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Set in the Living Room of a Small Town American Play

nytheatre.com q&a preview by John Kurzynowski
January 21, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Director.

What is your show about?
In this world premiere nod to the heyday of the American drama, the Lorimer family has gathered to welcome home their former golden boy after tragedy has forced him to retreat to the living room of his youth.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
I love working on theater that is extremely collaborative from the very first meeting straight on through to the final performance. Theater that is fun and challenging, funny and tragic, boundless and contained. Theater that makes everyone involved ask themselves, "What IS theater?!" I also love working with my dearest friends and collaborators - it's amazing to grow with an ensemble of artists and to make work with and for a specific group of people.

What are some of your previous theater credits? (Be specific! Name shows, etc.)
The last show I directed for Theater Reconstruction Ensemble was Jaclyn Backhaus' "The Three Seagulls, or MASHAMASHAMASHA!" at HERE Arts Center, which was a mash-up of Chekhov's "The Seagull" and "Three Sisters" that featured 24 actors on a 14' x 38' stage. It was an EPIC night of Russian theater, all contained within an hour and 15 minutes! As an actor, I've been lucky enough to appear in The Talking Band's "Obskene" at HERE Arts and Target Margin Theater's "The Really Big Once" at The Incubator.

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
Our company set out to produce a work written by an American playwright in the 1930's or 40's as part of our current season dedicated to exploring American realism. We were denied the rights to several plays, based solely on our standing as an "experimental" company. At a certain point, I turned to our resident playwright Jaclyn Backhaus and said, "Well I guess you'll just have to write one yourself!" And she did! It's been such an amazing collaboration - digging through classic American dramas together and piecing together the basic building blocks in order to shape our own new drama of that style and era. And then to take her script one step further and apply my own unique exploration of American realism as a style and a practice ... we're definitely in the process of creating a wonderfully bizarre and utterly compelling piece of theater! And to be working with so many members of our ensemble on a show that was written specifically for their individual skills as actors is just a director's dream!

Which famous New Jerseyite would like your show the best: Snooki, Bruce Springsteen, Thomas Edison?
I'm from the Jersey Shore myself, so this is a tough question! I mean, I honestly would like to think that all three of them would like this show equally - Snooki for the laughs, Springsteen for the incredible sound design, and Edison for the innovation. But really, wouldn't the true show be seeing Snooki, Bruce Springsteen, and Thomas Edison in the same audience together?! Actually, that's not a bad idea...

Who are your heroes?
There are the people out there who've paved the way and have created works that have stuck with me and inspired me over the years, such as David Herskovits, John Collins, Ivo van Hove, Annie-B Parson, Pina Bausch, and so on. But my true heroes are the artists I get to work with on a regular basis - the actors and designers in my ensemble, the playwrights who've shared their work with me, other theater companies just starting out like Tenement Street Workshop, Fresh Ground Pepper, Glass Bandits Theater, Built For Collapse, Tugboat Collective. There's an incredible sense of community among younger theater makers out there right now, and you can feel the energy in the air. It's truly electric. And that energy is what moves me and inspires me.