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rogerandtom q&a preview by Nicholas A. Cotz
January 29, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Director, Artistic Director.

What is your show about?
It is a mind-bending, head-scratching, meta-meta-quasi-romanti-tragi-dramedy.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
More than anything I like to get my hands on new work. Exploring a script for the first time and working in tandem with a playwright is exciting and deeply fulfilling. And that goes doubly for playwrights attempting something different or dangerous.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
Well, first off, I have nothing against TV or film! I love both, I watch both, I obsess over both. But my love for theater comes from the direct interaction with an audience. The big difference between electronic media and theater is that, in the latter, you can't be a passive viewer. Your participation is vital to the show. If you are in a movie theater watching a comedy, and you aren't laughing at the jokes, it doesn't matter. The movie will continue on without you. But try performing a comedy in front of a live audience that doesn't think you’re funny. It’s impossible, and it usually ends up changing the performance in real time, either bending the audience to see the show's point of view, or bending the performances to meet the audience on their level.

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?
More than any other play I’ve ever worked on, this one has the best AH-HA! moments. The whole show is based on twists, turns, and surprises--I mean nothing is as it seems. I don't want to ruin it for anyone, so I'll stop there. I will say, though, that the reason I love those moments is because, when they happen, they happen to the audience as a whole. The audience reaction is integral to the show. So there's this community that gets built up from the opening moment to the final blackout which includes everyone. I love sitting in the back of the room after the show is over and listening to the crowd as they file out. It really is as if they've all been on a journey together.

Which famous New Jerseyite would like your show the best: Snooki, Bruce Springsteen, Thomas Edison?
Well, as a Jersey guy myself, I’d most want The Boss to be there. But I think Edison would get a kick out of the metaphysical games Schwab plays.

Why are theater festivals so very important?
Theater Festivals are important because they are incubators for new work. Not only that, they inspire the theatrical community by throwing us all in the same pot. Personally, I cannot wait for January to roll around. I know that Coil, Under The Radar, and Culturemart are all going to hit and that I'm going to be inundated with new ideas, thrown askew by dangerous thinkers, and made uncomfortable by artists working to undermine the status quo. It’s become my favorite way to start the year. And rogerandtom got its big break at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, so they kind of have a soft spot in my heart.