nytheatre.com q&a preview by Rev. Rachel Hollander
September 23, 2012
What is your job on this show?
Do you consider yourself a writer who also performs, an actor who also writes, or something else?
Definitely "something else"! I am an Interfaith Minister who sings, a writer who interprets, a human who evolves! I was raised in a family where all artistic endeavors were encouraged so it always seemed to me that I could do/become anything I dreamed. So, at this point in my life I am: writing a book, singing/speakng in Spiritual Centers, interpreting Shakespeare (and this show!), sharing my own show whenever possible, facilitating writing groups......Yeah, evolving. All the time: "something else."
If this is your first appearance in United Solo -- why did you want to be part of this festival?
Yes it is my first time. I wanted to be a part of this festival because my sister (and her show) are very important to me and the world. Anita's story (which I lived through with her) is one of great courage, strength and resilience. And because of who she is in the world and the work she does with Performers with Disabilities, I thought it just made sense that her show would be interpreted. I was humbed and honoured that she asked me to interpret it. We are both very excited!
What was the most memorable/funny/unusual thing that has happened during the development and rehearsal process for this show?
When I think of the "development" of this show, I go back to the late 1970's when her experience with cancer began. Many memories (both funny and painful) come to mind. I think my favourite, though, is when we as a family gathered together for Passover shortly after her leg was amputated. We were all trying to be so "careful" with what we said and how we said it. She asked me if I had an extra slipper she could use. I responded, "Sure! What size FOOT do you wear?" At that point, everything eased up and we had the most hilarious Passover Seder on record!
Which famous solo performer has been most inspirational to you: Spalding Gray, John Leguizamo, Lily Tomlin, or Whoopi Goldberg?
Hands down: Lily Tomlin! I began memorizing and re-creating her routines back when she was Ernestine and Edith Ann on Laugh-In! I have seen her perform live several times and even got to meet her once (not a story I can share:o)! Her creative mind, the use of her body, the power of her presence.....She is the one!
Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Absolutely! It has throughout time, I believe. In my life, shows like "Hair" brought attention to the Vietnam War in a powerful way. And then - in the 1980's - "As Is" and "The Normal Heart" woke the culture up to people living with HIV and AIDS. Most recently, someone used a song from "Les Miserables" for a video in support of Barack Obama ("One Term More") that is timely, funny, and painful all at once. Theater wakes and shakes us up! Sometimes, yes, it's nice to "just go see a show." Other times, it feels really great to get fired up about something from what we saw on a stage.