Experience OCTOPI IN THE OUTFIELD with Red Octopus Theater

(L to R) Jeremiah Herman, Josh Doering, Sam Grubb and Anderson Penix of Red Octopus Theater are suited up for Octopi in the Outfield, an all new live sketch comedy show running May 16-18, 2019.

This weekend, Red Octopus Theater presents Octopi in the Outfield an all new, original, live sketch comedy show.

Octopi in the Outfield runs May 16, 17, 18 2019 at The PUBLIC Theatre, located at 616 Center Street, in downtown Little Rock, AR.

Doors will open at 7:15PM and the show will start at 8:00PM. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for senior citizens, military and students.  No reservations, tickets may only be purchased at the door before each show.

The show is recommended for mature audiences, children under 18 will be charged $914.

Red Octopus is excited to return for the 28th year with its first show of 2019,  Octopi in the Outfield, a loosely baseball themed sketch comedy filled with nostalgia and laughs.  The troupe will take a look at parents at t-ball, online dating, new parents and the struggles of public teachers.

The cast of candidates includes Courtney Beard, Alli Clark Howland, Josh Doering, Sam Grubb, Jeremiah James Herman, Anderson Penix, and Jason Willey with special guest, Luke “Ramthor” Rowlan.

Performances are open to all ages, but recommended for mature audiences due to adult language and situations. Again, child tickets are $914.

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This Weekend only – Pagans on Bobsleds XXV! as only Red Octopus can bring it!

Red Octopus Theater presents Pagans on Bobsleds is XXV! A holiday tradition for many, Red Octopus theater is proud to present Pagans on Bobsleds XXV!

Pagans on Bobsleds XXV! will be performed December 8, 9, 10, 2016 at The PUBLIC Theater, 616 Center St., in downtown Little Rock. Shows will start at 8PM and doors will open at 7:30PM. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for senior citizens, students & active military and veterans. No reservations are necessary and there will be refreshments available. The show is recommended for mature audiences, child tickets are $496.  (If you tell them Jason Willey sent you, you might get a kid in for a discounted price of $377.)

Pagans on Bobsleds started twenty-five years ago by a bunch of a actors, writers, artists and plain weirdos looking to do something that wasn’t happening in the local arts scene. Since then, this yearly cacophony of holiday themed sketch comedy has become a tradition not only for the members of Red Octopus, but for many of their fans. Through the years, the Pagans On Bobsleds cast has included over 100 different actors, writers, musicians and artists.

The show started long before any of the current cast was in Red Octopus and before a few of them were born. With timeless favorites like Santa-man, Fruitcake, Frosty, the Choirs and the Pagans on Bobsleds song, this show will also feature new material from The Old Lady, Hermes the Elf and a special tribute to Santa. So we invite everyone to come celebrate twenty-five years of Pagans on Bobsleds this holiday season!

The cast includes Alli Clark, Lesley Dancer, Josh Doering, Scott Dombroski, Drew Ellis, Sam Grubb, Jeremiah Herman, Anderson Penix, Evan Tanner, Jason Thompson and Jason Willey with special help from Michael Goodbar, Luke Rowlan and Christina Wang.

For more information please contact Red Octopus Theater at (501) 291-3896, or RedOctopusTheater@gmail.com. Red Octopus is also online at www.redoctopustheater.com. To contact The PUBLIC Theatre, call 374-PLAY.

Creative Class 2016: Jason Willey

cc16-willeyJason Willey often has people howling with laughter when he performs with Red Octopus Theater.

As one of the movers and shakers behind this troupe for the past decade or so, Jason often writes and produces and directs for this topical sketch comedy troupe in addition to acting in it.  He can also usually be found cranking out press releases for it and doing whatever needs to be done.

In addition to appearing with Red Octopus, Jason has been a fixture on the local theatre scene. He has appeared in many productions with The Weekend Theater as well as on other local stages.

Jason has also appeared in numerous Arkansas-based films over the past few years.  He has lent his talents on many film crews as well.  He is an avid supporter of local film festivals as well.

In short, if it comes to an aspect of the acting profession in Arkansas, Jason has probably been involved.

Creative Class 2016: Werner Trieschmann

cc16-treischmannWerner Trieschmann is a playwright-teacher-writer-you could keep adding hyphens and words.

His numerous plays — including Dog Star, Wrought Iron, and Killers — have been staged by Moving Arts in Los Angeles, Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York City, The New Theatre in Boston, Mobtown Players in Baltimore, and Red Octopus Productions in Little Rock. Werner was a resident at the Mount Sequoyah New Play Retreat in Fayetteville. His play Lawn Dart won first prize in the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans New Play Competition. He was the first playwright to receive the Porter Prize, an Arkansas literary award recognizing outstanding achievement by an Arkansas writer.

Werner’s play Disfarmer about Arkansas photographer Mike Disfarmer, was featured in Theatre Squared’s Arkansas New Play Festival. It was subsequently mounted at the first ACANSA Arts Festival.

His full-length comedy You Have to Serve Somebody is published by the Dramatic Publishing Company; several of his short plays are published by Playscripts, Inc.; his dark one-act comedy Killers is published through Original Works Publishing; and a monologue from Killers is included in the The Best Women’s Stage Monologues 1999, published by Smith & Kraus. Werner has an MFA in Playwriting from Boston University. He is a Theatre Arts professor at Pulaski Technical College and an adjunct faculty member at Hendrix College, his alma mater.  He has also served as a dramaturg at the Arkansas Repertory Theatre and was a writer for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.  

2015 In Memoriam – Sandy Baskin

In these final days of 2015, we pause to look back at 15 who influenced Little Rock’s cultural scene who left us in 2015.

So, let’s pretend we’re sitting in the back of Vino’s, where so many actors, musicians and rats have sort of tried to be tolerant of one another through the years, where so many beers have been slung and guitar picks (and sometimes prosthetic body parts) flung.  It’s here where Red Octopus Theatre Company first found its home and fan base, and it’s here where founder Christy Ward and former member/performer Jennifer Pierce Mathus thought it best to base our virtual tribute to the late Sandy Baskin, longtime Red Octopus director and Little Rock actress.

1515 BaskinJPM:  Hi, Christy Ward.  Smells like home in here.

CW:  Ah, yes!  Stale beer and gutter punks!  The scent of the season!

JPM:  It should be a seasonal candle.  You know, I can never call you by just your first name. That’s because of Sandy. And it’s like one word, really, especially when you speak at Sandy Baskin speed. You know what?  Let’s just pretend Sandy is running late and talk about her…..so, how did you meet Sandy?

CW: I met her one night at the “Honky Hut”, which is what we called the house Brooks Caruthers, Greg Hinspeter and various other lived in. I’d moved back from San Francisco, a year or two before. Brad Mooy, Amy Gross-Mason (both of whom where interns at The Rep) and I had just started Red Octopus and had put up a few one-acts–I had wanted to do something a little different from the work I’d done with Reponde Capite, and Brad and Amy wanted to have a little creative freedom aside from their day jobs. I knew Amy in college. We wanted a different kind of audience than the other theatres. We loved theatre and we wanted to get a younger audience who might not otherwise go see a play. So, we got a couple of nights at Vino’s, which had just opened. Allan Vennis, Henry Lee and, oh, that other guy, all owned it. So we formed Red Octopus. I wanted it to be called Little Miss Priss’ Theatre of Impertinence. But for brevity’s sake, we named it after Brad’s super cute kitchen table! We’d put on two shows, and they had played fantastically. I was really energized by the whole thing, and was planning my next show, an original piece, with music called “The Big, Big, City.” It was the first script I ever wrote. Sandy sat down next to me on the couch, and introduced herself to me. She said our mutual friend told her she should meet me, since I was doing shows at music venues, she was a theatre person, and we were both cool and funny. The friend said that, not me…

JPM: But you were….

CW: …and by the end of the night, Sandy was assistant director and firmly entrenched in RO.  I saw her pretty much every day for about ten years after that. (laughs)

So, Jennifer! I understand you’ve also done a bit of acting! Can you give me a brief idea of why you are qualified to talk about Sandy Baskin and her contributions to theatre in Arkansas?

JPM:  Am I qualified to talk about Sandy?  I guess, after 13-ish years spent either on stage with her or in collaboration with Red Octopus, I can say that Sandy Baskin kept the independent spirit alive in theater in Arkansas.  And she particularly demanded that audiences have respect for comedy in all forms. Like, she almost had a “live free or die” approach to her art.  The whole “f*** ‘em if they can’t take a joke” thing.  Her life’s work informed so many aspiring actors and comedy writers; she inspired artists to think and try and grow. At least, that’s what she did for me. And I have, as you know, appeared in a J.G. Wentworth commercial, so clearly I have developed a highly-refined approach to our craft. *throws pretend scarf over shoulder*

CW:  I see! You seem pretty qualified.  Sandy was not a founding member of Red Octopus, but she joined the company very early on and remained the driving force behind it until she passed away this year. So, what do you think Sandy brought to the table, what was it about her that drew people to the company, that kept them excited and willing to bust their asses for no monetary reward?

1515 Baskin2JPM: What I saw through the years, as newer company members would come into the group, the newbies wanted to make her laugh. They saw her as the leader of the “cool kids” theater gang, and they wanted that stamp of approval, as actors and writers. If they could crack her up, especially if they could make her break in scene, then they kinda felt like they’d graduated. It was the same with me when I started–it’s one of the reasons I baaaaarely wrote, because I thought much of what I wrote wasn’t funny enough for your or Sandy’s or Jason Gregory’s standards. It had to be good; it had to kill. Because nearly all of her sketches killed.  So many of the sketches she wrote back then are still being performed today.

And after all the “old heads” left, why do you think she cared so much about keeping RO going?

CW:  I think she just really loved comedy and her family. I don’t think she could’ve moved and left her family behind. But I don’t think she was capable of not doing shows either. I can’t imagine her doing anything else. If there had never been a Red Octopus, she would’ve wound up starting up something else like it. She found her thing. It worked perfectly with her life. She was very lucky, and I’m sure she would agree.  And I feel, as an actress, she was outstanding working in the genre of sketch comedy.

JPM: Totally. As an actor, she was completely built for comedy.  Warp-speed speech pattern, big volume, fantastic expressions, great tits. And I can say that because I’m a guy. (laughs) Sandy was a dynamo onstage and had impeccable comedic timing. Plus, she had this vintage Hollywood “look” and a kind of Lucille Ball approach. She should’ve had her own variety show.

CW: She was an encyclopedia of pop culture, from the 1920’s on. And I am not. She loved changing lyrics to songs and putting music in where ever humanly possible. And me, not so much. How did Sandy influence you as an artist?

JPM:  I can’t even begin to explain. Red Octopus was my MFA program in acting, with an emphasis in comedy. Sandy’s direction and collaboration shaped everything for me.  What do you remember most when you think of her?

CW: Laughing. And a million other things that usually ended in laughing.

JPM:  Working with her onstage was like working with someone who should’ve been on Saturday Night Live. And it was the scariest and yet safest place to be, being on stage with her.

Favorite performance of Sandy’s, go.

CW:  Vivace. Hands down the best thing she ever did. She was so fun to watch in comedy, I can’t pick one. But Vivace was a drama. It was a big stretch for her. I wanted it to be very realistic. It was very Method. I think we all went a little crazy maybe, but she was great. Really great.

Who do you think were Sandy’s major influences?

JPM:  Oh, God!  Offhand?  Tom Waits, Broadway, 1960s TV commercials, film noir, Laugh-In, Shakespeare, Valley of the Dolls, Burns and Allen, West Side Story, you, Jason Gregory.

Your favorite performance together, go.

CW:  We Have No Shame. Two woman show. So much fun. As we say today, we gave zero f*cks.

JPM:  And here’s something:  Sandy was always well aware of her femininity but still maintained a punk sort of feminist position when it came to characters and sketch themes and ideas. How do you think she found that balance?

CW:  She and I were total 3rd Wave Feminists. Sexuality and sex were fun things that were ours. She did what she wanted. Just because she was pretty, didn’t mean she was demure or stupid, and she enjoyed making that point. And she enjoyed flirting.

What was your favorite thing she wrote?

JPM:  This has been killing me since we lost her, because my favorite thing she wrote, I can’t remember the show title!  It actually wasn’t a comedy, though I loved all of her comedic writing. No, this was a two-man dramedy she wrote, starring me and Jason Gregory, a Burns-and-Allen riff that told the story of Sandy’s dear friend who developed a degenerative brain disorder and died. Gregory played the lead role, and I was basically playing the role of Sandy. It was a beautiful, heartbreaking tribute to love and loss. We rehearsed it for weeks, really intensive actor-y type work to find the characters and deliver beautifully nuanced performances. Sandy directed, and she was brilliant. And no one actually saw the show. Well, Kathy Strause saw it and maybe two other people. Because RO had at that point been doing sketch comedy full stop, throwing a heavier theatrical piece at our audience didn’t really work. I think we closed the show after two days of empty seats. And now, I’m the only one left who remembers it. God, this is a terribly depressing answer!  She would actually make fun of this answer. *dries eyes, blows nose in pretend scarf*

JPM:  How did she enrich the cultural life of this state?  What is Sandy’s legacy?  And are we really asking these questions?  Because this all still seems a bit unreal, to me.

CW:  I want Little Rock and the world to know, but mostly Little Rock, that Sandy Baskin was a major force in creating the underground culture of the city since the 90’s. This city loves live comedy, because of her. Little Rock had a sort of cultural Golden Age in the 90’s, and it was more shiny, and fun, because of her presence both on and off stage. She was a true talent who could have worked in any writer’s room in the country, and we were lucky to have had her. That’s all I have to say about that.

JPM:  Agreed.

CW:  Any final thoughts you want to share?

JPM:  I loved that Dumb Whore.  And it’s too bad if you don’t get the joke. I secretly hope Scott gets letters of protest for the use of that language.  Because that would thrill Sandy.

Pagans on Bobsleds XXIV: One More Splash! pays tribute to late, great Sandy Baskin

ROT Pagans SandyPagans on Bobsleds XXIV: One More Splash! is newest installment in the long running holiday tradition for Red Octopus Theater. Pagans on Bobsleds XXIV: One More Splash! will run December 10-12, 2015 at The PUBLIC Theatre, located at 616 Center Street, in downtown Little Rock, AR.  Doors will open at 7:30PM and the show will start at 8:00PM. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for senior citizens, military and students.  Tickets are general admission, no reservations and there will be refreshments available.  The show is recommended for mature audiences, child tickets are $490.

Pagans on Bobsleds XXIV: One More Splash! a memorial to Sandy Baskin, long time head writer and director of Red Octopus Theater, who passed away earlier this year.  There is no adequate way to measure the influence Sandy Baskin had on the central Arkansas performing arts community and countless actors in her 3 decades of performing, writing and directing.  Sandy Baskin performed with Red Octopus theater for over 20 years and for much of that time was the head writer and director of countless live sketch comedy shows, short films and other performances.  Ms. Baskin may have left this plane of existence, but she will always be the head redhead in Red Octopus.

This year, Pagans on Bobsleds, the long running Red Octopu holiday tradition, will be a greatest hits of Sandy’s  favorites including Fauzio’s, The Nutcracker Suite, Elves What Woo, The Old Lady, They’re Having Eggnog, Devil Hound, Santaman, Fruitcake and many more. Unfortunately, due to her passing, Sandy really left the other Octopi in a lurch for a funny lady with a red bouffant that can cuss like a sailor.  That role is in a lot of these sketches, but  Red Octopus thought, the only thing to do without Sandy Baskin, was to make everyone try to fill her comedy shoes.  It will take a cast of 12 including Frank Butler, Alli Clark, Brian Chambers, Sarah Cunningham, Lesley Dancer, Michael Goodbar, Jeremiah Herman, Nichole Henry, Anderson Penix, Luke Rowlan, Brittany Sparkles, Evan Tanner, Jason Thompson and Jason Willey

Current Executive Director of Red Octopus, Jason Willey said, “Sandy loved hanging out with her people and often she’d say she was just going to have “one more splash” before we called it a night. That usually turned into another hour and a lot of laughs. Everyone in Red Octopus will miss having one more splash with Baskin.  We thought, that’s what this show should be for Red Octopus and our fans, one last splash, for Baskin.”

Red Octopus Theater looks forward to seeing all our friends and fans for Pagans on Bobsleds XXIV: One More Splash, a tribute to the one and only Sandy Baskin.

For more information please contact Jason Willey, Executive Director, Red Octopus Theater at (501) 291-3896, or RedOctopusTheater@gmail.com. Red Octopus is also online atwww.redoctopustheater.com.

To contact The PUBLIC Theatre, call 374-PLAY.

 

Red Octopus is doing the “Electrick Boo-galoo”

ROT Halloween2015

Photo by Sarena Kaye (LtoR) Scott Dombrowski, Jason Willey, Sara Cunningham, Michael Goodbar, Alli Clark and Anderson Penix pose as characters from the upcoming Red Octopus Theater Halloween show “Electrick Boo-galoo!”

Electrick Boo-galoo!, the new original sketch comedy show by Red Octopus Theater, runs through October 24, 2015, at The PUBLIC Theatre, located at 616 Center Street, in downtown Little Rock.  Doors will open at 7:30PM and the show will start at 8:00PM.  Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for senior citizens, military, students and anyone in costume.  No reservations or online ticketing and there will be refreshments available.  The show is recommended for mature audiences, child tickets are $876.

Red Octopus Theater is one of the oldest and scariest sketch comedy troupes in the nation having continuously performed since 1991.  This year’s Halloween show promises to be one of their battiest original shows ever.

Creepy comedy will commence with a fireside chat with the president in “The State of Breakfast”.  Things will get weird in the “The Witchiest Witch Doctor” and even weirder in the new game show, “Find Me A Cult.”  But don’t worry, if you aren’t freaked out by that, you will be by “Pumpkin Spice Apocalypse” and “The Camp Fire Gories”  There will also be some serious political insights in “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Rose.” A special old lady will be making an appearance, along with a few other crowd favorites that it just wouldn’t be Halloween without.

The cast includes Alli Clark, Sarah Cunningham, Scott Dombroski, Michael Goodbar, Sam Grubb, Nichole Henry, Anderson Penix and Jason Willey with special guest, Luke “Ramthor” Rowlan. Performances are open to all ages, but recommended for mature audiences because of adult language and situations, again, child tickets are $867.

Red Octopus will begin working on their annual holiday show, Pagans on Bobsleds XXIV, almost immediately following Electrick Boo-galoo! and it will run December 9-12, 2015.

For more information please contact Red Octopus Theater at (501) 291-3896, or RedOctopusTheater@gmail.com. Red Octopus is also online at www.redoctopustheater.com.