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Blood Privilege

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Andy McQuade
January 20, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Director.

What is your show about?
The most powerful woman in 17th Century Eastern Europe pursues beauty at any cost; but even the "Bloody Countess" can't stop the onslaught of the years and the social and political chaos that is enveloping the world around her.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
Theatre that challenges and affects the audience in ways that provoke another way of seeing life, others or themselves. In our great patriarchal set up I'm also irresistibly drawn to works that feature strong and complex women: they're rare, but when they come along I tend to dance a little jig.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
Because a single moment in theatre is a moment that will never come again. There's no rewind or pause. The magic that's created by a cast and team on stage is something I compare to Creation: entire worlds rise and fall every night, and on closing night the door closes forever. It's heartbreaking and ridiculously uplifting all at once.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
I'd been fascinated by the legend of Elizabeth Bathory since I was a young boy. How could a woman commit such atrocities? Like all men, I raise women to an unrealistic height of expectancy and rules, often forgetting that they are capable of just about everything we are. In later life I researched Elizabeth in greater depth hoping to find the woman underneath the terrible legend, but found it near impossible to get close to her: she needed someone to weave their imagination and give her a coherent voice: playwright Don Fried has done all that - and much more, I believe.

Which cartoon character would you identify your show with: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Marge Simpson?
I'd love to see a 'Bathory' episode of the Simpsons! So I'd have to go with Marge on this one, though she'd have to dye her hair black for full effect).

Who are your heroes?
I don't have heroes, but I do get breathless when I watch actors on stage who surrender to the core of their characters and spread the 'zone' all around them. In a way I suppose this rare thing is an heroic act of itself, isn't it? When I was an actor years ago, I struggled to find that place of complete immersion. When I see it before me - especially as a director with this cast of incredibles in New York - nothing compares to it.