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Crazytown: My First Psychopath

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Jude TrederWolff
April 19, 2013

What is your job on this show?
writer/performer.

What is your show about?
A comic take - and true story - about how an encounter with a psychopath helps an over-eager therapist get over herself...when nothing else seems to be working.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
Maybe it's my slavish, midwestern Catholic background - especially the fact that I was named for St. Jude, patron saint of hopeless situations -but I am most satisfied by working on projects that seem impossible to pull off: original material that is both hilarious and deals with serious struggles we all face in life. With original songs. And characters. Writing all my own material always seems impossible to do well - and by "well" I mean funny, interesting and meaningful to an audience - but I absolutely love the experience of performing my own material. Because when it works, when audiences connect in that way that cannot be faked, there is nothing quite as satisfying.

Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this spring that...?
1) Was inspired by a psychopath-(NOTE: No psychopaths were hurt or exploited in the creation of this show) 2) Is 55% funnier than any other show with "psychopath" in the title, according to research studies I just made up. 3) Is a low-carb, gluten-free, free-range comedy treat! 4) Features an important life lesson about psychopaths: that spotting one is the "Where's Waldo" of real life. And that most psychopaths would never be caught in that striped shirt. 5)Features a nicotine-addicted nun. Who is completely fictional. (She made us say that).

How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
My musical director, Wells Hanley, co-wrote all the songs in the show and contributed a song of his own from his CD "Camels Are Coming," is an amazing musician, composer and collaborator. I met him when he filled in for my former musical director who was unable to play for some shows I was doing at Danny's Skylight Room in 2002. What makes him a fantastic collaborator is his epic ability to listen. He is one of the best listeners I have ever met. Improvisation is rooted in listening - and out of our improvisations we have produced some pretty great songs. I also received excellent collaborative coaching from the storyteller's storyteller Kevin Allison, who I met by taking his classes and workshops.

Which mythical character would like your show the best: Cyclops, Cupid, Paul Bunyan or the Easter Bunny?
The Easter Bunny is mythical???? Excuse me while I try to take that in...

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
I do believe that theater is a force for social change. Through theater we can talk about social problems and see them through the eyes of people we need to understand, whose lives intersect with ours in various and often not-obvious ways, but we may not have experience with in daily life. Theater and movies changed my thinking enormously when I was a kid growiing up in a very small town in Wisconsin that primarily consisted of churches, bars and car dealerships. It was a white, Christian world. What we thought of as diversity was whether a person was Catholic, Lutheran or Methodist. You came from a Ford family or a General Motors family. Reading and performing Shakespeare in high school was an enormous influence on my thinking about bigotry (Romeo & Juliet, Merchant of Venice are just two of many plays that deal with this) the effects of war and struggles for power that we could relate to real-time events in the world. Plays and movies showed me the emotional and psychological impact of racism, anti-Semitism, family violence, and other social problems in the lives of people I did not meet until I went to college. Because theater engages emotions while telling a story, it has the potential to raise consciousness and share information. And all change begins in our thinking. So even a small shift in thinking that might occur through seeing a show can make a difference.