Sunday, March 1, 2015

An Interview with our Hamlet

The Monsters are now in full Hamlet mode. With three rehearsals under our belt, we have a little more than a month before we start working in the space. My name is Katia Haeuser, I am currently the assistant director and company manager for our production of Hamlet, and I'm also on the board of Monsterpiece. Before the first rehearsal, I sat down with Jessica Cannizzaro, our Hamlet. That’s right, Jessica. Our Artistic Director, Anthony D. Pound, in good ol’ Monsterpiece fashion cast a woman in easily one of the most recognizably male roles in the English theatrical cannon. No stranger to monster fans, Jessie was last seen in our Julius Caesar in 2013. I took a moment to ask Jessie about her upcoming work on the role.

Q: So, what are you most excited about playing Hamlet?

A: It’s funny; when Anthony emailed me, he sent me this email with no subject line, one sentence, like ‘hey I was thinking about doing Hamlet and I was wondering if you’d be interested in, you know, potentially playing the part of Hamlet’. I mean it’s a dream. I remember in college, I was like ‘I’m going to play all of the parts I can play now because once you get into the real world, no one’s going to cast you as Hamlet, as Puck, or as any of these great characters that you don’t think of as ladies’.

There’s just a wealth of amazing male characters that you look at and you’re like “Oh, it would be so great to be cast”…No one else will ever look at me like that, especially me. I’m just short of 5’2”, a small girl. I kind of settled into the thought that I’ll be playing a lot of nice, little, young ladies. So the idea of getting to play something like Hamlet…it’s a dream, and I feel like it’s never not going to be exciting, terrifying, and wonderful.

Q: What do find to be the most challenging or the most frightening?

A: I mean…everything. It’s so known. You open it up, you start to read, and you know everyone’s seen it and everyone’s read it in some context. In some version, but you read it and every speech is just so known. You can’t go a page or two without reading something and going, “Oh man, I feel like I’ve grown up hearing that”, and I feel like I was born hearing “to be or not to be” and all these wonderful, sticky, juicy, lines. That’s both thrilling, and so much pressure. It’s such a ridiculous amount of terrifying pressure because you don’t want to mess up these words. First of all, you can’t, because someone in the audience will go, “actually, if you read the Arden edition…” You just can’t improvise it. Beyond just the words, which are brilliant, it’s such a colossal figure to try to step into.

Q: How do you think you being a woman playing Hamlet will affect the rest of the cast and the audience?

A: I went into the first read through being so scared, because everyone’s going to read the cast aloud and think ‘wait, sorry. I think you made a mistake, she…her…really?’ So there is that pressure of what happens when the lights come up. People come with an idea in their head of who Hamlet is, and I would love for my performance to speak to the person whose idea has always been Hamlet played by a small girl…I’m trying to figure out if gender is a constriction and if I can overcome some very obvious physical barriers.

Q: Are you playing this any differently emotionally? Is there a lens you are looking through?

A: Yes and no. In a way you have to have some kind of a different approach. You can’t just walk in and say I’m a little girl, playing Hamlet, and that’s fine, and there will be no issues overcoming that. It’s not that there’s something to overcome, but there will always be those moments when you call Hamlet a she, and then you say,
“Oh no I meant he”. I’m sure there will be little issues like that, that crop up here and there.

The beautiful thing about Shakespeare is that the text is so ridiculously gorgeous, especially Hamlet is just, the imagery is so, not to sound like a total nerd, but it’s so wonderful and rich and full of these beautiful words…words, words, words, that gender you know, male or female or whatever lens you’re trying to look through or approach you’re trying to take; you get these wonderful words you can just start with. Stripped of everything else, you have an amazing play; so I’m excited for that. As I become more nervous as the process goes on, or as I try and tackle all these problems, I know at the end of the day we can always come back to those wonderful words, words, words.

Well, Jessie seems to have a challenging, exciting, and wonderful journey ahead of her. We will continue to check back in during her process and taking a look at the making of a new kind of Hamlet. Hamlet runs March 20th –March 21st and March 25th-28th at 8pm; March 21st-22nd and March 28th-29th at 2pm. Tickets are on sale at

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Where Death imitates Art

Sitting on the banks of the Hudson River, the dark and mysterious town of Moldavia-on-Hudson is haunted with humor. Unfortunately for its slightly twisted residents, the jokes are on them.

Presented by The New York 19th Century Society & Monsterpiece Theater Collective, Moldavia-on-Hudson is comprised of five darkly comedic vignettes based upon short stories by classic Gothic authors: Edgar Allan Poe- The System of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether (1845); Ambrose Bierce- A Watcher by the Dead (1890); Hans Christian Andersen- The Shadow (1847); Sir Arthur Conan Doyle- The Brown Hand (1899); & HP Lovecraft- The Thing on the Doorstep (1937).

Jacob Banser*, Chris Beier, Katia Haeuser*, Lani Harms, and Mike Wirsch

Written by:
Marc Dombrowski & Samantha Tella*

Directed by:
Samantha Tella

Assistant Director/Stage Manager:
Liza Ramirez*

*Monsterpiece Artist Collective member

Stage II 300 West 43rd Street, 4th Floor New York, NY 10036

Thursday October 23, Friday October 24, & Saturday October 25 @ 8:00pm
Saturday October 25, Sunday, & October 26
@ 2:00pm

More information email

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Our Indie Go Go Video

In case you can't get enough of our Artistic Director babbling.

The Importance of Being Earnest

Monsterpiece Theater Collective gets Wilde with Importance of Being Earnest

Monsterpiece Theater Collective's Importance of Being Earnest interprets Oscar Wilde's classic with a jazzy New Orleans flair. Starting our journey in turn of the century New Orleans we combine the music and rich heritage of the south and the posh fa├žade of English society. Using the poetry of John Gambril Nicholson, a contemporary of Wilde and author of the poem (of Boy’s Names) that inspired the title of this classic, the Monsterpiece Collective has created a musical world of original songs and Dixieland jazz standards. Moving from drawing rooms and countryside gardens to honky tonks and plantations we enjoy the sharp wit and acid tongue that can only be found two places, Wilde’s characters and the most charming southern homes.    

Performances are Thursday, March 27; Friday March 28; and Saturday, March 29 at 8:00 p.m., with matinee performances Saturday March 29 and Sunday March 30 at 2:00 p.m. All performances are at The Beckmann Theater 314 W. 54th St., 2ndfloor. Tickets are $20.00 and can be reserved at
The cast includes Zack Krajnyak and Liam Selby as Algernon and Jack, the two young men trying to get the most out of life by being Earnest. Katrina Michaels (Gwendolen) and Susanna Allen (Cecily) as the women they pursue. Katia Haeuser and Jacob Banser as the budding couple in the country, Miss. Prisim and Rev Chasuable and Clemmie Evans as the ever opinionated Lady Bracknell.

Monsterpiece Theater Collective is a group of risk-taking artists working together to tell compelling stories imaginatively by creating, supporting, and producing each other’s work in readings, workshops, and short run full productions. They specialize in kicking down closed doors and blowing up glass ceilings.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Working at the Lab

A lot of wonderful things are happening for Monsterpiece in 2014, and it just hit the second month!

January marked the continuation of the Monsterpiece Artist’s collective; a group of artists brought together to uphold the ideals of Monsterpiece by holding monthly meetings. We’ve titled these meetings Monsterlabs. In these labs we bring in ideas, plays, and concepts flip them on their heads, and hold discussions with a purely collaborative spirit. These labs are fun as hell, but also artistically challenging. One of our fellow members, John Detty, wrote a lovely description:

Sunday's MPAC was a blast! We started with going around and telling our worst Shakespeareance. From there, we wrote positive adjectives about each other and really learned how everyone saw each other. It put everyone in the right mind set to create. Then, the games began. We were divided into groups and were tasked with different sketches. My group had to do "cartoon characters in the future/reunited" in the spirit of Brett Royal's Dog Sees God. Another group had to take the opening monologue from Love's Labors Lost and rework it as a spell for the witches from MacBeth. The last group did a completely silent scene in the vein of the second act of Noises Off. They were all immensely different, but equally as good. We took time apart to put everything together, came back, and performed them. Then, most importantly, and frequently overlooked, we discussed what happened. We talked about what the process was like, what worked, what didn't, and ideas that came up unintentionally. It was such a wonderfully positive collective of artists to get to play with. Can't wait for the next one!

~John Detty: Monster in residence

As John pointed out this process was a really fun and exciting three hours! More importantly, however, these activities serve as a conduit for true creation. As a fellow member of the collective, I feel that there is nothing greater than finding a group of people with whom I share a true and safe connection. During the meeting, we were able to push aside things like petty competition, fear of failure, and our own personal insecurities. Without doing so, we would not have been able to create really good art.

In the coming months, we hope to continue this work by pushing ourselves with even more thought provoking artistic endeavors. Beyond the actual work, we strive to deepen our understanding of artistic expression by constantly discussing questions such as: What was exciting, what questions do I have, and what did this make me feel? Asking questions such as these forces us to delve further, and challenge our own understanding. Questions break down barriers that need to be broken, and push us past our own preconceptions. For example, during the Love Labor’s/Witches mash up the actors, through creative expression, took an otherwise light piece and turned it into a provocatively serious piece. Through their art they smashed through what we previously knew about the monologue and shaped it into something completely different. Or during the cartoon scene, a suitcase became a casket for the character Snarf; changing our perception of the suitcase completely.  It is this kind of work that makes me so excited. I love breaking down original thoughts and turning it into something completely different. I think that’s what we, at Monsterpiece, do: tell provocative stories, break down notions, pretty much be the most fearless monsters on the block.  
So until next time, I’ll leave you with this thought:

“A mind once stretched by a new idea, can never regain it’s original dimensions”
-Oliver Wendel Holmes

By: Katia Haeuser: Monster in residence

Monday, January 27, 2014

Importance of Being Earnest Auditions

Monsterpiece Theater Collective is now accepting headshots and resumes for the Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde with new dixieland jazz songs based on the poetry of John Gambril Nicholson. 

Auditions will be held by appointment only in early February with rehearsals beginning February 18th and production dates set for March 27 - 30 at the Beckmann Theater in Manhattan.

Please email your your materials to for an audition slot. Preference will be given to those with a musical background and those that can play instruments. 

One minute comedic monologue reqired with a one minute song optional (must accompany yourself/bring own instrument/piano provided).