Friday, February 21, 2014

Q-and-A with Deanna Fleysher

Deanna Fleysher will be presenting her piece BUTT KAPINSKI at the Dallas Solo Fest in May 2014. TSP caught up with her to pick her wonderfully twisted brain about her process.

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Q: Please give us a brief bio, where you are from and how you started in theatre/performance?

A: I was born a clown, but it took me a while to figure out that the fear I had of clowns was actually just of bad clowns. I spent time training as a physical theater performer, and a lot of time in the improv comedy world before I found clown and bouffon. I consider myself a New Yorker but I live in Los Angeles.  

Q: What event or desire brought you specifically into the world of solo performance?

A: I  don't like other people. That is not true, but I find that the model of solo performance works well for me: I have only myself to schedule, feed and report to. 

Q: Could you tell us about some of your recent solo work?

A: These days, it is all about Butt. 

Q: How would you describe your particular kind of solo performance?

A: Interactive. Vulnerable. Poetic. Clumsy. Moist.  

Q: What is your favorite thing about doing this work?

A: The different ways audience members interact with me. It is always a delightful surprise. 

Q: What inspires you to keep going and how do you keep yourself motivated?

A: I really like doing the show; it is different every time, and it keeps me on my toes. I am always trying to make it better... Man, are these answers super trite? I think interviewing performers is such a noble task, I wish I were giving you more inspiring answers! What inspires me. A delicious sandwich. A hot slide trombone. The gas pedal. 

Q: What is your approach to the development process when putting together a new project? Do you create a lot on stage, improvising? More on paper? Tape or video record? Hold readings? Go to a mountain top?

A: Video recording rehearsals and shows is incredibly useful. I watch and take notes. I always rehearse in front of a trusted team of outsides eyes. There is a lot of on-my-feet creating and experimenting, and then I write stuff down later. 

Q: Who are some of your influences or people that inspire/embolden you?

A: Performers alive today: Billy The Mime, Murray Hill, Julie Atlas Muz, Tom Waits, Yanomi Shoshinz, Taylor Mac. 

Performers dead today: Peter Lorre, Robert Mitchum, Tony Curtis, Barbara Stanwyck, Burt Lancaster, Bette Davis. 

Q: How do you bridge the gap of the business side of theatre? 

A: With little twigs and pure intentions. 

Q: Any advice for some aspiring artist just starting out in solo performance?

A: Write a novel or something first, just to get all your first spewings out. Then think about what the world needs—not just the story you need to tell, but the experience the world needs to have—and build the show around that. 

Q: Share with us something funny that has happened to you recently.

A: With my mother, it is a sensitive subject that I am an artist, when I could've been a lawyer-or-a-doctor, you know the drill. But she is so funny. We were watching the Olympics together, freestyle skiing. We are not a physically agile family, exactly. So we were agog at those ridiculous young men doing insane twists and turns in the air, and she kept leaning over to me and whispering, This could have been you. You could have been doing this. But you really let us down. 

Q: What do you see for the future of solo performance and for you personally as an artist?

A: On the touring circuit, solo shows seem to be the best business model, so it will be cool to see how we continue to push the boundaries of what a solo show actually means.  I expect shows will get more and more experiential, and less and less confessional. I think my next show will be a Ritual of some kind, in which the audience members can have their own private experiences, and a collective catharsis as well. But first I need to learn the drums.

Fun links: 
Butt Kapinski on YouTube
I'll be in the Dallas Solo Fest in May, too. Info HERE.

Deanna Fleysher in performance as BUTT KAPINSKI

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