nytheatre.com q&a preview by Jennifer McGrath
October 5, 2012
What is your job on this show?
When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I've always known that I wanted to work in the theater, for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my parents owned and operated a small regional theater so I was raised literally inside of a theater, surrounded by artists, and the theater has always been a part of my life. I've held nearly every job possible in the theater and it always felt like home to me. While my relationship with the theater and what I wanted to do with it has and probably always will continue to change, there is also a definite and clear constant that working in the performing arts is exactly where I am meant to be.
Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
I have always been drawn to live theater as opposed to film or tv because of the thrill and power of live performance. The excitement and energy that informs every second of live performance, by the simple fact that it is happening right there in front of you, in the now, with the potential for ANYTHING to happen is exhilarating. I also believe that you can reach your audience in even deeper ways by sharing the same space with them, breathing the same air they do, smelling the same scents they do, being in the same environment. Your work will have a direct relationship to the people in the room with you and they will inform and/or energize every moment in ways that are not possible in film or tv when the artist is removed from their audience. I have a tremendous respect for artists that can work in film and tv and deliver high quality work, but for me, the thrill of the shared energy, the human spirits connecting in the same space...that is what gives me a high and a desire to make live theater.
How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
I first met Darian in college at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. I stage managed the first solo show he wrote and performed and worked on several other solo shows of his, as a stage manager. I was always a huge fan of his work as both a writer and performer and hoped that we would have the opportunity to collaborate on something that I could direct. About a year and a half ago, we began work on a show that he wrote and performed in collaboration with his band, The Mighty Third Rail, entitled Death Boogie: A Hip Hop Poetry Musical. We performed the show all over New York and Pittsburgh and after a successful kickstarter fundraising campaign, we were able to take the show to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where we performed as part of Assembly Festival. I'm proud to say that we came home with two Musical Theatre Matter Awards for Best New Music and Best Innovation of a Musical and that not only did we meet incredible artists from around the world, but we were able to continue to grow and be inspired as collaborators with each other. The biggest question that people asked of us was, what will you be doing next? I was thrilled that Darian asked me to collaborate with him again on Obamatry and I hope that we continue to work together in the future.
Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Theater can absolutely bring about societal change. We see it happen all over the world throughout history from Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed to South Africa's anti-apartheid political plays and beyond. Theater has always played an instrumental role in helping to shape history as all art and artists have done since the beginning of time. Theater can move and inspire people in ways they never though possible. It can be educational, it can reveal the truth in ways that the news and media cannot. It can communicate and reach people regardless of their age, sex, race, gender, nationality, etc. Whenever a piece of art is able to touch someone in that place at the core of their soul that runs so deep, it unlocks the power that lies within that person and when that power is collected and applied for a cause, there is no stopping what it can do.