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Two Lovely Black Eyes

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Aimee Todoroff
January 23, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Director.

What is your show about?
Chris Harcum returns with a stand-up and storytelling fueled solo show on feuds, gunslinging and what you get when you go up against the impossible.

Are there boundaries as to what kind of theatre you will take part in?
This is such an interesting question because I think most of our initial responses would be a resounding "No boundaries- we want to explore it all!" And my own work, both as an individual and with Elephant Run District, has pushed boundaries and form by creating site specific work, movement based theater, well-made plays as well as tackling classics, adaptations and new plays. I’ve done historical drama, and I’ve done Sci-fi. Elephant Run District specializes in creating work that inspires a dialogue- we want to get people talking to each other!- which means we can’t shy away from any subject matter. It’s not just an impulse with us. It’s imperative that we continue to fully explore any subject, any form, any genre or any techniques that could spark a conversation. So the flip side of that is that my boundary is- for lack of a better term- boring theater, what Peter Brook called Deadly Theater or what Chris Harcum (my partner) calls Children’s Theater for Adults. I’m willing to say yes to just about anything, but set a clear boundary at theater that is nice, inoffensive and has nothing to add to our collective dialogue.

Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
Another great question and one that I think we’ve all debated over various beverages at one time or another. I can only speak as a director, but I know that a person’s answer to this question will really effect the kind of theater that individual makes. A director that puts the playwright above all else will take a text based approach and make very intellectual theater. A director who worships the actor will create shows that are these emotionally wrought showcases of the actor’s power. A director who thinks the director is most important… well, we’ve all seen that show. So I’d like to submit a write in vote- the most important person in theater is always, always, always the audience.

Do you think the audience will talk about your show for 5 minutes, an hour, or way into the wee hours of the night?
It is always my hope that the audience will talk about every show ERD produces- it's in our mission statement! But I truly believe that "Two Lovely Black Eyes" will give audiences a lot to discuss. Without giving too much away, the show explores the consequences of America's gun culture in a way that is immensely personal, non-judgmental and invites reflection on what it means to trust. It's a big theme done on a small scale, with some humor thrown in, and we'll be around after the show to talk to people about their experiences with anyone who wants to share.

Which famous New Jerseyite would like your show the best: Snooki, Bruce Springsteen, Thomas Edison?
Cory Booker!

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Theater can absolutely bring about societal change! Theater is the collection of our human stories, it's how we communicate our values to each other, how we talk about what's really important. So creating or presenting theater that you think is important propels those ideas out into the world, it makes those ideas live in the audience. The people who saw your show will be changed, and that change does not dissipate when the lights come back up. Some change is more immediate than others- plays that champion a cause like "The Exonerated" have a direct path to change, while others are more subtle. But where would we be as a culture without "Angels in America," which let us discuss the HIV/AIDS crisis openly and with empathy? Our stories are our values, and live theater communicates our values in the most direct and powerful way I know.