Good People opens on Garrett knocking at the door of his rented Airbnb on the eve of his Sax audition at Julliard. A Midwestern-type, he expects to have a quiet night in practicing, but of course, this doesn’t happen. Enter: Shane, Garrett’s slick thirty-something host, whose appetite for beer, girls, and cocaine precludes any chance of doing the responsible thing. In real life, Garrett and Shane Coffey are brothers, and
the interplay between them is evident from the first frame. Throw in a rag-tag team of thirty-something screw-ups – Thom (Peter Vack), Lilia (Sonja Mauro) and Marlowe (Francesca Root-Dodson) – all “Good People” – as the title suggests, and Garrett is thrust into a night of ultimate debauchery.
“The only person I’d get naked for is Cara,” has been said more than once by members affiliated with the tribe belonging to photographer and interdisciplinary artist, Cara Stricker – the Australian provocateur and ‘aura master.' Her ongoing music and visuals project called DROOL with musician John Kirby (Sebastian Tellier, Blood Orange) investigates “sex as a concept of experimental utopia, rather than the form in which it exists in humanity, which is isolated” as she put it recently in an exclusive for Interview Magazine. If anyone can lend a fresh perspective to the topic of sex, it’s Stricker. What she does so well – quintessentially even – is capture the feeling of feeling sexy, which is, in fact, the opposite of isolation too often capitulated as a consequence of our cultural propensity to define sex as something aspirational. With Cara, taking it off is quite honestly, a great deal of fun.
For the second installment of DROOL, Stricker along with co-director Gina Gammell and art director Holland Brown, enlist fellow artists and friends including Abbey Lee, Shags (of Ariel Pink), Sofia Karchi (of Connan Mockasin), and Samantha Urbani to capture Stricker’s particular brand of sexual utopia; to explore sex as a “continuum of existence in finding sexuality" for the song titled "End Girl." The message is feminist: sex positive inclusivity with a gaze cast evenly across the spectrum of masculine / feminine imbuing a sense of agency opposed to blatant objectification. The effect is intoxicating and empowering – transforming the notion of provocation into an exercise of harnessing sexual prowess, Cara’s way: in feeling the feeling of sexy.
Some press for End Girl:
Directed by Adam McClelland
New York, NY
Written and directed by Adam McClelland, The Golden Record examines the “post social” effects of creating an intimate, digital “archive” of our lives.
Inspired by the 1977 social experiment conducted by astrophysicist, Carl Sagan, in which a phonograph record was sent into Space containing the sounds of earthly esoterica, (running water, wind, whale calls, chirping birds) for goal of scientific “communication” with the unknown, McClelland’s Golden Record is the digitally archived relationship between Eli (Ishmael Cruz Cordova) and Annabelle (Sonja Mauro) – its creation and ultimate “release” – into cyberspace.
A fascinating portrayal of today’s “plugged in” social landscape, Eli and Annabelle’s Golden Record reflects the consequences of “living through the lens;” a sharp counterpoint to Sagan’s utopian goals of interstellar unification.
Conceived by the London-based artist and architect, Heidi Locher, and her son, the director and VICE Media photojournalist, Frederick Paxton, Locher seeks to contextualize her experience growing up in hotels (particularly in California) where, as a young girl from England, she felt socially and culturally disoriented.
“Hotel Kalifornia” investigates, through mixed media and installation, three critical stages in the artist’s life: CHILD, TEENAGER, and ADULT WOMAN; how each stage informs the next, and in some cases, how repetitious trauma precludes the artist’s ability to move forward.
Paxton directed Sonja in the “three phases of Heidi,” while she sought to capture the essence of the artist during these crucial imprinting stages. The video, shot on a Red-1 Phantom, looped continuously throughout a situational “hotel room,” where the viewer could interact (and confront) the traumas of living in isolated transience.
The installation was on-view at the Londonnewcastle Project Space. Watch the film here.
Directed by Tim Rosenman
New York, NY
When childhood friends Josh “The Fat Jew” Ostrovsky and Jonathan Sollis conceived of a mock “reality show” about “Two girls from Orlando with dreams of making it in the big city,” it was an obvious choice to cast… themselves as RACHEL and JOANNA.
As New York natives, both Ostrovsky and Sollis are postmodern Dadaists of sorts – utilizing comedy, social media (Ostrovsky alone has over 2.5 million followers on Instagram) and sartorial absurdity to underscore the city’s manifold contradictions and minor injustices.
In GIRLHATTAN, Ostrovsky and Sollis target the Public Relations & Fashion industries, casting themselves as wholly unfashionable, socially inane, “new girls” who sneak through a leading firm’s “backdoor” vise a vie a reluctantly enforced “diversity” clause. Despite their being antithetical to otherwise glaring industry standards of perfection, the girls' plucky sense of entitlement, hyperbolic “branded” materialism, and self-serving transparency reflect greater social truths about “making it” in New York; the cut throaty-ness of it, its selfishness, and its inherent apathy.
Such distinctions could not be made clearer without casting the ultimate archetypes to play counterpoint to utterly inept Rachel and Joanna. ALEXIA (Sonja Mauro) and ASPEN (Lauren De Niro-Pipher) play seasoned employees tasked with training the unlikely duo at Madison Harding Public Relations.
What ensues is very much an extension of both Ostrovsky’s and Sollis’s penchant for sketch comedy, replete with hyperbolic plotlines hinging on the absurd-yet-often-accurate representations of living and working in hypercompetitive Manhattan.
Starring Vincent Piazza (Boardwalk Empire, Jersey Boys), Cecilia Flagg, Sonja Mauro
The award winning three-character play premiered at Birmingham in 1998 to rave reviews during the apex of controversial new research in the fields of neuroscience & psychopathology. FROZEN was revived by On the Road Repertory Company in 2014, with its founder, Alice Spivak directing Sonja Mauro, Cecilia Flagg, and Vincent Piazza in its month-long run.
Written by Bryony Lavery, FROZEN, borrows directly from the work of Dr. Dorothy Lewis, then Psychiatry Chair at New York University School of Medicine. Lewis successfully proved the inextricable link between emotional & physical damage of the prefrontal cortex to violent crime. Such findings derailed the “notion of pure evil,” as sufficient basis for categorizing sociopathic tendencies.
Enter: DR. AGNETHA GUTTMUNDSDOTTIR (Sonja Mauro), a character loosely but controversially based on Dr. Lewis, whose research takes her to London where she must mine the interiors of a serial killer’s brain in order to corroborate evidence that his inability to control violent urges are in fact “crimes of illness, not evil.” RALPH, played by Vincent Piazza, is suffering from an aberration of the brain, and subsequently, it is that which compels him to kill.
Recent controversy surrounding our judicial and correctional systems, psychological health management, and ongoing battle over gun control places FROZEN at the intersection of a nation, divided.
More about OnTheRoad Repertory Company:
Founded in 2012 by premiere acting coach and company artistic director, Alice Spivak, the company’s mission is to create an ensemble of players producing revivals and original plays in New York City. The plays are rehearsed in depth and kept in their repertoire.
The company was inspired by, and founded in collaboration with, Alice’s professional acting students.
Directed by Jack Bryan
New York, NY
Sonja met fellow writer Jack Bryan as a student at Eugene Lang, a division of New School University, and a collaboration was born. Since then, they have worked together, steadily. Their first project, STRUCK, was initially conceived as a play.
Ultimately, the decision to work in film was part logistics, part desire to produce a record of their on-set experiences as first-time filmmakers.
STRUCK investigates the dynamics of an intimate relationship, marred by drug addiction. Shot almost entirely in Mr. Bryan’s former Upper West Side apartment (a decision that ultimately cost him his tenant status) the film captures the claustrophobia inherent within a drug-addled relationship as much as it does the essence of New York City in early spring: Grey, paranoid, impatient.
View trailer on Vimeo.
Directed by Michel Auder
United Theater, Harlem NYC
Starring Caroline Polachek (Chairlift; The Ramona Lisa), Jen Polachek, Sonja Mauro
For Caroline Polachek’s solo debut, the lead singer/ songwriter of the band Chairlift, devised a visual album to accompany her signature sound dubbed “Pastoral” Electronic.
Directed by legendary French director Michel Auder, the piece challenges the authenticity of the Performing & Private Selves as seen through the development of an alter ego. Intercutting between docu-style “backstage” footage and live performance, Auder artfully blurs the line between downtime and “on” time begging the question: What (or which) is real?
In preparation for the performance, the DANCERS (Sonja Mauro, Caroline Polachek) were given two weeks at Mark Morris Studio with the brilliant choreographer, Juri Onuki. The performance was produced by Callie Barlow and KM-B New York for Mercedes Benz.
Watch the video on Youtube.
Directed by Jack Bryan
When TEDDY (Fran Kranz) awakes after a drunken rage to discover his wife, MOLLY (Jocelin Donahue), has been badly beaten, it galvanizes younger brother, GORDON (Kenny Wormald), to avenge his brother-in-law to the fullest extent. Enter: HOWARD (Chris Mulkey), the hit man hired to get the job done.
Set in a small town, the relationship between Teddy and Molly is often projected by its close-knit community, including a waitress, SALLY (Sonja Mauro), at the local watering hole. Such social claustrophobia only exacerbates what is already a high-stakes situation within the immediate family.
THE LIVING, produced by Bryan’s New York-based production company, Shooting Films, has gone on to generate significant press and two wins: Tallgrass Festival’s Stubbornly Independent Award, 2014, and Best Dramatic Feature at Manhattan Film Festival, 2014, while its director, Jack Bryan, solidifies his reputation a promising newcomer with a noirish, old-school sensibility reminiscent New York’s golden era.
Directed by Jorge Elbrecht
New York, NY
Current guitarist of Ariel Pink, Elbrecht teamed up with the eponymous “psych-songmaster” to create “Called to Ring,” a dreamy throwback to grunge released as part of a special five year compilation by Mexican Summer. With a gaggle of long-haired headbanging friends giving just the right amount of nonchalance, Elbrecht, who also directed the video, slyly pokes fun at the mores the genre tends to cultivate — especially as it moves further from its origins.
Directed by Nick Gallo
New York, NY
When The Onion moved to Chicago, former features editor, Joe Garden, along with employees Nick Gallo, Joe Randazzo, Chris Karwowski, and John Harris teamed up to create THING X: A parody website for Adult Swim.
Not “fake news” but tonally similar to The Onion, the sketch comedy series is often compared to Tim & Eric, and not surprisingly, has featured Tim Heidecker in his element as a cinema talk show host.
“Gay Pride Parade” follows frantic, eager-to-please employees into the boardroom as they prepare for a strategic meeting with tyrannical boss (Geoffery Cantor). What ensures is a hilarious sketch detailing the teams’ production schedule for “The Gay Pride Parade.”
Like the Onion, THING X uses parody to underscore the absurdity of everyday life. In this episode, workplace decorum takes an obvious hit, but the show’s acute sense of satire achieves broader social strokes aimed at highlighting our cultural inclination towards capitalism, power, and personal gain – even if it is through the vein of “monetizing” gay culture.
Directed by Justin Lieberman
New York, NY
As Paul Lester put it in his review for the Guardian, “[the] Selebrities are American but they have the aesthetic sense of 1982 northerners [Manchester, South Yorkshire, Glasgow] And they're consistent with it: in terms of ambition and design, Selebrities are an immaculate conception.” And, keeping in line with this aesthetic bent, the band, along with director Justin Lieberman - then a Columbia MFA candidate - shot “Can’t Make Up My Mind,” perhaps aptly exploring the concept of “celebrity” and its psychological ills. Enter the STARLET (Sonja Mauro) who gets off to her own image - on full display in the University’s theater, no less - in slick, Robert Palmer-esque regalia.