With credits at almost every independent theater company in town (PAC, EgoPo, Luna, Simpatico, Renegade, Quintessence, etc.), Griffin Stanton-Ameisen has built a reputation as one of the best young actors in Philadelphia. Griffin recently founded a new theater company, Revolution Shakespeare, to produce Shakespeare works. For the 2013 Philly Fringe, however, Griffin is working with his Matchbox Theatre Project to re-mount Neil Haven’s The Playdaters, which the company previously produced for a brief run in February 2012.
Phindie talked to Griffin about the play, relationships, and his favorite rom/coms.
Phindie: So,what’s this show about?
Griffin Stanton-Ameisen: Here’s our short description of the show: “First dates are stressful, especially when you keep score. Roommates Spencer and Erwin exploit a dating website to play a game of pranks on unsuspecting women. As the rules of the game break down, so do the rules of a conventional romantic comedy. Spencer wants to try a real relationship with a one-dimensional character, and Erwin learns that he can control his simple stage world in the most astounding ways. Through their crazy antics, the audience is asked to examine and laugh at, the chaos, desperation, and desire that lies in a ‘real’ relationship.”
Phindie: How did you come to produce The Playdaters?
GSA: After our first production, and its surprise success, everyone wanted to do it again and for more the a night. We wanted to do it last fringe, however, we weren’t able to make the right space come together. So here we are this Fringe, psyched to do it again!
Phindie: How is this production different to your earlier staging?
GSA: The re-mount differs from the original in a few ways. First, we have a new actor in Clare O’Malley, other than that all of the personnel is the same. However, all of the actors and designers are taking a fresh look at the script. I think we have a different perspective on the play, which has given us a deeper understanding of some of the layers in it.
Phindie: Is it a date play?
GSA: I think it definitely works as a date play, at least my kind of date play, because it is really ridiculous and funny.
Phindie: Would you call it a romcom?
GSA: I would call it a deconstruction of a romantic comedy or bromantic comedy, as it is really about Erwin and Spencer’s relationship. It’s a send up, but there’s a ton of truth in it.
Phindie: What do you think the show tells us about relationships?
GSA: I think the truth lies in looking at friendships and getting older. How one person may hang on to some things from the past, and another may be trying to move on and grow up. It’s something that we have all encountered. It can be hard, and it can be difficult to come to terms with. Fortunately, the majority of this show is using some cliches that we all know in a clever way to attack this kind of story with a lot of levity and shenanigans. Plus, it’s quite adult!
Phindie: Your ladyfriend Dana [Kreitz] is also in the cast, what’s it like working with her? Do you take anything from the show home with you?
GSA: It’s a blast! We are always looking for more opportunities to work together. What’s funny about this production is that Clare and Sean [Bradley] just got married and Dana and I have been together for more than four years, yet Sean and Dana are playing opposite one another and Clare and I are playing opposite one another. It adds some nice levity to the rehearsal room. Plus, we all get along really well and we all care about the evening being a good time for our audiences, so everyone’s hearts are in great places!
Phindie: You’ve Got Mail or Sleepless in Seattle?
GSA: You’ve Got Mail, I guess.
Phindie: The Wedding Planner or The Wedding Singer?
GSA: Never seen The Wedding Planner, but I know I would prefer The Wedding Singer, I love that movie. And it’s probably a bit more appropriate for our show.
Phindie: She’s All That or She’s Just Not That Into You?
GSA: She’s All That.
Phindie: Best romcom ever?
GSA: My favorite romantic comedy is probably Can’t Hardly Wait. We’ve talked about Playdaters in terms of I Love You Man and Wedding Crashers.
Phindie: Really, it has to be a Shakespeare one for you though, right?
GSA: Ha ha! If it were Shakespeare it might be As You Like It.
Phindie: Talking post-Fringe, I was excited to hear about Revolution Shakespeare. When can we expect their first production?
GSA: Yes, we just launched Revolution Shakespeare publicly a few weeks ago! Our first project will be an enhanced staged reading of Henry VI Part III on Sunday, October 13, 2013, at 5:30pm at Hawthorne Park (12th and Catharine St). The reading will be directed by Brenna Geffers and will feature Jared Delaney, Eric Kramer, and Cheryl Williams, among others. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and it’s FREE!
The Playdaters runs September 4-22, 2013, as part of the Philly Fringe Festival. Tickets and info at fringearts.ticketleap.com.