Wednesday, April 6, 2011

ON THE SPOT with Steven Ragatz and Charlotte Greenblatt

There's gold in this here circus!
Boom Town has arrived at the New Vic for a three week New York City premiere! This awesome show is brought to you by Cirque Mechanics, the creators of Birdhouse Factory (New Victory 2008-2009 season). Boom Town is full of aerial stunts and acrobatics - so no worries that Spiderman is on hiatus next door, these larger than life characters and their neat tricks will keep you going in the meantime! Meet Charlotte and Steven, two of the performers and writers.

Charlotte Greenblatt
New Victory: Where did you grow up?
Charlotte Greenblatt: San Diego, California.
Steven Ragatz: Bloomington, Indiana

NV: Favorite hometown tradition?
SR: Fourth Street Fair - the first place I ever performed on the street

NV: Favorite hometown food?
CG: Fish tacos, fresh off the taco truck
SR: Mexican. But that's not limited just to my hometown!

NV: Favorite hometown haunt?
CG: I have a number of hometowns at the moment, so here are a few haunts: The Station Tavern in Golden Hill (San Diego); Ultime Atome Café in Ixelles (Brussels); Berkeley Bowl (Berkeley).
SR: Downtown square

NV: Favorite NYC haunt?
CG: St. Mark's Books
SR: The subway - big city public transportation is fun for me

NV: When you travel, what do you miss most about home?
CG: Being able to cook my own food!
SR: My own bed. The quiet. The routine.

Steven Ragatz
NV: Favorite family activity?
CG: Playing piano four-hands with my mom; hiking in the Sierras [Nevada Mountains] with my dad; drinking far too much espresso with my brother.
SR: Computer games (yep - we all play 'em)

NV: Most memorable theatrical experience as a spectator?
CG: Seeing the The Black Rider at ACT [American Conservatory Theater] in San Francisco in 2004.
SR: The Flying Karamazov Brothers' production of The Comedy of Errors - 1987 I think.

NV: Most memorable theatrical experience as a director/performer?
CG:  Playing Chopin on a nine foot Steinway in front of 1200 people, in one of the major concert halls in Brussels. It was in a circus show that was part of a Balkan music festival, and it was just one of the many amazing things that I would never have gotten to do if I hadn't been a circus performer. It was also, quite easily, the most terrifying thing I've ever done in my life.
SR: Performing with Cirque du Soleil at the Royal Albert Hall, in London.

NV: If you weren't in theater, what would you want to do with your life?
CG:  I would probably have gotten my master's degree in math and I would be teaching math at a community college. That's still what I plan to do when I transition out of performing full-time.
SR: Building construction, engineering, that sort of thing

NV: Favorite saying or slang term?
CG: “J'ai la patate.” It's French, literally it means “I have the potato”, but it is used to mean "I've got energy and motivation." Also really handy is “Pas de patate,” meaning “no potatoes,” because sometimes you just don't.
SR: Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it, and then you'll really be screwed.

NV: Something interesting/unique others may not know about you?
CG: I was home-schooled and I didn't learn how to read until I was nine.
SR: I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up.

Boom Town Photo: Darren Basil
NV: Do you do anything else to earn a living?
CG: Not currently. I tutored math on the side while I was in circus school, and last year while recovering from surgery on my hand I worked for six months teaching math part-time at an international high school in Brussels. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be earning my living as a performing artist.
SR: Rely on the kindness of strangers?

NV: What is your educational background? Training background?
CG: I went to UC Berkeley and got a Bachelor's degree in mathematics and while I was studying there I danced with a number of contemporary dance companies and choreographers in San Francisco. I only started circus in 2005, when I graduated from Berkeley and moved to Brussels. I trained from 2006 to 2009 at the Ecole Superieure des Arts du Cirque (ESAC) in Brussels, which is basically the Belgian state circus school. It's a very small school (about fifty students total), offering an extremely intense and high level training program over three years. I had an excellent Ukrainian hand-balancing coach at ESAC, Slava Kukushkin.
SR: BA in Variety Theater and an MS in Computer Science

NV: What is your cultural heritage? Has it influenced your work, and if so, how?
CG: I'm lucky enough to be part of a generation that hasn't known war or real economic problems, in a time and place where being a woman hasn't limited my options in life. I've had the freedom to follow my dreams, to move to Europe and to go to circus school.
SR: Midwestern small-town boy. Being isolated from big city life and the larger circus arts communities has led me to have to learn much on my own.

NV: Which 3 people have influenced you the most?
CG: My parents, Richard Greenblatt and Susan Selvig, have been so supportive and encouraging of me throughout my life and all of my endeavors, creative or otherwise. They showed me how many options life has to offer, and let me know that I could make my own choices. And as there are about a dozen people who I would like to name as the third person on the list, I think I'll have to leave that blank.
SR: Michael Moschen, Tony Montenarro and my father.

NV: Why do you like performing at the New Vic?
CG: This April will be my first time at the New Vic, I'm excited to find out!
SR: I am very excited to be performing on Broadway in a class venue. Who wouldn't be?

Boom Town runs at The New Victory from April 8 - 24. Buy tickets here! Did you see the new trailer? Watch it now!

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