nytheatre.com q&a preview by Anita Hollander
September 19, 2012
What is your job on this show?
Writer & Performer.
Do you consider yourself a writer who also performs, an actor who also writes, or something else?
I started performing at 4 years old (and professionally at 8), so it was pretty natural for me to start creating my own songs and shows at an early age. While performing in legitimate theatre productions, I would also write shows for our back yard! It was a professor at Carnegie Mellon who told me (after my first cancer surgery in Junior year) that it would interest people to hear songs from my own unique perspective, so on a dare, I wrote the song The Choice which was the cornerstone of Still Standing. I came to NYC when I was accepted into the BMI Musical Theatre Workshop and ASCAP Musical Theatre Program as well. It was a huge boost to my confidence as a "performer who writes" to get that kind of support and education all at once.
Complete this sentence: My show is the only one in United Solo that...?
...stands on one leg! And it's a pretty nice-lookin' leg at that! Yep, I'm pretty proud of being able to say that. Plus, this may be the only show that's ASL interpreted. My shadow interpreter, Rachel Hollander, is my sister, who worked with Cleveland Signstage for many years. So, in fact, mine may be the only show in the festival that's totally accessible to deaf audiences as well as hearing. The only Musical, that is!
Has this show been presented in other cities before New York? Was there a place where the response to this piece surprised you, and why?
Still Standing has been presented all over the country, not only in theaters & colleges, but in hospitals, grade schools, rehab centers, churches, temples, Naval bases, government agencies, business conferences, The Kennedy Center, Disney World and even The White House. But the most unusual response was when my daughter, Holland Hamilton, and I performed at a girls' prison in Florida, where the toughest girls we'd ever met broke down and cried and told us stories about their lives and how they related to the kind of struggles I face as a one-legged person (and my daughter faces with a mom who has a disability). It was an unforgettable lesson in how much we all have in common as human beings. We were both grateful for the experience.
For Election season: which American political figure do you think would like your show best, and why: Barack Obama, Ann Romney, Paul Ryan, or Hilary Clinton?
Actually I'd have to choose Barack Obama, since it isn't easy to forge ahead in situations where one finds brick walls, and he and I have that in common! He understands the kinds of "tools for survival" that my show represents. Reading his books and watching and listening to him, I see him move mountains with his integrity, and I hope someday he'll get to see this show.
How important is diversity to you in the theater you see/make?
Diversity in the theatre (and all media) is what I work for on a constant basis as National Co-Chair of SAG-AFTRA Performers With Disabilities, as well as a member of the Joint Equity League EEO Committee. I believe our media should reflect the world we live in, not just a part of it. The American Scene is enormously diverse, and when we see theatre, TV or Film, we should see ourselves reflected on that stage or screen. It's not just "the right thing to do" - it's also good business. The more diverse the work is, the more ticket-buyers will respond to it. I'd like to think that's why I sold out my performances at this festival two months in advance!