What theater kids do after graduation

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Halley Bondy, BC ’06, already has a one-woman show running Off-Off Broadway—Sleep Tight Mick— that explores the idiosyncrasies of modern pop culture from the eyes of a polygamist cult escapee. FlavorPill loved it. The Anthro/Women’s Studies writes to Bwog about playing eight characters, living in a temp/intern/freelance vortex, and on-stage orgasms

hgjgHow does a Barnard grad like yourself get a play up Off-Off Broadway within a year of graduating?

I’ve always gravitated toward theater but I wanted to avoid the demoralizing audition circuit. Compared to a lot of New York actors, my resume is really bleak, but I’ve been building my writing creds…and you don’t have to audition for that.

As a journalist I learned New York theater isn’t some inaccessible entity in the sky. I befriended Robert Dominguez, an editor at the Daily News where I worked [as an intern after I graduated]. He had somehow managed to maintain a stressful journalism job while producing plays in the Fringe Festival. I shyly presented my writing to him, and a creative collaboration began. We researched different play competitions around the city and came across the ONE festival at Teatro la Tea. I wrote Sleep Tight Mick, I entered it, performed it, and won. It has since gotten another festival at the Manhattan Repertory Theater, and I plan on entering it to many more.  

How did the idea for this play come about?

Sleep Tight Mick is about a young woman who grew up in a polygamist cult and has to adapt to life in New York after she escapes. (If it’s autobiographical at all, it’s only through metaphors). I was interested in a lovable character who is completely ignorant of our day-to-day experience, who lives outside of society as we know it, and who is purely a victim of her circumstances. I wanted to create an icon who forces us to laugh at our culture. One of my greatest inspirations for the show actually took place in an American history class I took at Barnard under Professor Thaddeus Russell. In short, after the slaves were emancipated, the government sent a legion of semi-evangelists to go down south and teach the newly freed slaves how to behave like they’re “free” (“Desire work” “Love work” “No booze” “no dancing,” etc). The speeches must have sounded completely absurd to them, and not to mention, almost as binding as slavery.

And polygamist cults are just too cool to resist.

What is Sleep Tight Mick?

It’s a one-woman show. I play eight or so characters, including Mick as narrator, a cult leader named Father Spirit, and a too-hot-to-trot New Yorker named Utah, and many more! Mick tells the tale from her perspective but portrays the different characters as she sees them. Oh, and she’s in a bedbug-laden hostel in Ecuador, and she hasn’t had a good night sleep in 25 years. You’ll see why. You’ll undoubtedly laugh and cry. 

In 5 words or less, why should we see Sleep Tight Mick?

Rum, Bedbugs, On-Stage Orgasms. 

What kind of acting/playwriting did you do while at Columbia?

I was in [comedy sketch troupe] Chowdah. I took a playwriting course through Barnard and an Acting Solo performance class under Barnard. My freshman year, I was also in the Naked Show, which was a spoof comedy about how nudity saved Columbia University activism.  

What have you been doing with your unemployed off time?

I’m living in temp/intern/freelance vortex. I freelance for Backstage and I just stopped temping at Newsweek. I thought my [intern] stint with the Daily News was finished but they just called me to ask me to review Latin American erotica.

Other than that, I’m interviewing like the dickens trying to support myself. I live in Astoria, which I highly recommend. 

Do you sometimes find yourself wandering around Harlem and tempted to waft back to Columbia?

I miss the convenience and free health care. But other than that, I’m happy as a clam just to be a graduate.  

Any advice for aspiring offbeat, Off-Off-Broadway playwriters?

Get all your smart, reliable friends together, collaborate with them and be loyal to them. It’d be nice if one of them has money, but it’s not a requirement.

Sleep Tight Mick opens tonight at Teatro la Tea at 8pm. See below for full schedule:

June 27-July 1st, 8 pm

Sunday, July 1st, 2 pm.

Teatro la Tea 107 Suffolk @ Rivington, $10. (F to Delancey) 

Manhattan Repertory Theater Festival

July 25th, 27 and 28. 9 pm

303 w. 42nd street, 3rd floor

$20, including free alcohol

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  1. alright

    I don't remember seeing her in anything on campus. ever. After performing in barnard department shows to an audience of 12 professors/classmates this must be a big rush!

  2. ginny

    yeeeah i saw the show. my boyfriend dragged me to it against my will but i was more than pleasantly surprised. the show completely exceeded my expectations. both the writing and acting were impressive.

  3. mike

    I was in Chowdah with Halley for a semester and she's a really great performer. I went and saw a short play she wrote and performed last summer and really enjoyed it. Glad to hear she's got this one woman show off the ground. Congrats, Halley!

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