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Father Joiner's Purgative Poetry Project

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Richard Grunn
January 2, 2013

What is your job on this show?
playwright and actor.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
When I was younger I was performing all the time. I used to ride my bicycle up and down the street dressed as Ulysses S. Grant. I was intrigued by the fact he had a wooden leg and would hide his whiskey in it.(And money) Then puberty arrived and I retreated until I was in college. I was an Art major but did a lot of radio and was an M.C. for many events.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
Theatre is immediate. There is an electrically charged, 2- way relationship that is established between the actor and the audience that happens the moment the lights go up. The intensity changes, however, it's constant. TV and film are one way. The audience shares the experience but no with the actor. I do appreciate and enjoy film and TV. John Huston described the difference between acting in theatre and acting on camera as to which "God" you are playing to. If film the director is your God. In theatre your God is the audience.

In your own words, what do you think this show is about? What will audiences take away with them after seeing it?
The show is about the power of poetry in that it can reveal pieces or parts about us that we didn't know existed. The audience will recognize people that they know in the many of the characters and will experience an accessibility to poetry. Maybe they will be inspired to write a poem when they get home.

Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Since Groucho was a good friend of T.S. Eliot I would choose him. However, each character in the show has bits of the other brothers.

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Yes. But there has to be a need. In history, Commedia Dell' Arte really evolved into a form because the church closed the theatres in Italy. The actors travelled to France and Spain and because there was a cultural and language barrier, a new improvised and physical theatre with political references (Many directed at the powerful church) was created. Theatre has a voice, but it needs active ears.