nytheatre.com q&a preview by Blake Walton
October 5, 2012
What is your job on this show?
What type of theater do you like most to work on?
Theater that illuminates the Human Condition, challenges, stimulates new thoughts and ideas, creates belly laughs and tears and moves an audience forward. Sometimes one play will do all of that. Trevor's Fire in all of it's outward simplicity has that potential. I like when there is an agreement with an audience that allows me to safely lead them on a journey that might have some surprises, minds might be changed and ideas made more solid. Then we leave each other having felt more deeply than in a long time, laughed more fully as we like to, and possibly we get to carry away an "A Ha..."
Why is this piece a solo play (rather than a multi-actor play)?
Trevor's Fire has at it's core the embodiment of a 7 year old boy who speaks and behaves erratically through hyper-activity. The narrative and narration is often "otherworldly" or overlooking as observation. As a solo play there is a connected thread between Trevor, his mother, his brother and his older woman mentor when one actor morphs from one to the other. More important, because all of the information is coming from one actor, the audience sometimes unknowingly gets to invent the way a character and a setting might look. It becomes a richer, more personal experience. There is also a bravery and nakedness to solo performance that can give an audience courage to dive into their own gut feelings and allow themselves to be affected.
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?
Since this is a premiere, we did 2 workshop presentations of Trevor's Fire in Sarasota FL, my former home and where director and author Ann Morrison currently lives. There were a few people with whom I had worked either as an actor, director or teacher and others who knew me as an actor, but most of the audience members were new to me, so I was curious about how the play would affect both friends and strangers alike. They were invited to support me at a time in rehearsal when I needed an audience. I knew the play by Ann Morrison was beautifully written and poetic and I was hoping to tell her story as best I could. What I could not know is how it would deeply impact so many of us in a variety of ways. It was almost as if together we made a shift somehow in the room. Something happened in that room. Yes, we all went on a journey together and experienced something new in the birth of a play. But there was something more and I discovered in the talk-back that extended the evening by a half hour and the conversation that drifted out of the building and into the night even later, that this was a larger play than I had suspected, that was funnier than I had imagined and touched a chord in more people than I could have fathomed. It was clear then what a gift Annie had entrusted to me. This is rare. And it only gets better.
Which famous solo performer has been most inspirational to you: Spalding Gray, John Leguizamo, Lily Tomlin, or Whoopi Goldberg?
Spalding Gray: for eloquence; John Leguizamo: for making the ordinary extraordinary; Whoopi Goldberg: for bringing pathos; But Lily Tomlin has inspired me the most through her magical slight-of-hand transformation into a cast of characters who spouted Jane Wagner's brilliant words. I was changed by her.
Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Yes. Theater can create a greater understanding of something strange to us. And because theater enlists all of our bodies: the emotional, the physical, the intellectual and something one might call the spiritual which in my definition is the interchange between live stage and live audience. This is the stuff of change when an audience experiences fully and idea, an affect that might be stronger when played out live, making a room buzz. The intellect joins the visceral and an experience is had. This brings change.