Our Co-AD Angela Razzano tells us about
being photographed with Hillary Clinton, the time Lin-Manuel Miranda freestyle rapped about InViolet and how a nightmare inspired her to start our theater company.
InViolet: How do you identify in the theater world?
Angela: Producer, Actor and enthusiastic fan!
InViolet: You are our fearless Artistic Director (along with dear Michael Henry Harris)! And we’re coming up on TEN YEARS as a company. Tell us about your journey with InViolet so far.
Angela: Mmmmm, and what a journey it has been! I moved to NYC to study at William Esper Studio as an actor – soon upon finishing there, I craved an artistic community, the way that talented artists in a room together can inspire and encourage one another. I didn’t necessarily know what to do about that, until I had one of those insane dreams that you just can’t shake (I know, I know, please bear with me I had this ridiculously dramatic nightmare, and at the end one thought crystallized: “I need to start a theater company” – then I woke up. Moving throughout the day, I realized that that indeed was what I had to do, and Michael Henry Harris sprung to mind- we’d studied together at the Actors Movement Studio, and he had waxed poetic about creating an artistic home when I’d last seen him some months back. The next night, while I was working at a wine bar on the Upper West Side, none other than Michael Henry Harris inexplicably walked through the doors for an impromptu visit! After containing my shock, I threw my arms around him and told him what we needed to do- within a week we were planning InViolet’s first retreat. Since then it’s been a wildly productive, challenging, and enriching decade. I learned how to produce, how to support artists developing original work, how to provide an artistic home, and how to balance my production work with the performance bug that still needs to be fed every now and then Looking back, I marvel most at the most fabulous, creative, inspiring, intelligent, dedicated, capable, generous artists that are in my life, all thanks to InViolet.
InViolet: What’s your favorite InViolet memory? Can you pick one?
Angela: Oh wow. That is super hard. One that pops up is Opening Night of Melanie Maras’ Kiss Me on the Mouth. We were lucky enough to work with Pulitzer Prize winner (and InViolet advisory board member) Stephen Adly Guirgis. It was only our 2nd production and we were making magic happen with no money, so there was definite chaos to get it up on its feet: sleepless nights at the theater, round the clock rehearsals, even a trip to the emergency room- artists pushed to their absolute limits. At the opening night party, our brilliant set designer, Lauren Helpern called me, and told us to get together to read the Variety review that had just been posted. So Melanie, Michael, Sara Van Beckum (our Assistant Director) and I went to Melanie’s apartment, crowded around her desk, and read our first major rave review together. It was beyond surreal, to see something grow from a seed to a production, and to have it recognized- with my teammates by my side. I’m going to cheat and list another- InViolet celebrated our 10th summer artistic retreat this past August, and after a night’s work we lit a bonfire and took turns sharing why the company and these retreats were important to us. Looking around at the fire-lit faces and hearing these artists I so deeply admire describe the significance of InViolet filled me with so much love and pride and joy for what we’ve created together.
InViolet: In addition to being our co-AD, you are a Producer at Culture Project. Such a busy theater-producing woman! What’s it like being at Culture Project?
Angela: Ha, yes! I was introduced to Culture Project via InViolet member Bernardo Cubria and his impressive wife Lauren Saffa, who’d worked there in the past. InViolet member Megan Hart also worked there back in the day! I was so excited about learning about production at the off-broadway level, and very much attracted to being a part of Culture Project’s mission- producing socially conscious theater that gives voice to the marginalized. Culture Project has actually succeeded in creating policy change through art, which now more than ever is a feat to be admired and championed. My first project was to produce MotherStruck! written and performed by poet and LGBT activist Staceyann Chin, and directed by Cynthia Nixon (whom I LOVE) and I learned a TON from those powerful women!!
InViolet: You just played a role in Rich Etchison’s Pride & Sensibility, a “newly discovered Jane Austen novel.” You also played the titular role in Jennifer Bowen’s Little Prince$$, inspired by Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. Do you have a thing for theater sparked by classic books?
Angela: What a dream. Truly. I’ve been a Jane Austen fanatic for a billion years, so to be digging into that world was a dream come true. And I am so grateful for Jennifer Bowen’s trust in me throughout Little Prince$$ and to director Mark Cirnigliaro for the magical world he created. I got to dip my toes in Bunraku puppetry & develop a new appreciation for Ke$ha!
InViolet: You are one of those lucky people who has seen Hamilton not once, but several times. Tell us your secret!
Angela: Oh, yes. I’ve been an obsessive fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s since In The Heights– the fact that a Puerto Rican artist was showing me that stories of LatinX immigrants belonged on the Broadway stage- and using salsa, merengue and bachata to tell those stories- felt like home to me. When I obsess, I really go all the way, and discovered he had a hip hop improv group (Freestyle Love Supreme– check them out!! Chris Jackson is also a member!) and became a groupie, attending their monthly shows at Joe’s Pub. Fun fact- at the top of the show, audience members throw a word in a bucket, and some are pulled out to prompt Lin to freestyle about. I of course had to throw in “InViolet”- and it got picked!! So yes, a Pulitzer prize winning artist freestyled about InViolet.
ANYWAY, since I was such a fan, I’d been following Hamilton’s progress for years and knew it was going to be an insane event. So for both the Public and Broadway runs, I set my alarm on the day tickets went onsale and snatched them right up. I saw it at the Public once, and on Broadway twice- immediately after opening, and then again in October 2015. And it still wasn’t enough.
InViolet: Not too long ago, you posted a photo of you standing behind Hillary Clinton at an event. You looked quite official, sparking rumors far and wide that you were to be named her running mate. What happened?
Angela: Oh, break my heart why don’t you. That photo was taken in the green room at Lincoln Center, where I was working for the production team of the annual Women in the World summit. The conference brings together women leaders, activists and artists from around the world who have saved or enriched lives to discuss issues affecting women globally. Hillary Clinton was a speaker there immediately following her announcement that she would run. She had just shared the stage with Manhattan Girls Chorus before coming back to the green room to speak with attending activists she was looking to support. When watching her meet and greet these young girls onstage, I was overcome with emotion seeing them stare at her in awe. I saw for the first of many times the power of having these young girls witness a woman candidate for president. #stillwithher
InViolet: What’s up next for you personally? What’s up next for InViolet?
Angela: I am opening a show this week! InViolet member Bixby Elliot has co-created a beautiful story with Tracy Weller and the creative team of Mason Holdings called Holiday House: Christmas Bends and I’m helping bring it to the world. It is the most extravagant production I’ve ever been a part of and I am in awe of the imagination and theatricality of this company! Everyone has worked so hard to make a truly immersive and powerful experience and I’m psyched to share it: check out details at mason.holdings.
As for InViolet, we are in the throes of our 10 year fundraising campaign which ends Dec 31st. (what? you’d like to donate to help make our 10th year possible? Why sure! Head here!) We are also planning our 10th season, which will include specialized programming that addresses the needs of our community in light of the incoming minority elect-President Trump’s administration. Stay tuned for more details! And as always, THANK YOU for your support.