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The Exonerated

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Lenny Banovez
June 3, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Director.

What is your show about?
A play about innocent people who spent years on Death Row.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
Im open to anything really. It just has to be a good story. I direct a lot of Shakespeare, and I would say it is my favorite to do. But I am always drawn to any play/musical/performance piece that is trying to tell a story clearly and with the intent to move the audience. A lot of theater today is about spectacle or shock value or a gimmick....not about storytelling. I love big sets and new innovative ideas....IF they help tell the story. You can't patch up holes in art with $100 bills. Thats why THE EXONERATED was I project I wanted to do. You can't hide behind production value. It's a real story about real people. 10 chairs and 10 strong actors. I'll take that over a fancy set any day.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
This is why. "Every now and then, when you're on stage, you hear the best sound a player can hear. It's a sound you can't get in movies or in television. It is the sound of a wonderful, deep silence that means you've hit them where they live." - Shelley Winters.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
It's an extremely important play. Much like THE LARAMIE PROJECT. These people's stories need to be told and they need to be heard so that change can happen. Theater can change the world. Even if it's in a tiny theater in Queens. Enough tiny theaters doing important work...can change the world.

Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
Smart.

If you had ten million dollars that you had to spend on theatrical endeavors, how would you use the money?
I would use that 10 million to show the world you don't need 10 million to tell a story. I would use it to sustain a theater company and support artists for an insane number of years. 10 million can give you one fluff broadway musical...or it can give you 100 amazing, well told stories. Play...musical...whatever. Pay the actors to tell the story...don't let the set do it :)