Sunday, May 31, 2015

Q-and-A with Brigham Mosley

Brigham Mosley [credit Erik Carter]
Describing Brigham Mosley's work, Clint May of Chicago Theater Beat wrote "To say he has a lot of panache would be an understatement...[A] beautiful curio—at once poetic, raw, and intimate...Mosley is yet a young man in the world of theatre, but shows a talent and wisdom beyond his years.

Brigham is a Dallas-based theatre artist. He is presenting his show Mo[u]rnin'. After. at the 2015 Dallas Solo Fest. He sits down here to answer some questions for us at TSP.

Here we go...

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

A: I'm from southwest Oklahoma - went to school for theatre studies at SMU where I first got into performance work - moved to NYC after graduating; got into the downtown, queer theatre scene and then moved back to Dallas last summer!

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

A: At SMU I took a workshop with acclaimed solo performer Tim Miller - it just opened up my world.  I realized how immediate and charged solo work can be - it changed the way I saw theatre!  After graduating I moved to NYC where I pursued solo work at spaces like PS122, La MaMa, and The New Museum.

Q: Could you tell us about your show Mo[u]rnin'. After.?

A: Mo[u]rnin'. After. is a "mythic autobiography for the queer, prodigal son" - a journey to the ancestors and back to the homeland through magic, musicals, and time travel.  There will be dream ballets.

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

A: The immediacy.  I love being in a room with an audience and having that agency to break from the script and explore a moment - to have that conversation and acknowledge what's happening in the space.  No fourth walls!  No walls!

Q: What has been the biggest challenge?

A: Getting perspective.  It's hard to step back from a piece - especially autobiographical ones.  Removing myself from the show and looking at it from above or beside - that's a toughie for me!

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

A: The work keeps me going - the exploration - I love digging deep and when creating new work all these new little germs of future pieces bubble to the surface.  To stay motivated I read a lot, I see a lot.  I love everything - high-brow, low-brow - it's all good!  It's all meaty!

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: I'm so text-based - I love scripts - I love having the work on paper.  For me it's about knowing a show backwards and forwards and then on the other side of that is all this freedom to break from the text.  For creating new work I do a lot of uncensored writing - often I have impulses for pieces - whether that's a character or a topic or a metaphor - and from there it's about unpacking and unfolding and then re-shaping into a new vehicle.

Q: Who are some of your influences or people that inspire/embolden you? Particularly as a solo performer?

A: Tim Miller started it all - I think he's incredible.  Taylor Mac is divine - I adore his aesthetic and style and humor.  Charles Ludlam and the Theatre of the Ridiculous, Young Jean Lee, DOLLY PARTON!  Dolly is God.

Brigham Mosley in Mo[u]rnin'. After.

Q: How do you bridge the gap between the business side of theatre and the creative aspects?

A: Oh goodness - that's the challenge!  To quote Dolly (so much Dolly!): "Find out who you are and do it on purpose."  I think all artists are brands - we're all entrepreneurs and inventors and we have to be able to represent the work we make.  For me it's about knowing who I am as a writer and performer.  It's about being able to sum up the work for an elevator pitch, for a grant, for an application, etc.  Once you know who you are and what you want you can sort of piece together what that life looks like - and then you can add in the day job on top!

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

A: You know people always talk about Theatre as a dying art form - which I so don't agree with. [Editor's Note: Neither do I ~ Brad]  I think theatre is Experience and that will never be something humans don't hunger for.  I think theatre must become more theatrical (because theatre will never be able to do film better than film!) - I think that solo performance as a medium is one with strengths in immediacy and intimacy - it's also inherently theatrical because it's so much exposed-wires and torn-down fourth walls.  Film can't do that - TV can't do that.  I want more collaboration (which is maybe paradoxical in solo work but whatevs!) - I think making theatre that's more dancerly, more musical - big costumes!  Makeup!  Wigs!  That's the future for me!

Q: Any links you'd like me to list?

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