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article imageLynnea Benson talks 'Twelfth Night,' Frog & Peach Theatre Company Special

By Markos Papadatos     Feb 18, 2019 in Entertainment
New York - Lynnea Benson, the co-founder of Frog & Peach Theatre Company chatted with this journalist about "Twelfth Night" at Sheen Center in New York, which runs from February 25 to March 17.
As co-founder of the Frog & Peach Theatre Company, she has been directing their main stage season since 2008. "I take part in casting and fund-raising, plus organize our very popular celebrity readings which have included people like Judith Ivey, David Rasche, Zach Grenier, Austin Pendleton, Estelle Parsons, Fred Willard, Bebe Neuwirth, and many, many more. It's very nice to be able to count such great people as friends and supporters," she said.
Benson continued, "As lead teaching artist, I also help design our very successful educational programs, which serve a wide variety of New Yorkers, including vulnerable adults at residential and outpatient facilities."
On the upcoming Twelfth Night production, she said, "I expect our audiences will have a really good time. It's an extremely rowdy play, with a rocking score by Honey West's Ted Zurkowski. I know those people who might think Shakespeare's not for them will be especially pleased by this production. Shakespeare's characters don’t always leap off the page, but Twelfth Night is just so chock-full of modern, wonderfully awful/awfully wonderful people. I think everyone will enjoy it."
Benson added that since moving downtown, they have been reaching a much wider audience. "This includes New Yorkers who are younger and perhaps less affluent than typical New York theatergoers. It's a big part of our mission to serve those who might feel unwelcome to the cultural conversation, and these folks have been especially vocal about wanting to see more comedies," she explained.
On her plans for the future, she said, "With such a diverse audience clamoring for more, we are in negotiations for a two-play season in 2020. The ensemble's tremendous skill with comedy leaves even the most jaded theatergoer wanting more."
Digital transformation of the theater industry
On the impact of technology on the contemporary Broadway and theatre industry, she said, "It's quite a challenge to keep up with all the advantages technology provides theatre. Audience outreach is a big benefit. We are able to reach and tell many more people about our productions than when we began Frog & Peach."
She continued, "One result is, Shakespeare fans from all over now make a special point of not missing a Frog & Peach productions. What started as a New York thing now attracts Shakespeare aficionados from all over the United States, Canada, and the UK."
"I have also found that one unexpected consequence of the wide availability of online entertainment: there's a greater appetite for shared experience in real time," she added.
On her use of technology in her daily routine, she said, "Since time is the enemy for most theatre people, I try to learn something new every day that will help us serve our audience: whether it's social media, photo editing, or voice commands, I think I am making pretty good progress. The interns do tend to roll their eyes at me a lot, which is fine."
Her advice for young and aspiring thespians is to "be patient and work hard." "Carry a few spears. Don't talk too much. Dignity and comfort are overrated. Most of all, learn something," she exclaimed.
For me, any career that starts at the top is a little bit suspect. The great highs of life do not come cheaply. It’s one of the lessons of Twelfth Night—a full life requires sometimes requires great risk.
She concluded about Twelfth Night, "There's nothing like a Frog & Peach romantic musical comedy. Twelfth Night is especially gratifying because it really sticks a thumb in the eye of authority. If you want to feel alive, and proud to be a human being, and fully in touch with your inner romantic or juvenile delinquent, come see this rollicking, devious, completely enthralling Twelfth Night. It will rock your world."
To learn more about Twelfth Night, check out the official Sheen Center website.
More about Lynnea Benson, twelfth night, Production, cofounder, Broadway
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