nytheatre.com q&a preview by Gary Giovannetti
September 26, 2012
What is your job on this show?
Where were you born? Where were you raised? Where did you go to school?
I was born in Portchester, New York at a hospital that is apparently not there any more. I guess after bringing me into the world they thought, "What's the use?" I was raised out in Brentwood, Long Island, though. It's a very blue-collar town. What did I do in Brentwood? Spent a lot of time hanging out with friends in various parking lots talking about how badly we wanted to leave Brentwood. I went to school at Syracuse University. Great place. Loved my experience there. It opened my eyes to so many things. Oh, and it also taught me that I only thought I knew cold before. You don't really know cold until you've lived in Syracuse.
Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this fall that...?
...has this particular creative team behind it. And that makes it worth seeing. Seriously, the people working on this show are awe-inspiring. Elysa Marden is an incredibly accomplished director and she has worked on this show at every stage of its developmental process. She works miracles at every rehearsal. The cast is wonderful: Tom Berdik, Lidia Ornero, Jonathan Weber, Cecily Benjamin Hughes, and Stephen Girasuolo. And then there's Lori Faiella and CK Allen, who have been with this show since its first reading about five years ago. Not to mention the folks working on lighting, sets, house management, sound, projections,etc. All of them are hyper-competent. At our first production meeting, as we went around the room and everyone explained what their jobs were and how they were going to execute their ideas for the show, I felt like I was in "Ocean's Eleven". Very lucky to have this talented crew bring my script to life. And, finally, if Cecily Benjamin Hughes as Amy doesn't make you laugh then I fear for the darkness that envelops your soul.
In your own words, what do you think this show is about? What will audiences take away with them after seeing it?
This show is, ultimately, about connecting with other people. The main character, Greg, is afraid to embrace a larger world. He magnifies his fears and thus diminishes his life. When he finally makes a choice to open that door to the larger world and step through it, it is by no means a smooth ride or a journey filled only with happiness. But he has finally taken the first steps towards a life that is actually worth living. I want audiences to walk out of Tarragona thinking, "I'm going to take that dance class" or "I am going to ask her to marry me" or "I am going to volunteer in my community" or simply "I'm going to introduce myself to my neighbor across the hall tonight". I want people to fear the interconnectedness of everything just a little less.
Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
Sexy. I don't want to objectify the cast of Tarragona, but they're all great-looking. So if you come to see the show, you are going to see some seriously sexy people. As a matter of fact, when I show up at rehearsal, they ask me to wear a George Clooney mask. Just so I don't bring down the Sexiness Quotient of the room too badly. Which is humiliating, but not as humiliating as when my wife makes me wear it at home.
Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Theater can most definitely bring about societal change! Every play I've written I've hoped would impact the people who saw it, even if the message was something as simple as "be nicer to each other". The most important right to me, as an American, is our right to free speech. To exercise that right in the form of writing theater is one of the great joys of my life. To entertain an audience while at the same time changing the way they look at the world...I can't think of a higher calling or a more dramatic challenge for the playwright.