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Beirut

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Kerry Vaughn Miller
September 2, 2012

What is your job on this show?
Director.

Where were you born? Where were you raised? Where did you go to school?
I was born and raised on the Stanford University campus in Palo Alto, California. My dad was a professor at the Business School there for many years. I went to Stanford for college too. Very hard to contemplate leaving when you live in one of the most gorgeous places on Earth! New York City was the mistress who finally lured me away.

Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
Ideally there is a cycle of service in the theater. The playwright creates a story for the director to interpret through the instrument of the actor. Playwright serves director, director serves actor, actor serves playwright, and so forth. Each is equally important, as they feed into each other to maintain the balanced flow of the cycle.

Are there any cautions or warnings you’d like to make about the show (e.g., not appropriate for little kids)?
BEIRUT is a love story set in apocalyptic circumstances. It examines love and death in a way that is at times raw, humorous, tender, and tragic. Both the play and the theater itself are very exposed and immersive. There are brief moments of nudity and violence, though these are never gratuitous or vulgar. May not be suitable for under 18.

People who like which of the following recent Broadway shows would also probably like your show: THE BOOK OF MORMON, ONCE, DEATH OF A SALESMAN, CLYBOURNE PARK?
Well, hopefully fans of all those productions will enjoy our show! People who liked BOOK OF MORMON and CLYBOURNE PARK should enjoy the humor with a twist of naughtiness. People who liked DEATH OF A SALESMAN should recognize a desperate struggle for hope in the face of haunting disenchantment and uncertainty. But probably ONCE comes the closest in both theme and tone. BEIRUT rides on the rhythm of two hearts beating together. It is an unrelenting love story, with equal parts desire, passion and exquisite pain. It premiered in 1987 during the first few years of the AIDS epidemic, and the play's powerful message continues to reverberate nearly three decades later. With or without fatal disease, all intimate human contact carries risk.

Who are your heroes?
For acting, Cate Blanchett and Mark Rylance. Their performances on stage are always generous, inclusive, and riveting. Almost electric. They are incredibly present with the words, their fellow actors, and the audience. For teaching / directing, Patsy Rodenburg and Larry Moss. Relentless and selfless, they work from a place of unconditional love.