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Talk to me about Shame

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Julian Goldhagen
September 20, 2012

What is your job on this show?
Writer/Performer.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
I like to work on theatre that has an express purpose to create some sort of social change. I believe that performance is unique in its ability to create community, begin dialogue, and allow us to touch parts of ourselves that many modern conventions keep us from accessing. My theatre is theatre that connects the invidivual--with other individuals, with her environment, with her history, with herself.

Why is this piece a solo play (rather than a multi-actor play)?
The piece is a kind of solo performance because I am trying to lead by example. So many of the themes in the show revolve around empowering audience members to embrace their own shame. What better way to people give permission do so than by embracing my own shame and journey with that shame by myself--without the comfort of a community onstage to support me? But in the broadest sense, the piece is a multi-actor play because the audience has as much role in the flow of the evening as I do. It is a conversation with the audience: I am asking the questions, and the audience is answering.

In your own words, what do you think this show is about? What will audiences take away with them after seeing it?
The piece is an exploration of shame. It is about questioning this universal experience of shame to ask what is beneath its discomfort. What is my shame? How is my shame different than your shame? How is it the same? It is about building community around a common experience that has the capacity to make us feel so isolated. It is about identifying. It is about compassion. It is about healing.

For Election season: which American political figure do you think would like your show best, and why: Barack Obama, Ann Romney, Paul Ryan, or Hilary Clinton?
Hillary Clinton. Because so much of my show is about gender issues and so much of her politics deals with gender issues. Because her work with international grassroots organizations has been fundamental in my understanding of how one person has the power to affect mass social change. Because I did a project about her in the 8th grade.

Theater is a necessary ingredient in democratic societies. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
Disagree. Theater is a necessary ingredient in any society. Theatre is preeminent to society. Theatre is human interaction. If there is anything that separates us so starkly from the animal world, it is our capacity to create art, connect actually and vicariously through performance, and carry on rituals that were laid before us. To say that theatre is a necessary ingredient in a democratic society is to say that water is a necessity for people with brown hair. It is the truth but not the whole truth.