Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Spotlight on Shannon Khatcheressian, 2nd Flight Productions

By • Feb 13th, 2008 • Category: Interviews

Listen to Mike talk with Shannon Khatcheressian from 2nd Flight Productions [MP3 9:45 4.5MB] about Closer (opening this Friday), Shannon’s preference of on stage vs. back stage, and her WATCH nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Play.

Mike: This is Mike Clark with ShowBizRadio, and I am pleased to be talking with Shannon Khatcheressian, president of 2nd Flight Productions in Virginia. Thank you for talking with me.

Shannon: Great, thank you for calling.

Mike: We tried to hook up last year and chat about 2nd Flight Productions when it joined WATCH, but we weren’t able to do that. So, welcome to WATCH.

Shannon: Thank you very much, we’re excited to be a part of it.

Mike: Tell us a little about the history of 2nd Flight, it’s only a few years old.

Shannon: It is only a few years old. We’re currently in our fourth successful season. We started back in March 2003. Basically, it was a bunch of performers who started our own student run theater company called “State Your Name Theater Company” at Virginia Tech. We had performed together as producers, directors and choreographers. And then a bunch of us had moved up to the Northern Virginia/Washington DC area. So we were performing together and we just really missed the opportunity to create and work together as a team. So we decided to start our own non-profit theater company. We came up with the “second flight” name basically because we saw it as taking our second venture or second flight together. In a nutshell, that’s how the company was formed, and we’re still going strong.

Mike: Are you surprised at how well things have gone since you’ve started up again?

Shannon: I have been very very surprised and very happy at how quickly Second Flight has gotten notice within the community. I can tell that we’re growing successfully because I’m able to back off on the one million projects I was normally involved in, as far as selling concessions, painting the set, directing, doing publicity and marketing. We’ve really just had a wonderful team of volunteers that have shown up. And amazing directors who have come in to work with the company. So, the growth rate is fantastic, and the response rate has been equally impressive. We’re very very happy.

Mike: Where does Second Flight perform their shows?

Shannon: We’re in a floating area right now. We normally perform our plays at the Cramer Center in Manassas. We have since we opened, but since that theater is up for sale, we are currently in the process for looking to find our own performance space, possible to purchase and perform at. We perform our musicals at Chantilly High School, just because the space is a wonderful space to perform musicals. And then we’re doing a guest appearance at the Waddell Theater in Sterling for our upcoming production of Patrick Marber’s Closer.

Mike: And you’re performing in that show?

Shannon: Yes, I am. I’m performing with Nick Noel, Tara Moore, and Faqir Qarqhah. It’s a really beautiful, wonderfully written script and our director, Natalie Safley, who is doing her second directorial performance with us, has really just captured the play exactly how it needs to come across to the audience. We’re really excited about this one.

Mike: When Laura and I have seen your advertising for the show, we weren’t sure if it was “Closer” like “get closer to someone” or “Closer” like “something is going to close down.” So, tell us about the title.

Shannon: The title is definitely having to do with physically getting closer to another individual. It explores the relationship between these four different individuals, and how their lives become intertwined as they end up either lusting after or falling in love, or casually meeting one of the other four people within the show. It’s definitely about how we become closer, either emotionally or physically, or just by a matter of convenience with relationships.

Mike: Tell us a little about the process for that show. Your advertising says it’s not for children.

Shannon: Correct, the script itself with the storyline, we love the fact that it was just so real, and the script was so raw. These are truly discussions that you know happen behind closed doors, but not stuff that you normally get a peak into unless you’re actually involved with it. So the language that is used is very sexually explicit language, so it’s definitely not appropriate for audience members under 18, or any audience members who are a bit faint of heart. I mean if you come and see the show, the language really is not utilized for the shock value. Patrick Marber has written the script so it makes sense within the context of the scene, and we as performers have really tried to make the script come to life, and the words are appropriate. There is meaning and justification behind them. Again, there is some strong language used that we all might not want to take our mothers to come and see.

Mike: How does Second Flight choose the shows that are performed?

Shannon: Basically, what we do after the season closes, is that we know we’re going to do a musical, one play and a children’s show. So what we do is we ask for people from the community as well as friends and guest directors to submit any works that they are interested in directing, or would like to see Second Flight perform. Then we get copies of those scripts, and copies of those musicals, and the artistic team sites down around the table after we’ve read them and we discuss the pros and cons and what would work best for Second Flight Productions Theatre Company.

So for example, we’ve learned since we are only in our fourth season, that we do still need a show that has a title to it, some kind of edge that will bring audience members in, because we just don’t have that name recognition factor yet since we are so young.

Mike: So, you’ve directed and you’ve been on stage, do you prefer to be onstage or backstage?

Shannon: That’s a really hard question to answer. I really enjoy both, I think a big part of it is just developing a great appreciation and learning more and more about being on the stage and taking direction and having a little greater understanding as to what I need to work on as a director, to work with my performers. And as a director, I love working with people, I love seeing the vision come to life, I love seeing the process. But being onstage and with roles such as the role of Anna in Closer,it’s just not a role that you can pass up. Taking a character and bringing it to life, and hopefully conveying the truth of that character on stage is such an amazing challenge to me that I really do enjoy it. So, it’s a tough toss-up. If I had to decide forever, I’d really have to think about it.

Mike: And then you were in Boston Marriage at Elden Street Players last year. And you were nominated for a WATCH award.

Shannon: Yes, that was really exciting. That show really was an incredible experience. The production staff at Elden Street is such a fabulous place to work for regardless. But the director (Debbie Niezgoda), was fantastic and the script in itself (it’s a three person show), and memorizing that dialogue was one of the hardest things I had to do. I was really almost in tears when I finished memorizing it because I almost felt like I memorized the Bible. So, with the current show, it was cake. My lines were memorized in two weeks, and I had Boston Marriage to thank for that.

Mike: Do you prefer period pieces like Boston Marriage, or more contemporary shows like Closer?

Shannon: It actually depends on the script and the characters that are available. They both have some pros and cons. One nice thing about Closer is within the language if any type of cover needed to happen, I can use the modern everyday language and make that work. With Boston Marriage, we really had to be creative, because we needed to make sure that we stuck within the time period as far as language went, and as far as what was expected and unexpected. So, I’m really for the really strong women’s roles. As long as it’s a good role, and as long as the plot I know can carry us forward, and it’s a good script with a good production team, that’s what I really look for when I go to audition.

Mike: I know you haven’t even opened Closer yet, but are you looking at your next show after that?

Shannon: We are actually trying to decide on our musical as we speak. We’ve narrowed it down to eight different titles. We’re working with Debbie Niezgoda, who directed me in Boston Marriage, she will be directing the Fall musical that we’re performing at Chantilly High School. So we have that list of eight to ten, after she submitted her favorites. Now we’ve taken our list as the artistic team and sent it back to her, and she’s in the review process, to take her top four shows that she’d be interested in directing, and then we’ll collectively meet and decide what works best for Debbie as well as for the company. So we’re hoping to announce that within the next two weeks.

Mike: Is there anything else we should touch base on?

Shannon: No, I think that’s it, I can’t really think of anything else. I think we’re good.

Mike: Well, thank you very much for talking with me, I do appreciate it.

Shannon: Great, thank you so much.

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