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I noticed you doing a small slight-of-hand trick in the Wooster Group's North Atlantic.
Yeah. That's another great example of how Liz LeCompte really works with everybody. I would do tricks in front of her and she just loves them, so it's exciting for her to make it fit into the piece. In [the Wooster Group's] Brace Up!
, there were little cards tricks going on. Major Bang
was an experiment to incorporate magic into a theatrical show without necessarily a present character of a magician—to use magic effects as you would lighting or sound effects. And currently I'm working on a new show with Goeff Sobelle and Trey Lyford that is about magic and magicians. Some of it is physical theater-based and some of it is magic-based.
Rather than addressing the Las Vegas magic show, it's more addressing the club magicians. When I talk about me growing up doing magic, I would go to the Society of American Magicians
club meeting once a month. And you'd meet all these great characters. It's a great subculture, like any kind of community has. So, the show is an exploration of that world, in the context of a magic show put on by those characters.
Are there are projects you're working on at the moment?
An ongoing project that has been super exciting for me has involved working with the set designer, Christine Jones
, who did Spring Awakening
and American Idiot
. She has this project that's kind of her passion project, called Theatre for One
where she's designed this booth that has room for one seat and room for one performer. It's an exploration of what can work in that environment.
For me it was again about how can I incorporate magic, because that form of magic has been done for centuries—the one-on-one experience. So to have this beautiful lush red velvet theater that has one seat was really fun. We were at the Ohio Theatre for a bit. We had a residency in Times Square
. I think we're hopefully going to do more incarnations of that and develop some new material this coming year.
Also, I've done a few films lately—small, indie films—and that whole process is very strange to me, the performance aspect of it. A film just came out that I did a few scenes in called The Unlovables
, directed by Ilya Chaiken. I really enjoyed working with her, but the whole performance experience, it wasn't better or worse, it was just very different from doing a live show.
I would think that working in film would be a very strange experience for you because of the role of the audience we talked about earlier, particularly in magic. Who are you getting a reaction from on a film set?
For me the thing I found in it, going back to the technical thing, was the task of hitting that very specific mark and having to match takes up. That whole task is a very tangible thing for me as a performer. For me the emotion follows that, always. Acting from the outside in—putting a mask on first is an instant key to the inside of the character. Working on Lenny Bruce, putting that mask on, trying to get it exactly has opened up that character for me in a way that will definitely hopefully relate to the audience. So where I came from with Stella Adler to now is the big difference.
(Photo credit Ken Regan)