Sep 21

You Can Lie Down or Get Up and Play: An Interview with Taylor Mac on judy’s “24-Decade History of Popular Music: Film Screening & Discussion with Taylor Mac” event at Boston’s 2023 Raising Voices Festival

Taylor Mac (Photo courtesy HBO Max)

Event: 24-Decade History of Popular Music: Film Screening & Discussion with Taylor Mac
Presented as part of the Raising Voices Festival: A Celebration of Music, Art, and the Power of Protest
Saturday, September 23, 2023 @ 7:30pm EDT
Old South Meeting House
Boston, MA

More about the Raising Voices Festival 
Presented by Revolutionary Spaces
September 23 & 24, 2023
Downtown Boston: Various Locations
Performance Schedule & Map 
Admission is free. 
Registration is highly encouraged.

About the documentary film Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music
Filmed on Saturday, October 8th, 2016 
@ St. Ann’s Warehouse
Brooklyn, NY 11202
Written and created by Taylor Mac 
Music direction by Matt Ray
Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman 
Costume designs by Machine Dazzle 
Makeup artistry by Anastasia Durasova
Produced by Rob Epstein, Jeffrey Friedman, Joel Stillerman, Linda Brumbach, Alisa Regas, Taylor Mac, and Mari Rivera
HBO Documentary Films in association with Content Superba, a Telling Pictures and Pomegranate Arts Production in association with Fifth Season and Nature’s Darlings
Streamed on HBO Max

Interview by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON, Mass. — Taylor Mac graciously met the New England Theatre Geek’s Queen Kitty for an interview on Wednesday afternoon to discuss judy’s HBO documentary Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music and the Raising Voices event 24-Decade History of Popular Music: Documentary & Discussion with Taylor Mac on Saturday, Sep 23, 2023, 7:30pm EDT. 

Mac regularly contributes to the Boston theatre-ecology. Mac’s stage play, Joy and Pandemic played at the Huntington in April of this year.  Mac’s 2012 essay “A Culture of Trust” was published in the 2022 publication of HowlRound Anthology: Essays and Conversations from the First Ten Years. Judy’s Hir was produced by Apollinaire Theatre in February 2020. (One of the last, lucky productions before the lockdown). And, of course, The Lily’s Revenge at Club Oberon (RIP) in 2012.

We thank Taylor Mac for their time and judy’s team for setting up the interview.

Mac was full of laughter. It was truly a pleasure to meet with judy. 

(The below interview is edited for grammar and clarity.)


Queen Kitty: Your Decade History of Popular Music History, you’ve described it as a radical fairy realness ritual.

Taylor Mac: Yes.

QK: It spans 24 decades with a 24-piece orchestra for 24 hours, singing 246 songs. What was your dramaturgical research process like? It’s just so much. It must have been so intense for you.

TM: It was a constant reminder that I’m not a historian. I’m not trying to be a historian, and I don’t want to be a historian. Part of the dramaturgy was to make sure that was clear to the audience. In all of the stage shows, in one form or another, that this was expressed to the audience. Continue reading

Mar 25

We Know You Can Dance to the Beat: An Interview with Brian Boruta about Umbrella Stage’s “Head Over Heels”

Presented by Umbrella Stage
Adapted by James Magruder
Concept and Original Book by James Whitty
Music by The Go-Go’s
Directed by Brian Boruta
Music direction by David Wright
Choreography by Lara Finn

April 15 – May 8, 2022 (no performance 4/17)
Presented on the Main Stage
The Umbrella Arts Center
40 Stow Street
Concord, MA 01742

Interview by Kitty Drexel

CONCORD, Mass. — The Umbrella Stage returns to performances this April with Head Over Heels. Brian Boruta generously chatted with me on Friday, March 18 about the musical, gender politics, and The Go Go’s. 

This interview is condensed. It has been edited for grammar, congruity, and clarity. 

Queen Kitty: It’s awesome that you’re starting with Head Over Heels. Why this show now?

Brian Boruta: It’s funny; I think about this show now, because we had chosen this show earlier than now. Then things all got moved around.

We moved, a couple of years ago, to a committee-based approach to season planning. As we were coming out of the pandemic, it was really important that as many voices and perspectives as possible be included in program planning. 

One thing that came to the fore in that conversation was finding ways throughout the season coming out of the pandemic to just celebrate joy in many forms, to celebrate love, to amplify different marginalized voices throughout the season. Head Over Heels really popped out as that title that we could put towards the end of the season that celebrates joy, celebrates love, and celebrates community.  Continue reading

Dec 14

Tweeting Truth to Power: How Far Has Cyrus Come?

Presented by Fort Point Theatre Channel and Boston Cultural Council
By Cyrus McQueen

Tuesday, Dec 1, 2020, 7 PM
Streamed Live via Youtube
Boston Cultural Council on Facebook
FPTC on Facebook

Review by Diana Lu

YOUTUBE–Cyrus McQueen used to be just your everyday standup comedian of Last Comic Standing fame. In the Age of Trump, he’s also become Twitter-famous as a cultural critic, offering race and politics analyses and wisecracks 280 characters at a time. He’s developed his experiences over the last four years into a first book, Tweeting Truth to Power: Chronicling our Caustic Politics, Crazed Times, & The Great Black & White Divide, which is supposed to be equal parts memoir and political discourse. Continue reading

Dec 08

ImprovBoston Closes Doors on 40 Prospect St After 15 Years: An Interview with Managing Director Josh Garneau

ImprovBoston’s mainstage. Image found via Google.

ImprovBoston website
IB on Twitter
IB on Facebook

Interview by Kitty Drexel

CAMBRIDGE, MA — On December 1, ImprovBoston officially announced the closure of its location on 40 Prospect Street in Cambridge. A letter to the greater improv community explaining the closure is on the IB website above an update from its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force and a Black Lives Matter statement. 

I had the great privilege of working at ImprovBoston for a few years during the Great Recession. It was then that I met Managing Director Josh Garneau. He was a tech in the IB lighting booth. I was working in the box office when it was one clunky desktop connected to a printer that usually worked most of the time. Except when it didn’t. 

Garneau and I reconnected ten years at a StageSource event. When I heard that the 40 Prospect Street location had closed, its stage torn down, I reached out to Garneau to learn more about what losing the theatre will mean for the ImprovBoston community. 

Please note: this interview is edited for grammar and clarity.


NETG:  We know each other because we both worked at ImprovBoston. I worked in the Box Office and you were a tech in the booth performances. Could you tell me about your evolution as a tech to MD? What was it about the IB community that allowed you to rise through the ranks? 

JG: This is a fun question, and it brings up many good memories! 

As the Lead Tech at ImprovBoston I was involved with most of the endeavors at the theater. From working with our regular performers, admin, and night time staff, to interacting with our special guests and festival performers, I had to meet everyone and work with everyone. I also got involved with a lot of the behind the scenes operations. In the 10 years that I was there before I stepped in as Managing Director, if something happened in the building there was a good chance that I was involved.

Through those ten years I built up and maintained a lot of positive relationships and good will. I earned trust and respect from the vast majority of the people I worked with. 

At the same time my various professional day jobs involved learning about how businesses run. As a corporate trainer I had to learn what makes a business successful, and understand it thoroughly enough that I was able to pass that along to my trainees. 

When the time came to step in at ImprovBoston I was able to combine the two paths – the knowledge of the theater and my positive relationships, and my corporate knowledge – so I could step in and really take over and set to work immediately. 

By being a part of the ImprovBoston community, I was able to build and develop those relationships and the intimate knowledge of the theater that has been an invaluable part of my life as the Managing Director. I know ImprovBoston inside and out, and while I may not know every single human involved, I know our community and they know me. That personal connection has made all the difference. 

NETG: Closing the 40 Prospect space feels like a major blow to the ImprovBoston community. Could you talk about the decision to close the space? How was the decision made? 

JG: Yes indeed. Losing the space is a huge blow to both the community and to the business as a whole. The space at 40 Prospect holds so many memories and has such an outsized impact on the lives of the community members who used it as a gathering place, a performance space, a social epicenter, and a place where artistic ideas could be brought to life. 

The exterior of ImprovBoston. Image found via Google.

The decision to close the space was really, in many ways, the easiest choice of all. By the time we made the call it wasn’t as much a choice as it was a necessity. We were out of money to keep paying rent, and we were out of options. At the end, it was either let go of the space, or shut down the organization all together. All of the decisions leading up to that point are where the challenges were. 

When the pandemic first hit we chose to go dark before the State announcement in order to make sure we kept our community and audiences safe. Within a few weeks we’d pivoted and spun up online shows and classes. They were novel and fun ways to provide entertainment, stay connected, and make sure that our instructors could continue to earn some income. It was a new world we were living in, and we wanted to provide a space for people to experience joy. Simultaneously we also began aggressively fundraising. 

For most of ImprovBoston’s history, we’ve been operationally funded. Our shows and classes paid for everything, and fundraising was never the priority. Overnight that changed, and we found ourselves shifting to a model where fundraising was the priority. The online classes and shows couldn’t generate nearly enough income to pay the bills. 

Based on the numbers, we made another big choice to furlough the staff and stop treading water with online shows and classes. By furloughing we could conserve funds, and spend them on rent and other essentials. The goal was to keep fundraising (which we did!), and hope for more federal and local aid as we rode out the pandemic. 

Unfortunately, the aid never came. The Feds stalled out, and the state and local aid wasn’t enough. The grants and donations we have received have been wonderful and have helped us stay afloat this far.

NETG: Did you speak with the City of Cambridge and your landlord to try to stay? 

JG: We did attempt to work with the landlord, but they only offered a partial deferment on the rent which added to our debt while still being too much to support.

The City of Cambridge, and in particular Alanna Mallon, are very supportive and we’ve heard over and over that they want us to succeed. At the end of the day, though, the rent and our other non-negotiables have just been too much to support, so we had to make the hard choice based on necessity. 

NETG: Could you speak to the resiliency of the community during the pandemic? 

JG: The community has been amazing. Outright amazing. I’ve loved seeing people’s willingness to help the theater, and their ability to spin up art and creativity in the most challenging of times.

At the start of all of this, everyone had to take a breath and look around and define the new world we live in. Almost immediately the wonderful, creative, and talented people of our community started spinning up shows. Faster than any of the scripted companies could move, our community had dozens of shows up on running. 

Even after the theater went dark, many people have moved over to other platforms and groups to keep on producing the art, and it’s been wonderful to see. At the same time, people have jumped on everything ImprovBoston needs, from fundraising to helping clean out our space, and it’s pure ImprovBoston magic. We may no longer have the space, but the people at ImprovBoston are what makes it special, and they’ve proven that over the last 9 months by continuing to be creative, supportive, and caring. 

NETG: Where can we see more ImprovBoston content online? Are online classes still available? 

JG: Right now we are entirely dark. No shows, no classes, and no content. That will change in the future, but for now we are still, unfortunately, dark. The website will be the best place to look for announcements, and as changes come we will also post on social media.

NETG: What is next for ImprovBoston? What does the future look like?

JG: This is the (literal) $1,000,000 question. This is all theoretical, of course, but for the short term we are continuing to look at grants so that we can keep paying rent at our office space on Mass Ave, and spin up online classes.

As it becomes safe to have even small numbers of people in the room we will begin to bring people in to do shows on a real stage, together, but stream those shows out rather than performing in front of a live audience. We have received so many incredible offers of support form other theaters and venues around the metro area. There will probably be a time when we move to doing traveling shows – the traditional path of troupes without home theaters. 

Long term, although we hope it is within the next year, the goal is to have a capital campaign and acquire a new space. This will be a huge endeavor, and it will be made even harder because of the effects of the pandemic and our lack of a stage to play on. I believe, however, in the strength of the ImprovBoston community and I believe that, if any place can do this, it’s ImprovBoston. 

To state the obvious, losing a performance space is not a good thing for a theater. We’ve lost our platform, our primary revenue earner, and our easiest way of staying relevant and in the forefront.

However, there’s a lot of hope to be found. If we have to start over we have an enormous opportunity to do it right. To make an inclusive and equitable space for everyone – performers, staff, students, and audience  – where we can really showcase the power of improv and ImprovBoston to change lives positively and bring joy to the lives of our constituents. I am ridiculously excited to see that place manifest. 

NETG: How can fans and friends support ImprovBoston? 

JG: For right now, the best way to support is to keep thinking of us, and pay attention to our website for updates. When it’s time for us to release online classes or shows, sign up! If there is some extra cash lying around is the place to send it. There is so much hope for our future, but it’s a lot easier to get there if we have money to get us through this rough time. 

NETG: ImprovBoston is famously hands-on. Construction projects bring folks from many troupes together to build. Do you think there be a community-wide building project to construct the new space? 

JG: As you say, we are a hands-on place. Community involvement is essential to us, and the process of building a new space will be no different. When you physically build a new theater home, you are invested. We will be welcoming of that investment. I don’t know what that will look like as of now – but I do know that in some way shape or form our community will be involved. There will be a chance for a new generation of people to roll up their sleeves and get involved! 

Thank you to Josh Garneau for sharing his time and experiences with us! We at the New England Theatre Geek wish the best for the ImprovBoston community. We look forward to a time when we can share live comedy  with you again. 

If can donate to ImprovBoston, please go to 




Aug 14

Burning Down the Establishment One BIPOC Critic at a Time: A Profile of Pascale Florestal

Florestal, image from

Profile by Kitty Drexel

BOSTON/ZOOM — Boston’s theatre journalism scene is a barren wasteland of white maleness. The desperate cries of BIPOC performing artists and designers for accurate representation are carried by winds off of the Atlantic ocean to diversity-parched cities and towns across New England: where are the critics of color?

Critiquing and reviewing circles have remained steadfastly white for the last few decades. Out of the current eleven members of the Boston Theater Critics Association, six are white men, five are white women.

The Front Porch Arts Collective launched the Young Critics Program in spring 2019 in partnership with WBUR the ARTery. It is the only independent training opportunity specifically geared towards young BIPOC journalists in New England. Boston-based director, dramaturg, educator, writer, and collaborator Pascale Florestal is the woman in charge. Continue reading

Jun 13

An Interview with Actor Michael Tow

Interview by Diana Lu for the New England Theatre Geek.

Actor Michael Tow:

Boston Theatre Scene
IMDB database

DIANA: So, Michael, I recently saw you in a Zoom reading of a local play (Wild Goose Dreams by Hansol Jung) in Boston and you’re such a fun, playful actor. What are your upcoming projects?

MICHAEL: The big one is Lucky Grandma. We premiered the movie at Tribeca, which was really my first part in the lead cast in a movie. And that was pretty exciting. The premiere was really successful at Tribeca and we went to LA and London and Macau and it did really well. Continue reading