Category Archives: Interviews

LARS EIDINGER INTERVIEW IN BERLIN ·

(Philip Oltermann’s article appeared in the Guardian, 3/23.)

When Lars Eidinger first appeared as a careerist Nazi officer in the BBC’s recent TV show SS-GB, some drama critics snapped their pencils in despair. Here was one of Europe’s finest young actors, already hailed as one of the great Hamlets of the 21st century, cheapening himself as a cartoon Nazi, complete with creaky leather trench coat, shiny boots and skull-and-crossbones cap. And all that for a series with a whiff of Brexit agitprop about it, as the new German rulers of Britain rhapsodise about “citizens of a united Europe” while plotting expansions for Siemens and Bosch.

But by last Sunday’s final episode of this alt-history of the second world war, something had changed. Eidinger’s SS officer, Oskar Huth, who had stormed into post-Battle of Britain London as a snappy workaholic, had quietly transformed into a world-weary existentialist, overcome by the futility of it all yet stoically refusing a blindfold as he faces the firing squad. It was an audacious heist of a performance: even the Daily Telegraph thought the Nazi had stolen the show.

(Read more)

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2017/mar/23/lars-eidinger-ss-gb-personal-shopper-interview

Photo:  Schaubuhne

MAY ADRALES’S ‘STRANGEST’ INTERVIEW II: REAL LIFE, REAL WORK AS A PROFESSIONAL DIRECTOR; PEOPLE, PLAYS, PERSPIRATION—RUNNING LONG-DISTANCE AND CREATING THE MOST POWERFUL THEATRE POSSIBLE ·

MAY ADRALES is a freelance director and teacher based in New York City.  She helmed the world premieres of Vietgone at Manhattan Theatre Club/South Coast Rep, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Seattle Rep; Luce at LCT3, Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them at Actors Theater of Louisville; after all the terrible things I do at Milwaukee Rep; Mary at The Goodman Theatre; In This House at Two River Theater Company; Qui Nguyen’s Five Days Till Saturday (NYU Tisch); Richard Dresser’s Trouble Cometh at San Francisco Playhouse; and  Katori Hall’s Whaddabloodclot!!! at Williamstown Theater Festival.  Upcoming:  Imani Uzuri and Zakiyyah Alexander’s girl shakes loose at Penumbra Theater; Betty Shamieh’s The Strangest at East 4th Theater; and Chisa Hutchinson’s Somebody’s Daughter at Second Stage Theatre.

Adrales is the recipient of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation’s inaugural Denham Fellowship and the Paul Green Emerging Directing Award.  She is a recipient of a TCG New Generations grant.  She has been awarded directing fellowships at New York Theater Workshop,  Women’s Project, SoHo Rep, and The Drama League.  She is a proud Artistic Associate at Milwaukee Rep.  Adrales has directed and taught at NYU, Juilliard, American Conservatory Theater, American Repertory Theater, Fordham University, and Bard College.  She served as a faculty member for The Public Theater’s Shakespeare Lab (2006-2009).  She is on faculty at Einhorn School of Performing Arts at Primary Stages and taught Directing Shakespeare at Brown/Trinity MFA program.  Adrales is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and currently serves on the faculty.  

A first-generation Filipina American, Adrales grew up in southwest Virginia with her three sisters JoAnn, Gina, and Tricia and had a backyard full of chickens, pheasant, and dogs.  Her father, Dr. Mamerto B. Adrales, is a general surgeon and her mother, Jocelyn Divinagracia Adrales, is a nurse.  They established a home and successful family practice in Covington, Virginia.  May is a lover of ice cream and martinis, and she balances this love with a passion for running and marathon racing.   Currently, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband-to-be, architect and theater designer, Brad Kisicki.  

Visit May’s Web site: http://www.mayadrales.net  

 

May Adrales gets immersive with SV’s Bob Shuman—Part II.

One skill a director must have?

A strong curiosity about the world we are living in.  And an ability to translate that curiosity into the work. 

How should a playwright best interact with a director?  How are the boundaries between the two best set—and what are they?  How do you work with Betty Shamieh? 

Every playwright/director relationship is different.  You are in a marriage of sorts, so you have to work out how best to communicate with one another.   I think you must build an innate trust and know that you both want to create the most powerful theatrical event possible.  I also don’t try to go out to “fix” a play.  I believe unequivocally in the power of The Strangest and only wish to interpret what’s on the page in the most persuasive and moving way possible. 

What’s different about being a professional director than you suspected as a student? How would you advise a young director, or your students, trying to break into the business today?

I teach a class at Yale called “Bridge to the Profession,” which aims to prepare students for the professional world.  I try to get them to think more specifically about who they are–what drives them, what are they curious about in the world–and also what work they want to put out in the world.  I try to guide them, practically speaking, by teaching them a little about self-producing, budgeting, and also balancing personal and work life.  

Would you tell them to read reviews—and what kinds of things might they learn from critics?

It’s helpful to read reviews sometimes.  I always do.  It’s always painful to read about your work in sound bites when you have dedicated at least half a year, usually more, to the project.  But my professor, Liz Diamond, once advised us to read reviews and reflect on the facts of the review– what the reviewer saw–rather than the adjectives.  It was an important lesson for me. I was able to cut through the biting critique and better understand the work I put on stage.  Now, as a teacher, I try to lead a class discussion on failure and success and ask students to determine what their own criteria for success is, rather than a reviewer’s.  

Most influential director, person in theatre, or mentor in your life?

Lee Breuer of Mabou Mines.  He taught me to dare inventively, shake off fear, and eschew the need for acceptance in my work. 

How do you beat the stress that comes with your job?

I used to smoke. Now I long-distance run.  But red wine and good company makes the stress always go away.

Best recent Broadway or Off-Broadway play? How do you know what fine directorial work is?

Simon McBurney’s Mnemonic opened my eyes to what technology could do in theater; Lee Breuer’s The Doll’s House showed me the skillful hand of a director and how a director can push the envelope again and again within one production; and Jessica Hagedorn’s Dogeaters– it was the first play I ever saw Off-Broadway that had characters that resembled me and my family.   

Must all good stage work be political?

I think by nature all theater is political.  It’s a political act to engage in a community that presents you with another way to live life and empathize with people other than yourself.  But good theater is a rare alchemy–there are so many elements that must cohere in order for it to be impactful and powerful.  Theater with only a political message often bores me, but theater that can ignite real questions, about what it means to live in this world, and that questions my own way of thinking is what I go to the theater for.   

When are or were you happiest in the theatre?

When I see the strange and the beautiful collide in an unexpected way.  When I see dissonance on stage and it shakes me to the core.  When I see pure joy expressed and feel free myself.  It’s a wondrous thing to be moved by such fiction.

Thank you so much.

Read Part I of the interview with May Adrales: 

http://stagevoices.com/2017/03/09/may-adrales-says-the-strangest-things-the-director-on-a-new-project-at-east-4th-theater-311-41-work-with-playwright-betty-shamieh-and-her-marriage-proposal-the-night/

The Semitic Root presents

The Strangest

An Immersive Murder Mystery Experience Set in French Algiers

Inspired by Albert Camus’ Classic Novel, The Stranger

Written by Betty Shamieh

Directed by May Adrales

March 12 – April 1

Fourth Street Theatre

TICKETS:

Regular Price: $25

Premium: $45 (Includes a reserved seat and a signed program)

Purchase: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2822899

Press: Hanna Raskin/GOGO Public Relations and Marketing

(c) 2017 by May Adrales (answers) and Bob Shuman (questions). All rights reserved.

Photo:  Stephanie Keith (Alok Tewari as Abu)

MAY ADRALES’S ‘STRANGEST’ INTERVIEW: THE DIRECTOR ON WORK WITH PLAYWRIGHT BETTY SHAMIEH, IMMERSION AT FOURTH STREET THEATRE (3/12–4/1), AND HER MARRIAGE PROPOSAL–THE NIGHT BEFORE TECH ·

MAY ADRALES is a freelance director and teacher based in New York City.  She helmed the world premieres of Vietgone at Manhattan Theatre Club/South Coast Rep, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and Seattle Rep; Luce at LCT3, Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them at Actors Theater of Louisville; after all the terrible things I do at Milwaukee Rep; Mary at The Goodman Theatre; In This House at Two River Theater Company; Qui Nguyen’s Five Days Till Saturday (NYU Tisch); Richard Dresser’s Trouble Cometh at San Francisco Playhouse; and  Katori Hall’s Whaddabloodclot!!! at Williamstown Theater Festival.  Upcoming:  Imani Uzuri and Zakiyyah Alexander’s girl shakes loose at Penumbra Theater; Betty Shamieh’s The Strangest at East 4th Theater; and Chisa Hutchinson’s Somebody’s Daughter at Second Stage Theatre.

Adrales is the recipient of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation’s inaugural Denham Fellowship and the Paul Green Emerging Directing Award.  She is a recipient of a TCG New Generations grant.  She has been awarded directing fellowships at New York Theater Workshop,  Women’s Project, SoHo Rep, and The Drama League.  She is a proud Artistic Associate at Milwaukee Rep.  Adrales has directed and taught at NYU, Juilliard, American Conservatory Theater, American Repertory Theater, Fordham University, and Bard College.  She served as a faculty member for The Public Theater’s Shakespeare Lab (2006-2009).  She is on faculty at Einhorn School of Performing Arts at Primary Stages and taught Directing Shakespeare at Brown/Trinity MFA program.  Adrales is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and currently serves on the faculty.  

A first-generation Filipina American, Adrales grew up in southwest Virginia with her three sisters JoAnn, Gina, and Tricia and had a backyard full of chickens, pheasant, and dogs.  Her father, Dr. Mamerto B. Adrales, is a general surgeon and her mother, Jocelyn Divinagracia Adrales, is a nurse.  They established a home and successful family practice in Covington, Virginia.  May is a lover of ice cream and martinis, and she balances this love with a passion for running and marathon racing.   Currently, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband-to-be, architect and theater designer, Brad Kisicki.  

Visit May’s Web site: http://www.mayadrales.net  

May Adrales gets immersive with SV’s Bob Shuman in a tw0-part interview—Part 2 will be published 3/18.  

Isn’t it easier to deal with a dead playwright? 

It may be easier to work with a dead playwright, but not nearly as gratifying, or as much fun.  I gravitate towards new writers because I thrive from those collaborations.  I love working on a play from the ground up.  And I love the thrill and challenge of trying out choices for the first time.  There is nothing more exhilarating and terrifying than sitting in the audience for a first preview.

What does a typical day look like when you’re in rehearsal or running a show—and what is it like before that, when you are preparing for a play?  

For the last few years, I’ve mainly been in rehearsals for one production while preparing for another at the same time. And more often than not, I’m also doing the groundwork for the production which will come after them.  I do savor the rare moments when I just have the time to meditate and reflect on a play, without having to make hard production decisions. It takes a lot of focus to manage each project successfully.  But I’m at my best when I get at least 5-6 hours of sleep a night and have a nice run first thing in the morning–then I  can welcome the workday with a clear head.  

After the success of Vietgone, why did you decide to do The Strangest, Betty Shamieh’s play inspired by Camus—and how did you become involved?

I have a long history with this play and with Betty.  I’ve admired and supported her work for a long time.  We did a workshop production of the play while she was in residence at Here Arts Center five years ago, and I think it’s one of her strongest works to date.  At this point in time, I want to do plays that are part of a larger resistance to what is happening politically in this country.  This play centers on two Middle Eastern female protagonists and their fierce fight for equality.  It also explains their need to reframe a narrative that has been dominated by colonial power.  Despite the fact that it is painfully difficult to independently produce, I feel it’s the most urgent story I can tell right now. 

Tell us about casting—who are your actors for The Strangest and what did you need to keep in mind while you were making your decisions?

I have the most extraordinary cast.  These are actors whom I have known and admired for a long time. Many of them have done development workshops and readings, including the extraordinary, powerful, and imaginative Jacqueline Antaramian. Roxanna Hope Radja has consistently blown me away in performance.  And now she is doing breathtaking work in rehearsals.   We were so lucky to secure the ever-powerful, yet gentle and sensual Alok Tewari, who did the first workshop production at Here, five years ago.  I was lucky to meet Juri Henley Cohn and Louis Sallan at an audition for a production of Disgraced.  They ultimately were not in that production, but I was so impressed with their talent that I cast them in this without an audition.  The ever-fun, imaginative, and talented Andrew Guilarte had just played the lead for me in a production, and he has returned to The Strangest, after being part of its development. 

Directorially, what are the challenges of working on immersive theatre?

The liveness of immersive theater is the most unpredictable and most influential element.  I think the proximity of the actors to spectators gives a sense of urgency and now-ness, unparalleled in film and TV and even in other proscenium-type houses.  The actors have to step up their games; they are always in close-up and the second they let go of their circumstances, characters, or stakes, the audience knows that–and feels it. 

Most insane problem you’ve encountered as a director in the last year?

Oh … so many problems to choose from … but last September, my schedule was so packed that the only time my boyfriend could propose to me was the night before I went into tech.  Not exactly a problem, but certainly an extraordinary event and circumstance.   He proposed in Central Park, and I had my backpack on filled with script and production notes. 

Thanks so much, May. Looking forward to next week.

Read Part 2 of this interview: https://stagevoices.com/2017/03/19/may-adraless-strangest-interview-ii-real-life-real-work-as-a-professional-director-people-plays-perspiration-best-shows-best-practise-running-long-distance-and-creating-the-m/ 

The Semitic Root presents

The Strangest 

An Immersive Murder Mystery Experience Set in French Algiers

Inspired by Albert Camus’ Classic Novel, The Stranger

 Written by Betty Shamieh

Directed by May Adrales

 March 12 – April 1

Fourth Street Theatre

TICKETS:

Regular Price: $25; Premium: $45 (Includes a reserved seat and a signed program)

 Purchase: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2822899

Press: Hanna Raskin/GOGO Public Relations and Marketing

(c) 2017 by May Adrales (answers) and Bob Shuman (questions). All rights reserved.

5 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT MERYL STREEP ·

(Maria Ward’s article appeared in Vogue, 2/25; via Pam Green.

Meryl Streep has played many roles in her 40-year-long film career, most recently a tone-deaf opera singer with dreams to perform at Carnegie Hall, which earned her a Best Actress in a Leading Role Academy Award nomination. “I’m curious about other people,” Streep has said. “That’s the essence of my acting. I’m interested in what it would be like to be you.” Streep has always been interested in transformation; as she once told Vogue, when she was little, she would draw age lines on her face, pretending to be her own grandmother. Since making her film debut at age 28 in Julia, Streep has racked up three Oscar wins and 20 nominations in acting awards—more nominations than any other actor in the history of the Academy Awards. Here, in honor of her most recent recognition, five other things you may not have known about the inimitable Meryl Streep.

  1. Jane Fonda was Streep’s mentor.In a 2014 interview with Good Morning America,Fonda recalled her own experiences as an up-and-coming actress: “I was close to Bette Davis. I was close to Barbara Stanwyck [and] Katharine Hepburn. And why didn’t I ask them endless questions? ‘What do you do when you are nervous? How do you overcome fear?’ And I didn’t!” Fonda said. “You know the only person who has ever asked me those kinds of questions? And of course it would be her: Meryl Streep.” Streep previously acknowledged this career coaching (which began on the set of the 1977 drama, Julia) while paying tribute to Fonda at the 2014 AFI Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony: “I was so nervous because all of my scenes were going to be with you,” Streep confessed. “[Fonda] had this almost feral alertness, like this bright blue attentiveness to everything that was around her that was completely intimidating—and made me feel like I was lumpy and from New Jersey, which . . . I am.”

(Read more)

http://www.vogue.com/article/meryl-streep-5-things-you-didnt-know?mbid=social_facebook

(Photo: Awards Daily)

MICHAEL ANTHONY INTERVIEW, PART II: ‘CIVILIANIZED’–FROM PULP/ZEST BOOKS ·

Michael Anthony is the author of Civilianized, “an intense memoir” (Kirkus) about his return to the U.S. from a combat tour in Iraq. He is also the author of Mass Casualties: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Deception, and Dishonor in Iraq, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. He has written for the Washington Post blog, the Business Insider blog, as well as several others, including a year-long stint as a feature writer and the editor of the “War and Veterans” section of the Good Men Project. He lives in Boston and can be contacted through is website: MassCasualties.com.

Michael Anthony Gives Part II of an Interview, regarding his new book, with SV’s Bob Shuman.  (Read part 1:  http://stagevoices.com/2017/02/05/michael-anthony-is-back-from-iraq-in-his-new-memoir-civilianized-from-pulpzest-books/ )

Back at it:

Name two books on war, other than your own, that you would put in a time capsule.

All Quiet on the Western Front and Catch-22. Both of those books are the most amazing books on war I’ve ever read. They’re novels, but they capture the heart and essence of war better than any other books, memoirs, or novels, that I’ve ever come across.

I’ve given Catch-22 to many people to read, veterans and civilians, and it’s interesting because I’ve had a handful of civilians all say something similar to me about Catch-22, which was something along the lines of “I wasn’t too crazy about the book; it was too absurd, not realistic enough.” And on the reverse, all the veterans I’ve given a copy of Catch-22 to all comment that it’s “Hilarious, and such an accurate portrayal of the ridiculousness of the military and war…” Both books show the true reality and absurdity of war:

Do you worry about the U.S. becoming involved in another war—and have you become a pacifist?

I’ve come to believe, unfortunately, that war is a part of human nature. The bible talks of wars against good and evil, and Jane Goodall, the famed primatologist, speaks of our cousin chimps and apes fighting wars over territory and supplies. On both sides of this issue, creationists, religious people, scientists, and evolutionists seem to believe that we’re here to fight. Whether it’s in our DNA, through evolution or part of our souls, it seems like it’s something that’s here to stay. I think that at the end of the day all we can do is hope that we’re on the right side of the war and that history will be kind to our version of things.

What is the best way to support someone coming back from deployment?

I think the best way to approach someone isn’t in a veteran vs. civilian conversation, but more as just two people having a conversation.

Asking questions such as “Seen anyone die?” and “Almost die yourself?” are very personal questions.  They could be the equivalent of asking, in a sense, “When’s the last time you masturbated?” or “How much money do you make?” and so on. War, and the feelings and experiences that comes with it, are very personal. We’ve glorified it and pacified it, though, in movies and TV shows, so it makes it seem okay to just go up to a vet, just back from the war, and ask these questions.  Maybe he or she did see someone die and maybe it was a friend, or maybe someone was killed and the death is still haunting him or her. My suggestion would be just to have a normal, caring, honest conversation, but don’t push the boundaries unless it seems as though the veteran is the one looking to talk about those things. 

What’s the best review you ever received from someone who was sent to Iraq or Afghanistan? 

The best reviews and notes I receive from veterans are always when they say that my writing has helped him or her in some way. That’s it. Clear and simple. Whether they’re saying I inspired them to write a story about their experiences, or whether my writing helped them make sense of their own experiences, or whether it helped them to reach out to friends/family, or anything in-between, that’s what matters. The best notes that writers get are just those that let them hear that their work moved and inspired a person, and when I hear that my work has inspired a veteran to go seek help, to reach back out to a friend, to think more deeply about things, or even to write a story themselves, those are always the notes that make it all worthwhile.

How do you stay involved in veteran affairs?

 Throughout the years I’ve volunteered and worked with and reached out to many different veterans and groups so that there’s always a contact who’s looking for help in some way. Whether it’s to help fundraise for a veteran group or charity, help build a house for a disabled vet, or just meeting up to talk, there’s no shortages of ways to help out veterans.  Unfortunately, there’s also no shortage of veterans in need of help, so instead of sticking with one charity and helping in one way, I’ve gone the route of volunteering at dozens of different types of veterans charities. I think the novelty of volunteering with different groups has kept me from burning out after all these years. 

Thank you, Michael.  Good luck with your book.

View Civilianized on Amazon: Civilianized

(c) 2017 by Michael Anthony (answers) and Bob Shuman (questions). All rights reserved.

MICHAEL ANTHONY IS BACK FROM IRAQ, IN HIS NEW MEMOIR, ‘CIVILIANIZED’–FROM PULP/ZEST BOOKS ·

Michael Anthony is the author of Civilianized, “an intense memoir” (Kirkus) about his return to the U.S. from a combat tour in Iraq. He is also the author of Mass Casualties: A Young Medic’s True Story of Death, Deception, and Dishonor in Iraq, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. He has written for the Washington Post blog, the Business Insider blog, as well as several others, including a year-long stint as a feature writer and the editor of the “War and Veterans” section of the Good Men Project. He lives in Boston and can be contacted through is website: MassCasualties.com.

Michael Anthony Gives Part I of an Interview, regarding his new book, with SV’s Bob Shuman.  Part II will be published February 14.

Do you think your experience reintegrating into American life, as told in Civilianized, is fairly representative?  

I think there are parts that will be universal to some or most veterans and other parts that won’t be as universal. I think what’s universal is that all veterans, who return from war, have a reintegration process, whether it’s two days, two weeks, or two years–that’s the big difference. The process is smoother for some, rougher for others. Over 20 percent of returning veterans are diagnosed with PTSD; between 20 and 22 veterans kill themselves every day in the United States; and veterans represent the largest minority group in the homeless population. There’s definitely something that’s “happening,” for veterans, as they’re making the transition from “war,” to “peace,” Civilianized is just the beginning of a conversation of what that might be.

Tell us about the book—and how it was harder and easier to write than your first memoir, set in Iraq, Mass Casualties.

For both books I had journals from the time period to utilize, which made it a lot easier. But with my second book, I also have the benefit of having an MFA from Lesley University, which I didn’t have with my first. So I think writing the second one came a little bit easier (though it took a longer time) than my first one. In general though, I think memoir is the easiest prose to write. All it really takes, in my opinion, is to close your eyes and try in the best way possible, to describe what you see/feel/remember. The hardest part, I think, in memoir, isn’t in the actual writing; it’s in finding the strength to be honest with yourself about what the story really is, and what needs to be told.

What don’t non-military U.S. citizens understand about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

I think the biggest thing people don’t understand is that these are real people fighting these wars (on both sides). We often demonize our enemies and put our own soldiers on a pedestal and, after a while, it no longer reflects the true human reality of war. When veterans come home from wars it’s hard to understand why they’re struggling so much when our only experience of them is as manly, stoic heroes in movies and TV shows. I worked with one woman in Iraq who held a job at a strip club before we were deployed.  Another woman was a police officer and one guy was a cashier at a grocery store–one was a firefighter, another was a tax accountant, another was a cab driver, and another was an English teacher. Real people fight wars and then real people come home from wars, and I think that’s what people don’t really grasp: the person who’s risking his or her life for you isn’t some romanticized, idealized person. It’s your brother, your sister, your neighbor, your coworker.  He or she can be that annoying kid from next door, your high school crush, that guy who dated your sister, that girl who dumped your brother.

I think that once we see that returning soldiers are real people again, with real problems and issues, which are and can be compounded by the stress and trauma of war, that it becomes easier to understand and empathize with what they went through–and are going through–on their return from war.

What did serving in Iraq give to you that you would never give back?

A few weeks ago, I was having a conversation with someone, and she asked if “the military/war changes you?”–and she was implying in her question that military service and war change a person.

I, on the other hand, told her that I actually believe the opposite: That the military/war doesn’t change a person; rather, it shows him or her who they really are.  In war you get to see who you “truly are.” Not just who you are as a regular Joe Schmo, working forty hours a week, who gets eight hours of sleep a night, three meals a day, and spends his weekends golfing. I’m talking about who you are when the tides are turned against you. Who you are when you’ve only had four hours of sleep a night for two weeks straight, when you haven’t had a day off in months, haven’t had a good meal in just as long, and you’ve got someone dying in your hands. I fully believe that it’s only in those moments that a person realizes who he or she really is. Joe Schmo may have the makings of a badass hero inside him, but he’ll never know it because he’s never been tested in that way.

So I think what Iraq and fighting in a war has given me is a perspective of who I really am, as a person, and what people are really capable of when pushed to their limits.

Knowing what you now know, would you have enlisted?  Would you have become a writer if you had not served?

I would’ve absolutely done it all again. I worked in a hospital over there, helped save hundreds of lives, and was there looking out for my friends. Although my deployment wasn’t perfect, and there was a lot of crap that went along with it, there’s an allure to the power and purpose and passion that war offers.

Towards the end of my deployment, I volunteered to stay another six months, but I was the only one in my unit who had done a year straight, and the commanders wouldn’t let me do an additional six months. A year after returning from Iraq, too, I volunteered for a six-month deployment to Afghanistan, but a friend of mine got his packet in before me so he went instead.

If I had never gone to Iraq I probably still would have been a writer, since I’ve written since I was a kid. But I definitely wouldn’t be published, or as good, or as successful, and I definitely wouldn’t have been able to afford to get an MFA without a little help from my Uncle Sam.

What person, on the national scene, do you think should read Civilized and Mass Casualties—and why?

Anyone who works in the VA system, I think, should check out Civilianized. So many veterans are out there, hurting, and there are so many amazing, caring people who work in the VA, but they’re being thwarted by the politics and bureaucracy involved. So, I think, that if we can get some of the people at the top to read stories of our veterans, it will remind them that veterans are real people.  They’re people who served their country and are not just numbers or dollar bills, and, I think, that would have the potential to help the system.

View Civilianized on Amazon: Civilianized

(c) 2017 by Michael Anthony (answers) and Bob Shuman (questions). All rights reserved.

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA SURPRISES BROADWAYCON AND ANSWERS 7 BURNING QUESTIONS ·

(Michael Gioia’s article appeared in Playbill Online, 1/28; via Pam Green.)

Lin-Manuel Miranda, the Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning creator of the megahit musical Hamilton, couldn’t make this year’s festivities at BroadwayCon because he is in London filming the upcoming Mary Poppins Returns film, in which he stars. So, we brought the Con to him—via FaceTime. In a surprise panel hosted by Miranda’s brother-in-law, Luis Crespo, the original Alexander Hamilton caught up with theatre fans at BroadwayCon, answering questions about what he’s up to and what advice he has for aspiring artists.

Do you have any advice for people pursuing theatre in college?
Lin-Manuel Miranda: The answer is this: Study all the things that you don’t want to go into in theatre. Study lighting. Do all the things. For my theatre major, I did makeup, I ran lights, I did sound design, I sewed costumes, and that stuff comes in incredibly handy when you work with other people. Theatre is all about collaboration, so you have to actually understand a bit of the job your collaborators are doing, so that you can speak to them fluently. And then the other thing is take, like, whatever you’re interested in—I promise it will come in handy. Tommy Kail was an American History major; it came in pretty handy when we had this idea. So that’s my advice. Do what you’re passionate about.

(Read more)

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/159e835bea79933c

Photo: Hollywood Reporter.

PAOLA LÁZARO: A PLAYWRIGHT WHO PUTS HER DEMONS, AND FAMILY, TO WORK ·

(Elysa Gardner’s article appeared in The New York Times, 1/19; via Pam Green.)

Paola Lázaro’s inner left wrist is marked with a jagged outline of Puerto Rico, where she was born and raised. “My uncle tattooed me, in exchange for a pack of Marlboro Reds,” Ms. Lázaro, a playwright and actress, explained. “My dark theory is that if I’m found dead in a corner of a street and I have no ID, they can just take my body there. Everyone will know where I come from.”

Ms. Lázaro had just spent the morning watching a rehearsal of her new play — her first to be produced professionally — “Tell Hector I Miss Him,” which is now in previews and opens Monday, Jan. 23, at the Atlantic Theater Company. The cast includes two stars of the hit Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black,” Selenis Leyva and Dascha Polanco, as well as Ms. Lázaro’s fellow writer-performer Lisa Ramirez, in whose work “To the Bone” she acted two years ago.

Before the company broke for lunch, two other actors, Flaco Navaja and Luis Vega — playing a luckless cocaine enthusiast named Hugo and a clown-like figure called El Mago in Old San Juan — ran a scene in which they have drug-induced visions. The dialogue is gritty but lyrical, sprinkled with Spanish and pocked with profanity.

Ms. Lázaro drank it in, plainly still tickled to hear her words read back to her by pros. As Mr. Vega patted down and shook out his jacket, pretending to look for Hugo’s fix, she bent over laughing. She then stared, rapt, as El Mago shed his joyful mask and addressed a spirit from his past.

El Mago (Spanish for magician) is based on Ms. Lázaro’s paternal grandfather, who has so longed to be reunited with his dead wife that he has devised various suicide strategies, and related them — with some humor, apparently — to the playwright’s mother. “He says, ‘Tell the kids to come visit me in the next 20 days, because I’m going to die,’” Ms. Lázaro recalled. “Poor man, he’s 97, and he keeps living and living.”

Continue reading the main story

(Read more)

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/19/theater/paola-lazaro-tell-hector-i-miss-him-atlantic-theater.html

 

GLENDA JACKSON TODAY ·

glendajackson

Link to BBC 4 for Glenda Jackson profile: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b080mhp2

As Glenda Jackson returns to the West End stage, Mark Coles profiles the Oscar-winning actor and former Labour MP, with contributions from her son Dan Hodges, Hollywood actor George Segal and legendary theatre director Peter Brook.

Producer Smita Patel 
Researcher Sarah Shebbeare.

Link to Glenda Jackson in Zola’s ‘Blood, Sex, and Money’ on BBC 4:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07zv3gp

(Photo: My Theatre Mates)

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