Season 1, Episode · 9 months ago

Episode 1 - #Emperorof10thave


We sit down with Carmen Rivera and Sofia Ubilla to talk about their process in creating #Emperorof10thave at Sonny's 10th Ave Meat Market. 

Int Our presents the Hell's kitchen arts corridor podcast, a series of discussions with the playwrights and directors from int ours Meekrot theatro play festival in the summer of two thousand and twenty one microt theatro consisted of six place all stage within local businesses in Inturs neighborhood, upper hell's kitchen. This episode will be hearing director Sophia will be yet and playwright Gotamendri Veda on their process in creating Hashtag emperor of ten a. This play celebrates Sonny's ten avenue meat market, a butcher shop that has been more than a store but a prominent community center and health kitchen for nearly thirty years. After the store receives a positive review from Time Out New York. Sonny's daughter, Sonia, welcomes to our groups, sharing the history and importance of her father's meat market with the visitors. Welcome, got a menu Veda and Sofia, Rica, and thank you for being a part of the metro the other or with int our. What a fun experience and I know it's not a new concept, but I feel so fresh and new for New York City. What I thought was so great that Lou wanted to bring in all of these businesses and organizations that have been in Hell's kitchen and have survived gentrification and have really been crucial to the survival of each other to write and got him in. You. You've been in New York for a while. Yeah, actually native New Yorker. Great, you see, I assumed, but I did not want to assay. Well, that's good. So you've seen the changes. Absolutely. I remember the s you did tell us about. I'm yeah, I know, I remember, and it's funny because sometimes I'll watch movies, like one of my favorite movies is tootsie okay, and you see actors going on auditions and making phone calls on public...

...phones and you're just like, Oh my God, what I remember that New York and I was born in sixty four, so I was, you know, young teenager, adolescent going into teenager in the S and I remember, you know, being scared to walk down forty two street. I remember all of sometimes it's weird to like, I'll go even walking here today, when I was walking here, I got off the train and I'm just like, I'm walking down fifty two street and I'm just like it just like there was a moment like, oh wait, this wasn't like this before. Okay, just like, I don't know, it's a weird, wonderful nothing to you know, everything changes, but it's this weird, surreal reality that sometimes you have to remind yourself, yeah, that you're still a lot I've been. Things Change and and and here we are. And and to your point about the project, the good old day after that, we're doing. You know that we were part of to see these businesses still be here after all this time, and I wondered also, like, what they might have seen. Yeah, you know, they had their own eyes what they have seen. Yeah, so did you. I mean are because we have organizations and we have businesses. You happen to have one of the businesses, which is sunny's meat marquests and he ten avenue. That's right. Was it hard to kind of get in touch with them and get a conversation going? You possibly just asking questions about the business, or was it just very simple and enjoyable? It was actually the latter, simple and enjoyable. into our actually made the first approach to them, okay, and then when they agreed they can't, and then it was actually interesting. It was completely random how all the writers were assigned. I guess you might have known by now, like Mostlee Rodriguez, who's the executive director of int our, he had all the he and Lu decided to assign us the spaces randomly. So I pulled the really couldn't...

...pulled names out of a hat. So I got sunny to that when you may not get and I was excited and I remember seeing it walking to into our many years ago and them but not, you know, thinking, oh there's a meat market, it's there. And then they connected me to sonny, who's off Sonny's meat markets and of new meat market, and Sonya, his daughter, who's now running the business. And I called them and I said of interviews, and it was pretty it's pretty simple. They were really open to the idea and they were very excited about the project. I interviewed Sonya and I interviewed Sonya and separate occasions, and I think that was really good. So they were I heard I had Sonya's narrative and then I had sonny's narrative and then, as a collective, so my director, Sophia had we Sonja visited rehearsal. So then Sophia interviewed. That interviewed, but like kind of what. You can ask a question. Yeah, you ask questions for the cast or the cast could learn about it. So there was like a third interview, but the piece had already been written, but they were super open with us. That's so cool. I also, I mean, I can't tell you I know Sonny's, you know, but walking by it I'm like, Oh, yes, and I mean I read the script and then it mentioned Sonny's grocery right across and I was like, Oh yes, and that's and we used to go there, like I don't know how many times I've shot there. Well, that's out. Other questions, like have you ever shopped at I want to go buy meat now. Yeah, Sunny's ten, because, well, why then? It's what a what a success story, especially with Gentrification, because they're the ones that or they're they're one of the lucky businesses, right, that have maybe thrived because of it, right, because it's brought new like new restaurants, and I know they supply some of the meat there, which is not the case for everybody, unfortunately,...

...but it's so fresh to hear that there are some of those businesses that have been here for forever. Yes, when I read your script, it's so different from the other ones because it's very much like autobiographical. It really feels like, Oh, this is like these people stories. was there anything that they shared with you that didn't make it into the script that you're like, oh, it just doesn't fit the flow, that you were like, I love this story that you wouldn't mind sharing with us? So there was a moment when I was interviewing Sonya or somebody came in and asked her to talk to Sonny about perhaps working in some of his buildings. So Sonny also owns a lot of real state in the neighborhood. I just couldn't fit everything in right, if so, because that's like another line of action or another be about. Yeah, you need exposition for it, and I was like, Oh God, I don't want it to be too long, as it can't. The mandate was fifteen minutes. So he was like, well, I'm moving to Colorado. I'm sorry, I was just when I was interviewing Sonya, which is like can you talk to your dad for me? So then Sonya was like yes, yes, and then he's like well, you know, I'm getting ready to move to Colorado and it seems like they had known each other. So then when she said yea, yeah, up, you know, I definitely talk to my father for you. And then when he left, she said we always got to keep that holy cross connection because they went to and that's that the local Catholic school. That said Neighborhood Catholic school, and I was just like I actually started writing the piece from that. Oh Wow, okay, but then it just did transformed. It transformed and I couldn't fit it in because I had a different version of Sonny in my head with that story, that narrative, right. And then when I met him he didn't say that much. So there was something like I asked him, was like, you know, like so, do customers have their favorite cuts, like D is there something that you use? There a customers always asking for like I want my surloying this way, and he went yes,...'s like okay, Um, like our holidays really important, like what's it like here during the holidays? And he goes busy. Right, so that change because there's a different rhythm. Now, sunny, he's not a man of many words. Yeah, then Sonya's part became bigger, but then it in connection to Sonny's narrative. It's still about Sonny. Yes, so I couldn't use the Holy Cross story because it had to connect to Sonny and she was going to be so these voice. So then I had to like it just in my mind. I couldn't. I couldn't configure that in because I would just be throwing it in, because then it became about the importance of food and community and and that, even though that's community, wasn't connected to food. Yes, so with a longer piece I could have been it would have been more about sunny's tentacles throughout the neighborhood. But it was just the meat market. So I just I could you know it was. It's just that just didn't make it. Well, but I feel what you did, though, like having that hub. It's so crucial to the storytelling of community and and like that's that's what I get from the piece. Like it's all about community. Right, we're just folk. Obviously it's just Sonia and then like the little you know, visiting community members that come and but for you. So I feah how was coming into this process and figuring out how to stage a piece in a working business. Right, did you visit the location before? No, so Carmen took a bunch of pictures and so like, based off of the pictures, I like made a ground plan for myself so I could like see. I never wasn't able to make it down before we started like rehearsals in the space. But I was so excited when I got the play because it was it wasn't like a and we talked about this... rehearsal, like it wasn't a ten minute play that was like trying to like have like a extensive conflict where it was like that it had to be solved, and we really like the whole time talked about it as like a portrait of these people, like that's what we were doing with the play, like painting the portrait and the story of these two people who have been like staples in the community, and that's what the meat market was and it was it was weird sort of figuring out, like I've rehearsed on zoom a ton, but for zoom, and figuring out how to rehearse on zoom for in person was like a whole other thing, and we were like like annotating through zoom and like there's so all like things happening in our brain right that you're like like well, this make this my work. Who knows, like will see and like with like plan ABC and then like once we got in the space, it was we'd like we had worked like on like all the hypothetical so much that it like did happen pretty naturally, and it's been really wonderful to see like the actors like we did like mostly right like tablework type stuff over zoom, and just to watch them like throughout all of the performances, like the beats just get clearer and the moments that they're finding like just being in the space, and I think that's something. There's so much that we couldn't find until we were in the space that like has just come alive and every time they do it, what we've done it like what ten or eleven times now, and every time they do it it's like there's something new and it's so exciting. And it's funny that you mentioned like the community members that are part of the show that come in and out like while we've been doing the show, like I've had to play bouncer like multiple times where like like some random guy just like opens the door and we're like no, no, like we're closed. That's so so I just want to say hi. The Sun not here right. Yeah, well, it was really funny. Like on I think it was like on Friday, Sonny was still across the street... the grocery store and this guy comes in my we're just like rehearsing or like setting up before the show, and he comes in and he's like Oh, like, what are you guys doing? Really? Oh, like we're clothes and he's like no, no, Sonny was like, oh, look, because Dylan, the are the guy who's playing sonny, was standing behind the counter and like the butcher thing, and he's like, Sonny, I told him, like look, they fired me and hired a new butcher. Came over to find out if that was true. He's like like what, Dylan, guys to take care of. Oh, that's what, that's why. And then this is so wonderful what you guys are doing, like keep it up, like and it was so it's been so fun to see like how the community is reacting to us being in the space. It's I love that. I want I keep saying it. I'm going to keep saying it until somebody listens I think we need to do more of these for businesses and I think we should do more of them because it's so lovely to invite the community in and learn from the finding anything of the stories of like the people like that you that are the businesses that have been here and continue to be here. I think that's the wonderful thing about our plays that like now, all of my friends like I are like, oh now I have to come back here and I have to buy meat, like this is so cool. That's how I feel and I haven't even been that. I'm just like I need to go support Sonny and as daughter. Yeah, because that's well, some seats have implanted because I think think in a way the cook, you know, the pandemic has opened up the idea that we have to look at making art in different ways. Yeah, not just theater, but theater in particular, because it's a live form, hard form. Well, thank you so much for coming. Our pleasure. This is such a refreshing thing to come back to from underneath my rocks. An amazing way to come back. Yeah, but I just so I remember after our first rehearsal. You know, I'm because we've been doing zoom and it's like I've just I'm grateful to zoom, actually, like he's sure, because it's a bridge to get us...

...from one one land to the next, right to move forward, and it was just like when I got off the zoom, I was like, Oh my God, I just had a rehearsal, so exciting and I hadn't had one, you know. I mean it just the pandemic was March two thousand and twenty, and it was just like, Oh my God, like I just had a rehearsal. It was really emotional. It's and I find I think it's interesting because we talked about just quickly, like when Sofia mentions the portrait, which I love that word. We had talked and I thought about it to like conflict, right, what is conflict mean? And I just I think I'm just not in that head space and I feel so grateful, like we made it and there's been so many negative stories and I just wanted to be in this place of that that we weren't like rushing to self a conflict or something, and I am almost felt like, I mean, I love that she uses the word portrait. That's Sofia uses that. So I was like why not? Have a normal rock wall moment for us on ten avenue and Hell's kitchen. Why not? The world it life is so hard. Well, but I just I wasn't in that space. Peter is so easy to go into, like trauma porn, and people just tend to believe that that's what makes a story like worth watching, right, that they're like, oh well, they didn't suffer enough. So I did. I don't know if, like, I just wasn't engaged, but like I I I to find it so like really like such a breath of fresh air to just go in and like tell me a story, break and yes, and that's what this is celebrated, and just say, Oh my God, we're here, we're here and we're saying and you know, we're here today. Hopefully, you know, we'll be here tomorrow, and I might in my head space, was there to not be. You know, I don't know. I just it kind of like I heard their voices and when I in that first and that second interview was with Sonny and his one like put one word answers actually gave me like then I saw the play. Then I heard it. That's great. And then when she uses the word protract, which I...

...use. She also uses to. I wanted to say she uses this amazing concept soundscape for the piece, and I was just like, I love that. It's part of her vision. I just thought it was fappy, fantastic. Well, thank you for sharing. I'm so happy your answers weren't a sunny answer right, because that would have been so much harder for it. You know, God bless those those people. We need them in our life, but we also need well, there muses to right now on yes, the netlemuses are like beautiful women who come down like he really hoped, like that's where the play was born, I feel. But this has been great. Oh, thank you for having thank you for coming. I look forward to celebrating with you guys. Come back a theater. I look forward to walking the streets of health kitchen, hopefully with a drink in my hand, and, you know, treat it as like a life concert and just be like, let's go watch, let's go watch some theater. It's awesome. I mean I feel yeah, I know, it's been a lot of fun and it actually is emotional. Like I remember I saw my show, I saw our our our show, and then I saw to other pieces and I was just like into our. I just I'm so proud to be part of this, part of the same to yeah, and Lou and Paul just putting, you know, using this idea, which I'm so proud to that it's a let the animal. Yes, collective. Yeah, vision, Lou and int our and now Paul part of the team. There's always, you know, I think it's some of the articles that have come out about Nkrot, the apt of he's like the a throw but like, yeah, why not make weird things? And I'm just like yeah, let's. I always a lute. What else are we gonna do? Right, like nothing, there's nothing, there's nothing to do, and might as well just celebrate with artists and and Bte community and and just tell stories that that are really the foundation of Hell's kitchen and where we are now. Absolutely. Yeah, thank you.

Bye. Thank you for listening to interpresents, the health kitchen arts corridor podcast. Oh and stay timped, because we grow the other will return. Same. For More Info and intarthater, you can follow us on Facebook, instagram and twitter, or visit us at interleater.

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