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The Glory of Living

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Ashley Kelly Tata
August 9, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Director.

What is your show about?
The Glory of Living follows the story of Lisa, a girl who leaves her trailer home and prostitute mother to join Clint, a man who loves her very much. The two take off on a joy-ride through the rural south of our not-too-distant-past, living in motel rooms, paid for with cash from minor theft. Their crimes turn from petty to depraved and we are confronted with a portrait of America that no one wants to call home: an America slipped-through-the-cracks of nameless victims and their equally nameless perpetrators.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
Theater that is exciting and terrifying. That requires higher expectations of myself, my collaborators and our audience than we are comfortable with. That makes you react: laugh, gasp, grin, pop-your-eyes-out, "oh-no-they-didn't"-exclaim. That makes you hyper-alert. Aesthetically: theater that combines multiple art forms for a total performative experience. That allows space for the audience member to be a participant, physically and/or mentally.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
As we increasingly become more connected to each other via screens, live performance and the collective sharing of an experience in time and space becomes increasingly necessary on a basic level. Theater serves a fundamental function in society in that it encourages community before, during and after a performance. It is a complement to the virtual communities we experience most of the day. Theater is a long-thought art-form. Like a symphony or a novel, it asks us to sit with and evolve in an idea or situation for longer than our hyper-linked culture is comfortable with. And live performance is fun. When the performer is "in-the-pocket" the audience feels a true connection to the moment-by-moment like watching a juggler, a well-played basketball game or virtuosic jazz solo. It creates the high of being "in time" together.

Do you think the audience will talk about your show for 5 minutes, an hour, or way into the wee hours of the night?
Our audiences are talking about this show way into the wee hours of the night. We have "repeat offenders". Folk who have come back to experience it multiple times (I'm not talking parents, here). It lingers. It may not create a fuzzy, warm feeling, or it may not make one smile while reminiscing, but it is making our audience think and they are reacting, emotionally and unpredictably.

Which character from a Shakespeare play would like your show the best: King Lear, Puck, Rosalind, or Lady Macbeth -- and why?
Rosalind and Lady M. It shows a woman acting in response to societal forces that are bigger than her. And she's not afraid to get bloody.

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
It already does but the point is moot. All of us working on this piece are active in creation rather than destruction. All those who attend the event must sit together and experience something rather than, say, kill each other. Whenever one is a witness to a human story being told they embrace a little bit more of humanity than they otherwise would. But theater shouldn't have to change society. That doesn't establish it's merit. It's a measurement that is impossible to take quantitatively. We tell stories. We imitate. We are human. We are fascinated by each other and our actions. We make theater.