By Rights We Should Be Giants
nytheatre.com q&a preview by Nadia Sepsenwol
September 24, 2012
What is your job on this show?
Where were you born? Where were you raised? Where did you go to school?
I was born in Toledo, Ohio, but raised in both Ohio and Virginia, where I moved with my mother when I was 11. By Rights We Should Be Giants takes place in Lorain, Ohio - my father's birthplace and childhood home. I went to undergrad at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, then later got an MFA in acting from Columbia University.
Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
As a playwright and actor, that's a really interesting question for me. In a way it's sort of lame to say, "they're all equally important," but that is what I truly believe - especially now. After working on the script for over a year, I've gotten into rehearsals for this project as an actor, and it's become extraordinarily clear just how different these two roles are; and, in fact, just how much a writer or a director is asking of an actor in terms of taking risks and bringing their own stamps to things. And in the realization of a play, neither thing would be possible without an eye that everyone trusts: the director.
How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
We've been working on this play in readings and workshops - with many of the same people - for this past year. And it is such a family! I became involved with Lunar Energy when I was cast in a play last year by Artistic Director Phil Gates (Before Placing Me On Your Shelf, adapted from the poetry of James Tate) - and when he asked me to adapt Three Sisters for them, I brought in a lot of others I knew. For example, my co-writer Tim Van Dyck and I have in fact been friends for about 13 years; and Liesel Allen-Yeager (playing Natalie in the show) and I have been friends for about as long - we all went to college together. Liesel and I moved to New York around the same time, auditioned for grad school together, and ended up attending right down the street from each other (Juilliard and Columbia, respectively). Our acting classes have become quite personally and professionally close over the years, and our cast certainly reflects that. In an industry where it can be so easy to feel lost and alone, I think we've all found that being part of a close-knit artistic community is incredibly important for both our work and our sanity.
Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
I hope so. I think we're living in a time when, because it's tough out there, artists are more willing to take risks because they feel more than ever that they've got nothing to lose. And that's when the world takes notice.