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Murmurs & Incantations

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Peter Levine
August 9, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Actor - I play the lead, Ben Levitts.

What is your show about?
Murmurs and Incantations tells the story of a New York, gay, Jewish performance artist with creative block, still mourning the death of his lover, who fatefully travels to Poland in an attempt to revive his art career, only to be further confounded by the disapproving ghost of his grandfather, a rabbi killed in the Holocaust.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
Born and raised in Brooklyn, I came back to New York in 1997 on sabbatical from successful career AS a teacher and writer of American History at Michigan State University to see if I could pursue theatre here. I took some classes, got into an off-off broadway play and was hooked. We moved back in 2000 and I have been acting ever since when the opportunity arises.

What are some of your previous theater credits? (Be specific! Name shows, etc.)
My first show in New York was a small part in The Madwoman of Chaillot with Anne Jackson, Kim Hunter and Alvin Epstein! I have had the opportunity to be Willie Clark in The Sunshine Boys, Roy Cohn, in Angels in America, Pt.I, Buffalo Bill in Indians, Ben in Broadway Bound, and Brady in Inherit the Wind.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
Murmurs and Incantations is a real challenge - an immersive theatre piece that explores the anguish and triumph of being an artist and the human condition that shapes the experience. It has a little bit of everything - it's funny, irreverent, and harrowing by turn, grounded both in the history of AIDS in contemporary America and the Holocaust.

Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
Surprising.

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
As my character, Ben Levitts, says in the play, Art is not about art, it is about the truth. Theatre provides an opportunity to talk directly to an audience about things and issues that matter. In doing so, it provokes discussion, disagreement, conflict, and ultimately, one hopes, action on behalf of social change.