nytheatre.com q&a preview by Mark Kenward
September 20, 2012
What is your job on this show?
What type of theater do you like most to work on?
Solo theatre of all kinds. Fictional character pieces, autobiographical monologues, adaptations of literature, you name it. The infinite possibilities of the form keep me on my toes creatively and intellectually. As a director of solo work I get to work with fascinating people. The solo performers I know out here in the Bay Area like to have a good time together. It's kind of funny that doing solo theatre would lead to such a strong sense of community. Howard is a much loved figure in our scene...always there to support, give feedback, and share his wry humor.
If you are performing in the piece you wrote, do you think another actor could also play this role?
No. Howard is the hero of his own story. There's something both politically and theatrically powerful about watching the man who lived through the story perform the story.
Do you think the audience will talk about your show for 5 minutes, an hour, or way into the wee hours of the night?
I think people will talk about Howard's piece for the rest of their lives, because of the historical importance and enduring political relevance of his story. Plus, you will never be able to think of mashed potatoes the same way ever again.
Which cartoon character would you identify your show with: Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Mickey Mouse, Marge Simpson?
Howard is pure Bugs Bunny. Wait until you see how he treats the Army brass. Very much the devilish trickster.
Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Here's what I wrote when asked the same question by THEATRE BAY AREA: "I’m not sure solo theatre is all that important to society at large, at least not compared to more mainstream forms of expression, but I’ve seen solo theatre play a profound role in individual lives. Creating a one-person show can make you a better person. You have to open yourself to both uncomfortable truths and unexpected epiphanies. You have to acquire and hone new skills. You have to connect with peers, producers and especially audiences. You have to push your thinking. You have to figure out what it really means to “show, don’t tell” and all those other things that are easy to say but harder to do. You have to deal with the opinions of reviewers. It is psychologically demanding work. It takes months and months to create a full-length show. And after all that hard work there are those few rare transcendent moments on stage where it all comes together, moments that are incredibly intoxicating and life-affirming. All of this would mean nothing if there weren’t audiences out there who love the immediacy of solo performance, who love being entertained or provoked or enthralled. And then there are those people to whom your show speaks in an especially powerful and personal way. Nearly every solo performer I know has received a heartfelt letter or email from an audience member saying “your show made a difference in my life.” We all have the potential to inspire each other in this way, and I think that is what makes solo work relevant in our scattered times."