Saturday, June 06, 2009

I interview playwrights part 4: Dominic Orlando

Dominic Orlando  

Q: Tell me about this one man show you're performing. What is it about?

A: It actually started with a small idea, what KRAPP'S LAST TAPE would look like now, with video and sound and all the ways we can preserve and augment our memories. The Red Eye Theater here in Minneapolis has an amazing works in progress series and I got into it last year and explored that idea and it didn't interest me all that much--until Paradise Lost started creeping into it--I'm not sure how, exactly, but something about the pride of Satan, and his inability to see that being a King in Hell is not such a great deal--the idea of how stubbornness and misplaced pride can destroy your life. Maybe because of the Beckett influence, the main character also has trouble telling his story, so part of the drama of the event is can this guy get his shit together long enough to finish a sentence, never mind communicate these complicated ideas and thoughts.

Q: How did it come about?

A: I did it for The Red Eye's Works-in-Progress last year and they commissioned me to expand it this year for Isolated Acts, which is part of the same festival, but now I'm on the bill for an entire weekend, all by myself. Very new experience for a writer--I'm used to hiding behind many, many more people.

Q: Is this your first one person show?

A: Oh, yeah.

Q: Is writing a solo show for yourself to perform vastly different than writing a play?

A: This is a somewhat bizarre question coming from a playwright, but it's hugely different. Mostly because you can "compose" literally on your feet--basically write, act and direct (sort of) at the same time. And of course the structure is different, whatever the sense of--why are you asking me this, you know the answer already.

Q: I guess I just meant tell me how it’s different. Before Minneapolis, where were you living?

A; Brooklyn Heights

Q: You came to MN for a Jerome Fellowship, right?

A: yup.

Q; Do you think you'll stick around in MN for a while? What do you like about it?

A: There's a remarkable community of playwrights & theatre artists here--I'm not sure if it's because it's smaller (though, coming from a life spent in NYC, seeing "pop. 387,000" still gives me a kick)--but there's definitely a different vibe--the community feels more present. Of course, it could just be me, I was kind of a lunatic most of my time in NYC (a word we don't use lightly in my family). But it does seems unique. And I became a professional writer here, meaning I weaned myself off any kind of "survival job" so it will always have place in my heart because of that. I live in an actual house, and it takes me fifteen minutes (or less) to get to the airport. Which is really important because more than half my work is out of town--but, of course, New York is New York--so we'll see. And San Francisco/Berkeley is creeping into the mix as well.

Q; What kind of theater most excites you?

A: You know, The Walker used to send fellows free tickets, and we went to the first of Cynthia Hopkins' trilogy, and we walked in and I saw the set-up and I thought, "God, this is going to be unbearable"—but of course it was incredible. And I had the same feeling going into a Guthrie Production of "View From A Bridge"--which had some serious flaws, but overall knocked me out. So I think we're past the point of, you know, there's some Rule, or we should all pick a team and stick to it. There's definitely stuff that turns me off automatically, but I think most important is where is the artist coming from, is this the real deal or are they just shitting around or fucking with me or being fashionable (or trying to be)--so I guess "don't waste my time" is my only standard at this point.

Q: What advice do you have for my playwright readers about the business or act of playwriting?

A: Don't think of them as two different things. Other than that, it's extremely personal, how you work and how you deal with "selling" yourself (though you have to do it, there's literally no way around it). And maybe I'd come off my answer to the last question and say, Don't let some jackass from any school of thought tell you what a play is supposed to look like.

Q: What is the information for people who want to go see your show?

A:   It's at The Red Eye Theater: http://www.redeyetheater.org June 11th, 12th & 13th @ 8PM.

2 comments:

Seth Christenfeld said...

...does the piece have a title?

ideas de negocio said...

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