This episode is dedicated to my great grandmother - Safta Janina - holocaust survivor, retired professor of MicroBiology at Tel Aviv University and expert marmalade maker.
Ari: I love you!
Taly: אני אוהבת אותך
Hanna: cię bardzo bardzo kocham
Chloe (singing): If you’re looking for a podcast, that is in your league, I suggest you check out Ari’s ‘At Your Level’ - for me, you, everybody.
Ari: THAT was Chloe, our first guest and the reason we made this episode about being ‘on stage’. Chloe is a singer, writer, and actress. Thank you Chloe for the beautiful song, for reaching out with your talent, and well, for being on the show. I loved meeting you!
So this is the On-Stage episode. What do YOU think should be in this episode?
Every episode is a new exploration, we roll with the punches and let you, yeah YOU, the ones listening, lead the way. So for this episode, what many of you had to say was ‘hey, what about ‘off stage’?, cause as you know, a lot of wonderful stuff happens behind the scenes too. One of the nicest emails I’ve ever received was from Abigail, she’ll be sharing with us her ‘off stage’ perspective, like sound and props and costumes and makeup.
And then… I got an unexpected surprise… the Atlantic Theater Company, a multi-award-winning theater, located in the heart of New York City, reached out! It was so fun to meet them. We recorded my chat with the director: Reggie D. White and lead actor: Franck Juste. They’re incredible, and since with COVID, theater is not exactly ‘on stage’ these days, the fact that Atlantic For Kids put this play online is an amazing opportunity. I’ll tell you a lot more, I don’t even know how we’re gonna fit all of it, so let’s dive right into the episode. As always, I’m your host Ari Kelly and this is At Your Level.
Ari: So like I said, we’re gonna jump right in.
Ari: Hello, nice to meet you.
Chloe: It’s nice to meet you.
Ari: So like I said, we’re gonna jump right in!
Chloe: My name is Chloe Wesson, I’m 13 years old. Um, I’m homeschooled and I have 2 rats.. Paxie and Bingie.
Ari: That’s cute. I I I got a puppy recently.
Ari: I’m really really excited.
Chloe: They’re so cute.
Ari: Yes, I’m very excited. It’s kind of a side comment.
Chloe: Side topics are never bad.
Ari: Yes, that’s true, they create conversation.
Ari: What was the most embarrassing thing that has happened when you were performing?
Chloe: Well, probably the most embarrassing thing that has happened is I was Mayor Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz, and the littler kids, the littler munchkins, they talked to me on stage as Mayor Munchkin and my hat fell off (laughs).
Ari: Oh my gosh!
Chloe: I had to like, act as if it was normal.
Chloe: (laughs) That was probably the most embarrassing thing.
Ari: Numero dos: What was your favorite play you worked on?
Chloe: Great question. My favorite play, or musical, I have done is probably, there’s been so many, but probably Shrek. Um, I did Shrek and I thought I’d get like Little Fiona, like I was called back for Little Fiona, but I didn’t get it, so I was so disappointed, so when my mom came in I was so worried about getting an ensemble role because I really wanted to show off my talent in a different area than just singing with the chorus.
Chloe: And I’m like, what did I get? And she’s like ‘you got Gingi’. And I’m like ‘WHAT?!’ And the thing that’s really crazy is that I don’t know how the director knew I had a Gingi accent. If you wanna hear it…
Ari: Yes! yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, I need to hear this!
Chloe: Ok. Oh, not the gumdrop buttons.
Ari: Gasps! You’re good at it. You’re really good at it.
Chloe: I didn’t even know I had it. I don’t know how he knew.
Ari: Oh my… you’re good at it! That is amazing. And so I guess you kind of answered the next question, which was ‘what’s your favorite musical’ but holy cow, that’s very lucky.
Chloe: But if you’re talking about my favorite musical from the ones I’ve been in. My favorite musical’s probably Wicked, because I actually saw Wicked, I think in San Jose, it was like a Broadway of it in San Jose, coolest thing ever! I just love musicals.
Ari: Number 4 - what is your favorite part about theater?
Chloe: My favorite part about theater.. Hmmmm, I think my favorite part about theater, probably is just, because I really like to sing, I really like to act, and it helps me grow in that area whenever I do theater, but also it helps me appreciate the hard work put into theater and I just like theater, because dress rehearsals, so cool, it’s like a movie, it's like in you’re in a movie, but you’re not, it’s a stage, and you get to have the audience cheer for you, you’re like, ok, I’m just gonna say it, the center of attention, and I like being the center of attention.
Ari: I will say.
Chloe:Please don’t take that wrongly people.
Ari: Oh no, no, I think the audience will understand, I honestly think they will.
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Ari: It is nice to meet you.
I want to read you a small part of the email Abigail wrote me:
“I don't know if you'd be interested in my input on this kind of episode, but I'd be willing to add my point of view from behind the scenes. So I'm never really ON the stage, but I know a bit about theater life and I bring a different point of view then most actors would, I think.”
Ari: I got that email and - Yes please! So without further ado..
Abigail: I’m Abby Barton, I do, um so I was in this class called StageCraft, and what that is, is we build sets, we gather props for the upcoming play, we do.. Sometimes a lot of the people do costumes, hair, that kind of stuff.. Light, sound..
Ari: I gotta apologize for the sound quality on my end in this interview, I forgot to connect the microphone to the computer and so the sound was recorded from the computer mic, but luckily it’s mostly Abigail talking.
Ari: What was the weirdest prop you had to make?
Abigail: We had.. Let me think.. Probably a nutcracker.. we didn’t get to go out and buy a nutcracker, so we had to make a nutcracker out of cardboard.. and that was really hard (laughs)
Ari: yeah, that seems really difficult.
Abigail: Yeah, we also had to make.. I remember this, here we go, we had to make Goofy a goofy hat, with like goofy ears, but nobody in our group had any at home, or anything so we grabbed this like, this felt hat, and I grabbed socks from my house and we pinned the socks on the hat.
Ari: Oh my gosh
Abigail (laughs): yeah so that was another thing.
Ari: Has anyone ever broken one of your props?
Abigail: Yes. Um, things break all the time. Wood cracks, and the nutcracker got all crumpled, and I think I lost a sock (laughs). I remember, there’s a lot of things, um, that go wrong. It’s an adventure every time. There’s just random pieces in the back that you can find, so I have this, and if I put it with this, then it’ll turn into this, so what do I have to do with that, to make it, that?! (chuckles).
Ari: Yeah, there’s a lot of this and that’s
Abigail (chuckles) yeah, sorry.
Ari: Alright, now time for the last question, what was your favorite off-stage task?
Abigail: I loved doing sound. I wasn’t very good with lights, the board just didn’t make a lot of sense to me. But I loved doing stuff with the microphone, um, you can just sit up in the booth and watch from way up high and it was relaxing, i guess, and it was.. fun.
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RIDDLES & VOTES
I want to thank each and every one of you who sent me clips, emailed me, wrote a review or voted - I wish I could include every bit in this episode. I promise to get you all in very soon. Thank you Lily, Rys, Ava and Inés, for sending me your awesome riddles, we will have a riddle me this segment very soon. We got a crazy amount of votes for siblings, so we’ll explore that topic after the Cats vs. Dogs episode, which is next and Martial Arts - which we gotta squeeze in sooner, cause I can’t wait to meet you Oliver. We’ll also have a ‘back to school episode’ in August cause Oh boy is this back to school’s gonna be a big deal for us kids, right?
So like I was saying, keep it comin’, you awesome listeners you!!
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You all wanna hear a funny little story?
Well I live around 3 and a half hours away from New York City. And when we do visit it's always so much fun! But on our last trip, we were walking on Broadway on our way to Koreatown, and (emphasize>) Broadway was empty! It was so crazy! Everything was closed and to be honest it was really sad. During Covid, drama stuff that I’ve done online is kinda weird and mostly boring, but with Atlantic, it was completely different! The cast is great! And no I am not being paid to do this, but I’m gonna play you the “In this corner cassius clay” trailer! It’s an awesome play I enjoyed so much and I think after hearing this you will too!
NARRATOR - CASSIUS: The world of sports is wide
you got heroes and villains
All sorts of colorful folks That bring joy to the millions
They run, they jump They punch, they duck
They swing they hit They make us stand up
And the one thing in common Between every and all
No matter how big they got They started out small
JOE MARTIN: How old are you? CASSIUS: I'm 12 sir.
JOE: Come by the Columbia gym, ask for Joe. That's me.
EDDIE: There are two types of fighters. The first kind, they fight for themselves.
And the second kind, they use their strength and power to fight for people who can't.
RINGSIDE ANNOUNCER: And in this corner
From Louisville Kentucky Cassius Clay!!
Atlantic for Kids presents And in This Corner: Cassius Clay,
a new audio play by Idris Goodwin, directed by Reggie D White.
Recommended for grades 4 and up. Now streaming for free at atlantictheater.org
Are you ready to meet Atlantic for kids? Let’s start with Franck who plays Cassius Clay aka Mohamad Ali.
Franck: How are ya?
Ari: I’m good, how are you?
Franck: I’m awesome, awesome.
Ari: Yeah, let’s get right to it, can you please introduce yourself.
Franck: My name is Franck Juste and my pronouns are he/him.
Ari: Can you tell me a little bit about your role?
Franck: My role, I was Cassius Clay, a young Cassius Clay, we start the play when he’s a child, he’s about 10 and he grows and then comes back right after he comes back from the olympics at 18. So it’s.. you get the peak of this journey of someone growing from, you know, young man to adult, and kind of these moments in life where he makes these big decisions and make the choice of what kind of person they want to be.
Ari: Ah, what was it like to audition and how did you prepare for it?
Franck: The audition was quite fun. I actually did something really interesting that I don’t think I got a lot of chance to do. I’m really good at jumping rope, I do some martial arts, I’ve actually been doing martial arts since I was…. how old are you?
Ari: I’m 11
Franck: You’re 11, yeah, I’ve been doing martial arts since I was roughly about your age.
Franck: So it gives me cool footwork. And.. yeah, I did one of the momologues while jumping rope and I did my best Mohamad Ali impersonation while jumping rope and..
Franck: (chuckles) It was fun.
Ari: Yeah, that seems like a very fun audition. Do you have any advice for aspiring actors?
Franck: Always have fun. Yeah.
Franck: Always always have fun. It’s called a play.
Ari: We’ve met a ton of awesome people, some on some off stage. But how about one that directs the stage? Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you, Reggie D. White, the director of ‘In This Corner: Cassius Clay.
Reggie: Hi. Oh, my video, there it is. How’s it going?
Ari: I’m good, how are you?
Reggie: I’m great. It’s so great to meet you.
Ari: Yeah, you too. Can you please introduce yourself - with pronouns if you want to.
Reggie: Yeah, of course. My name is Reggie D. White I use he/him pronouns. What else do you wanna know?
Ari: I mean, if you would like to say what you do for Atlantic..
Reggie: Of course. I am the artistic director of the acting school. Um, I also directed ‘And In This Corner: Cassius Clay’
Ari: Is this your first time directing a play that is not on stage, how is it different and what do you miss the most?
Reggie: Ooo, good question, so, technically, yes. The thing I miss the most about being on-stage is getting to watch the imaginative magic of an actor take us somewhere new, you know, like I think one of the things I love the most about acting and why I love working with actors is that with a look and with a physical gesture, or you know, with a very simple gesture, an actor can be under water, or on the moon, or in a circus or in a lion’s den and you get to use all of your senses to imagine that, and I think that with an audio play it’s really hard, because you only get one sense (chuckles).
Reggie: You get your sense of sound/hearing, and that’s it.
Ari: Doing a play online reminds me a lot of a podcast, in a way.
Ari: Yeah, so, how do you choose your cast?
Reggie: Ooh, goodness, how do I choose my cast? That’s such a hard question (laughs). It’s such a hard question, um you know, auditioning is, to me, the least enjoyable part of art making. You know, because it’s like, you’re basically deciding like, do I wanna collaborate with this artist, you know, like does our energy match, do we have a shared language, do we have a shared sense of humor, could we disagree and find consensus together? You’re trying to answer a lot of questions very very quickly. What makes it a little easier is if you’ve worked with someone before. It’s also really hard to make those decisions just based on an audition tape. Sometimes you can be wrong too, you know Ari, like sometimes you, as a director, you cast an actor because they’ll get something, or you have a really exciting moment with them, like a magical moment in an audition and sometimes it doesn’t work, I got very very lucky with the folks in this play. Not only were they really really talented, they also worked so quickly, I mean the entire process - we only had a week - to rehearse and record the entire show.
Ari: I think Frack told me this. That is just, that’s crazy.
Reggie: It was crazy, it was crazy, it was very crazy, and I looked at the schedule and was like ‘certainly, we don’t.. we don’t have enough time, there’s not enough time, there’s no way’. But it was enough time. And they were all really really brilliant. Um, so I got very very lucky to have all of them in the piece.
The cover art for this episode was drawn by Chloe Wesson. You see how she drew a rat on her head, well that’s because this happened.
So thank you Chloe for the episode cover art!
Ari: (whispering) It’s time for bizarre ASMR.
Colton: Hi Ari I think the bizarre ASMR is um..
Lucy: Is kissing
Colton: Um, for the embarrassing parents one is kissing. Well, not to me. It’s not embarrassing to me. Like kissing, and like, like (makes snorting sound)
Lucy: ‘Pig sounds’
Colton: Pig sounds and stuff (makes pig sound)
Lucy (making lots of pig snorting sounds)
Colton: So by-e
Lucy: I love your videos
Colton: Stop doing it!
Lucy: I just love your videos
Colton: They’re not videos
Colton & Lucy’s mom: podcast?
Colton: Your podcast!
Lucy: You know I’m… I’m 5 years old.
Colton: You don’t even know how old you are.
Lucy: I forget a lot.
Lucy: Today is picture day!
Colton: He didn’t need to know that.
Ari: Yes! The picture day detail was very important.
Ari: Thank you Colton and thank you Lucy! You are 100 percent correct! That is kissing, which some kids find embarrassing, I know you don’t and I don’t either. But you guys also picked up on the snorting, it is not a pig, it’s still my mom kissing, which really should be embarrassing to her that she snorted!
Swara: Oh, I got it, I got it, I got it!
I got! I think it’s your mom or dad kissing, like kissing their kid.
Ari: Yup! Swara, you do got it. Cause when you got it, you got it! (got it)
Oliver: My name is Oliver, I am 9 and I think it was your parents giving you kisses.
Ari: Right again! Thank you Oliver for sending in your recording.
Chloe: I think it’s kisses.
Ari: Mhm Mhm
Chloe: I think it is, because it sounds like it, but also, the last time, it was you scuffing your feet while playing video games.
Ari: It’s a game called ‘Beat Sabor’ thank you very much, so your final answer.. Your final answer..
Chloe: I play Among Us
Ari: That’s kinda sus, bro
Chloe: I’m very sus. She’s an imposter (about her rat)
Ari: Ok, is that your final answer? You think it’s kisses?
Chloe: I’m just gonna go with it and if I’m wrong..
Ari: You think it’s kisses? You think it’s kisses? You’re correct!
Chloe: I’m correct. Yeah!
Both excited and cheering
Chloe: although I’d like to be rich (laughs)
That was Chloe and here’s Abigail
Abigail: Oh yes, I remember this. I think it’s eating, like somebody eating with their mouth open.
Ari: Um, quick hint, it has to do something with embarrassing parents.
Abigail: I actually think that’s embarrassing (laughs).
Ari: Umm.. yeah! Comes to think of it, that WOULD be extremely embarrassing!!!
Do you guys think our adult guests can guess correctly? Here’s Franck:
Ari: I’m going to have you guess some ASMR’s, is that ok with you?
Franck: Of course, yeah lets go.
Franc: Awww, *laughs* thats kissing, thats kissing your cheeks!
Ari: exactly uh huh you got it.
Franck: I'm an embarrassing parent myself I have a six month old little girl
And here’s Reggie:
Reggie: Is it a parent kissing their kid good-bye?
Ari: Yup, Mhm. I mean the good-bye part was a little extra, but, technically, you got it right - nice job.
Reggie: I had an embarrassing parent who would never miss an opportunity to kiss me good-bye. ESPECIALLY in front of my friends, and it was really mortifying.
Ari: I gotta say, while we were recording that, I was on a phone call with my friends, and my mom just came into my room out of nowhere with her phone recording it, and she just kissed me a ton and I was like, what the heck are you… ohhhhh!
Ari: So if you scroll up a little bit, you’ll see the on-stage thing.. Now guess that one..
Ari: So the reason I told Reggie to scroll up, is that in every interview I have, I send my guests a link to AtYourLevelPod.com and have them scroll to where the bizarre ASMR’s are. You can find it too. So listen up, I’ll play it once and you can guess it too:
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(((This is Ari and if you’re reading this transcript, you might be hearing impared, so I don’t think you can guess the mystery sound, or at least I don’t know how you would. So how about a riddle instead? --
Who plays when he works and works when he plays? )))
Do you enjoy listening? If you do, would you please consider supporting us on Patreon, we set up the account last month at patreon.com/AtYourLevel. My mom and I work really hard to make each episode, so you signing up means a lot to us! We also have a really fun cats vs dogs art project lined up, so I really hope you get this art project. Visit patreon.com/AtYourLevel. Thank you.
Do you think we can squeeze in a teensy weensy bad dad? I know you love it, here’s a little story from Franck.. he’s a new dad remember?
Franck: So when I was in college, I was in a rehearsing room for an acting class, and one of the young women in my class, she broke her arm. So she broke her arm, her arm was in a cast and she’s going through her scene work and the professor’s talking to her and he’s talking to here scene partner and they’re going through their conversation and there was this one gentlemen, and I’m never gonna forget his name, cause he’s you know, the king of bad puns. You probably know where this is going (laughs). So the professor’s talking, you know, the professor’s talking to these two other students and I only remember this guy’s name, Charles Burman, and he says something to the young girl who broke her arm, he says ‘ok cool, now that you have your cast together’ and Charles Burman chimes in, he’s like ‘hey, you can’t have a play if you don’t have a cast’. And like (chuckles) all 12 of us in the room look at him and roll our eyes and start laughing. Hey, that’s Chucky, so that’s my bad on-stage joke that I have. (laughs)
I bet this Charles Berman character could fill up a whole Bad Dad podcast, but.. I bet you guys miss my wonky papa.
Liam: Hey Ari..
Ari: I bet he has something cheesy cooked up.
Liam: Sure do!
Ari: Hit it.
Liam: I’m so addicted to musicals, they put me in a 12 step program.
Yeah, right now I’m on step 5-6-7-8
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Like I told you earlier, the next episode is going to be cats vs dogs. So if you’re thinking about joining me and you love your furry friends, you’ll help me out if you reach out. Remember there’s so many ways you can join - you can be a guest and I’ll interview you, you can record your own riddle or tell a bad joke, do the cover art, or look at what Chloe did - she wrote a song!!! Chloe, you’re so awesome! So whatever you think would fit the cats vs. dogs episode, record yourself and email me. But make sure to reach out soon. I really hope I’ll get to meet you!
ON-STAGE / OFF-STAGE
OK, we got one more treat for you - Chloe & I made a little on-stage / off-stage segment.
I know I’ve introduced you to many of our new friends at KidsListen that we love collaborating with. Well, have you heard of The Story Seeds Podcast? What we have in common is sparking creativity and inspiring curiosity for kids. They are putting together a ‘Summer of podcasts’ virtual camp and I’m really excited to tell you that I will be one of the presenters. I’ll have more detail for you on the next episode, but for now, I put a link to this in the show notes.
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Thank you so much to every wonderful one of you who ever gave me a 5 star review! It means a lot to me. So thank you Oscar, thank you Carter, loved your review momslice1 and snowy mountain with cherries, I loved what you wrote before you changed it the most..
But really, thank you all so much!!
I got so many of you to thank for this episode! It’s pretty exciting - so let’s start with Chloe, cause she’s how this whole episode started to begin with - thanks for reaching out, for the idea, for bringing your rats to join our zoom, thank you for the cover art, thank you for the song, and most of all, thank you for being your awesome self.
I hope you listeners will enjoy Chloe’s youtube channel, it’s called SingActWrite. I put a link in the show notes.
Thank you Abigail for the off-stage interview - I bet a lot of listeners connected with your perspective - there’s so much that goes behind the scenes, thank you for reaching out and offering your time and awesome experience. I loved your sense of humor.
Did you guys love meeting Franck and Reggie? I can’t tell you how much I loved meeting both of them and every single Atlantic Theater crew member. I love love loved your play -- listeners -- I highly recommend you check out ‘And in This Corner: Cassius Clay’ -- I put a link in the show notes, you can join a listening party, enjoy it with your family and if you want, there’s even another workshop you can join like I did. If you’re into theater, this should be right up your alley.
A huge thank you to every kid that sent me a joke, riddle, ASMR guess or any other recording.. Keep’em coming!
And as always, thank you for the music brother Ben, for the badness father man, and for the producing mother with the plan. At Your Level is a production of Art and Light Society.
Ari: Oh rats! Rats are cute in my opinion. They’re really cute.
Chloe: Look at this.
Ari: Look at him.. he’s cute. Or is it a him?
Chloe: It’s a girl. Actually, funny story - the pet store told us they’re boys….She’s a girl!
Chloe: So Paxton, turned into Paxie.
(((The answer to the riddle is an actor, of course!)))