You’ve been in the last five Sheherezade productions as an actor. What went into your decision to direct this year?
I figured after 5 years of appearing on stage for Sheherezade that people would be tired to seeing me do my thing. No, no, that's just my dry humor at work. In all actuality my wife, Quinn - producing director of Wily West Productions - approached me with a couple scripts that were being considered for Sheherezade and they captivated me. I was immediately struck with the feelings, messages and images that I wanted to communicate; I couldn't resist!
Which plays are you directing?
I have the privilege of directing Bridget Dutta Portman's "Brew, Drink, Repeat"; Madeline Butler's "The Box"; Steve Kopmann's "Almost Like Being Alive"; and Vonn Scott Bair's "The Duck".
What approach are you taking?
These plays have such a wide range of subject matter and sweep the spectrum between comedy and drama. The best way to describe the approach that I am taking is: adaptive. After doing Sheherezade for so many years, I've found that the more tricks you've got in the bag, the more approaches and perspectives you can take: the better off you are. This process is fast, it's focused and it's intense. The discovery process needs to be adapted to fit that framework, I try to stay as open and creative as I can while sprinting toward opening night.
An emerging theme between these plays that has really jumped out at us is reality and perception. Tell us about an experience that you thought had been one thing only to discover it was completely different.
I try to walk into rehearsals without too many preconceptions. I go in with a vision and a plan but I try not to tie too many themes that may or may not be there into the mix before my actors have had a chance to make those discoveries at their own pace.
What other projects are you working on? What can audiences of Sheherezade look forward to next?
I have the utmost pleasure and privilege of directing Morgan Ludlow's "Drowning Kate" and Krista Knight's "Unhindged" this coming fall. These two plays devastated me in the best possible way. I will be perfectly honest with you and say that I am the worst person to ask for an opinion when reading a play. If I'm not reading for a part or memorizing lines, I easily tune out and rush through it. This was not at all the case for these two plays.
I initially directed the staged reading of "Drowning Kate" for the Spooky Cabaret. It was beautifully realized and received remarkably well. Again, I credit my wife Quinn for bringing this play to me and producing it for the Spooky Cabaret. Quinn understands that I have a bit of a dark side, that I enjoy bringing out the painful moments in our lives that we all share in. This play explores how our pain shackles, connects and even comforts us.
"Unhindged" is a masterful work by Krista Knight that I could not stop reading. From the moment I laid eyes on the first page of text, I knew that I had to have it. Krista writes with the ear of a musician and creates the emotional landscape with the hand of a poet. I couldn't ask for a more rich, complex and vibrant piece to direct.