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American Gun Show

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Chris Harcum
July 10, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Playwright and performer.

What is your show about?
A stand-up and storytelling fueled solo show on the gun culture in America. It has been rebooted and refitted for use in Edinburgh this summer.

What do you do when you’re not working on a play?
Building the next play using whatever spare parts I find in my psyche. Doing what I can to grow my company, Elephant Run District. Working my Clark Kent job. Trying to keep New York a place for artists as Managing Director for the League of Independent Theater. Going to see work done by colleagues. Hitting the gym 4 to 6 times a week and not being happy enough with the results. Taking long walks in a great city. Drinking green tea because I gave up coffee. Hemorrhaging time on social media. Figuring out what to eat now that I'm a non-meat eater. Spending time with my partner in life and art, Aimee Todoroff.

Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
I think the critic; the marketing person; the production manager; the costume, set and lighting designers; and the producer should be added to this question. The people doing those jobs often are the ones who make or break a project. Ultimately, my answer is the fan. That audience member who out of his or her own volition tells other people to go see a show. Not because they know anybody in it or will get anything out of the transaction but because they had an experience they feel others should have.

Is there a particular moment in this show that you really love or look forward to? Without giving away surprises, what happens in that moment and why does it jazz you?
As a solo performer, I'm working on galvanizing the audience early in the show and keeping their collective energy alive throughout the show. With this piece, I feel successful in that. It's an intangible thing but it's like the difference between having the radio station tuned in or not. But I most enjoy having the conversations with audience members after the show. This is a show that elicits personal reflections from people because something opened up for them during the performance.

Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Groucho in the early films. Harpo in the latter ones. Groucho said Zeppo was the funniest of the bunch off screen, which is tragic. I like silent film clowns when they're older. Charlie Chaplin had a gravity towards the end of his silent days and there's something more profound about his energy, especially when his was doing something simple.

Why are theater festivals so very important?
The cross-pollination of artists. Getting to see something out of the ordinary. The castle-in-the-sand effect of building something and having it go away quickly. Oh, and the rent is too damn high.