Tell me who you guys are as a group and also who you are individually! 

Lucas Papaelias
I’m Lucas Papaelias and I’m in These Paper Bullets and I grew up in Somers, NY, right around the corner from here. I’m an actor and a musician and I love it here! 

Kelly Miller
I’m Kelly Miller. I am the Director of Development for New Neighborhood, but also the spelling bee champ! I live in Los Angeles, but I’m from Charlotte, NC.

Tony Manna
I’m Tony Manna. I’m also in These Paper Bullets. I’m an actor. I live in New York. 

Jackson Gay
I’m Jackson Gay. I’m a part of New Neighborhood and I’m directing These Paper Bullets, which is a show that is not officially a New Neighborhood show, but where we got the idea for this company came out of that experience that we all had together as a group. 

Jennifer Kiger
I’m Jennifer Kiger. I’m a member of New Neighborhood and I’m from New Haven, CT, where I live and work at Yale Repertory Theatre. 

Keira Naughton
I’m Keira Naughton. I’m an actor and I live in New York and I am a part of New Neighborhood, as well. 

Could you guys tell me a little bit about what New Neighborhood and what you guys are doing here at SPACE? 

Jackson
Well, every person at this table, with the exception of Kelly, who is in LA, and works with Rolin Jones, who is also a founding member of this company, were a part of a production that Rolin wrote called These Paper Bullets that had its premiere at Yale. Basically, the company is a group of artists that have come together who happen to be spread out across the country, but our impetus for doing this has to do with wanting to find different ways to hang out with each other. That’s what started it. Our goal is to find different projects, whether its music or TV, for the LA part of it, musicals, straight plays, devised work…anything that everyone gets excited about and utilizes the talent in our company, which comes in many different shapes and forms. And we’re interested in things that have a lot of theatricality to them, have a music component to them, tend to have some sort of humor to it, and also that have a lot of heart at the same time. The reason we’re at SPACE is because this company came together very, very quickly and we have a show coming up in less than a month that Keira has the lead in, called I Saw My Neighbor on the Train and Didn’t Even Smile by Suzanne Heathcote. It’s a co-production that we’re doing. That’s an example of just reading outside plays by someone else that we loved and just deciding, let’s do this play. 

Kelly
What’s cool is that Heathcote wrote that play in residency here last summer. She finished it in January right before we got the play. It was a happenstance that her agent sent us the play, but she wrote it here and I think the first reading was here at SPACE. 

Jackson
Yeah, it’s kind of great! So, we have that and we have some other things that we’re doing. Because of the thing that we love about our company, which is that we’re spread all over the place, the thing that can be hard is getting everyone in the same room. So SPACE on Ryder Farm was an amazing opportunity to just have a place where everyone could come together and we could sit down at a table and just draw out ideas about things that we could develop for the future. 

Where have you all been working here at SPACE? 

Jackson
We’ve kind of been all over the place. [The dining room] for sure. 

Jennifer
Yeah, we’ve been here in the Sycamores and in living room or the main room. We’ve also been in the barn. 

What do you like about those spaces? 

Jennifer
Well, a lot of what we’re doing is throwing out ideas. We’re looking for inspiration and source material for projects we might be doing in the future and we’re drawing from all different kinds of media. So some of what we’ve been doing is having movie nights and screening movies, which we’ve done in the barn and also in the drawing room. Some of it is sitting around and reading through plays together, reading out loud. Some of its just brainstorming. So, these are just great places for us to gather. It’s also just turning this beautiful, historic farm into our own personal movie theatre at night. 

How do you guys eventually decide on things to work on after you’ve compiled all of these different things together? 

Jennifer
Well, we haven’t done it yet! 

Jackson
We’re so brand new. I think what’s going to end up happening, which is so great when people get together and hear things out loud… is, well, if people just hate something, it’s going to go a long way. 

Jennifer
Yeah. It’s pretty clear when we’re talking about something and people get excited. There’s a genuine kind of giddiness or happiness that comes out of it. Or when you get really, really excited that you just have to share. We get a little bit louder. We start laughing. We’re having fun, you know? Those are good signs of projects that we might want to do together.

Jackson
Or good signs of projects we may not want to do! 

Jennifer
Part of being a neighbor or being in New Neighborhood is about this joyful feeling we have and being together. So it’s pretty clear when we find common interests. 

Jackson
One thing that I’ve really loved so far and also because we’re in the middle of something right now is that it’s also a place…this place, but also what we hope that New Neighborhood is…is this place where you can say, “I want to read this thing without a point.” We know each other so well that you can do stuff like that. You can sing a song if you wanted to. 

Yeah! I heard you guys before. It was pretty great. 

Jackson
Yeah, you know? And you don’t have to worry about it and it might not be something that New Neighborhood ever does but its good for that individual person as an artist and as a human being to have a place where you can share something. That’s great and it’s also an important part of our thing. 

Kelly
We’re migrant and all over the country, so there’s more that we want to discuss and see and share and so much that we can do that this retreat, and SPACE giving us this gift, is going to continue  during rehearsals in the Berkshires for the Heathcote play and we’re going to keep watching things and discussing things. 

Jackson
Yeah, we now all have this list of things that we want to listen to and get through. 

Kelly
And that started here at SPACE and it’ll continue through the summer thanks to this. 

I have one more question and it is: if you were to be reincarnated as a farm animal, what farm animal would you be? And you all can answer this question individually. 

Keira
I don’t know about reincarnated, but I am a chicken in this life. 

Clearly. Why would I even question that? 

Jackson
Do you want to maybe go into why? 

Keira
You know, I’ve done animal work in acting classes and I was always a chicken. I just kind of have chicken, or bird, energy. 

Kelly
I’ve got one! Barn cat. I like that little cat that wanders around. 

Tony
I guess I’d probably be a cow because all I do anyways is eat and crap in life.

Jackson
That’s not true, do not quote that! 

Tony
You can absolutely quote that. I guess I would choose a cow, but not one for eating. A grazing cow, because both now, and as a cow, I have a fear of being slaughtered.

Jennifer
I’m going to say horse, because they seem nice, but you never really know what’s going on behind their eyes. 

Lucas
I’d say I’m a rooster. Because I wake the people up. 

Jackson
I’ll pick two because I’m a Gemini. An owl.

I’ve heard one on the farm! 

Jackson
Yeah, it has a beautiful sound. He doesn’t go to sleep apparently because you can hear him throughout the day. Maybe he’s blind. And then, a firefly. We saw them during our movie watching at the barn. 

Keira
You get to be a firefly, and I’m a chicken. 

Jennifer
Well, if you’re a chicken in this life, then choose another one. 

Keira
I’d be one of those barn swallows. 

Good choice. Well, that’s all I’ve got, unless there’s anything else you have for me! 

Kelly
Nothing except everyone who loves SPACE should join us to see Suzanne Heathcote’s play in the Berkshires!

Interviewed by Jill Carrera