nytheatre.com q&a preview by Thom Fogarty
September 23, 2012
What is your job on this show?
What type of theater do you like most to work on?
I love plays that allow for the imagination of not just the actors and artists to come into play but that pull the audience in as well. I love a play that challenges me to come up with inexpensive ways to solve a production problem - ways that make the audience more participatory in the process. For example, in Sarah Ruhl's EURYDICE and the 'raining elevator', we used a doorway and a large watering can that was totally visible. The audience is in on the process and seemed to accept it even more. It makes us all feel a little smarter and in on it.
Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
That is a loaded question, however for me as a Director, it is the Playwright. I am constantly reminding my casts that it is STILL all about the WORDS. When you get led astray - go back to the words, and the answer is more often than not right there on the page. It is not just in the words, but the punctuation as well. My job is to respect the words of the writers and make sure that THEIR story is the one we tell, it should never be about the other production elements, they are there to support and strengthen. We are all vital to making this process work, but without a story we would be lost. WORDS. WORDS. WORDS.
Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
After bringing Steven Fechter's THE ARTIFACTS to exhilarating life in the spring, I jumped at the chance to work with another smart and new script by Steven. He gave us this truly difficult play and the challenge is on. I am approaching it as an odd mash up of MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN (the strength and resilience of women), WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF (where does the truth really reside?) and the classic Kurosawa film RASHOMON (they is her story, and her story, and his story) - that just happens to be funny. At any given moment there are 2-3 possibly truths being presented and our challenge is to honor ALL of them and yet still present a unified play. It could be very easy to find the ONE truth for each actor and go for it, but we all agreed that would be short changing the possibilities for each character. A very difficult act - but one we all thought made this play all the more exciting to work on. These women are survivors.
Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Harpo - because being able to tell the story PHYSICALLY is very important to me. Harpo can through simple gestures that we know and recognize transport us another place and space. The physical life of a production is paramount to insuring that the words are truly honored and supported.
Theater is a necessary ingredient in democratic societies. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
I feel very strongly that theatre is the last collective art form that can make a difference. Music and the visual arts can be very one on one experiences. Theatre involves the entire creative team (playwright, director, actors and designers) coming together to present an experience for a group of people who enter into a dark space expecting to be moved and change and altered from the lives they leave - collectively - at the door. We have the opportunity to present new and challenging ideas to the audience, force them to think about things they may not otherwise. We are like canaries in the mineshaft and can warn the world of what is to come. Just think of places in the world where we know artist are being persecuted and shut down - merely for speaking the TRUTH. This is what we do. It is our obligation.