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The Haunting of St. Marks Place

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Dan Bianchi
April 29, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Writer/Producer/Composer/Sound and Set Designer/Graphics.

What is your show about?
In an ongoing series of classic tales of the macabre concerning the most haunted spot in all NYC, Radiotheatre is proud to present the legendary LIGHTS OUT CLUB celebrating its 200th year of storytelling and now performing in an actual haunted cellar, which also happens to be UNDER St.Marks Theater.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
The first play I saw on Broadway was the Royal Shakespeare's version of MARAT/SADE at the Martin Beck Theater with Ian Richardson, Patrick Magee and Glenda Jackson and directed by Peter Brook. It won Tonys for Best Play, Best Actor, Best Director and Best Costume. I was 15 at the time and I had never seen anything like it before nor during my past 45 years of play going, especially on Broadway. I doubt if such a startling and monumental work of Art would even be produced Off Broadway these days. But, after that experience, I knew that's what I wanted to do. HOWEVER, little did I know that, many years later, I would direct both Ian Richardson and Patrick Magee in a series of films with the Royal Shakespeare Company...and, some years after that, I would share one of my three Best Director Off Broadway Awards with Sir Peter Brook, himself!

Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this spring that...?
My show is the only one opening in NYC this spring that is true AUDIO THEATRE, the "Theater of Imagination" which invites an audience to participate in creating the visuals, instead of sitting back and observing all the visuals dictated to them by one director. It's amazing how most audiences are truly appreciative of that participation, since they are usually not asked to do so. Not only does our type of show appeal to the popular crowd by using a familiar radio show format, but, it is truly experimental in that it is scored like a grand Hollywood movie by using a unique software that was designed for motion pictures. There is no other NYC theatre experience like Radiotheatre, especially in the low budget arena, so, in that way, it is a non-traditional experimental production, as well. The Drama Desk Awards nominated it against Lincoln Center and Broadway productions, so, our little company has more going for it than most Off Off and OFF Broadway shows. As for content... Radiotheatre, once again, is different in that it presents works that are derived from genres usually by-passed by traditional theatre... horror, science fiction, mystery, adventure...all genres that are well mined in film, TV and literature, but, usually given short shrift by live theatre. Our original and adapted works are NOT plays, nor play readings. Its stories are cinematic in nature, so, specially crafted scripts are necessary for this sort of work. We meld 21st Century technology with the earliest form of theatre...story telling...and our fine casts are well trained for this unique undertaking.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
My personal reasons are two-fold... First, Radiotheatre is a testing ground for the unique, low cost AUDIO we create that may, one day, revolutionize SOUND accompaniment, not just in low budget theatre, but, in ALL theatre. Imagine...straight plays, from Shakespeare to Williams to new works, that sound like Hollywood movies! Secondly...As a long time producer/creator of Off Off theatre and, at my age, I am not looking to further my career at this point...I seek to change the very nature of producing low budget theatre itself. So, I am always looking to recreate the format that is usually accepted as the norm by so-called "independent" theater productions who willingly comply to whatever AEA dictates. I want to create "commercial" templates that differ from AEA rules so that future producers are not shackled by one union into productions that, either look and sound shoddy and amateurish because of the outrageous financial demands here in NYC especially in this dismal economy...or, on the other hand, even if the NY Times declares it the "greatest play of all time," a new work is dead after 12 shows in AEA NYC Showcase, or else, it needs nearly $1 mil to move to Off Broadway to keep it alive. When faced with the reality of this AEA brick wall, most companies, though highly spirited at first, are short lived. Either they were never "independent" to begin with and, so, move on to seek acceptance by the establishment, working in academia or the commercial theater world...or, the financial burden is so great in creating low-budget works that they are forced to move into a full-time "normal" way of life to afford survival in NYC...in any case, they desert their initial mission and these companies cease to exist in 1-3 years. Radiotheatre seeks to break the mold by producing shows that run all year long at $15-$25 tix and tour major venues for healthy fees enough to reward its cast/crew who work for next to nothing in our NYC productions, since OFF OFF theatre is NOT a job, it is a luxury for those who can afford to work here. THE HAUNTING OF ST.MARKS hopes to smash that "norm" by becoming a long running "tourist attraction" much like NON AEA Off Broadway's "Tony And Tina's Wedding" which performed for over 25 years in NYC. To who? To tourists. The big guys uptown know who buys their tickets ...tourists. This is a sector which has been ignored by OFF OFF for various reasons. But, after 9 yrs, 60 shows in Manhattan... Radiotheatre's audience is 2/3 out of towners ...and yet, we are still OFF OFF BROADWAY. Why? Not because we want to be discovered and move uptown...it's because this is where we belong, because there is no other place for this unique art form. So, why not make it professional with high production values and commercially viable and long running with a much wider appeal to the outside world? A legitimate place for itself...not just a training ground for AEA's members? As writer/ producer/ designer/ composer of THE HAUNTING OF ST.MARKS PLACE and shows like it, I hope that those of us who are the true independent theatre producers, can all move one step closer to achieving these goals.

Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
SPOOKY and SCARY

Who are your heroes?
Orson Welles, Roger Corman, Bertolt Brecht, Edgar Allan Poe, the Rock, the Stones, Dylan, Beatles, my father, my wife