The ABC's Guide To Getting Famous
nytheatre.com q&a preview by Kat Yen
October 12, 2012
What is your job on this show?
I am the director and I also developed this play with the playwright..
What type of theater do you like most to work on?
I’m addicted to working on new plays. There is something amazing about being a part of the process from the very beginning, often from when the play was just an idea being formed. Changes are always made the first time a play is worked on as we all learn more about it from each other and it is incredibly exciting to be part of that. Working on new plays has also allowed me to really trust my instincts and focus completely on the project as it exists before me since there are no previous productions to compare it to. It’s kind of terrifying, but in that awesome spine tingling I can’t believe I get to do this way you know?
Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
I think all three are equally important in the ideal creative process. I’ve been lucky enough to work with unbelievably talented, generous artists who understand the value of true trust and collaboration. The experiences I’ve had working with them time and time again has shown me without a doubt that that’s the way to go. I fully believe no matter what your role is an outside eye can help you see things clearer.
How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
I met Ming in college - the first project we worked on was Blasted by Sarah Kane. It was the first play that I produced and directed and she played Cate. We continued to collaborate with each other and started Spookfish after we graduated. All the actors we interviewed were actors that we have worked with before or had met through Pornography for the People, the last play we did and one of the first plays I directed with a large Asian American cast. That play was what really started my journey into this one - it affected me in more ways than I had expected and raised my awareness of the issues addressed in The ABC’s Guide to Getting Famous.
Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
I’d like to think “surprising” cause that’s how I felt about this whole process. This started out as a completely different play than we thought it would be, as Ming has described. Outside of that though, despite knowing about the lack of opportunities for Asian Americans in the entertainment industry, I was still constantly surprised by the stories we heard in the interviews. We heard some unbelievable ones, indescribable actually – to try would be taking away from them. It hit me harder than ever how widespread and severe the issue is and how important it is to keep the conversation going.
If you had ten million dollars that you had to spend on theatrical endeavors, how would you use the money?
This might sound be a bit naïve but if that should ever happen I would like to have and provide other artists, as many as possible, with the freedom to create the highest quality plays they can dream up. Projects in which all major artistic decisions are made to achieve the best quality work possible as opposed to being based on monetary concerns and the most marketability. We’re all pretty much in the same situation right now - lack of money and having to make more decisions than we’d like based on that. But if $10 million dropped into my lap, I would use it to try to encourage people to feel more comfortable taking bigger risks on new plays with original subjects and new artists that aren’t tried and true. Hopefully easing the financial burden for some companies would allow more investment for new work. The more we encourage and invest in new work and artists the more we’ll discover and create truly beautiful original plays. I realize $10 million isn’t enough to makeover the industry by any means but maybe if enough people tried something new from that money, it would make a ripple effect. Who knows? It’s hypothetical. But that’s what I’d try to do with it.