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Blackbird

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Nathan Shreeve
March 24, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Director.

What is your show about?
Held in a basement for 16 years, a young woman looks back on her life, and the life of her captor. At least, she thinks it is her life. She thinks it is his.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
Theater is at it's most powerful when it really takes advantage of its immediacy and liveness. I love to work on theater which forges a deep, close relationship with an audience, when they are made to realise that they are as much a vital part of the live experience as the actor, director, designer etc.

Are audiences in New York City different from audiences in other cities/countries where you’ve performed? If so, how?
Audiences in New York are much more willing to show and share their reaction to a piece of work than an audience is in the UK, where I began my career. In England, the status quo is very much a stiff upper lip and polite applause. Here, everybody seems to be very willing to jump to their feet and really show their appreciation. Either way, I find it difficult to judge an audience's response at the best of times. I think that New York audiences are very adventurous with the type of work they see and support. There is such theatrical innovation taking place in this city in the work of so many companies, it is brilliant that the audience here can sustain and encourage that kind of creative environment.

How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
Lucia Cox (Playwright) and I met when we were working on a production in the UK together, which we still have in development. I met Nick Benacerraf (Designer) on a production we were both involved with at The Living Theatre, and through him I met Justine de Penning (Producer) and Alice Tavener (Costumes). Soraya Broukhim (The Blackbird) was in that Living Theatre show, and through meeting her, she inspired this new production of Blackbird. Colin Chauche (Lights) and I met at The Flea Theater working on #serials@theflea, and I met Ben Truppin-Brown through Colin. I met almost everybody who is working on this show with me within about a month of moving to New York, and starting work in the theater community here!

Which famous person would you most like to get a fan letter from: Denzel Washington, Maggie Smith, Ang Lee, Jennifer Lawrence?
Maggie Smith.

Can theater bring about societal change? Why or why not?
Nothing ever happens overnight, I think that much is clear. However, I absolutely believe that Theater can bring about the start of societal change. The extraordinary thing about live performance is it brings people together in a one-off shared event, in a way that film can't. The knowledge that you are witnessing a unique performance, sat with a unique group of people can be tremendously powerful, and I think, when it works well, places you in a mindset which opens you up to new ideas and perspectives. There is also an awesome power in the observance of another person baring their soul to you. I think that this personal connection is such a fantastic catalyst for the beginnings of societal change.