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Taliesin

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Ralph Lee
August 19, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Director, Designer and Mask Maker.

What is your show about?
The story of Taliesin comes from a medieval Welsh tale of sorcery and court intrigue, in which the power of inspiration is accidentally bestowed on an unlikely kid, who can suddenly see beyond everyday reality, becoming Taliesin – “radiant brow,” inspiration for all poets in the Welsh bardic tradition.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
I like to work on theater that incorporates a range of elements: lots of visuals - puppets, masks, scenic effects; music - both songs and musical accompaniment to reinforce the drama; movement - trying to discover the appropriate movement for a giant figure, a small puppet or a masked character; text - either lyrics or dialogue that is spare but elegant.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
I like to have an immediate connection between performers and audience, a closeness which makes everyone involved feel like they're going on a journey together.

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?
There is a shape-shifting chase in which Ceridwen, a powerful sorceress, is trying to catch a scruffy kid. He changes into a rabbit, and she becomes a hound. He transforms into a fish, she into an otter. When she gets too close for comfort, he changes into a bird, and she becomes a hawk. In order to hide, the kid transforms into a kernel of wheat. She changes into a hen and gobbles up the kernel. The whole chase ends with his re-birth as the baby Taliesin.

Which character from a Shakespeare play would like your show the best: King Lear, Puck, Rosalind, or Lady Macbeth -- and why?
The character of Taliesin is reminiscent of Puck, especially his playfulness and delight in playing tricks which reveal people's vanity and pretensions.

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
I like to think that theater has the power to wake people up, to engage their imaginations so that they can see things in a new way.