The Picture of Dorian Gray
nytheatre.com q&a preview by Darya Gerasimenko
September 25, 2012
What is your job on this show?
What type of theater do you like most to work on?
I love theatre that makes me look at something in a new way and reevaluate what I believe to be true. Whether it be a question of character, story or even staging, I want to be pushed to discover something I have never thought about before.
Why is this piece a solo play (rather than a multi-actor play)?
Oscar Wilde's novel lent itself perfectly to be adapted into a solo performance. The three primary characters -- Dorian, Basil and Lord Henry -- have been described by the author himself as three facets of his personality. It is fascinating to see them interacting within the confines of one body and we really get to see the trajectory of their characters and the irreplaceable roles they play within each others lives.
Who are some of the people who helped you create this show, and what were their important contributions to the finished product?
The two people without whom this production would never have been possible are my actor, Michael Abourizk, and my father, Ilya Gerasimenko. I wrote this show for my actor. We have worked together many times before and I wanted a solo piece that would showcase his talents and play to his strengths. I wanted a piece we could both get excited about and invest in fully, and without him, there would be no Dorian Gray. My father designed the projections for the painting which really is another character in this piece. His images and the transformations they undergo are what makes this play a true work of art.
Which famous solo performer has been most inspirational to you: Spalding Gray, John Leguizamo, Lily Tomlin, or Whoopi Goldberg?
I would have to say John Leguizamo, because of how raw his performances alway feel. No matter what character he plays, he always throws himself fully into the role and is able to embody stories in such an immediate and urgent way.
Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
I don't think theatre on its own can bring about societal change, much like I don't think any one thing can. However, I do believe that theatre is vital in both gauging and inciting unrest with the societal norm. If, all of a sudden, there are more and more plays being performed about a certain social issue, not only is that indicative of the importance of the social issue, but it can move audiences to become more engaged with that social issue, which, in turn, can bring about societal change.