Measure for Measure
nytheatre.com q&a preview by Brian Keith MacDonald
January 3, 2013
What is your job on this show?
When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
When I was about eight years old my parents took me to a children's luncheon theater for a production of "Snoopy." The theater hired young actors who would take your lunch order before the show, then perform as you ate. After the show I said to my mom, "Wow, I want to do that!" To which she replied, "You mean be in a show?" I said, "No, I want to serve a hotdog!" Thus my acting career began. I got into the company and have been acting ever since (I still haven't served a hotdog but that's a story for another time).
Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
I love theatre for both its intimacy and mutability. After a film or TV show is produced, it's locked in--it will be exactly the same each time you watch it. A theatrical production however, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, that only those attending at that very moment can be a part of. I also feel there's something exciting and electric about watching an artist work and make discoveries right in front of me moment to moment. Island Shakespeare is particularly exciting in this regard because it is so interactive--members of the audience may each have entirely different experiences and see completely different moments in the very same evening.
Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
As film, television, online media, etc. become more prominent, I believe that the theater must take strong advantage of its greatest asset in order to thrive: its ability to directly interact with its audience in the moment. I continue to work with Island Shakespeare because it fully embraces this idea. Members of the audience may wander the two-story space as they like, watch whatever interests them, and may even be pulled away for a one-on-one interaction with an actor that no one else will have. Island Shakespeare tells a story in a way that could never be experienced in front of a screen--you're not merely observing it, you're actually a direct part of it, your being there contributes to the telling of the story.
Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
Surprising! You have no idea what might happen... one minute you may be watching a scene, then suddenly a character has started playing a dice game with you while live music plays in the next room. All of a sudden, a scene might begin around you, then as you try to follow it, someone reads you a passage or asks that you deliver a letter. Maybe you choose to follow just one character for the duration of the show and see a side of them you would never have thought existed in a traditional setting. Some of the surprises may even prove to be smooth, sexy, or smart.
Theater is a necessary ingredient in democratic societies. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
Theater is a necessary ingredient in ANY society. Since its beginnings it has always been a gathering place (something that is very important in our time, perhaps now more than ever) where people could become inspired to interconnect, share passions and opinions, learn, and grow. Theater is cultural worship, and a good argument could be made that without culture there is no society.