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Desperately Seeking the Exit

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Peter Michael Marino
September 24, 2012

What is your job on this show?
Writer/Performer.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
By the time I was 12, I'd never seen a Broadway show; even though I grew up a subway ride away in Queens. When my family moved to Long Island, our English class came to the big city to see the 1981 Broadway production of "Frankenstein." The revolving set, the lightening, the fire, the castle exploding in slow motion ... when I walked out of that theatre, I knew this "theater thing" was something I had to do. I knew I had to live and work in New York City. The show notoriously opened and closed on the same night, but it stayed with me forever. Ironically, I've had a soft spot for flop shows ever since - and even created a few of my own.

Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this fall that...?
... explains in great comic detail how a major flop musical was created on the West End. (see above)

How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
I met my director John Clancy through a friend. Or a friend of a friend. We knew the same people somewhere along the line. We keep trying to figure out exactly how we met. We sort of worked together on a reading of one friend's play, but then he didn't cast me in the production. Then he was starting up the NY Fringe and I was working with said friend whose play I didn't get cast in and we needed rehearsal space, so I worked at the Fringe Office that first year for John as a barter for the rehearsal space. I remember answering phones, making copies and maybe even filing papers. Note: computers weren't invented then. John and I would bump into each other throughout the years, but never really socialized. When I saw John's meta-solo-show-show, "The Event" at The PIT, where I was working as a director, I was very taken by it. When I began thinking about mounting this solo show last year, I knew I didn't want it to feel anything like a solo show. I wanted it to feel like storytelling meets standup meets improv meets a drunken night at the pub. I recalled "The Event" and immediately called John. We've been madly in love ever since. His talented wife Nancy Walsh is aware of this. I am also in love with her.

Which cartoon character would you identify your show with: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Marge Simpson?
Daffy for sure. Wacky, furious, confused, silly - and totally loveable.

If you had ten million dollars that you had to spend on theatrical endeavors, how would you use the money?
I'd use the money to to pay experienced real-world theater professionals to go into schools to teach young theater students about what show business is REALLY like. We need to nurture young people for the future and those students need to be nurtured by professionals who have actually "been there - done that - doing that." I see too many theater students learning from teachers who have not truly lived the life. They don't give students the tools to survive the business of the business. They don't always tell show biz hopefuls that it is indeed a business. As artists we don't get paid regularly or enough no matter how much experience we have. $10M would certainly be a nice amount of money to spread around to those who have walked the walk and who are eager to share their experience with young people.