nytheatre.com q&a preview by Michael Thomas Walker
September 21, 2012
What is your job on this show?
Playwright and Actor.
Where were you born? Where were you raised? Where did you go to school?
I was born in Huntsville AL, and Huntsville plays a big part in my show. Many people have this image of the South in their minds: it's either "Gone With the Wind" or "Honey Boo Boo". And I it was very important to me that people understand how special my hometown is. I grew up next door to a former Nazi scientist and the on the other side was a Jewish family. Across the street were crazy, racist rednecks. It's a melting pot in Huntsville for sure. I went to school at the University of Alabama-ROLL TIDE!!
If this is your first appearance in United Solo -- why did you want to be part of this festival?
I wanted to be a part of the United Solo Festival because I knew they would get me. United Solo is multicultural; they encourage people from all over the US and internationally to come a perform. And I figured their audiences would be open to hearing my story about Alabama.
In your own words, what do you think this show is about? What will audiences take away with them after seeing it?
The show is about my journey to find out who my father was. I knew nothing about his life before my birth and he had many secrets while I was alive as well. My father's struggle with polio and addiction is also explored. It is about a son trying coming to terms with the fact: "If I didn't know my father, how do I know myself?" I think audiences will take away a new understanding of what it means to be Southern, an education about polio, and the belief that closure can be found in the strangest of places.
Which famous solo performer has been most inspirational to you: Spalding Gray, John Leguizamo, Lily Tomlin, or Whoopi Goldberg?
John Leguizamo for sure has been a HUGE influence on me. The characters that he created in "Mambo Mouth" and the ease and skill with which performs them was mind blowing. And of course, his tackling of the father/son relationship in "Freak" and "Ghetto Klown" really helped me understand how my story can be shared in a way that is real, honest, and universal. He is so brave.
Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Yes it can. If one person sees a show and is healed or touched or inspired, then theater has done its job. All it takes is one person to make a difference. It can create a common bond amongst strangers. The experience of seeing a live play can make such an imprint on someone's mind and heart that I am convinced it is integral to society. In a way, it is a symbiotic relationship: theatre changes society and society changes theater. Both are always evolving.