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Fantasy Artists

nytheatre.com q&a preview by James Ryan Caldwell
July 30, 2012

What is your job on this show?
Playwright.

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
It was the allure of magic and transformation, the potential to seem (if only for a moment) something more interesting than myself, which first made me want to work in theatre. I grew up in a rural Indiana town, where the only theatre happening was at the local high school, and that's where I saw my first show. It was a musical, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers." The young girl playing the lead was my babysitter. My babysitter wore her hair short - real short for a girl - but in the production wore this long wig. That wig completely changed her in my eyes. She was gone and there was this feisty pioneer woman with a backwoods draw. I was mesmerized. I wanted to do that too. Not to become a feisty pioneer woman, exactly, but to transform.

Complete this sentence: My show is the only one in FringeNYC that...?
I say confidently that my show is the only comedy about a handless phone sex artist at FringeNYC this year.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
I write about things that make me uncomfortable or that I don't understand. The main character of Fantasy Artists is Mare Pines, a woman without hands. It's not something I like to admit, but my immediate reaction at seeing a person with that sort of serious physical disability is to look away, to try and erase what I just saw. Maybe I'm hugely empathetic; or maybe I feel helpless, or guilty; I can't do anything for this person, useless. Maybe its that impulse - wanting to fix something I can't fix, or just assuming it needs fixing, that led me to create this story and the characters in it.

Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
My play is totally Harpo, less for the Marx brother and more for Oprah Winfrey's production company. Harpo produces Dr. Phil, Rachel Ray, and Dr. Oz (and obviously The Oprah Winfrey Show). One of the characters in my play, Mare's younger sister Parry, has her own lifestyle/makeover television show. Makeovers, self-help, and daily affirmations are a recurring motif in my play.

Why should people come to FringeNYC this summer, rather than the beach, mountains, or the latest movie blockbuster?
My play won’t give you sunburn, it has no mountain lions that might attack you, and it won’t confuse you with confusing bat subplots. But seriously, the beach, the mountains, and Batman will always be waiting for you. Theatre, especially theatre at the Fringe, is more momentary; these shows end with the festival, and disappear. It’s an immediate experience to capture now.