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You Will Make A Difference

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Jeremy Goren
October 8, 2012

What is your job on this show?
Deviser/Director.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
I don’t like theater. I do like people. Of course art forms can serve as great laboratories in which to explore our existence and strive for human connection; but, when we allow those forms to become self-important, self-serving and self-perpetuating, when they become industries, they trap us – the people who make them and the people who see them -- in closed circuits that seem to be going somewhere but aren’t. Then, they cease to serve their true functions. What I smell happening now – which I find very heartening – is a real desire and real action on the part of many artists to let go of or smash up the distinctions among arts and forms and to do so in a selfless way. To let go of the need to classify and control. We’re in a dire situation in our society, and we must use every means necessary to forge ahead. That may mean moving more into what we don’t know and letting go of assumptions of what we do in order to open up possibilities beyond our own brains. That’s something we’ve tried to do in our way with You Will Make A Difference, through every facet of the work and its production – to let go of our assumptions, to enter into a dialog with the current conditions of industry and society and ourselves in an effort to reevaluate, to ask: Is this how we want to do things? Are there other ways? What might be possible?

Why do you do theater (as opposed to film, or TV, or something not in the entertainment field)?
I wasn’t good enough at baseball.

What was the most memorable/funny/unusual thing that has happened during the development and rehearsal process for this show?
fuck flattery success money / all I do is lie back and suck my thumb .Ikkyu. The most interesting part of this almost year-long journey for me has been experiencing the struggle of those of us doing this work and those who couldn’t, witnessing the desire in people – including myself – for something substantive, deep, and risky conflict with the demands of career, ego, money, comfort, and so on. (In this way, artists serve as a microcosm for our greater society.) But, this process has been a great joy, and what unnamable and unquantifiable learning I’ve experienced from this encounter with my colleagues and the project itself has its own life. This is the real plot of You Will Make A Difference – that which happens when we open this particular space to come together and question ourselves as a group.

Which cartoon character would you identify your show with: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Marge Simpson?
Bugs Bunny. He is the trickster, the shape shifter, the balloon-popper and honey-tongued crooner, our conscience and our foil. And, in 1996, perhaps the seminal year for You Will Make A Difference, The Washington Post named Bugs the greatest actor of the millennium. He’s a colleague.

Theater is a necessary ingredient in democratic societies. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
Theater and democracy is a huge question. I think first we have to ask: What are democratic societies and do we actually have any? And, what is theater? I can’t answer those questions. I can say that I think art is necessary in societies – at least until the societies achieve perfection, which is impossible. I have no idea if theater can bring about societal change. Finally, to answer a related question also posed here, if I had $10 million that I had to spend on theatrical endeavors, I would establish the Polina Klimovitskaya Center for Learning, Art and Human Development, hand her the reins, and await my orders.