How My Solo Show

On Cats And Dogs And Other Family Revelations

Came To Be Part Of The 2024 NYC Fringe Festival

Interview With Ella Veres

With Questions by
Stage Whisper Podcast
as part of the NYC Fringe Festival group interview you can listen to here

Tell us a bit about your show.

Here goes the show press release:

On Cats and Dogs and Other Family Revelations

as part of the 2024 New York City Fringe Festival

April 3-21 at 14Y Theater


For a limited time only, independent artist Ella Veres will present On Cats and Dogs and Other Family Revelations. The production is part of the 2024 New York City Fringe Festival with FRIGID New York at the 14Y Theater (344 E. 14th St, New York, NY 10003) with performances on April 8 (7:40pm), April 15 (7:40pm), April 16 (5:30pm), and April 21 (1:30pm). The show will also be streamed online. Tickets ($25 or sliding scale) are available for advance purchase at The performance will run approximately one hour. Each show is a different iteration.

On Cats and Dogs and Other Family Revelations wraps big ideas in focused stories about my pets, offering glimpses of my human family and life in my place of birth, Transylvania, Romania. I take audiences from my childhood under communist rule, to my present quirky experiences in East Harlem, using my dog and cat as reference points.

The cast will also feature my dog, Pandele, who is in it not for fame, but to pay her vet bills. Rosamunda, my cat, was asked to perform but declined. She’d rather lounge under the sofa than be in the limelight. 

Being from Transylvania, it’s expected of me to be creepy, so I oblige from time to time, albeit not in Hollywood style. The war in Ukraine riled my memories up, and urged me to consider how much there is to lose.

How long have you been working on this project?

I started writing about my pets ever since I got them in my life, nine years ago, but I decided upon turning the stories into a stage performance only a year ago.

Ten, fifteen years ago I used to do theater, but I turned away from it when I fell ill. Two years ago my son, who used to be a child actor, was trying to find his way back. I knew there are playwriting workshops where they need actors, and as the work progresses you find yourself on stage again. At that time a friend had his play at Theater for the New City. I went to see his show, checked the theater website, and saw they had a workshop. So I went to scout for my son. All along I prayed, Oh, my God, please, I don't want to meet anybody from my past. I didn't know how to talk about my illness, where I disappeared for ten years. I reinvented myself as a visual artist. I don't want to meet anybody, I'm twenty pounds heavier, I don't want, I don't want. Of course I met somebody! He looked bad too. He shrank, he withered. But I told him, he had made some puppets for one of my shows, so I told him, if I can help in any way, let me know.

In two days he called me to be in his play. Then I became a member of that theater's workshop.

Simultaneously I attended an improv workshop, and at the instructor's recommendation I went to check out the Magnet Theater’ storytelling scene. I got to perform at their mixer evenings several times. The host was enthusiastic about my stories, so I took his advanced solo show class. 

Also last year, we went with a group of friends to the Moth. Out of 40 people  who signed up to get a chance to be one of the ten people to perform that night, they pulled out of the hat one of my friends’ name, and after he performed it was his turn to pull out a name, and it was mine! I haven't performed with the Moth in, I don't know, 20 years, since Spaulding Gray's death. 

All these were good omens, so I applied for the NYC Fringe Festival and got in. I don't know how fantastic it is, but I'm doing it. I also don't know who is going to show up for me and my dog. It would be a sob story if no one comes. So I set the ticket price on a sliding scale, so everybody can attend.

What was it like developing this show?

My problem was not lack of material, but its abundance. I didn’t want to be one more performer talking about her love life.

I wanted to tell stories that unite perhaps. Enter my pets. I wanted to tell their stories, but their stories were elbowed aside by darker stories of other pets and people and places, which I reluctantly accommodated.

Next these short monologues were linked together and recorded during my residency in Governors Island, in the summer of 2023. I transcribed the two and a half hour long material, edited it and printed it in a book format adjacent to the show that we’ll be selling with Pandele in Times Square. The show is only 60 minutes long. Each time I tell different stories. So you either come to all four shows, or buy the book. Vet bills are not cheap.

What message/thought are you hoping audiences will walk away with from this show?

That we have much to thank the animals in our lives. That there's change, and you can ride on it. That love heals. Working towards fulfilling your vision heals.

Has your show been performed in the past, and if so what was the reception?

Segments of it at Magnet Theater, and last summer during my residency on Governors Island I dress-rehearsed it, so to speak, with an audience. Besides the encouragement to take the show to the next level I cherish several memories: An audience member said she was hooked on finding out what happened to the cat. Another one told me in tears she was facing the conundrum of downsizing after her divorce and giving away her Samoyed, but I helped her in resolve to keep him. A Ukrainian family hugged me.

Who do you hope will attend this show? 

People who love animals, who are interested in memories about everyday life in Eastern European decades ago. Who like dark humor and long sentences.

What shows in the past have inspired you, or do you love? 

Andrei Serban’s Greek Trilogy, All of Spaulding Gray's monologues.

What about writers/composers? 

Talking Heads by Alan Bennett. Anthony Trollope, Michael Ontaatje, Gazelle Yakhina, music Erik Satie, Vivaldi, Mozart, happy music. As It Was by Harry Styles

Have you seen any great theater lately that you’d recommend to our listeners? 

I can't afford live theater, but I watch on the internet especially UK comedians: Dylan Moran, Eddie Izzard, Ricky Gervais, Sarah Millican, Danny Bhoy. Canadian Laura Ramoso.

What’s your favorite part about working in the theater? 

Connecting with the audience.

What’s your favorite theater memory?

At Manhattan Theater Source they had these events in which you wrote eight-minute plays and they produced them for a weekend. Then developing and presenting The Scourge, based on interviews about alcoholism, in Cluj, Romania. The audience reaction was moving. At that time speaking about alcoholism was taboo, not appropriate. Then The Peasant Princess, a musical I created and produced in Montclair, NJ. It is based on a Romanian fairytale, music was composed by five-time Emmy Award winner Lenny Mayers I met at the Neighborhood Playhouse. I enjoyed working with child actors. There was a little girl, Violeta, her mom was an opera singer. Violeta knew everybody's lines. She was also an inexhaustible PR person. She photocopied the show flier on her mom’s home machine and distributed it about, comping everybody, alas.  Now she plays the harp professionally.

Are there any other productions that you or your company have coming down the pipeline?

Perhaps an evening of skits, then a monologue based on the life of a Transylvanian WWII veteran, and a series of comedic monologues I'll perform myself.

If our listeners want to get more information about you or your show, how can they find it?*instagram*facebook ellaveres*email