and AMC and so on producing such high quality shows people are watching more tv and A list actors are wanting to be acting in them like Matthew McConnaughey and Woody Harrelson in True Detective.
The writing in these types of shows is so high and the acting, directing and cinematography is top level too. I love how HBO has often taken risks on casting  and newer actors are given chances to show what they can bring to a role.  Web series are a newer trend which is starting to take off and gives many actors work they wouldn’t otherwise have.
Netflix is proving that most people don’t want to wait a week to watch the next episode of a series and prefer to binge-watch episodes like The House Of Cards.

Tell me about the best part of your work


I love creating true characters who live and breath moment to moment, and delve into aspects of myself. To play a role truthfully I must face myself and let my emotions release freely whether it is drama or comedy. I love people and working with talented people as a team to create something magical that will captivate audiences around the world. I love to be a mirror to people and help them understand themselves or people they know better, through film or tv and to expand their consciousness in some way. I love the live aspect of theatre, however I love that tv and film can reach more people of all cultures.  I also love to entertain and give people respite or escapism from their lives or simply lift their spirits.

If you could meet anyone in the world dead, or alive, who would it be, and what would you say to them?


Wow. Where do I start?! It has to be these two! Forgive me for wanting two!
To meet my favorite filmmaker Martin Scorsese and ask him to audition me for a role in his next film.  I would want to earn the chance of working with him and all I ask is a chance to show what I can do!

To meet myself at the age of two and hug me and tell me that, despite my father abandoning me, that it is not my fault and that my grandfather will be the best ‘father’ I could ever have. (That’s why I changed my acting name from Agati to De Luca, after my grandfather’s name, as I felt he was more of a father to me and I feel proud to have his surname)

Who is your inspiration/role model?
Charlize Theron, especially for her role in Monster.

What are your passions?
I love listening to all types of music and I play electric guitar and some bass and drums. But I need to practice more! I love nature and the ocean. I love dancing and I love laughing with my friends!

Photo by Matt Harquail - © Matt Harquail

Photo by Matt Harquail – © Matt Harquail


How would you describe yourself in three words?
Passionate. Determined. Fun.

What are your next projects?



I will be playing a quirky lead role in a fun comedy film called Perfect directed by John Trigonis. We will be filming in the States, in New Jersey, in September of this year, and before that, working on the final script and rehearsing. I am really looking forward to that as love New York too and look forward to seeing my American cousins who live there.

Also, a film called “Anna and Modern Day Slavery” directed by Magda Olchawska is soon going to be sent to many film festivals around the world, so I am keen to see the reaction to the film. It is about human trafficking, so is an important subject. I play a lead role, the Russian secret agent in the film.

There are other productions in the pipeline too, including a film to be directed by Anthony Meindl who saw me act at his London masterclasses over the last year and a half. He is an inspiration to me, so it will be an honor to work with him. And I will be playing a French woman in a WW2 drama in another film directed by Rebecca Mac for Charmed Life films.

 

Actors Studio Redux


What is your favorite word?
Love

What is your least favorite word?
Hate

What turns you on?
Happiness in someone’s eyes

What turns you off?
Injustice

What sound or noise do you love?
Gentle waves on an ocean

What sound or noise do you hate?
Gunfire

What is your favorite curse word?
Fuck

What profession other than your own, would you like to attempt?
Musician

What profession would you not like to do?
A soldier

If Heaven exists, and there is a God, what would you like to hear Him say to you, when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Fancy seeing you here!!

 

Francesca, it has been both an honor and pleasure speaking with you. 

I wish you the very best.

Love

BCM

LuLu7: She’s Everything You Want…And Then Some…

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Black Chick Media is delighted to announce Lulu 7, written by Abi Zakarian, and brilliantly directed by Sarah Berger, will have a two week run at the Drayton Arms in South Kensington, UK from Tuesday, March 11th. All shows are at 8pm. Tickets can be purchased here.

We were lucky enough to see the first presentation of this marvelous play whilst in London last December for Women in Arts. If you are able, do go and support this amazing play and all who are involved.

Love

BCM