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Cal and Grey

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Becca Schlossberg
September 19, 2012

What is your job on this show?
Playwright.

Where were you born? Where were you raised? Where did you go to school?
I was born and raised in Livingston, NJ, a small suburban town in North Central Jersey. I went to the public high school there: Livingston High School. Growing up there was such a conflicting experience for me. There were so many times where I felt like I didn’t fit, where I felt like and outsider, and a little bit lost. Yet, I formed a lot of deep and intimate bonds there with a ton of great people whom are still some of my best friends. I always felt like these people related to my hometown the same way that I did. So, in the end, I wasn’t as much of an outsider as I thought. My high school was super competitive, so, I think that mentality has always stayed with me: the need to be ahead of the game. Yet, it’s also made me realize that people have all types of talents, not just academics.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
I love what theater can do! I love that it uses live human beings to tell story! The energy that can be passed from performers to audience members in any given night of a great theater performance is invigorating! I also think that in theater you’re given a little more freedom to explore certain topics in an unflinching way. You don’t have to cut. You don’t look away. You can just stay focused on any given circumstance and really get a feel for what something is like in a given moment. I think theater remains a true catharsis for our society in that (at least some of it) is not as much interested in the idea of selling and buying as it is of saying something that needs to be said right now. Every great society has looked to this form of storytelling as a way of reaching other human beings and exonerating them from the despairs, hopes, joys, frustrations, etc. of their own lives.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
This show feels just about as old as I am. I can remember being a little kid and sort of fantasizing about the world that Cal and Grey takes place in. It’s a weird thing to admit, but it’s true. I often return to my deepest childhood fantasies for inspiration. A wrote a once act play called 3boys which was about three dogs which, in part, came out of my childhood obsession with pretending that I was a dog. I literally remember running up hills on all fours. The dystopian world of Cal and Grey came out of… my loneliness? My feelings of being naturally oppressed my surroundings? And I can’t ignore that it must also have been built from my own family history. Both of my grandparents on my mother’s side were Holocaust survivors; their “blood runs through my veins.” Their lives and their stories are with me daily. So while this story was written as a means of finally expelling this world, this obsession out of me, I think it was also written as an homage to my grandparents and the type of society that they encountered as young adults in Europe. As I write the second and third parts of this trilogy, I want to continue to explore this world, and particularly, Cal’s journey into adulthood.

Which famous New Jerseyite would like your show the best: Snooki, Bruce Springsteen, Thomas Edison?
Thomas Edison. That man LOVED stories about unconventional love between post-apocalyptic male orphans. Am I right? OR AM I RIGHT?

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
If I didn’t believe this, I wouldn’t participate in theater. I believe theater has the capacity to open people’s minds, to enlighten them in a way they haven’t been before, to normalize the ‘un-normal,’ to give voices to the unheard. Awareness is the first step to change.