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Collision

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Craig muMs Grant
January 7, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Actor.

What is your show about?
Collision is set in a college dormitory somewhere in the heart of America. Three students, a professor, and a stranger show what happens when all the wrong people meet at exactly the right time.

Where were you born? Where were you raised? Where did you go to school?
I was born in Harlem, but I was taken right back to the Bronx and raised in the Bronx. Went to school in the Bronx. Learned about the world in the Bronx. Had my first kiss in the Bronx. All of that stuff. I’m a performance poet, so prior to being an actor, I was onstage performing poetry for six years at the Nuyorican Poets Café and Brooklyn Moon Café and a lot of other little poetry venues in NYC.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
Theater is the reason why I’m still acting. Film and TV I love to do and create. I love all aspects of film. Television is business that makes us all kind of hate being actors, but I appreciate it. It pays the bills, so it’s always great to get those 2 or 3 TV gigs a year that allow you to do as much theater as you want. I was in HBO’s Oz for 6 years, Boston Legal, all 3 Law and Orders in some form and fashion and Chappelle’s Show. But theater is an actor’s medium. It’s a place where actors can be actors. I remember doing a play and then going out to LA to do Boston Legal. I got on set and I did my first scene, and I had to flip over a table and go RAWR and say some lines. And the whole crew just started clapping when my scene was done. I was like, “I must’ve done really good.” And the director was like, “That was good. Can you bring it down a little?” The stage is a place where actors can go 150%.

How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
I’m good friends with the writer, Lyle Kessler, and he’s involved me in this play since the first draft. We’re both Labyrinth Theater Company members. I’m also good friends with Judy Merrick, who is an Amoralists Ensemble Member and introduced me to the company. I’ve seen two Amoralists plays that really excited me, and it all fell together. I love playing Renel. This role is a lot of fun for me. It gives me a chance to ham it up and be very dangerous. I like being dangerous. I think people will talk about this show into the wee hours of the night. Some will like it. Some won’t. Some will be offended by it. All of us are prepared for that. But that’s what theater is. Theater is there to touch you.

Which cartoon character would you identify your show with: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Marge Simpson?
Daffy Duck. Because Daffy Duck got shot a lot. He’d walk into this show and get his beak twisted all around to the back and he’d be constantly having to put it back in place.

Theater is a necessary ingredient in democratic societies. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
Yes. Theater is a reflection of society heightened, and in order for a free people to make important choices, they have to see themselves at their best and their worst.