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The Actual Dance

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Samuel A Simon
June 17, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Playwright and Solo Performer.

What is your show about?
A true story, but does it really happen? A tale full of out-of-body experiences, sounds, images, dreams, and a Ballroom for the dance that we will all one day dance. Sams life reconfigures as his wife battles breast cancer and he prepares for The Actual Dance.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
Theater was magical in our house as I grew up. I remember watching my sisters perform in plays such as 'Our Town' and being totally captivated. I did some school and community theater and then got caught up in "life." And then about a decade ago I returned and rediscovered a deep passion, which has turned into what may indeed my entire purpose in life.

Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
This is a trick question. The most important role in Theater is the Audience. One of the most important lessons I learned was that no one but the audience member gets to decide on what the play or work means or what the words mean. Having said that, I don't think it is fair to give anyone greater importance. Each has an important role to play, and what is exciting is that you can mix the group -- change the play, the director or the actor and the result is something brand new and original in its own way.

Do you think the audience will talk about your show for 5 minutes, an hour, or way into the wee hours of the night?
The Actual Dance provokes incredible reactions from the audience. It has been in development for just about a year. Each reading and then each developmental performance provoked incredible audience reactions. Everyone is touched in some ways. Indeed, even though I wrote the play and am the solo performer, I learn from the audience something new after each performance. Indeed, the risk is that people may be changed forever by their engagement with this show.

Which famous person would you most like to get a fan letter from: Denzel Washington, Maggie Smith, Ang Lee, Audra McDonald?
Oh, I wish it were possible: Patrick Swayze. And -- if you come see this show you will understand this next statement: And maybe it is possible I will hear from him.

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Theater, like music, touches the heart. It creates the opportunity for each member of the audience to be transformed. We all exist in relation to each other and as we are moved and changed we are part of a change in the world.