A Conversation With Taylor Mac

Apr 5, 2011


A Conversation With Taylor Mac, Interviewed by Justine Williams

I sat down with playwright, director, actor and drag performer, Taylor Mac, to talk about the highs and lows of making theater and community in New York, and to discuss his latest play, The Walk Across the Country For Mother Earth, which looks at idealism, community activism, and the humanity (warts and all) of the individuals who make up a community and seek to make change.
 
Mac’s play, developed and produced by downtown stalwarts, The Talking Band, follows a motley crew of radical activists as they tramp across the USA in 1992 to draw attention to the 500th anniversary of the country’s cooption of Shoshone land and to protest nuclear testing on the modern-day site in Nevada. A self-proclaimed  “pastiche artist”, Mac draws on elements of commedia, drag and the archetypal quest story (think Wizard of Oz but with more sequins and pageantry) to weave an inventive, meandering and ultimately moving story about success and failure and the beautiful messiness of change (both the personal and social kind).  

Photo: The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac, At The Public Theater shot by Lucien Samaha

As part of what I hope will be an ongoing series of conversations with theater makers, I asked Mac - a theater artist who I have always admired for his bravery, conscience, innovation and sense of humor - if I could bend his ear on topics of art, community, place, space and my general anxiety about creating a sustainable life for myself and my fellow artists in the theater! I caught him at the tail end of Walk’s downtown run, just a week after the death of LaMama founder, Ellen Stewart, and a week before taking off for a two-month Australian tour of his solo show, Taylor Mac in Concert: Comparison is Violence.
 
 
J: How has the show with The Talking Band at LaMama been going?
 
T: …They are lovely. I feel honored to be working with them and to be a part of this legacy. I mean, with Ellen Stewart dying like two days before we opened…I had never met Ellen and I never worked at LaMama, except for doing a couple of performances here and there, but never an actual run of a play of mine…so to be part of that community at the very end of an era and something else starting up anew has been really moving…
 
J: But?
 
T: But, in other ways, I have been very frustrated with the off-off-Broadway system of doing things and I have been working in it for 17 years now. So its not surprising, I know it, but I think I have reached the end of my patience with it.
 
J: In what respect?
 
T: A few things, but primarily the preview thing. That people come and they judge your play as being finished when it’s the second time you’ve ever been in front of an audience with it and you only have a two-week run. I have been touring my show, my solo work, so I’ve had these long runs of shows. My one show I’ve done about 200 times and my other show I did about 100 times. So I’ve gotten used to respecting the work more, honestly, that’s how I can describe it. It is about a respect for the work to say this play can only become what it is if it has a chance to live for a length of time.
 
J: I have always felt that difference with how musicians make and present their work-
 
T: Right, they don’t write a song and sing it eight times and its done.
 
J: What I love about seeing a musician friend start a new band is that they are figuring out the project, the entity, what the band is, what their sound is…they are developing it as they go along and in relationship to their audience.
 
T: Yes, well, The Talking Band thinks of the process of being The Talking Band, of being a theater company as that. So, it is not necessarily each show that does that, they are respecting their company.
 
But I am not a company, you know, I am working with a company. So I view it more from – this is my play – and this play needs to be able to live and its basically in its infant stage right now and it is being treated like it’s a grown-up…So I basically have decided, no more off-off Broadway for my plays…and if it means I never work in New York again with my plays, I think I am okay with that. Because I can do my plays abroad and regionally and they will still get to see the light of day but they will be treated kindly.
 
J: So, what would fix that system in your mind? Or, what is broken about how plays are developed and produced in New York?
 
T: Companies just don’t have the budget for it. It’s not like I expected The Talking Band to do anything different. They did everything that they are supposed to do, you know? And they did it with great grace and they committed wholeheartedly and they raised more money when we needed more money and it’s an expensive show, you know, with a big cast and a lot of costumes and they really went above and beyond what you would normally ask a small company to do and they pay everybody and they pay them Equity wages so they really are respectful of the artists they work with. But it’s more about – there just isn’t the funds for it. There isn’t a system in place. They would have to be raising a good…$200,000 to keep this play running for the time it needs to run.
 
J: To find its way?
 
T: Yeah. So, it’s not that I am done with off-off Broadway. I am done with that model. And, it didn’t used to work that way.
 
J: How did it used to work?
 
T: Well, with the Open Theater, they wouldn’t open until they were ready to open. They would keep rehearsing, keeping doing it, but it was a different time then, a different world. The realities were different, the finances were different. You didn’t have to carry the rental of a theater, everything was cheaper, everything was less lawyerized, legalized, so I think it was just a little easier. I mean, I don’t know I wasn’t living then, but for some reason they are not working in that way anymore. And I think that is just because of financial reasons.
 
J: This “broken model” of how theater often gets developed and produced in this city is why I began all of these conversations with artists and theater practitioners in the first place. I really started worrying. I was having anxiety! About my own life as a theater artist, but also because I was having the same set of conversations with other theater artists over and over again. Everyone was saying the same things and the voices were getting very loud…all of these theater artists who I just love were leaving theater, or leaving New York or grappling with how to sustain the work over the long-term, how to have a life in the theater. So, I decided to begin more focused conversations with artists about what the issues are. I don’t think I have gotten to how to fix them, yet, but what do you experience? What are the issues for you?
 
Photo: The Be(A)st of Taylor Mac, Promo Shot by Drew Geraci

T: …We need to develop more producers -- young, exciting, adventurous producers who really are excited by the work that is happening off-off Broadway and want it to have an extended life. We need to bridge the gap between off-off Broadway and off-Broadway in the institutions more. Like, what will happen is that the off-Broadway theaters will only pick up a show like Three Pianos that wins an Obie and has proven itself to be a success first and is highly producable because it only has three people in the show. I mean, my show, The Lily’s Revenge has over 40 people in the show – we found a producer who was excited by the show, but the venues got scared and pulled out and it was too difficult to make it all happen.
 
It’s about finding those people who want to make it happen and giving them the tools they need to do it - there are lots of different ways to attack it.
 
J: I was reading some things online that you had said in interviews and also from our brief conversations up at the Orchard Project this summer, I know that you got your start in many ways in nightclubs and in that scene in New York? How did those “alternative spaces” enable you to develop and present your work?
 
T: You know my show that I did in a bar, in a gay basement bar - I ran it once a week for six months…I found a lot in that process, I grew a lot in that process as a solo artist. I think it is a little harder to do that with an ensemble. But…what about having theater share? You know, you do a Tuesday through Thursday one week and the next week you do Friday, Saturday, Sunday and you share it with another company and that way you can have a six month run without having a huge marketing budget. That is one option.
 
J: And also so that you can keep working on a larger scale – a nightclub does not always work for the size of the piece you are imagining. If you need a proper theater, like for a project like Lily’s Revenge where you actually want to work with a big cast, with a big idea and you need a big space and scale, a space share would work better.
 
T: Another option would be to do like what the Orchard Project is doing with this exchange thing and to create a subscriber base for off-off Broadway theater companies so that you can build your subscriber audience…
 
Also the unions who are making money and are there to support actors – I feel like they should really support the producing. I don’t mean like they pick a show and start producing it, I mean, really facilitating more productions because then, more actors will get to work. How many of their members are not making any money…aren’t working? If they really had an interest in taking care of their members, creatively, and in their health and wellbeing and all of those things – one of the great things they could do is to facilitate more productions, and more audiences, those kinds of things. And, I think people are trying to do that, but I am just adding my voice to the people who are saying these things. These kinds of actions could have a strong effect. 
 
J: Because of the way that the showcase codes currently work, it is very difficult for theater companies that make devised work or ensemble-created, collaborative theater. For theater companies that may take two years to create a show with lots of rehearsal time in a laboratory environment - it is very hard for them to sync up with the Equity system and to produce under that set of rules…
 
T: I know…the system needs to be overhauled. We are making a different kind of theater now and using a different set of techniques. It is no longer necessarily the playwright at the typewriter who hands their play over to a producer for him or her to carry out. Everyone is making in a different way and it takes on a different process.
 
And, I feel that we also need to let go of the…exclusiveness…the exclusivity of theater and re-shape the community that we live in. Right now, we have very little access to our institutions, you know? I have an Obie award and I would say that 90% of the artistic directors in town would not have a meeting with me if I called them. You know what I mean, like what?! I was like, “Ah! I won an award, I’m in the NY Times, I’m doing this and that”…they have no interest in having a meeting. It’s very difficult and it is because everyone wants a piece of them. I’m not blaming them. Everyone wants a piece of them. So, how can we find a way to bridge those gaps and have access to each other? Because we need to have access to each other.
 
And, people who are non-Equity need to have access to the union and vice versa. There needs to be a dialogue there. If I went in to Equity today and said, “I want to become a member”. They would not let me. They would say, “You need to go work so many weeks in an Equity theater and get an Equity contract”. And, I am like, what!?…I am 37. Can you look at my resume? I have headlined the Sydney Opera House. You know, like, what?! You are not going to let me in the Union? Because I haven’t done it their way…I am not allowed.

 
Photo: Taylor Mac at Sundance

There’s an elitist thing that has happened – we have set up these walls all around ourselves and our institutions where we are trying to stop people from being a part of the theater rather than being inclusive and making it easy for people and saying, “Hey, you…do your show in the lobby of the Public Theater. We have from this time to this time free where we don’t have any shows going on. You could do your show in the lobby...We know you guys created a show and you don’t have anywhere to do it. And, you don’t have enough money in your budget – we will set up chairs in the lobby and people might come in and out and it might be a little distracting and that’s the circumstances that it’s going to be but, here, here is some access to our theater.” And suddenly the theater is more alive and its happening and…
 
So, I think there are lots of things people could do and I am encouraged by the people who are doing things…and I am trying to encourage more people to do more things. Not judging anybody, everyone is working hard, but…
 
J: I have heard you say this before and it comes up in a lot of your plays, as well – that you see the your role as a theater artist as being a kind of community activist. Can you talk a little bit more about that? How does that look? How do you create community inside the theater?
 
T: One of the things that I am trying to do and I may change this in my future life but for right now, in the last few years, one of the things I am trying to do is trying to remind the audience that they are having a shared experience…that they are in the theater, sitting in the audience, having a shared experience.
 
My goal is not, as most mainstream theater is trying to do these days, is not to make them forget that they are in the theater and to transport them away and take them on a journey. No, let’s remind each other that we are having a shared experience. There are very few chances for all of us to get in a room together anymore because the internet has isolated us and because films can be seen at home now and everything has gotten much more compartmentalized instead of “let’s all get together”. And, to make sure that those moments when we do all get together…we need to honor them. 
 
So instead of trying to convince people that they are not there, they are not uncomfortable in their seat, let’s remind them that their butt hurts. Do you need to stand up and exercise? Let’s stand up and stretch. Okay, we are in it together, we have another hour, let’s do it! Or, we are at the intermission. Okay, I am going to come out and talk to everybody. I am a person too, you know? I am not just a clown for them to look at. You actually have to deal with me as a human being. These are some ways that I try to do it. I try to create an environment where I am giving and where the audience is able to give. 
 
The other day, they came out in the snowstorm. It was a packed crowd at the show – it was basically almost a blizzard outside and everyone shows up and I am thinking this is a magnificent privilege that people have come here and given their time and so, we have to give back. We are not here to take from each other, essentially. It didn’t feel that night like they needed to be “entertained”. They came to be part of something and so hopefully the people in my shows, we are not here to get praise or to be hailed as a great success. We are here to give them something that we have been working on, a present. So it is a mutual give/give as opposed to take/take. Which happens a lot in theater.
 
So that’s the big idea. That’s what I try to do. And, sometimes it’s more successful than other times.
 
J: In one of your solo shows, you referred to your audience as “fellow participants”. How does the idea of participation function “performatively” inside your plays?
 
T: There are lots of ways I include them at the beginning of the show. You kind of set up – whatever play you are doing – you set up the rules of engagement within the first five or ten minutes. For instance, in this play, there are no rules and that’s the rule of engagement or in this play you say, “You sit and you watch and you don’t respond” or you say, “You sit and sometimes you participate and sometimes we are going to get you up”, so you kind of set up the rules and that’s how you do it in the beginning…
 
J: These two words have a lot of currency in our culture these days -- community and participation. But what do they mean? What does it mean to be part of a community, to participate in a community? And, what is it to be a part of the “theater community” in New York? What and where is that exactly?
 
T: Right. Sondheim writes in his book that he doesn’t believe in the theater community. He says it is something that doesn’t really exist. I understand why he says that.
 
J: Either community is set up as this very homogenous, unified, closed, very static entity or it is depicted like some kind of Benetton ad for diversity and multiplicity or…
 
T: Which are the most homogenous things I have ever seen, those Benetton ads, they are like…everyone has to wear pastels and look happy! That’s not real, that’s not heterogeneity…
 

Photo: Taylor Mac

J: What I enjoy about your work as an artist is how you are able to move so well between the personal and the political. Not the big “P” political, but the little “p” political…you show the ways in which we are political as people. To me, this goes along with your project to create community inside the theater and to invite participation, it’s a little democracy in there…so, I am wondering how these ideas expand outward in scope, outside the theater?
 
T: Well, I think why Sondheim said that about the NY theater community not existing is that you have your little community while you work on your play and then the play closes and then nobody sees each other for 6 months. You could argue that that is not a community. But, when I talk about it, I mean everyone who is in the room tonight, at this moment. And, there is accountability in that. There is accountability in our behavior, in how we behave in the room, in how we treat each other, what we have brought to the table and there is great variety. Some people hate what is going on and some people love it and there is all this difference of opinion, but the goal is to figure out how to have a conversation together, or how to further a conversation about a particular topic. Let’s present something together that will then further the conversation about that topic when we all leave and we are not a part of this community any more. That’s how I view it…
 
J: I want to move us backward a bit in time because I am curious…before you came to New York, what was your theatrical education? What was your trajectory? How did you come around to these particular ways of thinking about and approaching theater?
 
T: It was hodge-podgy which is maybe why I make “pastichey” work. Or, I am kind of a bricaleur. It’s a French word, I think. It’s someone who makes something new out of junk. I don’t know, I don’t think I am always using junk, but I am definitely pulling from lots of different resources. I went to school at a state school in San Francisco, then I came to New York and went to an acting conservatory and that was a three-year thing. I learned all the Stanislavsky-based techniques, and from there, just read. I just read, and I took private acting classes, got in a lot of shows, saw lots of shows, saw tons and tons of theater – that ‘s what my theatrical education is, pulling from lots of different things. I grew up in suburban California which was a really kind of awful place but there was a guy there who taught theater, who thought “outside of the box” of theater…he ran the children’s theater there, so that was a neat introduction. And in San Francisco, I experienced Butoh and Suzuki…and then the club world in New York was so different. I just pulled from all of it. Rather than, “I am a method actor and this is what I do”, which I think is really noble, but is not what I do. That wasn’t really my path.
 
J: Did you think that was going to be your path when you first arrived in NY?
 
T: Yeah. Yeah, but I got bored. I was pretty good at it. But, I realized I didn’t want to be the character, I wanted to play the character. It’s the difference between Johnny Depp and someone else who is just typecast. Johnny Depp plays a pirate. We all know it is Johnny Depp. No one is convinced otherwise. So we get to see him and we get to see him playing a pirate at the same time. There is a duality in that, I think, that is more interesting than if the person just is the character…they look like the character, they have the same body type as the character. Okay, that’s nice, there is some technique in that, but not as much as they like to fool you into thinking there is. 
 
J: …I think you know that my theater company [The Glass Contraption] creates clown-based work, melding it with other things, of course, but that the clown is our jumping off point. When you talk about theater and when I see what you do, I have always felt that there is a great deal of clown, or the clown’s perspective, inside your work.
 
T: Some of it. My friend Eric Davis, you know who he is, he is so wonderful. He is so good as the Red Bastard. He is so fantastic. He is a buffoon, a bouffon. He said that clowns have no censor on their emotions. So everything they feel, they feel at 100%. If they are scared, they are like, ahhhh! If they are embarrassed, they are completely embarrassed. If they are happy, they are so purely happy. They have no filter, no social etiquette that stops them. There is an element of that sometimes in my stuff, but I feel like I play the fool, which maybe fits somewhere in-between the bouffon and the clown.
 
J: They are kind of on a spectrum, the bouffon is kind of the dark clown and…
 
T: But I am not quite that dark. And, I am also not quite that innocent in that I do not know how to guard myself.
 
J: Right. I think what I am referring to is…One of the elements of clown that I see very clearly in what you do is that, to me, clown theater is in some ways the bravest form of theater. It asks for so much generosity from the performer - to risk. And, it is a personal risk because the clown is so tethered to the performer and the material has to come from the performer to ring true. To me, this element of risk appears in what you do – your work seems tethered to something very personal and it seems to involve a great deal of risk on your part, which is, to me, what makes good theater.
 
T: I try…I don’t always do this but sometimes I do it where I will write the one thing that I don’t want the audience to know about me and I will say, okay, this is what my play is going to be about, or this what my song is going to be about, or if its a monologue…what the monologue will be about. I do think that the more you risk, the more an audience will relate to it. But, there is always a line you can cross, where you can shut them down by exposing too much. Or, you can expose as much as you want but you can’t do it too quick. Like, Ruth Margraff always talks about how you can’t experiment with form and content at the same time. You can do one or the other…and I apply that to this.
 
If I was abused as a child and it’s the first thing I say on stage its like, “whoa!” and everyone shuts down. But, you can warm them up to it. You can get them to love you, to feel safe with you and then you can lay it on them and then they can hear it. But if you just slam them into it, then people will shut down and then it doesn’t work. There are techniques to exposing yourself onstage! It’s just like a burlesque routine, you know? If you just walk out naked, it’s like, “whoa!” But if you take off a little bit at a time, you get them ready for it, tease ‘em, tease ‘em, then okay, here it is!
 
J: What is your process now? Is it changing? Is it different for every show?
 
T: It’s different for every show I think because every show is so different. I used to think I had a process, but I am discovering that I don’t really. It depends. I just read that Sondheim book and I basically agree with everything he says -- I definitely have been working the past few years -- that the content dictates the form. So if I am writing a play about anarchists, then the play should have an anarchistic structure to it. Lily was about narrative, so I tried to squish as many different narratives as I could into the play. It was about nostalgia, so the music had a nostalgic, stylistic sound to it and it was about breaking away from nostalgia so by the end we had broken from that style. So I try to do things like that, where I say, “what am I talking about and what is the form that will best serve this?”. And, that is something that I continue to do. But maybe I won’t do that forever.
 
But, I do like narratives. I am a story guy. I don’t see myself as ever being a kind of
Richard Foreman theater artist that is like, “That is my vision up there”.
 
Photo: The Walk Across America..., Sara Knulwich/The New York Times

J: Its like being inside his brain for an evening.
 
T: Yes, which I love, but I don’t think I will ever gravitate towards that. But who knows? Never say never!
 
J: ...Now you are about to leave for Australia to tour a show that has a very small cast as compared to your other plays…just one.
 
T: Two!
 
J: Oh, there are two?
 
T: Me and the pianist.
 
J: Right. How is that process different for you?
 
T: They are a hell of a lot easier, you know. I can tell you that much. We got together. We rehearsed it yesterday. I mean, we have done it before, but we did one rehearsal and we will do one when we get there and then, we’ll go. You can’t do that with an ensemble...it would take tons of preparation and at least a month of rehearsal to put it together again….it’s just easier is all.
 
They are fun in a different way because I can do whatever I want. If I feel like stopping in the middle and changing all the dialogue or making stuff up in the moment, it is not going to set anybody off. Lance Horne, who is playing with me in Australia, I can be like, “Lance, hold on a second, I want to tell these people something…”. You know, and I can do that. In a play, I like to give my artists some room where they can do that kind of thing but you have to be respectful of people’s cues and the lighting board operator and all that.
 
J: How do people receive your work in other places? You have been to Australia before, right?
 
T: This is my third time going. I play for bigger audiences outside of NY and I play in the nicer venues! In New York, I always play the grungy venues…the lower-end budgeted venues for fewer people and I don’t know why. I don’t know why. Probably because…there are just more venues here…
 
J: Are there benefits to being “under the radar” or to speaking from the “fringe”?
 
I don’t know what they are…if there are, I don’t know what they are. Whenever I play the big venues, I always have a great time. It’s hard to say. If playing a 100-seat house, that can be…I can have a great time doing that, but it’s really fun to play a 500-seat house. The largest I have ever done is a thousand. Well, the situation was unwieldy, not everyone had a seat and there was a bar, but I like a good 500-seat house, it’s really fun.
 
J: Who are your audiences?
 
T: People ask me that or the venues ask because they want to market, but I am always like, I don’t know. The more I tour, the less I know who my audiences are. There are always different people. I played the Spoleto Festival, which is basically a Manhattan Theater Club kind of audience. We were sold out down there. They loved it. Then, I play some gay festival and I have half a crowd. I don’t know why.
 
You would think every one would say it is the blue hairs that wouldn’t want to see me, the wealthy millionaire old white people, but they want to see me. Whereas at the grungy gay festival, there are like 50 people in the audience. Who knows? And then the next time I play a gay festival, it will be packed and then the next time it will be…you know. It’s always different. I’ve learned that I can’t answer that question, really.
 
J: What about New York theater audiences? Especially downtown theater audiences, which can often be very specific…
 
T: Primarily white people, which is very sad…
 
J: Yes, or quite often, other downtown theater people, other artists. Do you think the conversation stays insular, inside that small community of theater artists talking to other theater artists?
 
T: I think its fun to preach to the converted. We deserve to have a conversation. I just wrote a play about activists and radical activism and there are activists who come to the show and there are theater artists in the audience who are living week to week and I am making fun of them onstage and they are recognizing themselves in that and they leave feeling more human. I need them to leave feeling more human too because they make work that makes me feel more human and you know, so I don’t see a problem with that and that is the community we are talking about…But, that is also primarily because they are such short runs in off-off Broadway. We were turning away about 30 people a night. And those were just the people who showed up. How many people didn’t buy tickets because they thought it was sold out online? So who knows who would come if we had longer runs…we need to have longer runs!
 
J: So, if you were king or queen for the day, what would you change in terms of how theater gets made? I am asking you specifically about how theater gets made in New York City because it is where we live and make art and because I care about its wellbeing!
 
T: There would be better rehearsal spaces and more of them available. There is all this real estate in New York and if you are a billionaire, like if you are NYU and you are buying up all of this real estate downtown, then there should be free rehearsal rooms, really nice ones available to the community. They should be all over the place…in every building there should be one. Because, how much money do I spend on rehearsal spaces - here is something I want Equity to work on – how much money do I spend on rehearsal spaces that could go to the actors?
 
J: And, also because granting organizations don’t like to give money towards rehearsal space…it’s not a very sexy expense to cover from the funding perspective.
 
T: Yes, right, but there are these wonderful organizations like LMCC and Chashama who organize for us, who provide space. I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me, but, okay, I’ll get a little lipstick on it and say that those spaces that they get are often really grungy…the heater blows so loud you have to scream to be heard, there are mice, it’s dirty…you know? We live in, arguably, the richest city, so it’s like, what?! And, we are the people who make the culture here, in many ways. We are making the culture and then that gets trickled up – it’s not being invented up there. You know, it’s being invented down here where we are, so they need to honor what we are doing. So, one way they need to honor us is by giving us pleasant environments to work in.
 
And the other thing…well, I don’t know how to solve the marketing issue and the press issue.
 
 
Photo: Live Patriot Acts, Derrick Little
 
J: Say more about that. What do you mean?
 
I guess because everyone who makes theater downtown uses reviews to market instead of marketing to market. Every off-Broadway show, not so much on Broadway because they have too much at stake, but off and off-off Broadway will always use their reviews to market…Maybe they will take out a couple of ads here and there, but I don’t think printed ads are the way to go anymore.
 
J: A friend of mine had this idea – she looked at her marketing budget for one of her shows downtown and realized that instead of marketing the show, she would be better off paying everyone in her audience $5 each to come and see the show. So she was like, “Why don’t we just pay people, say, ‘Hey, come to see our show and you will get 5 or 10 dollars!’”
 
T: Did she do it?
 
J: She didn’t do it because the theater where she was presenting at the time thought that it sent the wrong message.
 
T: She should have done it!...There has to be another way and I am not a marketing person, so I don’t know…I wish that we would change the conversation to say, “Come to this because it is different!” Instead of how things are marketed which is like, “Come to this because it will remind you of you!” No. “Come to this because you have no idea!” All the shows, they find some way to make their show seem universal. No, it’s not universal. Instead, I wish that we could encourage a culture of curiosity where people go out because it is different and because it is freaking fun to do.
 
Also, there are ways to do that, to encourage that, by creating spaces - like in the lobby of the Public Theater. Make that lobby fun. Make that lobby fun! It is so much fun during the Under the Radar festival because there are so many people there and its all abuzz. Make that lobby fun! Why are there not circus performers in that lobby every single night? Why isn’t it a big hangout for people? Why aren’t people there?
 
You go to London and people are hanging out in those spaces, like they are just there to hang out and then they are like, “Oh, hello, there is a show going on, let’s go see it”. So, I think that’s…oh, I’ve gotta go…I wish I could talk your ear off all night….I have to go talk at this thing before the show…
 
J: And in conclusion…
 
T: And in conclusion – go, go, go! We’re doing it, though…I know lots of people are leaving, but they’re not. People leave all the time…
 
J: …and they come back!
 
T: People are coming every day and they are leaving everyday – and the ones who are leaving, we are going to see them on the road, we are going to see them in festivals – we are going to see them…back in New York! But, there are lots of things that we could all be doing to make it…nicer for us!
 
J: Thank you.
 
T: Thank you. Thank you for doing this.
 
J: Good luck with the rest of your show. Good luck in Australia. See you on the road!
 
T: Yes.
###
 
Taylor Mac's show, The Lily's Revenge, will play at The Magic Theater in San Francisco in May. More info  can be found at http://www.taylormac.net

Justine Williams is a performer, writer and concerned citizen based in Brooklyn, NY. She founded and co-directs a theater company, The Glass Contraption, through which she has performed in, developed and produced numerous original works of theater at local and international venues, such as The Public Theater, Ars Nova, the NY Clown Theatre Festival, The Kitchen, The Orchard Project, and the National Arts Festival in South Africa. The company has also designed and led numerous arts-based collaborations in partnership with diverse communities both locally and abroad. Justine leads a think tank/working group, Play Mountain, which gathers artists of all disciplines together to explore critical issues of art, place and community and the tensions and synergies between these elements. She received her BA in Theater Studies from Brown University and her MA in International Affairs from the New School. Through her theater-making, research and teaching, she has worked with theater companies and communities throughout the Balkans, South America, the Middle East, Africa and in each of the five boroughs of NYC.
 
 
 
 
 

Tags: Taylor Mac, Justine Williams, interview

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1 Comments

Laura williams » Apr 8, 2011 8:42am
Provocative interview both from a personal and theatrical POV. Hope to read more of this type of insight.




 

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