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Poetic License

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Jeremy Karafin
January 18, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Co-Artistic Director.

What is your show about?
15 shows in 7 days featuring over 75 LGBT, youth, Black, white, Latina, Veteran, Native American and Asian American artists in stories about war, mental health, identity, love, politics and memory in Juarez, Ghana, Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and all over America -an amazing week featuring extremely talented artists!

When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I started college as a business/econ major trying to focus on pursuing a financially responsible future – but the excitement and unpredictability of the theater world seduced me early on. As someone who has always been interested in social justice, I was inspired by the opportunity to use the art form to challenge the status quo and build stronger, more conscious, active communities. Combining my academic interest in Boal, Brecht, Shange, Williams and Baraka with producing hip hop-inspired poetry written by UCSC's student poets - especially those in the multicultural Rainbow Theater and the Kinetic Poetics Project - sparked a desire to move to New York and help tell the stories that need to be told.

What are some of your previous theater credits? (Be specific! Name shows, etc.)
With Poetic Theater Productions I have produced more than 24 productions, showcases and readings (20 in collaboration with Co-Artistic Director Alex Mallory) including Goliath (2011 Planet Connections Award for Outstanding Production of a New Play), faith (Culture Project's Women Center Stage Festival, 2012 Planet Connections Award for Outstanding Production of a Solo Show), Underground (Finalist, Downtown Urban Theatre Festival) and Foreign Bodies (Culture Project's Women Center Stage Festival) I associate produced the off-Broadway productions of Intersection International’s No Place Called Home, a beautiful play about Iraqi refugees in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, and InProximity’s production of The Fall to Earth at 59E59. I’ve also helped support several productions at the Wild Project where I am the Assistant Manager.

How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
This year’s festival features more than 75 artists, many of whom we have collaborated with on other projects in the last 3 years and several new artists we are excited to welcome into the Poetic Theater Productions community. Building a diverse community of artists who are passionate about poetic theater, and creating and expanding opportunities for these artists to develop their work, has been at the heart of our efforts as a company. Our artists come from the heart of the slam poetry scene, from throughout the NYC off Broadway, off off Broadway and national theater community, from the veterans community and from the teaching artist community. We have reached out to artists whose work has directly inspired us while other artists reached out to us inspired by our mission and commitment to a more poetic diverse and just theater.

Which famous New Jerseyite would like your show the best: Snooki, Bruce Springsteen, Thomas Edison?
Bruce Springsteen. The Boss is a fellow poet! He’s also done amazing work to support veterans and LGBT rights. He would love Poetic License.

Who are your heroes?
Asher Lev - he's fictional, but the character from Chaim Potok's My Name Is Asher Lev has been a hero of mine since I was twelve. My theater heroes include the poetic theater trailblazer Marc Bamuthi Joseph (I saw him perform selections from Word Becomes Flesh in California and his work has had a major impact on the theater I've chosen to produce), Staceyann Chin (a workshop of hers helped me grasp and embrace my own identity), Ntozake Shange, Amiri Baraka and Tennessee Williams. The stories these poet/playwrights have told using poetic language to tackle some of the most important issues of the time exemplify the potential of poetic theater to unite communities and have a positive impact of society as a whole.