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Aesop’s Fables

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Jeremy Williams
February 1, 2013

What is your job on this show?
director/choreographer.

What is your show about?
A play within a play as producers Mr. Tortoise and Ms. Hare audition actors who lean some important lessons while playing their roles - we’re not crying wolf!

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I grew up watching original plays and musicals at the Arkansas Arts Center Children's Theatre. The company had a fantastic sense of theatricality that really got me excited about working in theatre. I started my training there, learning how to create original work through physical performance, in middle school and started working with the company when I was in high school. I loved how collaborative and imaginative it was and I knew that my life would be in the theatre.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
It's live and visceral. It's about direct communication and thought-provoking entertainment. I also believe it's a great way to relate to an experience outside of ourselves. Also the applause. It's much more gratifying than a "like" button on social media.

How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
Playwright Kathy Ferman Menino and I met at the Arkansas Arts Center in 1994. We've collaborated in many ways since then but I love directing her plays for young audiences. She has this amazing humor that really comes across to audiences of all ages. She's also a fantastic storyteller. She creates characters that learn from their experiences and have a great time in the process. It's rare and a blast to stage. The actors and I always have a wonderful time bringing her plays to life. This is the 7th of Kathy's shows I've directed/choreographed for Phoenix Theatre Ensemble and we have a great team. Ellen Mandel is the composer and we have a great relationship that combines the dance/physical story elements of the show with amazing original music. This production also has several actors that I've worked with on previous PTE shows including Erin Duer, Nicole Spanno, and Richard Pearsons. These performers are great and delight audiences like nobody's business. We'll have a couple of new folks on the team this year and I'm thrilled to be adding them to our ever-growing Phoenix for the Family "family".

Which cartoon character would you identify your show with: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Marge Simpson?
Daffy Duck- he's totally wacky and always needs to listen to learn his lessons! But what a fun time he has in the process!

How important is diversity to you in the theater you see/make?
Diversity is both important and a very interesting topic to me as a maker and as an audience member. I like to see and make theatre that is essentially diverse at it's core: diverse thoughts, perspectives, views, styles genres, ages and physical make-up of performers, ways of producing and presenting, setting. I think diversity really defines what makes good work. Theatre has a natural tension - there's a conflict - and being diverse lets us experience conflict fully and from many vantage points. I LOVE that about the theatre! And I think if we work hard at making our work more diverse we will be able to impact diverse audiences. It's a question we have to keep working with.