Thursday, Apr 24, 2014 12:23 pm est

Tisch graduates take lighter look at classics with Quirky Productions

Posted on February 21, 2014 | by Sharmeen Khan

via flickr.com

Despite the wide range of shows New York City has to offer, many theater productions can seem too predictable for the audience. Eleah Burman and Ilona Concetta, who graduated from the Tisch School of the Arts in 2013, exceed those expectations. Together they founded Quirky Productions, an atypical theater production company that delivers unique performances and transforms classic productions into contemporary productions.

“The environment is of a playful, youthful and passionate nature,” Concetta said.

Concetta and Burman, who often perform in the productions,  said their time at NYU influenced their concept of Quirky Productions.

“Quirky Productions came out of a desire to work more together and also to put ourselves out there as actors,” Burman said. “At Tisch, it was emphasized that we couldn’t just sit at home and wait for the phone to ring.”

Quirky Productions’ first production, a spin on Christopher Durang’s ’80s comedy “Beyond Therapy,” was performed at 440 Studios in early January.

“We changed the celebrity references to be more modernly relevant,” Concetta said about the production. “[We also] made the central blind dates about online dating and Internet anonymity. We strive to find the zeitgeist of today in the worlds of the plays.”

“Beyond Therapy” attendee and fellow ’13 Tisch graduate Mallory Stratton said she noticed the playful characteristic of the performance.

“What I loved most was how much fun the actors had playing their roles,” Stratton said. “Audiences can tell whether the actors are enjoying the performance, even if they can’t articulate how or why [because] there’s an entirely different energy in the room.”

The next project for Quirky Productions is a Brooklyn rave-themed production of William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” which begins performances in July.

“The forest in Shakespeare’s ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is regarded as a place of wildness, where impulses are followed blindly and the social constraints break down,” Burman explained. “The modern equivalent, we believe, would be akin to a Brooklyn warehouse rave, which is where that entire section will be set.”

The production team is planning on keeping the original folio text while exploring the modern relevance of seemingly inside Elizabethan jokes. They will also be performing outside, to continue the tradition of outdoor summer productions.

Taylor Kurpiel, Quirky Production’s marketing director, said she is excited the company is making the jump from a modern “Beyond Therapy” to the classic “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“It shows that the artists involved are not only versatile but willing to take risks and try out different styles,” said Kurpiel. “I will absolutely be checking out ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ this summer.”

Sharmeen Khan is a contributing writer. Email her at features@nyunews.com.

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