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CHAIN REACTION

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Chrysta Naron
July 24, 2012

What is your job on this show?
Director.

Are there boundaries as to what kind of theatre you will take part in?
I don't do plays I don't believe in. I have to read the script and know that this is something I can throw myself into. If I'm giving up sleep, food that doesn't come out of a vending machine and regularly scheduled episodes of Glee, then it had better be a damn good project. So my boundaries are crappy plays.

If you're a New Yorker: why is FringeNYC an important part of the summer theater scene?
It's not just important to the summer theater scene, it's important to the theater of New York as a whole. This is one of the few chances left in this city to do some truly bizarre, innovative, mind-blowing stuff and actually SELL tickets. So much of what I see in New York is rehashed stuff, "strange" without a purpose, adaptations, and just plain bad. Bad writing, acting, directing, designing. It's hard enough as it is to get all of those elements right, but when ticket sales and Ben Brantley is what you care about most, it's damn near impossible. Don't get me wrong, I've seen bad plays in the Fringe too. (You can't be right 100% of the time.) But some of the craziest and best stuff I've seen has also been at the Fringe. I think part of that is the fact that these plays come from all across the world, not just 6 kids in Astoria trying to cast themselves in their favorite roles.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
The playwright, Jonathan Alexandratos, and I have worked together for over 3 years now on many plays. We co-founded Playsmiths (along with Ann Farthing and Michael Selkirk), which is a non-profit playwrighting group. Jonathan brought me CHAIN REACTION in it's earliest stages and I knew it was something stellar. I was fortunate enough to see multiple drafts and it dug its hooks in me more and more each time. Working with Jonathan's plays is such a dream for a director like me. His plays contain great emotion and humor with elements of the surreal and absurd. They challenge me, the actors, the designers, and the audience. I've never done a show with Jonathan that didn't exhaust and exhilarate me at the same time.

Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Groucho, because none of actors can stop quoting him during rehearsals. I guess it's hard to quote Harpo though, isn't it?

Can theatre bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Here's where I'm pretentious and quote Artaud. "I am not one of those who believes that civilization has to change in order for the theatre to change; but I do believe that the theatre, utilized in the highest and most difficult sense possible, has the power to influence the aspect & formation of things." In other words- this play's gonna knock your socks off.