nytheatre.com q&a preview by Frank Licato
September 25, 2012
What is your job on this show?
What type of theater do you like most to work on?
I like theatre that is intimate. Where the separation of viewer and artist is minimal and where ideas and character are front and center.
What are some of your previous theater credits? (Be specific! Name shows, etc.)
Frank Licato (Director) - Off-Broadway: Revival of Louis LaRusso’s “Lamppost Reunion”, Gino Diorio and Nancy Bleemer” s “Centennial Casting”, Rod Serling’s “Requiem For A Heavyweight” (Best Director, Off-Broadway Review), Sam Shepard’s “Seduced”, Cooper Square Workshop, “Sounds of a Better World Concert” at 92nd Street Y and the “Sexual Harassment Plays” at the Working Theatre. Off-Off Broadway: Steven Sater’s “Asylum”, “Tannhauser” at Ohio Theatre, Odet’s “Golden Boy” and “Rocket to the Moon” at Soho Rep, Robert Clem’s “Fever” NY Fringe Festival (Audience Choice Award), Gino Diorio’s “White Noise”, Oren Safdie’s “La Compagnie” at LaMama, “Columbus in the Age of Gold” by Paul Peditto, Kroetz’s “The Nest,” Shepard’s “Action” at the Raw Space, “The Tempest”, “Deep Dish” by Sean O”Donnell, Vincent Lamberti’s “Ghosts of Newstead Vault” and “The Necromancers” at 42nd Street Theaters. Regional: Benn Schulberg’s “On the Waterfront” at Hudson Theatre Works, “Grapes of Wrath” at Chatham Playhouse (Perry Award Winner for Director, Best Production), “Talk Radio” and “A View From the Bridge” at the Italian American Rep, “Noises Off” at Montclair State, Neil Labute’s “The Shape of Things” at Clark University, “The Late Christopher Bean” at Summit Playhouse, “Enigma Variations”, Pinter’s “Ashes to Ashes” and Brian Friel”s “Afterplay” at the Garage Theatre, Neil Labute’s “I Love This Game” (World Premiere) and “Fat Pig” 12 Miles West Theatre, “Gluttony & Sloth” at NJ Rep, Richard Vetere’s “Gangster Apparel” and “Rockaway Boulevard” at the Belmont Playhouse, “The Engagement” at the Hudson Theatre, Los Angeles, and “American Buffalo” at the Elyze Theater, Athens, Greece. Frank production of Jean Genet’s “The Balcony” is currently running at the Arclight Theatre in New York and his production of the New Jersey premiere of Deb Margolin’s “Imagining Madoff” is currently running at the Garage Theatre Group in New Jersey. Frank also teaches acting and can be reached at: www.franklicato.com.
In your own words, what do you think this show is about? What will audiences take away with them after seeing it?
Bastard. Thief. Prostitute, Soldier. Iconoclast. Homosexual. Anarchist. Vagabond. Prisoner. Novelist, Playwright. Poet. Contrasts. Contradictions. Power. Sexuality. The Base and the Profound. The Subjective and the Universal. Genet's extraordinary work, is a play that bites off history in 2,000-year cycles, not in passing headlines. The Balcony is a nightmarish world in which the clients of a revolution-torn country's bordello carry out sadomasochistic fantasies while outfitted with the paraphernalia of such archetypal leaders as a bishop, a general and a judge. A funhouse mirror in which revolutions come and go, and the insurgents, like the whorehouse's customers, often end up reflecting and emulating the regimes they despise. The oppressive machinery of the state survives as long as its imagery retains its erotic grip on the public's psyche. It would be a mistake to say that the play is strictly a political allegory, but like Genet, himself, contradiction abounds. It would be a mistake to miss the clear signs of current hyperbole seen in sections of the American political debate. It would be a mistake to ignore the “gunfire” of the Arab spring, the riots in London and the crowds that occupied the streets of our financial institutions. Just as it would be a mistake to ignore the ambiguities that Genet revels in and to forget his own camaraderie with the Black Panthers and Palestinian causes. For Genet the provocation for us comes in embracing these contradictions, staring at ourselves in the mirror and losing what little grip we actually have. It is a nihilistic world view in which we beg for transcendence in what we know we have lost. The challenge for us then is to find the beauty in an artist who refuses to ease our way toward that ultimate transformative act, death. Where what we are in that moment is all we are left with.
Theater is a necessary ingredient in democratic societies. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
Any form that fosters dialogue, self-reflection and complex thought...that encourages questions about the nature of who we are both as a society and as individuals and that tells us stories about the essence of what the moment is about is necessary.