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Heathcliff's Back

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Heathcliff the Clown
July 1, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Performer.

What is your show about?
(I just used the copy and paste function from the press release. I'm old and I hope you don't mind.) Heathcliff the clown and his tiny accompanist Wanda are taking New York by storm with their particular interpretation of the ridiculous. No balloons. No face paint. Unplanned bathroom breaks.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
In the early 1940s I discovered I had rhythm! This was news to me since I was essentially a baby. Once my motor and brain functions had refined themselves a bit, I began to tap dance and sing for whomever would listen. I met my accompanist and best friend Wanda soon thereafter, and we just loved performing for people. It was pure joy. Still is, but now there's pain, too. Physical, not emotional. Can I edit that last part out? '

Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
This is a trick question. The audience is the most important, of course! Without them, we artists would be stuck in some hellish redundancy vacuum.

Do you think the audience will talk about your show for 5 minutes, an hour, or way into the wee hours of the night?
I think audience members will probably talk about Heathcliff's Back for an hour AND five minutes, but hopefully not into the wee hours of the night because sleep is important. The show is from 7:30 to 8:30pm, so they could talk about my show from 8:30 to 9:35pm and still be home for bedtime. That was just an example.

Which character from a Shakespeare play would like your show the best: King Lear, Puck, Rosalind, or Lady Macbeth -- and why?
I thought about this question for awhile before I remembered I was late for a Swedish massage appointment, so I went to that and now I'm back. I would never invite a fictional character to one of my shows because frankly, they just don't show up. Hedda Gabler, Willy Loman, and the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park have all been great personal disappointments. I'm hungry.

How important is diversity to you in the theater you see/make?
Well, I'm a self-described "sexy senior citizen" with a tiny emerald-green paraplegic accompanist. I'm not sure how much more diverse you could get, although Wanda (my accompanist) has been keen on adding a singing monkey into the act. Oh--sorry, she was referring to me. Wanda, that's rude.