Hometown: Everett, Washington (about thirty miles north of Seattle)
Current Town: New Haven, Connecticut
Q: Tell me about BOOzy.
A: BOOzy is a two-night storytelling event produced by New York theater company Bohemian Archaeology. Five Chicago writers penned Halloween inspired stories that are performed by New York actors. Jordana Kritzer (Bohemian Archaeology AD and director of the evening) is a close friend and colleague of mine. We’ve collaborated on various projects since our Seattle days in 2002-03. She conceived the evening and asked me to submit a story for consideration. My piece “Kryptonite” is about an experience I had four years ago trying to navigate a relationship with an extremely attractive, yet extremely self involved DJ. It’s light. It’s both silly and sexy, with a healthy dose of self deprecating humor.
Here’s some language from the press release that might communicate the tone of the evening more clearly:
BOO(zy) explores the themes of Halloween: from the freakish, gross, and sexy to the rituals of dressing up and acting out. It's not campfire-ghost-stories, and it ain't your grandmother's Halloween! Produced by Bohemian Archaeology, this show reaches into the writer's pandora's box and brings forth the scathing, awkward, and hilarious truth about life.
Five of Chicago’s most twisted and original writers join five of New York’s most talented actors for two nights of Halloween tales (Thurs Oct 28 and Fri Oct 29, 9:00pm at the DR2 in Union Square!). From getting freaked out to getting their freak on these storytellers tell twisted tales to get you in the Hallows’ Eve mood. These stories are accompanied by a live musical soundscape by Ryan Blotnick and are paired with a boozy drink, one that best embodies the theme of each story.
On Halloween night, a young hipster gets freaky with a hot DJ and wonders what happens when the costumes come off (Blood-Orange Martini); a homeless man jams to ‘80s rock with a broomstick (Jack-O-Lantern 'n Coke); a backpacker finds herself surrounded by freaks in the Red Light District of Amsterdam (Green-Eyed Schnapps Monster); and a bike racer dons her superhero cape and rides for her life (Freaky-gin Fizz).
Q: What else are you working on?
A: I just started my first year at the Yale School of Drama studying Directing. So first and foremost, I’m working on readjusting to school life after having been away from it for nearly a decade. Also, I’m working on getting used to New Haven which is quite different than Chicago where I spent the last six years.
In addition to school projects, I’m preparing to co-direct WE LIVE HERE in August 2011, a piece I co-conceived with my best friend and fellow Theatre Seven of Chicago company member Cassy Sanders. It features eight short autobiographical plays written by eight Chicago writers, woven together to create a cohesive piece of theater performed by a versatile nine-actor ensemble.
Q: Tell me about 2nd Story.
A: First, some language from their website, because really, I can’t explain it more succinctly than this:
2nd Story is a hybrid performance event combining storytelling, wine, and music that is produced by the Serendipity Theater Collective as both a Monthly Performance Series and an Annual Festival. A typical 2nd Story evening goes something like this: you hang out with your friends and eat and drink and make merry. Four or five times during the night, the lights go down, a spotlight comes up on somebody and they tell you a story.
I first got involved in 2nd Story in the winter of 2006. I saw an event at Webster’s Wine Bar and I was awed by the level of craft, both of the stories and the performers. I’d just started to become interested in exploring autobiographical stories in a theatrical medium and this seemed like the perfect place to begin that investigation. Immediately following the event I introduced myself to the producer and said “I want to do this. How can I be involved?” He suggested I submit a story to the annual festival. I did and spent the next four years writing and performing for 2nd Story. Some of my closest friends and collaborators are artists I met through 2nd Story. In fact, four of them wrote pieces for WE LIVE HERE.
Q: If I moved to Chicago, what theaters or shows would you recommend I see?
A: Theater Seven of Chicago! This is my company so naturally I must recommend it first. We’re about to open our fifth season with a production of David Mamet’s radio play THE WATER ENGINE directed by our brilliant Artistic Director Brian Golden. In June we open The Chicago Landmark Project, a festival of ten short world premiere plays about specific Chicago landmarks. As you might be able to guess, a large part of our mission is to create work by and for the Chicago community.
Other fantastic companies to check out: Pavement Group, The New Colony, Sinnerman, Strawdog, New Leaf, Sideshow, Hypocrites, Tuta, TimeLine, Profiles, Dog & Pony. There are so many more I’m forgetting. Chicago is home to a wealth of thriving storefront companies, it’s truly an amazing city to live and create theater in. As for individual artists, I would recommend anything directed by Matt Hawkins, Shade Murray, Joanie Shultz, Seth Bockley, Sean Graney, or Leslie Buxbaum.
Lastly, if you’d never visited the city, I’d say go check out whatever is playing at Steppenwolf. They are the most important and influential ensemble company in Chicago, (if not the United States) and their work is always of the highest quality. I moved to the Midwest to do an artistic apprenticeship there, so Steppenwolf will always have a special place in my heart.
Q: Besides a writer, you are an actor and director. How do your acting and directing inform your writing and vice versa?
A: My writing tends to be very conversational which I believe is a direct result of hailing from a performance background as opposed to a literary one. Before I even sit down to write a story I’ll walk around my room and speak it into a tape recorder so that my body can be involved. Thoughts and ideas often spring from physical movement for me. When I direct I like to get the company on its feet as soon as possible after the first or second read through. We’ll go back to the table throughout the first week, but some of the most important initial discoveries come from actual physical doing.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: I’d like the government and citizens of this country to view theater as a vital form of expression that we cannot survive without, and as a result of that belief, be eager to fund it appropriately…
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: Tina Landau, Charles Ludlam, Emma Rice, Mary Zimmerman, Lisa Kron, and Mike Daisey to name a few…
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Highly physical work created by companies or ensembles. The work of the Rude Mechs, Pig Iron, KneeHigh, Lookingglass, 500 Clown.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: I’m not sure I’m in a position to advise beginning playwrights since I'm not directly pursuing that career path, but practices I’ve observed from successful colleagues are a rigorous commitment to routine, discipline, and fearlessly seeking out artistic collaborators.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: BOO(zy): An Evening of Spirits and Storytelling
Thurs Oct 28 and Fri Oct 29th
Daryl Roth Theatre's DR2
101 E 15th St (@ Union Square East)
To buy tickets, go to:
or call 212-868-4444