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Poetic License

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Alex Mallory
January 16, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Co-Artistic Director.

What is your show about?
15 shows in 7 days featuring over 75 LGBT, youth, Black, white, Latina, Veteran, Native American and Asian American artists in stories about war, mental health, identity, love, politics and memory in Juarez, Ghana, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and all over America - you won't find a week like this anywhere else.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
I love to work on theater that plays on expectations for what theater should be while using all the best that theater has to offer. I love to work on plays with rhythm and pulse and movement and a story that breaks your heart. I want each audience member to take their own journey along with the play, so that by the time it's over, their experience is as much a part of the production as the characters themselves.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
The personal connections between the audience, story and performers that take place from breathing the same air and existing in the same place in history. The unknown of theater not in the sense of "maybe tonight she will accidentally knock over the chair", but in the sense of each person in the room bringing in their world and having their days irrevocably impacted by what they see or do onstage, and maybe even open themselves to that experience.

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?
People have no idea what to expect when they enter the theater for our festival. When they hear "Poetic Theater Productions" they come up with an incredible slew of preconceptions. I love the moment when people walk out of the theater and inevitably say to me "wow. that was so much more ____ than I expected." Come out and experience it for yourself!

People who like which of the following recent Broadway shows would also probably like your show: THE BOOK OF MORMON, ONCE, PETER AND THE STARCATCHER, WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?
ONCE because it is a transcendent, evocative story with creative storytelling, which is the kind of work we gravitate toward.

How important is diversity to you in the theater you see/make?
Diversity is vital to the theater I make and see. One of the things I am always looking for is the universality of story. I am taken into worlds completely different from mine when I go to a show, I cast families intentionally of different backgrounds in the shows I direct, and I am producing readings of new plays by and about black, Latina, Filipino, Native American and Vietnamese American artists & experiences in our 6@6 Reading Series in this year's Poetic License. I also strongly believe there should be more women represented in theater, and the festival, which features 10 of its 14 shows written and directed entirely by women as well as two girls' performance ensembles, manifests that.