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ART FOR SALE

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Liam Mulshine
July 24, 2012

What is your job on this show?
Actor and collaborator..

What was the last show you saw that really excited you, and why?
The last show that really excited me was "Show and Tell Alexander Graham Bell" by the group Ars Mechanica from Toronto. Before the show they asked for the cell phone numbers of audience members and instructed us to keep them on during the show. As the show progressed, various cell phones all around me beeped and chimed and lit up, inciting nervous laughter - it felt like we were doing something naughty. A character in the show, a telephone operator, communicates directly with the audience (while onstage!) via text messages and dares the audience to participate in the dialogue. My favorite text was along the lines of "There is no difference between advanced technology and magic". It was such a reversal of the standard rules of polite theatergoing. It was provocative in just the right way, and I applaud them for boldly exploring a new way to engage the audience during the show, a way that would normally be shunned by more conventional types. They encouraged us to keep the dialogue going beyond the confines of the play - I just texted the character, Mary, the other day to tell her I miss her!

If you're not a New Yorker: what are you most looking forward to doing and seeing (apart from the festival) while you're here?
Apart from FringeNYC, I think I'm most excited to have brunch at MUD in the East Village, hopefully served by my good friend Anna who works there who I haven't seen in ages.

In your own words, what do you think this show is about? What will audiences take away with them after seeing it?
Art For Sale is a rumination on the relationship between art and commerce, as well as a show about how tenuous the process mounting a show can be. Utter disaster lurks behind every corner despite our best efforts. The play is done in our own version of Commedia dell'Arte, with traditional Italian masks paired with a more modern acting style. While it'd be great if audience members left asking themselves how art really is affected by money, we'd be perfectly happy with audience members leaving just with ribs sore from laughing.

Which famous New Jerseyite would like your show the best: Snooki, Bruce Springsteen, Thomas Edison?
I'm loath to say it, but I think Snooki might love the show because of the antics and drama between the attention-whore lead actor Capitano and the exasperated director, Brighella. Also, the leather masks we use are ALMOST as tanned as Snooki, but not quite.

Theatre is a necessary ingredient in democratic societies. Do you agree or disagree, and why?
Theatre is absolutely a necessary ingredient in democratic societies. Going back to the days when companies of actors travelled Europe performing Commedia dell'Arte, explicit dissent against ruling powers was often not permitted. Commedia characters evolved to subtly poke fun at the ruling authority figures, to satirize their hypocrisies and shortcomings. Even when theatre can't be the tool to foment actual political revolution, it serves as a mirror, a psychological salve for people who feel their voices aren't being heard, even in a democracy.