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Alligator Summer

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Dylan Lamb
May 29, 2013

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

What is your show about?
Closeted prepubescent Antietam Julep finds himself confined to the sweltering attic of a yam plantation alongside his family and neighbors after a legion of alligators overtake their Louisiana town.

Are there boundaries as to what kind of theatre you will take part in?
I think my safety-word would be "Performance Art", but otherwise I'm pretty open to experimentation. I strongly believe that what you're doing has to ultimately be for the audience's benefit. Occasional alienation is cool, so long as it's on purpose and ultimately well-meaning. To me, there's nothing like a play where you don't feel the back of your seat, and that type of storytelling is very inclusive, almost Vaudevillian in its desire to entertain. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've definitely sat in the park and watched a guy talk to-himself-for-himself for like an hour straight before and had a perfectly great time, but he didn't charge me admission nor think he was a total genius during the unnecessary talkback symposium afterwards or whatever. Not saying that's what all performance art is, just what mine would be. I would be a very pretentious homeless man.

Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this spring that...?
...makes multiple Civil War references whilst discussing sexual intercourse.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
I have always been a fanboy of Southern Gothic writing: I love how poetic and inarticulate all of the characters are. Even in this show, the characters' central conflicts are very internal, very secretive. I guess I found it funny to surround all of that very serious emotional strife with a couple hundred literal alligators, add a bunch of whiskey, and see who ends up alive.

Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Let's start by getting rid of Zeppo, because no one would ever pick Zeppo, ever. Zeppo wouldn't even pick Zeppo. Zeppo is like those two other girls that used to be in Destiny's Child for like a minute, except when he left you didn't even need to Michelle Williams him with anybody. I'll bet Zeppo would have sold great insurance or something, had he only been switched at birth and saved himself the embarrassment. Poor guy. Short answer is Groucho: I think I spoke in his voice as much as my own as a kid. I was him for Halloween each year for most of elementary school. I remember explaining who he was to all the girls I liked: after which they all totally obviously made out with me lots of times... I even owned my own grease-stick to do his mustache and eyebrows, and if you didn't take it off with Vaseline you'd find yourself explaining who Al Jolson was to all the girls you liked, which took a little more finessing.

Who are your heroes?
I am one of those lucky ones who gets to say "my parents": two hilarious, generous, lovely human beings who've taught me all their dance moves. Even when I was a total Zeppo, they treated me like a Groucho.