All Hail Hurricane Gordo
nytheatre.com q&a preview by Marielle Duke
January 9, 2013
What is your job on this show?
What is your show about?
Nearly 12 years after being abandoned by their parents, Gordo and Chaz have found their own warped sense of normalcy but, when they begin to lease out their parent’s bedroom to a young woman named India, they are forced to question their lives and just what choices they really are making.
When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I have been drawn to theater since I was really young. I was an avid reader and would picture the stories I was reading in my head and then try to get my friends to recreate them. I would give them notes (I carried a notebook with me everywhere. I was, and still am, a huge dork!) and we would try the stories again. I loved the idea of bringing these characters to life for others in the way I had come to understand and appreciate them. Even before I knew what directing was, I was trying to be a director! Up until college, I was strictly in theater programs that focused on acting so I would find ways around it to get to keep learning. In middle school, I would audition and request to be a chorus member so that I could “see the whole process of creating a show.” I was lucky and the regional youth theater I was at didn’t find this odd, or fight me on it, they let me help out in other ways. When I got to high school, I was able to assist the directors, working backstage on directing, designs, and stage management. When I got to college, I was able to focus more on directing both educationally and professionally.
Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this winter that...?
…that is trying to challenge/excite/touch audiences not just theatrically, but socially. A big part of our mission as a company is to raise awareness about Autism and by bringing a character that may or may not have Autism (he is undiagnosed for reasons I don’t want to give away!) to the stage, we are sharing a voice with audiences that doesn’t often get heard. We work with a lot of students in our residencies who don’t think they have a place in theater because they are nonverbal or can’t make eye contact or empathize, so this season we are showcasing a character with a voice much like theirs as our way of giving back.
How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
Every actor in this show and I have a history together, which I am incredibly grateful for. Gabby Sherba and I have worked together on numerous projects, but more than that she serves as the Associate Artistic Director of Adaptive. Because she cares about the work and understands our mission so deeply, she is fully present and passionate during each project in a way that is rare for artists, which I think is evident watching her. She is an actress who I actively find projects for, only so we get to keep collaborating and I get to keep her in NY. Alex and I went to college together, so we have grown up alongside each other as artists. We know each other’s strengths and how to find good in each other. John Greenleaf has been a role model to me. I have watched him perform and worked alongside him with Boomerang Theater Company for years and have been hunting for a project for us to join forces on. And Brandon, Brandon jumped into a project of ours earlier this season that involved a super hero boy with Asperger’s named Squirrel Man, written by a 12 year old we were mentoring. Anyone who jumps onto a project like that with no abandon, and is able to leave as lasting an impression from a reading as Brandon did, that’s an actor I want to keep working with.
Which cartoon character would you identify your show with: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Marge Simpson?
I think our show is closest to Daffy Duck. It’s goofy and passionate and makes huge choices and sometimes, for the characters, those are huge missteps, but they keep going. They are fighting for things that are at times illogical and at times the most logical things in the world.
Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
I have to believe so. That is a huge part of why we founded Adaptive and why we chose this show. I think theater can challenge and start conversations. I think theater can open up new doors for different types of audiences and artists who may not have been a part of theater ever before. I teach theater to children and adults with and without special needs for a living. I lecture around the country on making theater more accessible for populations with disabilities and talk on panels about how to create change in our theaters. I think theater, probably more than any other medium, has the power to bring about change if we are willing to take some risks and fight a bit.