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BOB: Blessed Be The Dysfunction That Binds

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Anne Pasquale
August 21, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Playwright/Performer.

What is your show about?
BOB is a family story of sanity, insanity and United States healthcare, showing us that when one person has mental illness the whole family has special needs.

Are there boundaries as to what kind of theatre you will take part in?
I'm a very practical and resourceful person. I'm careful to select pieces that either teach, provoke thought, and/or make a difference. If a work doesn't do one of these things it won't pique my interest and I won't give it very much attention. It's not so much a matter of boundaries as it is, "What do I have time for?" I want to spend my time wisely. I have the most fun working and writing and creating with those populations who need theater the most: NY City school children, young actors, the elderly, and the disabled. I always have time for theater that serves.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
As a writer and performer I love the roller-coaster ride of live theater! It's a thrill and a challenge to partner with an audience with one's original work. Their responses are like a huge truth-o-meter. It's a high-wire act: when you hit it right, the temperature rises, the air becomes electric, and you're in love - dancing together in an imaginary world - partnering to see and tell the story together. Performing on film could never replicate that experience.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
Some projects pick you - you don't pick them. Since BOB is autobiographical, I've been writing it my whole life. And when I finally had enough perspective and knew what I wanted to say, I realized I was the only one who could write it, perform it and produce it. It's one family's story of living with mental illness, from diagnosis to success. I wanted to make sure people saw it as I saw it - and laughed along the way. It was too personal - too universal - to hand over to anyone else in the first telling.

Which famous person would you most like to get a fan letter from: Denzel Washington, Maggie Smith, Ang Lee, Audra McDonald?
Denzel! He's one of my favorite storytellers - on and off screen. The way he sees the room, the other actors, the events, what's at stake and allows us to see all those things through his work - is amazing. It would be a true honor if he felt that BOB was successful in telling the story.

Who are your heroes?
Nellie Bly, Anna Deavere Smith and Liz Swados. These women are great, resourceful female storytellers who passionately and physically transformed themselves to report on current events and create change. All three are theatrical eclectic chameleons. And all of them have had the courage to champion the social issues dearest to my heart - from runaways to the mentally ill of Blackwell's Island, to the racial riots of Los Angeles. I strive to follow in their footsteps, telling universal truths through a personal point of view.