nytheatre.com q&a preview by Mark Stetson
June 18, 2013
What is your job on this show?
co-writer, producer, actor.
What is your show about?
A Solo Show depicting Mark Stetson’s journey to uncover the origin of his cosmic luck, which is so bad it has it’s own name: getting “Stetson’d”.
When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
When I was 3 I watched my older brothers and their best friend making SNL-type sketches with their video camera and first thought, "What's a video camera?" Then thought, "If people can have THAT much fun creating funny things, that's ALL I want to do."
Are audiences in New York City different from audiences in other cities/countries where you’ve performed? If so, how?
NYC audiences are the toughest of any I have performed for. It's less that they need to be impressed but more that they've already seen everything. Or, at least, they believe that they have. Which is why I love performing for them! You have to earn their attention. But once you have them on your side, they're with you and want to go on the journey with you. They respect the artist that commits to their art. NY audiences not going to buy it unless you buy into it first. If you aren't 100% committed to the piece you are putting in front of them then you are disrespecting the time and money they are spending to watch you do it. And, trust me, they'll let you know it!
Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
Although Stetson'd is my personal story, it's ultimately a love letter and homage to my father. I had always wanted to do a Solo Show. Devin Delliquanti and I had been writing and collaborating together since we were in 13. Every year or so since college we would work on at least one big project together. When my father passed away in 2011, Devin had the idea of putting all of the emotion that I was feeling around my father's death into a Solo show. We decided it was perfect project to finally tell the story of my cosmic bad luck. It has been the most transformative project I have ever worked on and it never would have happened if Devin hadn't pushed me to do it. It's the best thing we've ever collaborated on and I'm honored that the Midtown International Theater Festival felt it was good enough to be part of the festival.
Which cartoon character would you identify your show with: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Marge Simpson?
Daffy Duck, for sure! Daffy is always getting "Stetson'd". All you have to do it watch "Duck Amuck" (1953) where no matter what he tries to do, the world just keeps changing and shifting around him to create the most comical and ridiculous outcomes for him. Leaving him out of breath, banged up, and scrambling to keep up. That's exactly what get "Stetson'd" is. It is the world seeming to conspire against you no matter how hard you try avoid it or how detachable your beak may be.
Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Without a doubt! Looking strictly from a historical perspective: Shakespeare changed the way people watch and consume theater; Brecht questioned and threatened societal constructs; Artaud forced people to deal with real emotions and be truly affected by art they were seeing as opposed to using it as an escape from their "real life." Theater has an unmatched ability to keep people's attention about topics they would normally not want to deal with. Personal issues, societal issues, political issues whatever. If the play is good, people will watch. They will listen. They will allow the messages of the play to enter their brain and heart where they will actually process it in a less biased way. I've seen people with stubborn political or racist points of view come out of a play with a brand new perspective. Theater has the ability to level the playing field. It has the potential to move people. It has the power to facilitate great change.