artistic director of Planet Ant Theatre in Hamtramck since 2001; directed
"The Adding Machine," starring Robert Grossman, last year's
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" and last fall's "The
Woolgatherer." He's currently preparing for the Ant's May opening
of the locally written "Only Fresh Lemons."
A big part of it is that I come from the area.
I grew up in Farmington. But another part of came from when I was going
to college (at Northern Michigan)- I came home for spring vacation and
I went with my older brother to see "The Price" out at the
JET. Robert Grossman was in it, and his performance in that production
made me think that Detroit was definitely a worthwhile place to do theater.
Because I saw there was actually something very valid and good going
on in theater in Detroit.
And Detroit has a purity that you don't find
in other towns. You know, I'm not saying Eminem's the greatest musician
in the world or anything, but I don't think what he is talking about
in "8 Mile" could come out of another city. There's a rawness
about this city that I don't think Chicago or New York have. There are
so many ways that this city is fucked up, but it kind of brings out
a pureness and rawness in the arts.
I wouldn't say that was something that I realized
when I came here, but it's something I've been thinking about a lot
lately. I lived in Chicago for a while and I always felt that it was
missing something... and I think that what it's missing is that rawness.
I mean maybe I haven't experienced everything there but it definitely
seems like something that Detroit has, that intrigues me and inspires
I don't think I would be able to handle a life
outside of the arts. I was a pretty quiet kid, and I think I accumulated
quite a bit of angst. My parents raised me to appreciate art. So I was
in music when I was kid, and painted, and all sorts of stuff, and theater
is what I took to. I think it's the most satisfying, just because it
encompasses so many different arts, and also because of its temporal
nature and the liveness of it really appeals to me.
I think the reason some theater people want to
do film is because of the temporal nature of the theater
doesn't really matter to me whether (what we do) is caught on tape or
not. I think that's what theater has going for it over most of the other
arts, that it is just there for a moment, because ultimately, memory
is more powerful than putting on a videotape of a movie.
And I think the three-dimensional aspect of it
appeals to me: I like creating a three-dimensional piece of art.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES FOR THE FUTURE OF PLANET
The artistic values could be more fine-tuned,
here. Honestly, I'm really sort of interested in doing more original
stuff. I mean working on this new play ("Only Fresh Lemons,"
opening in May) has been even more satisfying than working on "Virginia
Woolf" There's something exciting about realizing that all those
great writers were just people, and we're just people. There's no reason
why we shouldn't really find the voices that are around here and try
to do something new. I mean the last four of five years - working on
all those great scripts has really given us an education in breaking
scripts down and seeing how they work. And having that knowledge has
really given us the courage to branch out and spread out the artistic
vision of this place.
Something that I've realized this season, is
that I don't have any interest in being this sort of dictator artistic
director that says you have to do things this way or whatever. I'm much
more interested in trying to find contemporaries that have a good work
ethic and a good theater discipline, but also are more visionary - because
I don't think the theater makes much sense with just one artistic vision.
It kind of bores me, quite frankly.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF
I'm very jealous of Canada, in general - their
support of the arts, and their appreciation and respect of it. I really
wish this town could sort of side with its French name. Detroit's always
been so industrial, but I wish it could sort of become a Paris - you
know the layout of this town was modeled after Paris. I'd like to see
the city's development go in that sort of direction.
I just think it would be nice if artists could
be appreciated more here. I'm not trying to whine about it - I mean
the process is the reward - but I wish there were other rewards in this
city. Maybe just more coffeehouses, you know?
It's kind of corny but there's a quote that's
meant a lot to me from Mother Theresa about "If everyone would
just sweep their own porch...." That's really simple but if we're
doing our little part, knowing that we can't change everything ourselves,
but everyone's doing their little part, then who knows?
2357 Caniff Ave.