Category: theater

An Interview With Musician And Director Mikhail Tank

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Mikhail Tank is the founder of Darksoul Theater, a musician and a film director; here is a link to his website:

 

http://www.mikhail-tank.com/home.html

 

Q: What is Darksoul Theater?

 

A:  Darksoul Theatre is a trademarked entity of original psychological multi-media art, which I have been in the process of developing since age 12. This has included multiple written, recorded, and audio-visual works (some of which you can find on Amazon, iTunes and other quality internet sources). I have presented live shows in Japan, Canada, California, also the first virtual show via the Edinburgh Fringe (garnering BBC coverage). Additional notable moments include a Guinness Record, and a heartfelt approach which spans art and psychology as a form of creative inspiration and as a form of subjective spiritual healing.

Q: What kind of educational background do you have?

 

A:  I have a strong multi-level background in performance art, having started my education at a young age with personal coaches, later a Bachelor’s degree in the field, followed by schools, seminars and training with the likes of the Stella Adler Academy and the wonderful teacher/author, Gerry Cousins. I have also studied Jungian psychology extensively and presented (in part to Jung’s family) at the Art and Psyche conference, in Sicily (in 2015).

Q: What is a common misconception Americans have about Russia?

 

A: As an artist, I prefer not to discuss politics, misconceptions are generalizations and I specialize in a personalized ‘Soul approach’ rather than assuming what one culture sees and thinks about another. I can attest to the supposed fact that both cultures are absolutely brilliant in their own right.

Q: How would you describe your music?

 

A: The music is a Soulful spoken word, with an electronic backbeat, a form of positive possession in the key of Soul. My most recent work is distributed by The Orchard Music Group (parent company, Sony). I am interested in working with record labels to further my upcoming audio projects. An upcoming Halloween album, a collaboration with the multi-talented Brett Bibles, is currently in the works (see working cover art image).

Q: Who are some of your artistic influences?

 

A: My music tastes range, however some of my favorite music artists are: Irina Allegrova, the Empress of Russian Dramatic Pop, the late and truly great David Bowie, his Russian counter-part Valeri Leontiev, and the original music performance artists, Laurie Anderson and Grace Jones.
Q: What was Soul Photography about?

 

A: Soul Photography is an original concept which I presented in Tokyo, and later though Scotland (see:http://www.scotsman.com/news/a-virtual-first-for-the-fringe-1-1210205), it deals with storing positive memory energy within — through a distinct process (available on iTunes and Amazon, circa 2009). This is art which can inspire the depth of the Soul and has helped me during difficult times.

Q:
How does one set a “Restore point” for one’s soul?

 

A: Check out the Darksoul Theatre musical art album, Soul Photography for the artistic concepts placed therein. The secret is located in the art: http://www.amazon.com/Soul-Photography-2009-Mikhail-Tank/dp/B005VU6P1C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1463645070&sr=8-1&keywords=mikhail+tank+soul+photography


Q:
What is the “Dollar Baby Film Festival”?

 

A: Dollar Baby Film Festivals are worldwide events which are the sole screening mechanisms for Stephen King dollar baby films. It is a way to unite fans and create beautiful old-fashioned honeycombs of non-internet film enjoyment.

Q: How did you become involved with it?

 

A: I am grateful to have directed three official Dollar Baby films, based on stories written by the great Stephen King (whom I consider the Shakespeare of our time). The first two films have screened in multiple countries, appeared in a book about the subject, along with the first being nominated for a German Independence Award. You can find further information about these projects via the following links:
http://www.mikhail-tank.com/king.html
http://mikhailtank.com/dollar_baby_films
http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1026237/awards?ref_=nm_awd

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your work?

 

A:  I’m a student in the field of Jungian psychology, along with being an author, radio host, and creative consultant/director.
 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.

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An Interview With Jeremy Lin, The Unauthorized Musical Creators Edelyn Okano and Ana Parsons

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Edelyn Okano and Ana Parsons are part of the creative team behind the play Jeremy Lin, The Unauthorized Musical which premiered at the Zephyr Theater in Hollywood. They are currently raising funds for a new production of their show; here is a link to the Indiegogo campaign:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/jeremy-lin-the-musical-the-unauthorized-journey-to-linsanity

 

Q:  What is Jeremy Lin, The Unauthorized Musical about?

Edelyn: It is our take on the Jeremy’s journey to NBA stardom.  The backstory of the makings of a champion. 

 

Ana: It’s all in the title. In 500 words or less: the rise of Asian basketball star Jeremy Lin. A guy who conquered all. His elevation to stardom, and the stuff he had to fight along the way. Stuff  = racism, backlash, many a naysayer.  It’s a show with heart.  It’s about an underdog kicking ass, and never taking no for an answer. 

 

Q:  What inspired you to create it?

Edelyn: Firstly we wanted to create an original piece of work together.  We respect each other especially as artists and we knew that by fusing our ideas, nuances and humor together we would make something special.  Secondly we wanted to explore and answer the questions: “What/Who was Jeremy before the Linsanity movement?  What is the backstory of this unlikely hero?  We wanted to celebrate someone that was following their passion and inspiring a movement on the world stage and certainly in the Asian American community. 

 

 

Ana: Originally Edelyn, Aidan and I came together because we just wanted to create something. We also wanted to give back to the community in some way  – and  what better way to do that but with what we do for a living, act?  We got together, wrote the show, and boom –  it began.  Our first night in LA the proceeds went one hundred percent to Love Never Fails World Charity: helping woman who have been affected by human trafficking. Jeremy Lin the Musical was born.

 

 

3. Why Indigogo and not Kickstarter?

Edelyn: Indiegogo lets you keep the money you raise even if you don’t completely reach your goal.  Some budget is better than no budget.

 

Ana: That said, go to:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/jeremy-lin-the-musical-the-unauthorized-journey-to-linsanity

 

     

Q:  What kind of day jobs have you had and how do they influence your creative work?

Edelyn: I’ve been very lucky to have had day jobs that have been supportive of my acting career.  From being the PR director of the American Institute of Architects NY Chapter to selling high end designer jewelry and random things in between I was always doing something creative.  Writing, designing, consulting, event planning..it’s all art.

 

Ana: In New York I had to wait tables all throughout theatre school, which I obviously hated.  I would work until 2 am in the morning, scramble to wait in line at Actors Equity at 6 am, try and do a coherent do a 2 minute monologue for said theatre on a hundred and 157th street while praying to the union gods I would be blessed with a job and my union card. This just made me want to work harder as an actor. It drove me: I didn’t want to be Flo at 70, schlepping it at Norms pouring coffee to my regulars. No offense, dear Flo.

Thankfully in LA I’ve been able to work part time and full time live, drive, change clothes in my car and be a steadily working actor. “I am a proud member of Actors Equity and SAG-AFTRA”. 

Q:  Why do you think Lin had such a hard time getting into the NBA?

Edelyn: I don’t think getting in was the hard part.  He clearly had the skill but it was getting the playtime and respect he deserved that were the obstacles.  Racial stereotypes are still quite prevalent in our society and with them exists limited beliefs in someone/something and judgment.

 

Ana: Why do you think it was hard for Eminem? Didn’t everyone see 8 Mile?

 

Q:  What is the most misunderstood thing about Harvard?

Edelyn: That it doesn’t produce future NBA superstars.  Of course, I had to go there.

 

Ana: Word.

 

 

Q:  What are some challenges you came across in writing the script?

Edelyn: Given that there are three of us writing we had to often find ways to combine and streamline our ideas – especially when it came to differences in our humor.  What one of us thought was funny may not have worked for another.  We love each other though and so a good compromise was usually found. 

 

Ana: Getting through  writing sessions with Aidan and Edelyn. We would literally be rolling on the floor laughing for HOURS. I am amazed we ever got anything done. Also running into problems and finding solutions in our creative differences.

Aidans is definitely the wild card,  Anas the middleman, and Edelyn the calming voice of reason…… luckily everything always balanced out. 

 

 

Q:  What is your strangest show biz story?

Edelyn: Somewhere out there is a tape of me at a dance audition I should NEVER have been at.  Let’s just file it forever under: “New York: The Early Years”.  Haha!

 

 

Ana: Not the strangest but one of the funniest as of late. I’ve worked quite a bit with an actor out here named Eric Artell: turn on the TV and you see him in pretty much every commercial. And consequently he looks like the spitting image of Topher Grace (from the 70’s Show)……I’m sure there’s not a day that goes by that he doesn’t get asked “you know you look like-“

I also part time host at a restaurant on Sunset Blvd called Delancy. One night this couple comes in.  I turn to the beautiful blonde:

 

Ana : “HI, table for two?”

 

I notice the guy that she came in with.

 

Ana : “OMG !!! ERIC!!! HOW ARE YOU SO NICE TO SEE YOU OUTSIDE OF AN OFFICE NOT ON SET! OMG!!!”

 

(I’m practically accosting the guy, hugging him etc.)

 

Guy: “Um, my name is Topher?”

 

Awkward pause.

 

Ana : “Do you get Eric Artell, like, a lot?”

 

 

….I don’t think he thought that was very funny. Sorry Toph.

 

Q:  What would you change about the film industry?

Edelyn: That some of the most talented actors, writers, and directors have projects that never see the light of day or get very limited exposure due to some lack of funding or mass appeal.  I love a great blockbuster as much as the next person but mostly I want to be told a great story.  Great storytellers deserve to be heard.   

 

Ana: I mean, do we have 5 hours? More woman directors, more working actors of color, more woman writing, less image based media, less nepotism, getting rid of the “name actor” game giving the new guy a chance. More risk taking. More indie films.   Going back to the cinema and the days  of the Group Theatre, Strasberg, Brando, it being about THE WORK and nothing else. See: HBO’s fantastic documentary “Casting By”. If you had 10 more pages for us Eliza, I would take them. I’ll stop here. Edelyn, I concur. 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

 

An Interview With In My Corner Star Joe Orrach

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Joe Orrach is a boxer and a dancer who stars in the play In My Corner, which premieres at the Odyssey Theatre in West LA on Sept.6; here is a link to the theater’s site:

www.OdysseyTheatre.com

 

Q: How did you get into boxing?

A:     My dad got me into boxing, in fact he didn’t give me (or my brothers) much of a choice. He watched the Gillette Friday Night Fights religiously. My two older brothers and I had to watch the fights with him. Then, when I was in high school and was thrown off my varsity football team, basketball team and lacrosse team (mostly for talking back to coaches), I decided I didn’t need teams and was going to do something I knew about by myself. I borrowed my mom’s car and made the 25 minute drive over to the PAL (Police Athletic League) in Brentwood, Long Island, a mostly Black and Puerto Rican town, and started to learn the “sweet science”. I think I learned a lot from watching those fights with dad week after week, year after year, because boxing came to me fairly easily. My older brother became the heavy weight-boxing champ of New York; I became the welterweight champ of the US Air Force.

 

Q:  What was your most challenging fight and how did you train for it?

 

A:      That’s hard to answer because all my fights were challenging. Not so much because of the fighter I was paired with, but because the fact of the fight actually gave me so much fear.  I was fine in the gym. I would spar with anyone, train hard for hours and do pretty much anything Tony Fortunado, my trainer, would tell me to do (which wasn’t always the best thing to do.) I remember one day when I was at the gym with my brother Mike, who later became the New York Heavyweight Golden Gloves Champion. I had only been going to this gym about 6 months when Tony told us to spar with a professional light heavyweight who was preparing for a 10 round fight. It was crazy; I think Tony was crazy. We laughed the entire ride home thinking how this guy punched us from one end of the ring to the other. I got knocked down a couple times but then only got up and went after this monster with more determination. He couldn’t knock Mike down but punched him all over the ring. The hardest part for me was always the lead up to the fight; the fear that set in, that one had to face and overcome.  It’s similar for me when I perform. Part of the joy and thrill of it is dealing with and conquering the fear. I think that’s it with fighting too; one is conquering fear more than an opponent.

Q:  What famous fighters would you compare yourself to in terms of style and technique?

 

A:  In many ways, I think my style and approach was like a Sugar Ray Robinson, who for me was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, fighter to ever live. Please don’t think I’m saying I was a good as he was because I certainly wasn’t, but my style was similar. Tony Fortunado, my trainer, trained with Sugar Ray Robinson and emulated Robinson. Plus Tony trained me in Robinson’s style. I also loved Roberto Duran, Esteban De Jesus. Duran could brawl with anyone and in the ring and I wanted to be like Duran. But DeJesus was one of the few fighters that beat Duran as a lightweight and he was a classic boxer puncher the way I saw myself. Plus he was Puerto Rican.

Q: What made you transition to dancing?

 

A:  I left the United States Air Force before my original departure date and found myself living back with my parents. Once you leave you really can’t go back. I started training again with Tony Fortunato (a top 10 middle weight contender) but something had changed; I could feel that I had lost the love for boxing. I was driving a truck for my brother Mike and decided to take a dance class in NYC during my lunch break. I had studied ballet years before with Tony’s insistence for my footwork in the ring. It had definitely helped my boxing, but what nobody knew at the time was that I fell in love with dance. I got to be around all these beautiful girls (very different from the boxing gym). I was 16 at the time, and thought this was the best thing since ice cream. Then, the owner of the dance school asked me if I would perform in the recital. I was the only older male in the school so without telling anyone, especially my Puerto Rican dad, I performed in the recital. I loved it. I was a good mover, and had rhythm—that had worked for boxing. Now it worked for dance.

Q: What inspired you to create In My Corner?

 

A: During a troubled period of my life when everything was going bad I decided to write a journal. I wanted to make sense out of my life and try to figure out how I got where I was. I just wrote and wrote, not knowing what was going to come out. It was really an exercise. I didn’t even read it but something started to percolate within. It was after writing the journal that I slowly started to change. I didn’t know it at the time. Fast forward years later in a new life with a new woman I decided to revisit the journal. I decided I wanted to make the journal a play, to externalize it, to communicate. Liz Hasse, my partner in life and my muse, took the journal and put it into a dramatic narrative. Then we both worked together; I was providing rhythm and movement; the two of us were working with the words. We did re-writes, tried it out, and here we are.

Q: How did you go about getting it produced?

A: After putting together a precursor called 147 (the pound weight of a welterweight boxer) as my senior thesis in 2008 at St Mary’s College of California in the LEAP program, and trying it out at the renaissance celebration of a freed slave township in Virginia, Liz and I decided to develop the play more fully. We then workshoped it at local theatre in San Francisco. It’s not easy to produce a play; one has to be very resourceful. We finally found Intersection for the Arts in San Francisco and rented it out for a few weeks, Liz produced it at Intersection, at the new Black Box Theatre in Oakland, at San Francisco School for the Arts, at a Berkeley venue were we invited high school students and introduced them to the craft of creating and producing a play. It was fun, intense; we worked with a wonderful jazz pianist Matt Clark from the very beginning because we always wanted the play, as full of rhythm and movement as it is to have a live and original score.

We put IMC away for three years while I earned my MFA at USC. Then the fun really began.  We wanted to premier it in Los Angeles. There was a theatre in LA that told us yes, we love it, no problem we will produce it, but we wasted a year listening to promises that didn’t pan out. Then came our angel Beth Hogan at the Odyssey Theatre, and everything seemed to flow. Beth, Liz and I have had a great time doing this. It’s a co- production between Beth Hogan at the Odyssey and Liz Hasse. And it wouldn’t be the play it is without Jeremiah Chechik a wonderfully inventive director who has been working in films and TV and, at the same time, truly loves the theatre, and always knows the answers, many multiples of intriguing and exciting answers to everything. He is like another producer, as well as an incredibly creative, insightful and sensitive director, who has more respect for an actor than anyone I’ve meet or heard about. He is great.

Q: Why a play and not a movie?

 

A:     I am a theatre person. That’s my world. I love film but wouldn’t know how to start there in terms of coming up with an original project, presenting a story that is mine. The theatre is more immediate to me as a place to start and develop things and watch them come into being. I think I may let the universe take care of the film side of IMC. Let the people who can do films come to see this play and then maybe you and I can have another discussion about plays and films after this run.

Q: What makes your show unique?

A:  The uniqueness is in the way it’s told. It’s a universal story, told in a unique way. Of course, every play is unique, and everyone who writes is different, therefore the story in every play is different. What makes IMC unique are the ingredients of its telling. IMC is a universal story told in a very unique way. It’s a father son story told through narrative, song, Latin jazz, tap dance, movement and boxing. We just don’t tell the story, the performer lives the story, combining different rhythmic and movement skills simultaneously while telling a story, a story that is told through 5 characters. For example, one scene starts with “As far back as I can remember, my father always told us to be proud of what we are…and what we are is Puerto Rican…”  I start to snap my left fingers in a 2/3 clave rhythm. I continue with “United we stand tall…” adding my right hand with a cascara rhythm. I finish the scene adding my feet with a third rhythm while speaking the 4th rhythm. Another scene involves the father who has become drunk in the course of watching the Gillette Friday Night Fights. He grabs the belt (here a jump rope) to beat the kids. The rope hits the floor with a steady beat while the dad yells at each child.  Tap dance rhythms punctuate his rant. There is also boxer’s speed bag on wheels that is used as a dancing partner and at another time, it becomes a musical instrument as the boxer joins the musical ensemble. This is a dramatic piece written to music with a live musical ensemble on stage. The music is another voice onstage, always supporting the dialogue becoming a strong voice yet never over-powering and never becoming a musical. The music is scored more like a movie where you later you realize, oh yeah, there was music in it. All of these elements combine with the dialogue to make a world in itself, a play and a very unique theatrical experience.

Q: What sort of challenges have you encountered in getting the show up?

 

A: Challenges? The usual: LIFE. Getting anything off the ground. The inner fears and stresses. The externalities—finding a theatre, trying to make something good, great, in the unfunded world of live theatre. Making your inner thoughts and processes something that others can relate to, absorb, feel.  From the inner to the outer, there is so much to overcome. But as so many others before us, one can only persevere.

Q: Who are some of your dancing influences?

 

A:  Dancing influences. So many people; dancing is my influence, my life: Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Gregory Hines (who really saved me and helped make it real for me), Donald O’Connor, John Bubbles, Sammy Davis Jr, Baby Lawrence, Jose Greco.  There are my 2 favorites: Savion Glover and Jimmy Slyde.  In jazz, Jack Cole, Bob Fosse, Graciela Danielle, Twyla Tharp.  In ballet Nureyev, Edward Villella and modern dancers, Indian dancers; the list goes on.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Escape Artist and Illusionist Curtis Lovell II

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Curtis Lovell II is an escape artist and illusionist; here is a link to his website:
http://www.curtislovell.com/

Q: What made you interested in magic?

A: When I was growing up in Columbus Ohio, I tried different hobbies, looking for books on how to build a rocket ship to the moon, for example. But then I came across magic, escapes and books about Harry Houdini. It was exciting for me and a few weeks later, I saw a magician at my school. I quickly fell in love with the world of magic and escapes. But, I still got a rocking pair of Moon Boots!

Q: What do you think was the greatest stunt ever performed by a magician or illusionist?

A: Oh, good question. There are so many intriguing moments in magic. Although my specialty is in escapes and grand illusions, I think anything that mixes in the possibility of body harm or death is kick-butt awesome! Since the entertainer is going to extreme levels to entertain his or her audience.

Q: Your website says you read minds, is this a skill that can be taught or do you have to be born with it?

A: Telepathy is a skill that I developed over the years as a performer. I often secretly transfer needed information from my volunteer with my sixth sense, which aids me in my escapes. I do this with underwater escapes or while suspended in midair. I need to utilize all of my abilities to pull off a successful escape and avoid body harm or death. I read the mind of Nicole Richie at a special event a few years back — Oh the things I could tell you!

Q: You have done a lot of reality TV; what has been your most memorable reality experience?

A: I wouldn’t say I’ve done “a lot,” but I have done my fair share of reality programs. I’ve had many great experiences in the reality world, but my favorite moment is after we stopped filming the scene with Paris Hilton. She asked one of the producers for a piece of cornbread that someone brought in from KFC. (Yes, the girl does eat!) Also, working with Gene Simmons was a blast, chatting with him in the parking lot after the show was very interesting.

Q: You have been compared to Houdini; which of his stunts would you most like to attempt?

A: CBS News, New Asia and many of my spectators have called me a “Modern Day Houdini.” I have attempted a few of his escapes like being buried alive twice, a stunt that Houdini once stated was way too dangerous and he would never attempt it again. Also, Houdini was the first noted entertainer to escape from a straitjacket. I have escaped from one many times. I guess it is the “in thing” to do on a Friday night!

Q: What new escapes are you developing right now?

A: I am working on an idea involving ice cold water, a giant block of ice, a straitjacket, and a crane. HMM… Can’t say too much more about that one at the moment.

Q: What elements are essential to a good show?

A: A good smile, laughter, personality and amazement with lots of suspense have been my magical formula!

Q: I used to work with a girl who thought magic was the way the devil seduced people. What would you say to her?

A: Thank you for the compliment???? lol

Q: You cut Paris Hilton in half; what celebrity would you like to cut in half next?

A: Oh, good question, I would love to work with Ellen DeGeneres and Cher next!

Q: What am I thinking?

A: Look deep into my eyes, come closer, a little closer….. You are thinking…….//<<…/// to be continued…. Lol.

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Moviebytes Owner Frederick Mensch

Frederick Mensch runs the web-site Moviebytes which offers a  list of contests and resources for screenwriters. Here is a link to the site:

http://www.moviebytes.com

 

Q: What inspired you to start Moviebytes?

A: I’ve got an entrepreneurial nature, and a background in both screenwriting and programming. I wanted to start a website, so I looked around for a market that wasn’t being particularly well served. Screenwriting contests looked like a good fit.

Q: What is your own background in film?

A: I studied screenwriting at NYU. I’ve sold a couple of scripts, including an indie satire titled Supreme Ruler with Marcia Gay Harden and Vincent D’Onofrio attached to start. That’ll start shooting next year, hopefully.

Q: What are some of the qualities that make a good screenplay?

A: Characters in conflict. That’s pretty much it, I think. I’m partial to character-driven stories, so I’m a stickler for honesty and a distinctive point-of-view, as well. I like my heroes to have flaws, and my villains to have virtues.

Q: What makes for a really bad screenplay?

A: For me, the worse screenplays are the ones that are primarily regurgitations of movies that have already been made. Needless to say, I don’t go to studio movies very often!

Q: What is the most prestigious contest out there? (and what makes it so?)

A: The Nicholl Fellowships. In terms of prestige, the Nicholl is pretty much the beginning and the end of the conversation. There are a number of other great contests out there, but none of them are sponsored by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. If you look at the credits of their previous winners you’ll get a pretty good sense of what a Fellowship can mean to a writer’s career.

Q: What was the most unusual request you have ever had from a writer or contest judge/owner.

A: Every couple of months I’ll get an off-the-wall email from someone who wants me “write up” a great idea they have for a movie. They’ll describe the plot in mind-numbing, incoherent detail (I remember one about flying dinosaurs), and generously offer to share the profits if I’ll just write up the screenplay. Sweet deal!

Q: What is the most realistic film you have ever seen about Hollywood?

A: Day of the Locust. It’s a dark, apocalyptic depiction of folks on the fringes of the film industry in the 1930s. I’m not sure I’d describe it as realistic, but that movie (and book) has always struck an emotion chord with me.

Q: What film do you think has the best dialog ?

A: The Social Network. Aaron Sorkin tends to write about hyper-verbal overachievers, which means he can reveal character and show off his dialogue skills at the same time. Less articulate characters don’t lend themselves to that kind of treatment.

Q: What do you think is the most overrated screenplay ever?

A: 500 Days of Summer. I doubt it necessarily qualifies as the most overrated screenplay ever, but it did win an Indie Spirit Award, and a WGA Award nomination, and I just hated the gimmicky nature of the screenplay. If the story isn’t compelling, jumbling the narrative just makes it worse.

Q: Are you more of a Charlie or Donald Kaufman ?

A: I have a full complement of neuroses, so I think probably puts me in Charlie’s camp. He’s a genius and I’m not, though, so there is one small difference.

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

An Interview With Actress Melanie Chrystn

Melanie Chrystn is an  aspiring  stage actress who lives in NYC and attended The Stivers School for the Arts in Dayton, OH.

 

Q: What made you interested in acting?

A: I became interested in performing at a very young age. I was very shy when I was younger, but when given the opportunity to act or sing, I realized I could express myself in a way that was usually very hard for me to do. I completely fell in love with the release of that energy and the confidence that it helped me build.

Q: What role that you have played was the closest to your own personality?

A: I once did a character study and portrayal of “Norah” from A Doll’s House. Norah began the show as a soft spoken and sweet girl with a lot of compassion for those around her, even for those who did not have the same respect for her. But throughout the story, Norah grows to embrace her independence and becomes a strong woman who is capable of making choices that will benefit who she truly is. I think every woman can relate to finding the balance between the commitment to yourself and the commitment to the people or things you care about.

Q:  What role was the furthest from your own personality and how did you prepare for it?

A: I portrayed “Lucy” in You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. Her character was very fun to work with, but while studying the original Peanuts comic strips, I noticed that she was a much more aggressive and outspoken young girl than I ever was. I studied the comics and Peanuts movies to help build my confidence in a role that required me to be very bossy. I had so much fun playing a character that was so opposite of my own demeanor.

Q:  What is the difference between acting for the stage and acting for the theater?

A: When acting for the stage, you are using your energy to express yourself and your character. When performing for the theater, you are conveying the same energy of expression for the many individuals in your audience. You give all of your energy into the stage, so it may extend from there and into the hearts of the people watching.

Q:  What is your weirdest back stage story?

A: In a show I was doing, as a prop, I had a scooter with a bell on it. I was originally supposed to ride the scooter on stage and ring the bell, however, moments before I needed to go on, a castmate backstage was mocking my character and broke the bell by accident! I had to ride the scooter out and verbally make the “ding ding” sound. It turned out to be a hit with the audience!

Q:  Who are your acting influences?

A: I admire the work of Audrey Hepburn, Lucille Ball, and Debbie Reynolds; each individually talented and incredibly humble.

Q:  What do you like about NYC?

Whether you are an artist or just an adventurer, New York is an incredible place to be. I wake up inspired ever day knowing that there is diversity, consistent change, and endless opportunities here. The city has no limits, and has shown me that neither do I!

Q:  What don’t you like about it?

A: Everything is harder in New York, and sometimes I yearn for the simplicity of my home in the Midwest. But I am grateful to be here and even though the city can be challenging, I am growing as a person and as a performer because of it. There is no place quite like it, and there is no place I would rather be.

Q:  What is your dream role and why?

A: I am a children’s entertainment enthusiast and would love the opportunity to portray the role of “Marry” in Disney’s Marry Poppins. The story of the show is so elegant and charming, and Mary is such a beautiful, independent, and inspiring lady who teaches many valuable lessons and has exquisite humor.

Q:  Marry, kiss or kill? Edward Albee, Neil Lebute or Arthur Miller?

A: Marry – I respect that tradition. I admire Edward Albee because he is not only a motivating writer, but a motivating person. He has allowed himself to take challenges and accept the outcomes after doing so and believes every individual, artist or not, has the ability to accomplish great things if they allow themselves to and I think he portrays that mentality in his work.

 

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)