Blood on the Veil
nytheatre.com q&a preview by Carol Tandava Henning
October 1, 2012
What is your job on this show?
Do you consider yourself a writer who also performs, an actor who also writes, or something else?
Although currently my focus is bellydance, I am also an actor, writer, director, improviser and have even done stand-up comedy. It is as though this strange and unique blend of interests led me purposefully to create this show, as each aspect is used throughout the performance.
If you are performing in the piece you wrote, do you think another actor could also play this role?
Although the story is a very personal one -- about my journey into bellydance and the healing and transformative effect the art and community have had on my life -- I would like to think it could be performed by another actor/dancer, especially since it contains a message that resonates powerfully with other dancers. As one colleague wrote: "It is her story, but it is OUR story."
Do you think the audience will talk about your show for 5 minutes, an hour, or way into the wee hours of the night?
I have been told audiences have talked about my show into the wee hours, and for days and weeks and months after seeing it. Many dancers have felt renewed inspiration for the dance, and both men and women have taken up a hipscarf for the first time and shaken their hips in bellydance classes. Many have also found a new understanding and appreciation for the depth and richness of the dance, and for the divine feminine it expresses.
Which famous solo performer has been most inspirational to you: Spalding Gray, John Leguizamo, Lily Tomlin, or Whoopi Goldberg?
Although I adore all four -- Whoopi Goldberg's courage, Lily Tomlin's versatility and John Leguizamo's endlessly entertaining physicality -- my favorite is Spalding Gray. Even sitting at a desk, he narrates dramas into vivid life with breathtaking skill. And then he adds to it the most insightful philosophical, ethical, social, cultural, ethical, personal observations creating a rich, satisfying theatrical feast (and did I mention I like Spalding Gray?). Anyway... yeah, that is the bar I'm reaching for....
Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
The highest calling of theater is to bring about societal change -- whether through grand social critiques by Miller or Ibsen, or through intensely complex personal studies by Williams or Albee -- theater at its best shows us who we are and what we might become, for good or bad. It broadens our perspective and digs a humanizing channel through which understanding and empathy can flow. And understanding and empathy are the most powerful motivators for social change.