Thursday, August 22, 2013
Penny Pollak on the open mic and the big screen
For the past six years on Tuesday nights, Penny Pollak has hosted Penny's Open Mic at Under St Mark's Theater.
This coming Tuesday she is hanging up the mic (the show will go on without her, though).
Pollack is heading into production on her feature film with director Tony ("American History X") Kaye. She stars in "ABIGAIL: A Comedy About Suicide," which explores the themes she used in her one-woman performance titled "No Traveler (A Comedy About Suicide)." (The play debuted in 2010 during the Horse Trade Theater Group's Frigid New York Festival.)
Here, Pollak, a writer, actor, fire-breather, shares some thoughts on her years hosting the open mic as well as prepping for her film work.
Was it a difficult decision to end Penny's Open Mic after six years?
As much as I will miss the mic, the timing couldn't be more perfect. The way everything has fallen into place with my film, I couldn't be happier to work full time on it and see it come to life.
Also knowing that an Open Mic on Tuesday nights at Under St. Mark's will still be going with the same spirit puts my heart at ease. My house band Dan Ricker and Mike Milazzo with Kaitlin O'Connor will be hosting a new open mic in the same slot called The Open Mic Downstairs.
What have you taken away from that time?
I’ve made the dearest and closest friends I could ever meet, seen countless amazing performances. I’ve gotten to watch artists I respect take risks and had the opportunity to experiment myself and grow as an artist.
How is "No Traveler" evolving for the screen? This is more than a performance film?
It's a feature film called "ABIGAIL: A Comedy about Suicide." It explores the themes used in my play "No Traveler" but is a completely different story. We are in talks with an incredible ensemble cast and I’m very excited to be playing the lead.
How did Tony Kaye get involved?
I met Tony at my open mic. As well as being brilliant director he is also a very talented singer/songwriter. At the time he was making "Detachment" with Adrien Brody where there is a scene involving suicide. He came to see my play and immediately saw the potential for film. We would meet every week for quite a few months where he directed my writing into a whole new direction. We’re producing it under his company Above The Sea Productions.
Will you be filming in the East Village and Lower East Side?
The story takes place in the East Village so most of the filming will be here.
How do you plan on capturing the neighborhood?
As honestly as possible. I’ve lived and worked here since I moved to NYC and the neighborhood has shaped my life in a very deep way.
What is the timeline for production?
I’m leaving for LA right away to help finish pre-production and we hope to start filming as soon as possible.