Piper Plays: Smart Plays for Young Actors
nytheatre.com q&a preview by Marielle Duke
June 5, 2013
What is your job on this show?
What is your show about?
The Piper Plays Festival features 10 new one act plays that showcase smart roles for young actors.
What do you do when you’re not working on a play?
I somehow lucked out into a life where I am pretty constantly working on theater in some form. During the day, I work on developing theater residencies for kids from anywhere from three to twenty years old and bringing them into schools. So my work is a lot of playing games, making a fool of myself with kids (in the best way possible) and devising new theater pieces. I've also done a lot of work in the past few years working with and teaching theater artists and educators across the country ways to make theater more accessible for populations with Autism, both in schools and at the theater.
Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this spring that...?
Features a young girl getting a new super power? Features a contingency plan for a gerbil-zombie Apocalypse? But really, I think it's one of the few, if only, places for really promising young actors to get an opportunity to work on challenging pieces alongside adult actors. Having popped into a few of the other directors' rehearsals this year and having worked on the festival in the past, one of the neatest things about it is the bond that forms across the generations of theater artists. Actors that have been doing this for 10, 20 years end up mentoring (sometimes without even realizing it) these young actors who, for some, have never even been on a real stage before. It's amazing to watch and I think those relationships definitely come across in the performances.
Is there a particular moment in this show that you really love or look forward to? Without giving away surprises, what happens in that moment and why does it jazz you?
One of the pieces I am directing, "The Best Secret Santa Present Ever In The History Of Peckinpaw High School"by Ira Gammerman, centers around two best friends as they navigate school, growing up, and talking to girls. And, not to give anything away, there's a moment where their relationship shifts and the power completely changes.In this moment,one of the boys (Sammy, played by Ari Kotler) delivers a monologue that, in rehearsal, was one of the most vulnerable, honest, and heartbreaking moments I have ever witnessed from an actor. And I think each of these plays has that moment. A moment when a young actor takes such a risk, makes such a choice, that the audience will get realize just how rare and special a talent they are. These are young performers that just understand acting on an intrinsic level.
Which mythical character would like your show the best: Cyclops, Cupid, Paul Bunyan or the Easter Bunny?
Oh, the Easter Bunny would definitely love this show. Not only that, he'd probably try to jump onstage and join in on the adventure. These plays, while they all have intelligence and heart,never forget that they are a bit silly and a lot of fun.
If you had ten million dollars that you had to spend on theatrical endeavors, how would you use the money?
Part of that would of course be keeping this festival running over the next few years. Piper Theater Productions has truly provided a home to these young actors, both through this festival and their summer educational programming and I want to see that continue. Beyond that, I would set aside a large chunk to bring more theater programs into schools and group homes for individuals with disabilities and create funding for more theatrical outreach to this population. I think this is a population that benefits so immensely from seeing and participating in theater and yet is so often neglected from it and I want to see that change.