nytheatre.com q&a preview by Edward Elefterion
October 12, 2012
What is your job on this show?
Playwright and Director.
What type of theater do you like most to work on?
Theatre that scares me…a two-part answer, I know. Allow me… Part One: It Must Celebrate Theatre. What we used to call “kitchen sink naturalism” or domestic dramas, hold no appeal for me. Or if the only thing that makes it a “play” is that it’s performed live? Huh uh. No, thanks. I need rich imaginative language, events (actual actions, not just talk about actions), and an invitation to play, that is, an invitation from the work of art to the artists AND to the audience who must collaborate through an imaginative leap and share an experience. Sorry if it’s heady stuff but…you asked. Part Two: Something About It Must Scare Me. Scare like…“Don’t go into that barn,” yes…but more often like “How the hell can I express that?” and “Do I really want to express that…in public?” and “There’s a feeling I’m feeling and it’s kind of good and kind of bad…why is that?”
Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this fall that...?
Shows August Strindberg as more than a misogynist madman and dares to have fun with him…not poke fun at him.
Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
I love August Strindberg. I love his work, his inquisitive nature, rigorous methods, magical spirit…his wild eccentricities, his willingness to explore and truly understand himself (at any cost)…his visionary gusto to go beyond traditional forms of expression and create his own artistic laws (he pioneered forms later leveraged by the Expressionists, Surrealists, Dadaists, Modernists, Post-Modernists…he created the idea of montage before film was even invented). “Genius” is too small a word. And for those who think he was a misogynist I offer this: When he was starting out, Scandinavia was obsessed with the “Woman Question” and he wrote a manifesto advocating equal rights to education, jobs, votes, money and sexual promiscuity. So far reaching was his idea of feminist emancipation that it backlashed, seeming more like an abuse, and earned him hostility from feminists (lead by the Queen of Sweden) who flat out disagreed with the radical changes Strindberg proposed and prosecuted him for blasphemy. Research it yourself. I recommend the wonderful book “Strindberg, a Life” by Sue Prideaux.
Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Groucho, of course. Where do you think he got the idea of the mustache? All kidding aside, I’d say Harpo. Harpo’s spirit was one of innocence, magic, wonder, irreverence, and rambunctious open-heartedness. Our production aspires to those qualities.
If you had ten million dollars that you had to spend on theatrical endeavors, how would you use the money?
Sheesh…for ten million I’d build a small theatre near a beautiful, rural, art-loving, theatre-going community, buy a farmhouse with lots of rooms to house my favorite actor-collaborators, (PAY them), and develop new work until I died or stopped learning. We’d run a café in the lobby and have a gallery next door. It’d be a little community progressing in our own small way for our own small audience…earning a living from what we love to do. And growing.