Meet Alice

Next up in our series of interviews between Jed and the Sans Everything co-creators of Lightning Rod Special, we invite you to. . .

Meet Alice.

Jed: Look at that view! Who's that on top there? Is that Mr. Penn? It's not Benjamin Franklin.

Alice: I don't think so.

Jed: Not everything in this town is. . .

Alice: No. I'm pretty sure that's William Penn. Though to be honest, Scott would know better.

Jed: Where are you from?

Alice: I grew up on the northernmost part of the Jersey shore. Just before you drive off into the ocean, that's where I'm from.

Jed: Did you make plays when you were younger?

Alice: I did. When I was a kid I lived on this little dead end street and all the kids in the neighborhood would make this thing called the Summer Circus. We never did it, but we imagined putting a lion's mane on our younger brother. My friend was going to be the lion tamer and the big finale was that we were gonna have all the kids dressed in white sliding down into a big mud puddle. But we never did it. It was just a lot of planning. My friend and I were always putting on little plays. We put on Spice Girls concerts.

Jed: Which Spice Girl were you?

Alice: I think I was Scary Spice. Because she had a lot of hair and I have a lot of hair.

Jed: Was she --

Alice: The black one? Yes.

Jed: Do you think there's any link between Scary Spice and Candy Scrapple?

Alice: There might be. I've never thought about it until now, but there might be.

Jed: Did you do plays in school?

Alice: Yeah, I was a Hot Box Girl in Guys and Dolls in 8th grade.

Jed: What does that mean?

Alice: Uh. . . It's like being a cabaret dancers. But as an 8th grader it just means you're waving your arms back and forth. I think we wore short-alls. Like overalls that are shorts. But then in high school we did two plays a year and I did all of those. Starting off as a village person in Aladdin where I sold my bread and grapes. And culminating as a senior with the lead role in The Hobbit.


Jed: Yes! Were these insipired by the classic tales? Or were they inspired by the movies?

Alice: No. This was before the movies. So it was non-Disney. We did watch the 70's movie version of The Hobbit. I had to wear stockings covered in hair and big ears and a lot of fat padding. And my best friend was Thorin Oakenshield, so we were two ladies playing Bilbo and Thorin. And then I went to college for theater at Marymount Manhattan.

Jed: After Marymount did you go to Double Edge?

Alice: Well, while I was in college I took a movement class and that's where I was exposed to Lecoq and I was like, "This is perfect. I need to go to this school." And I studied abroad over the summer with a street theater company in Paris who had come from the Lecoq School called Frîches Théâtre Urbain. Actually they're doing a show about Mars right now!

Jed: Everybody loves space right now!

Alice: I know! Come on! But I really loved that method of working -- the physical method. So after I graduated I thought I'd either do weirdo physical theatre or I'd do Shakespeare or Noel Coward for the rest of my life. I thought, "Nobody's going to hire me to do like, normal shows." And then I saw a poster for Double Edge and I just went. It was great. I had a great first experience.

Jed: How long were you there?

Alice: Three months. I did a winter internship and it was the first time I made stuff on my own -- which was scary, but it was transformative. I knew I couldn't go back to NYC and be in shitty plays that like three people come to. But I was also too broke to move back to New York and so instead I moved back home to New Jersey with my mom. I was just padding around, working at a vegan coffee shop with my hands to the sky, ready to receive whatever was coming next. A friend of my mother's had a friend who had spent time at Double Edge and he told me about Pig Iron. I looked on their website and read about the school they were starting and saw that it was exactly what I wanted. But it was too scary to move to Philadelphia for two years and so I just stopped thinking about it. Then three weeks before the application was due, I thought, "I'm crazy!" And I just did it. I had three transformative experiences around theater-making: I studied with this company in Paris, I studied with Double Edge, and then I studied with Pig Iron. Each time I didn't really know anything about them, I just heard about them and did it. I was at APT [Pig Iron's School for Advanced Performance Training] for a little while before I even remembered that what I'd wanted originally was to go to the Lecoq School, and I was doing it.

Jed: And now we're here in South Philly staring at the skyline.

Alice: With Billy.

Jed: Billy Penn. So, are you a candy person?

Alice: Oh yes! I'm a dessert person. Not gummy candies because my teeth are too sensitive. I can do like two gummy bears. Sometimes hot cheese makes my teeth hurt. I feel it go down to the roots of my teeth.

Jed: I feel like a lot of people have that.

Alice: Well, I told my dentist about it once and she checked and was like, "You have deep grooves." And I was like, "Yeah I do. I'm in a funk band."

Jed: Oh yeah! So that was a project [Red 40 and the Last Groovement, the funk band Alice dance's with] out of school, right?

Alice: Yeah. It started at APT. It was Martha's [Stuckey, Red 40's front-woman] final project.

Jed: Was she like, "You're going to be a squirrel-based dancer."

Alice: No! We'd been doing some improvs around back-up singers and back-up dancers. Martha's prompt from the teachers for her final project had been, "The tail wags the dog." And so she was thinking about behind-the-scenes stars. Eventually she wanted to make a band, but I'm not a great singer and I don't play any instruments. Originally me and Melissa Krodman were a duo of dancers and everything was synchronized, but then Mel couldn't keep doing these gigs and so she dropped away and I couldn't keep doing the same moves by myself. That would have been even weirder than what I do now.

Jed: But were you already crazy?


Alice: Yeah, I think so. But Candy Scrapple [Alice's character] opened a crazy box. And she is crazier than most of the things I do. I don't have a lot of sweet moves so I just dance really hard.

Jed: In watching you, I feel like Candy Scrapple is the secret star of the band.

Alice: Candy Scrapple definitely feels that way. She's like, "This is my back-up lead singer."

Jed: What are the performance things you wish you could do more of?

Alice: The next piece LRS is going to make is something we started at APT. It's called Fetus Chorus. I get nervous talking about it because it's really offensive and it's designed to be that way. It's a grotesque, so that's the point, but still. I'm really excited about it. I love the work that gives you permission to be totally not appropriate. I have lots of rules for myself about what you should and shouldn't do in my real life -- not like I'm restricted, but it's so liberating to be so terrible. It's real fun. And then I just want to make more. . . I love being in a making room. Doing stuff.

Jed: Have you done much straight theatre since college? Alice: When I graduated from college I only did straight theater and I was doing the worst straight theater in NYC. I once was in a show I knew was really bad and I asked a woman who runs a successful Shakespeare company what to do about the show, and she was like, "don't put that on your resume." The company was notoriously bad. It was a genuinely rough experience. We did one performance where no one came, but the director still made us do it while he sat in the booth. When I left NYC my major goal was to do a show with a stage manager working on it. All of the shows I did were so scrappy and not scrappy in a good way. They were mostly companies that had been around for awhile but there was still no money and just poor quality.  It was a little bit like, "Well, we got a URL so we better keep doing stuff." But in Philly I've done a couple straight plays and they were great. The last last show I did in NYC was a piece of dance theater and that was actually pretty exciting. It was the first thing that made me feel like, "Oh, these are maybe people who will introduce me to the right people for me."

Jed: Did you ever think about going back to NYC after APT?

Alice: Not really. Staying in Philly just made sense. I had no ties in New York and no work waiting for me. Way more was available and exciting for me here.