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ELE↓↑TOR

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Patrice Miller
May 18, 2013

What is your job on this show?
Director.

What is your show about?
One Saturday morning, three strangers undertake a surreal, Futurism-fueled odyssey to the top of the Empire State building in a dangerously malfunctioning freight elevator.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
The short answer is probably "experimental", but I don't think any of us can say what that means, just what it doesn't mean (Annie, Spider-Man, and Mamet). Genre is for wusses. The work I love to do often plays with structure, form, and/or language. Most of it is inspired by or deals directly with history, especially 20th century history, and almost all of it involves some kind of multi-disciplinary collaboration. I'm interested in narratives that come to us through a certain construction or set of ideas or do not come to us at all, and in finding unique forms with which to give life to those narratives.

What are some of your previous theater credits? (Be specific! Name shows, etc.)
Iphigenia in Aulis (La Mama/UTC61, Choreography), Decompression (FRINGENYC/Obvious Volcano, Direction), The Moose That Roared (The Brick/Tux&Tom, Direction/Co-writing), Antrobus (The Brick/Gemini Collisionworks, Sister), Bunny Lake is Missing (The Brick, Co-director), The Pig or Vaclav Havel's Hunt for the Pig (Ice Factory/3LD/UTC61, Choreographer)

Why did you want to write/direct/produce/act in/work on this show?
Chris Chappell and I had been talking about sound-driven projects earlier in the year, right before The Brick announced sound scape. We had just finished listing some initial starting points and ideas, including Luigi Russolo's Futurist noise music, when we heard an interview with Joseph Lanza, the author of Elevator Music: A Surreal History of Muzak, Easy Listening, and Other Mood Song. And there it was. Chris immediately saw the delicious contrast between elevator music and Futurist aesthetics, and that elevator shafts are the space they both live in. And for me, the idea of three strangers stuck in an elevator was an exciting challenge. Bill Weeden, one of the cast members we're thrilled to have, described the script as this: "It's kinda Hitchcock meets Kubrick at the corner of Samuel Beckett Street and Jean-Paul Sartre Avenue." Who wouldn't want to direct that?

Which mythical character would like your show the best: Cyclops, Cupid, Paul Bunyan or the Easter Bunny?
Cyclops. He strikes me as the Futurist sort, chaos-loving and all.

Why are theater festivals so very important?
Festivals, when done right, are exciting laboratories of new work. They have some of the pros of residencies - guaranteed space, performances, some support from your co-producer (or in the case of The Brick, a lot of support) - but there's an exciting, often comforting, and sometimes scary social aspect to them. Playing alongside other productions allows an exchange of ideas on both a global level where shows are naturally interacting in rep, and the surrounding communities are being presented new work, and on the local level, where we're witnessing each other's work, talking at the local bar, creating a new, if ephemeral community that acts as a major support to its members. The festival model has in many ways replaced the collective and settlement models, by providing a place to play, experiment, fail, succeed, witness and be witnessed by your peers.