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Ocean Kingdom

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Douglas Eacho
March 18, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Director.

What is your show about?
Shakespeare's sea-tossed hero Pericles gets thrown into a dozen other plays, as he drowns in the torrential surges of our kooky, violent, and Totally Neon modern culture.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
My path into theater was a little lazy. I acted in High School, and I liked it, but by the time I was in college... I remember auditioning for a couple things, and then going to see the college shows, and saying to myself 'Oh, shit, I can't do that. Maybe acting's not for me.' So I decided I'd try directing. Deciding to do theater as more than a hobby - well, a few things happened at once. First, I directed a show - I think it was my third? - that I actually liked. I'd been pretty uncomfortable with the first two plays I did, but then we did this Albee show that actually clicked. And I suddenly felt this rush, of knowing I'd done something very well, that was new to me. Then, I saw a show in Berlin, Germany - a mixture of Antigone and Elektra. I didn't speak a word of German, and I cried the entire time. So it was two things: the conviction that more people need theater like that, and that maybe I could help give it to them.

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
Very simply, it's real people in a room with you. They do something, and you watch them do it. It's very bare, and profound, and human. Camera-based work strikes me as very inhuman. It doesn't matter if there are people on the other end of that lens; it's the same medium. Honestly, even taking pictures with my iPhone creeps me out. Does the world need more photographs? I'm not sure. More theater? Yes, obviously.

Are there any cautions or warnings you’d like to make about the show (e.g., not appropriate for little kids)?
My first instinct is that it's not right for little kids. But man, New York City - I've seen some clearly precocious kids at some weird, weird shows. But do those kids like those shows? This show is about loss, grief, the difficulties of making art today, our culture, violence... I hope there aren't many kids who want that. Go play some video games, kids! Go home! Everyone else should stop playing video games and come. It's a mash-up of a dozen different plays, so some feel it's more for theater-people who might get the references. And it's fun if you do, for sure. But the effect is like a Girl Talk CD - it's a treat when you get where the various samples are coming from, but even if you don't, you can still dance to it.

Which “S” word best describes your show: SMOOTH, SEXY, SMART, SURPRISING?
SURPRISING! It's by-and-for ADD folk. The hope is to blindside everyone roughly every two minutes.

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
It could. But not the theater we have. If we want a theater to change society, well, society needs to start going to the theater. That means we have to make better, more exciting theater. We have to make more relevant and engaged theater. We have to make way MORE theater. Our government needs to fund our theater. And - this is very important for me - we have to stop doing Naturalism, period. The NY Times like naturalism, but if everyone else did... well, a lot more folks would be attending plays. THEN - and not before - we can start to change our world. That's our project. I'm cautiously optimistic.