Death In Venice In First Person
nytheatre.com q&a preview by RORY LANCE
September 19, 2012
What is your job on this show?
Do you consider yourself a writer who also performs, an actor who also writes, or something else?
For this project, I would consider myself an actor who writes, but what I truly was for most of my professional career was an educator. I recently retired after being a NYC high school drama teacher for 26 years and one of my goals was to use some of my new free time to create a theatre piece that I could travel around the country with, and the result was DEATH IN VENICE IN FIRST PERSON.
What does solo performance do that can't be accomplished in a multi-actor play?
I don't know if there is anything that a well written play, solo or multi, can't accomplish- but I do feel that the unique intimacy of a solo show enables the audience to get to know the central character in a very profound way. They do not have to share him/her with any other characters and the solo character gets to present all their thoughts and feelings directly and honestly to the select group that is present for that day's performance.
In your own words, what do you think this show is about? What will audiences take away with them after seeing it?
The show is about loneliness and obsession and how the choices we make, that may seem clear at an early point in our lives, may have devastating repercussions later on. I hope audiences take away a deep sympathy and understanding for this very complex central character.
Which famous solo performer has been most inspirational to you: Spalding Gray, John Leguizamo, Lily Tomlin, or Whoopi Goldberg?
I was very fortunate to witness, live, the great Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain. It was an evening full of great wit, great literature and an incredible transformation from actor into character that I will always measure future performances by.
If you had ten million dollars that you had to spend on theatrical endeavors, how would you use the money?
I would make sure that every high school in the nation had the facilities and resources to include a theatre curriculum and a season of production at their school. The benefit of this type of experience for young people literally can save lives- and believe me, I have seen that happen first hand, again and again.