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Shut UP, Emily Dickinson

nytheatre.com q&a preview by Tanya O'Debra
March 4, 2013

What is your job on this show?
playwright/actor.

What is your show about?
Shut UP, Emily Dickinson is a pseudo-historical, quasi-biographical psycho-romance about the life of America's most annoying poetess.

What type of theater do you like most to work on?
Easy. The good type! You know, the kind with a sick sense of humor, provocative subject matter, and a sharp point of view.

Who is more important in the theater: the actor, the playwright, or the director?
In all of the best productions that I've worked on, there has been a synergy between the playwright, director and actor(s). When everyone feels like they have ownership of the piece, a true collaboration makes a play really sing. If someone thinks they are the most important person in the room, they are usually the weakest link, because it means they are not listening. You cannot collaborate if you do not listen.

How did you meet your fellow artists/collaborators on this show?
I met the composer, Andrew Mauriello, in high school. I'd seen him in several punk rock bands, and I really had no idea of the scope of his talent. He is now married to my sister, Jillian, and they have three beautiful daughters. After they had their first baby, he was looking for an artistic outlet, so I asked him to write the songs for my play, RADIO STAR. I loved them so much and they were such a hit that I asked him to write the music for SUED. You would never know that he hadn't written classical music before, because the score is AMAZING. So, basically he's the best brother-in-law ever. I met Mr. Gregg Bellon at the NY Fringe Festival where he was the Technical Director and I was a Venue Director. We had a very rom-com type of connection. First we hated each other; I though he was an ***hole, he thought I was an idiot, and now we're in love! Fortunately, we have a very deep respect of each other's work, and I've been very lucky to travel the world making plays with my favorite person.

Which famous person would you most like to get a fan letter from: Meryl Streep, Lindsay Lohan, Steven Spielberg, Philip Seymour Hoffman?
I can't believe I have to dignify this with an answer. Streep. Duh.

If you had ten million dollars that you had to spend on theatrical endeavors, how would you use the money?
I would finally be able to present work that has more than one or two actors! And I could invest in the shows, spaces and festivals of my favorite theater makers! Plus I would be able to pay my rent! Or maybe I would just blow it on glitter. Who can say?