While the real Lena Dunham was filming in Williamsburg, North Brooklynites prepare for “Too Many Lenas 3: Let Them Eat Cake” at Ars Nova’s ANT Fest.
The Carroll Simmons Performance Collective brings to the indie theatre festival a montage depicting a Brooklyn loft filled to the brim with Lena-esk 20 somethings. Before their rehearsal, I chatted with co-director and actor Jaime Wright and costume designer Stephanie Levin- both Bushwick residents.
Free Williamsburg: How did the concept for “Too Many Lenas” come about?
Jaime Wright: One of the girls in the cast put up a status that everyone compared her to Lena Dunham, and then David Bernstein, the director, put together the concept for the play with four girls, then one more was added, then it just became too many Lenas. The first installment was about how Lena’s icon came to be, then now it’s about a “death knell” for her career; how she hit the pinnacle and now is on the decline.
FW: But isn’t this “Too Many Lenas 3”?
Jaime Wright: The second installment was performed in a basement in Connecticut.
FW: Is there a grand message that the play is meant to get across?
Jaime Wright: The show is more about Lena- what happens after you’ve gotten everything you want.
Once you’ve been awarded, what happens next? Are we trapped in this achievement vortex? What are
we reaching for?
FW: What can the audience expect? Is this really too much Lena?
Jaime Wright: What can the audience expect? Not a plot. It is very much a pop-art satire of downtown
theatre tropes, mixed with language that is high-fellutant millennial.
Stephanie Levin: It depicts a millennial playground; millennial attitude. It is a Brooklyn inside joke.
Jaime Wright: A lot of things will be recognized.
FW: You play a Lena, but would you consider yourself a Lena?
Jaime Wright: I feel like it is called Too Many Lenas because we all could be Lena Dunham, but she is Lena Dunham. She just got there first, but now she is on the decline first. I was really into her, but I think she has lost a little bit of her charm. I used to think she was much more radical, but currently she is following the career of many before her- like a Nora Ephron.
FW: Lena Dunham is kind of notorious for her fashion choices- what was the thought process when choosing the wardrobe for the show?
Stephanie Levin: One thing about Girls in particular- it is purposefully made to look bad and ill-fitting. We are kind of pulling from there. Over the course of the play, the wardrobe is grouped into three moments. First is a Lena name shirt. It serves as a quick way to see that the characters are all one. It is a white shirt, black lettered Lena with a little personality given to each girl. Then, based off the episode of Girls in season 2 where Hannah does coke, I’ve put them in what the characters call “power clashing,” but in the typical Hannah 70’s muted palate of sages, mustards, cornflower blue, etc. Then we move into the fishnet mesh shirt. This is the most controversial, talked about pieces of clothing- no bra, nipples out mesh shirt. It announces the decline of Lena. The mesh shirt is a joke to all of us, but that was a time when people were either on board or not. We’re pushing that to be the point where we say, “Are we on board with Lena?”
FW: Where did you pull from?
Stephanie Levin: I made the yellow mesh shirts. I couldn’t find them. At least not anywhere I looked. We also pulled a lot from the girls closets. We laid everything out and picked. The power clashing outfits are very much the individuals. The Lena shirts were spray painted by me. It is a pantless show. There are so many moments that Lena herself does not wear pants, so it only seemed right. It harks back to the red carpet look where she didn’t wear pants. That is an homage to her.
FW: So, pulling from everyone’s own closets sort of reinforces that they are all Lena’s…
Stephanie Levin: Exactly. The Lena buried inside, the Lena they are uncovering.
Too Many Lenas 3: Let Them Eat Cake appears at Ars Nova this Thursday, June 12 at 7 p.m. Get tickets here.