Thursday, April 6, 2017

MEET BRYNNE KRAYNAK (Who's Who in Extinction by Gabe McKinley)

The reviews are in and we couldn't be more excited about the rave!!!  We are now in our final two week mark and would love to introduce you to another cast member, BRYNNE KRAYNAK!  Brynne plays the role of Missy as well as costume designer for the production, EXTINCTION by Gabe McKinley, now playing thru April 16th.  We took a moment to ask Brynne a few questions during the end of rehearsals just as the cast and crew were heading into tech week. 

How did this project/play come to you?

Gabe McKinley and I were in the same MFA class at The New School for Drama, and Extinction initially made a debut draft there in 2009.  I was always a fan of Gabe’s writing.  The brutal honesty of his tone is unforgettable!   We were fortunate to be blessed with a fierce group of playwrights in our class!  Watching Extinction evolve over time into its published version has been a true joy!  Later I found my way to Lyle Kessler’s Master Class with Eric, Sawyer, and Raye, who were in search of a comedic scene to work on for class.  Extinction was my first thought, and out of that came our fervent mission to do the play!

Prior to rehearsals, were you familiar with anyone or everyone in the cast?  If so, what's your history with the other actors?  Do you think any prior familiarity with the cast supports your work and the collaborative process?  If so, can you share how and why you think this might be important to your work?

Raye, Sawyer, Eric and I were all in Lyle’s class at the same time, and had been watching one another work regularly week to week.  Working in a class is so vital to really exploring your instrument as an actor, and our friendship developed out of a mutual desire to consistently push ourselves to our individual limits.  When Sawyer approached us with the idea of producing Extinction, he did so with a firm belief that we would thrive together as a cast, and he was right!  There is nothing better than working with artists you know, trust, and love, because that foundation facilitates endless possibility within your own work.

Can you tell us a little bit about your role in Extinction?  Who is the character you're playing and how do you connect to the role?

I play Missy, a cocktail waitress at a local casino who meets Max and plans to spend the night with him and Finn, enlisting her friend Victoria to evenly distribute attention to both men.  Missy is ebullient with joy, delighted to join the party, and truly thankful to be in that hotel suite!  Finding her effervescence in the text has been wonderful.  I relish exploring her warmth, her willingness to be a perfect hostess and facilitate the comfort required for everyone to make the most of the evening, as it were!

Is there a theme in the play that resonates with you most?  If so, why?

When I heard Extinction for the first time, I was 25, and there were so many notes in its music that I could not hear.  Now it’s like a whole new song to me, and each time I read the play it lands differently on my ear and in my heart.  Good writing allows for continual discovery that way! I read the play through, and am immediately struck by how much time has passed for me personally since I first heard it.  My sense of self has evolved.  I’ve grown, and in doing so can recognize the fight in each character to retain and fiercely protect their perceived identity.  Gabe has managed to capture what happens when we battle against life for the deliciously selfish and merited retention of who we are.  The beauty of the play breathes in the battle each character wages singularly, even as they all converge for one night in a hotel suite in Atlantic City. 

Can you share a little bit about your process: preparation for first day of rehearsal as well as during performances.

That’s a tough one!  I’m still discovering new elements to Missy with each rehearsal.  Rigid choices work against you and can lead to a stagnant exploration.  Maintaining a lightness, a sense of play, serves both in rehearsal and performance to keep discoveries fluid.  Leading up to rehearsals, I made a few initial vocal choices, mostly because the voice is a tool that informs Missy’s physicality.  Her laugh floats up like champagne bubbles and is definitely what I love most about her!  At her core, she is a truly joyful, generous, bright soul! 

Being a NYC actor, what are your thoughts about working in another town, rehearsing away from the hustle and bustle of NYC - pros, cons?

I’d wager the experience of rehearsing a play outside of New York is entirely dependent on the location, and we are so fortunate to be based in East Hampton for this project! It’s a lovely place to work, and I’ve so enjoyed my time here.  The benefit to working outside of where you live day to day is that the work can receive a highly singular focus.  In college, the papers I wrote at the library were always better than the ones I wrote in my room.  Creating sacrosanct rituals that keep you connected to your home life ease the difficulty in being away from those elements and returning to them sporadically.  My husband is also an actor, which aids in balancing the challenges of working on projects.  He respects what I need to do good work, and wants me to be able to give my best creatively. 

What do you want audiences to walk away with after attending a performance of Extinction?

A desire to come back and see it again!  Really!  The play just flies.  It’s a total sensory explosion, and I’m very excited to see how audiences react to it!

What’s your hometown?

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. 

When did you arrive in NYC; and where do you call home now?

I moved to New York in 2006 to pursue my MFA in Acting at The New School for Drama.  Home is now Astoria and I love it! 

Favorite theatre going experience.

My favorite theatre experience is probably my first one.  I was three, and my parents took me to see the original Broadway production of Into The Woods.  My babysitter had just seen it and recommended they take me.  We were sitting close to the stage, and Cinderella (Kim Crosby) waved at me, and at intermission I asked my mother if being Cinderella was her job.  She answered yes, each actor plays a character that makes the story happen for their job.  That was that!  There was no way I was going to do anything else but be in a story for my job!  Art wakes you up to yourself when you take it in.  Seeing that show changed my life and defined my purpose, and I was lucky to have parents who were committed to exposing me to art and storytelling at such a young age.  

Brynne Kraynak (Missy) is an actor and teaching artist based in New York City.  She has worked  with Tongue in Cheek Theatre, Rattlestick Theater Co., Horse Trade Theater Co., and in the Samuel French and NYC Fringe Festivals. Brynne assisted with TFANA’s education division bringing Shakespeare to the classroom, and with Kids On Stage! Summer program through Speranza Theatre Company. Brynne co-founded Fearless Me Films, a production company for children that inspired storytelling through film making. Brynne received her M.F.A. in Acting from The New School for Drama in 2009 (Malcom and Betty Smith Award for excellence and versatility in acting). She graduated from Smith College in 2006, where she studied French Literature and Theatre (Smith College Eliot Jr./Heflin Award for distinguished directing and the Denton M. Snyder Acting Prize).  

Guild Hall and Where Are They Going Theatre Group
in association with Barefoot Theatre Company
present EXTINCTION by Gabe McKinley

March 30 through April 16
Wednesdays – Sundays at 7pm
PLUS 2pm matinees on April 8 and April 15

Directed by Josh Gladstone
Starring Brynne Kraynak, Raye Levine, Sawyer Spielberg
and Eric Svendsen

Two college buddies’ annual outing of male-bonding and debauchery veers precipitously off course when unmet expectations spiral into a volatile showdown. A darkly funny drama exploring the evolution of friendships – and the lengths to which we go to save them from falling into extinction.

Please note that this play includes graphic language and mature subject matter.

General Admission $25 ($23 Guild Hall Members)
$15 Students under 18

Production Team:
Set Designer – Raye Levine
Lighting Designer – Sebastian Paczynski
Stage Manager – Tyler Winthrop
Producer – Sawyer Spielberg
PR – Leah Lane

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