Category Archives: Spark Plug

interviews with the playwright and members of Spark’s creative team

Spark Plug: Malcolm Pepin

Spark Plug: An interview series with playwright and the artists of Spark.


Time:  1 hour before the final performance of Spark.

Setting:  Access Theater dressing room, Mr. Pepin is eating candy hearts.


ANGELA SANTILLO
How did you get into acting?

MALCOLM PEPIN
I think the first show I ever did…my mom was directing a play at my high school.  Somehow I got into doing it with a couple of my buddies.   After that, I would do musicals and plays that we put on at my school, mostly because it allowed me to cut class.  When you were in a show, you get the last period off sometimes.  I was like, “Yeah!  Great!”   And then when I was 14 or 15 I discovered standup comedy, which I didn’t know about cause in Europe there isn’t really the same format.  And then that was when I said, “Oh, I want to be onstage.”  But I really never wanted to be an actor then I went to Sarah Lawrence-actually that’s how it happened.  I didn’t want to be an actor, I wanted to do pure comedy. When I got to Sarah Lawrence, I auditioned for a bunch of the comedy things and I didn’t get into them and I thought, “I guess I’m not funny.  I guess I’ll just do serious acting instead.”  And one thing led to another.

AS
So what are you doing after Spark?  Acting wise.

MP
I’m probably going to come down really hard and really depressed for a couple days cause that’s usually what happens.

AS
Post-show mortem.

MP
It’ s like a big hangover.  I’ve been writing a lot of standup comedy.  I’ve turned into a pretty hardcore night owl for some reason, staying up writing.  I hope more plays are on the horizon somewhere.

AS
Cupid is a crazy guy.  What has been the most challenging part about playing him?

MP
I think what was challenging was…I remember when I auditioned for the part, I talked to Elizabeth afterwards and I said, “He seems kind of somewhere between Puck and Humphrey Bogart.”  Those were the two things that flashed in my mind.  He was suave and sexual but he’s also this kind of weirdo guy.  So I decided to go super weird with him, which is really kind of close to how I feel most of the time but I usually put on a pretty good façade of being very calm and composed.   I was having a hard time reading how Elizabeth was feeling about it.  I thought, “Does she like it?  Is she not into?”

AS
Any tips on how to rock a gold sequenced skirt?  (Note: Cupid wears a gold sequenced skirt in the show.)

MP
I would say just do it, to steal Nike’s advice.  I didn’t really worry about it too much.   I was like, “Yeah, he’s wearing a skirt.”  I’ve seen weirder stuff before but my concern was that him wearing a skirt and having makeup and the way I was making him move was going to come off as very feminine and maybe leaning towards gay versus straight.  I didn’t want that to happen because it’s not about him being straight versus gay, I didn’t want him to be specifically anything.  He just makes people fall in love so he is all of it, it doesn’t matter.

AS
So this is the last question.

MP
Sure.

AS
You have to finish this sentence: Spark is…

MP
A play?  No.  Okay.  Hold on…
Spark is…the most beautiful thing you can experience in your life.
You know, when I was really young, my father told me something that now that I think about it, I don’t know why he said this to me when I was so young.  But he said, “You know son, we all die alone.  No matter what, even if someone is holding your hand.  But as many people as you can have in your life-friends, family, love-is worth more than everything else in the world.”  I think that’s why a lot of what happens in the play hits home with me because it’s so important for me to have friends and acquaintances.
That would be it.
Spark is the most beautiful thing you can experience your life.

(Playwright’s Note:  Thank you to the creative team, cast, crew, friends, family, colleagues, and audiences for making Spark happen.  Till the next one…)

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Spark Plug: Meg Fee

Spark Plugs: An interview series with playwright and the artists of Spark.


Time: Last week of performances, five minutes before the house opens.

Setting: Stage right on the set at Access Theater.  Ms. Fee is not yet in costume, Ms. Santillo is hoping the audience doesn’t come in yet.


ANGELA SANTILLO
They are just about to open the theater.  Let’s do this.

MEG FEE
It will be like word association.

AS
Exactly.  What do you think makes good theater?

MF
Risk.   I think it’s all in the attempt.  It doesn’t matter if it fails as long as it’s an attempt at something scary.  There has to be fear involved.  There has to be high stakes in something you can lose.

(Preshow music starts to play.)

AS
What do you love most about performing?

MF
The play with the other person.

(Stage manager announces house is open.)

MF (contd.)
Being with another person on stage, having to trust them, knowing that you could both fail together.

AS
What is the most challenging part about playing the goddess of love?

(Pause.
A longer pause.)

MF
Let’s go back to that.

AS
Okay.  Do you have any preshow rituals?

MF
For this show, having a latte and a cookie.

AS
Finish this phrase:  I hope the audience…

MF
Thinks about the play at some point during the next day.

AS
And let’s go back to the goddess question.

MF
The most challenging part…I think it’s that she’s a person who has so many emotions.  That she really truly can hold two opposing ideas, one in each hand, and each are valid.  She loves and she hates, she is so angry and so desperately in need.  I think she feels everything really deeply and she doesn’t always have the words or the piece of mind to express it in a rational way.

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Spark Plug: Alexandra Delare

Spark Plug: An interview series with playwright Angela Santillo and the artists of Spark.

 

Time: 
Thursday evening before rehearsal.

Setting:
Diner.  Sitting in a booth.  Ms. Santillo just finished eating french toast.  Ms. Delare is waiting for her chicken noodle soup.  Ms. Hartmann (assistant director) is drinking coffee nearby.

 

Angela Santillo
First.  How are you?

Alex Delare
I’m great.  How are you?

AS
Good.  So you were in the first reading of Spark in ’09.  Has anything surprised you…

(Pause.
Chicken noodle soup has been brought to the table.)

AS
..so is there anything that has surprised you about the development of the script since that reading, if you can remember that far back?

AD
Well, I was playing two completely different characters when we did the reading.  I feel like my development in it has been such a different experience.  I was so involved in a different side of the world with the Takers whereas now I am dealing with being a Lovesick. With Dalia (the role she is playing), I understand now why the Lovesicks are who they are in this world and why they can’t communicate whereas before I was distanced from it.  I didn’t understand it as I do now.

AS
And Dalia has been struck in the heart by Cupid.  Give me three things everyone should consider when acting with an arrow protruding from their chest.

AD
Alright.  First of all, when you go down on the floor on your knees and you put your head down, you might actually stab yourself in the head with the back of the arrow.  You basically want to be aware of your body.  As Dalia I’m not supposed to know that I’ve been shot through the heart, I just have a feeling that I love.  Sometimes I’ll be aware that I have something pointing out of my heart and be like, “Okay, don’t focus on this thing protruding from my chest.”  It’s also knowing where actors are and how I move so I don’t take anyone out when I’m moving.

AS
All very wise.

(Ms. Delare eats her soup.)

AS
When you’re ready, what do you love about acting?

(Ms. Delare eats more soup.)

AD
I feel like my response to acting is so different from a number of years ago.  As I’ve gotten older I realize I don’t just act because it’s something I like to do because now I have to give up so much to be an actor.  Now I want to be an actor because I love being able to tell stories and I love being able to dive into a script that really inspires me.  And if I’m dealing with something emotionally, I feel like I can go to a place with a character and deal with my experiences in a different way.

AS
And what do you hate about acting?

AD
Sometimes you don’t want to do it!  Sometimes you end up having to be in a character’s world that is somehow related to what you’re going through and you don’t want to.  And I hate the business aspect of it.  Sometimes you will have a wonderful interview but mostly I just want to do the craft and act my heart out and not worry about making connections.    I wish it was just art all the time.

AS
Last question.  Finish the sentence: The best Valentine’s Day gift is…

AD
A bunch of daisies on your doorstep.

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Spark Plug: Winston Shaw

Spark Plug: An interview series with playwright Angela Santillo and the artists of Spark.


Time: 
Sunday afternoon.

Setting:
Rehearsal room.  Actors are being fit for costume pieces.  Mr. Shaw wears his character’s jeans and leather jacket.  Ms. Santillo is wearing nothing as exciting.


Angela Santillo
So…this is your second time performing in a show I’ve written.

Winston Shaw
It’s true.

AS
How’s it going?

WS
It’s pretty great.  It’s a lot of fun.

AS
Yeah?

WS
Yeah. I’m wearing rhinestone jeans.  Come on.

AS
You’re a writer and a performer.  Knowing two different art forms, is it hard to be an actor when you’re also a writer?

WS
I don’t think so because it comes from the same place, so I think one informs the other.  That’s a really vague kind of answer but to me it’s all about storytelling, world-crafting.  It all comes from the same kind of place, like taking your pencil as a kid and being like, “This is a spaceship!” Which I did all the time, even during class.

AS
What is something you wish everyone knew about what it takes to make new work?

WS
How disciplined you have to be to create.  People think it’s one of those eureka things, that you sit in your laboratory and have big thoughts and then you’re famous.  You know?  But good writers are writers who revise, revise, revise.  They pay attention to detail and fret over individual moments like whether or not this makes sense in the world they made up. You know, that perspiration inspiration cliché, etc.

AS
You play Cash.

WS
Yeahhhh.

AS
He’s a pretty anxious, shot-thru-the-butt kind of guy.  Is there anything you’re mindful of when you have to play such a high-energy character?

WS
It’s the first time I’ve ever actually done any physical method stuff.  I always try to get my heart rate up before I come onstage.  I try to do some exercise, push-ups, run around, shout at stuff before I come on.  Other than that, I think one thing I have to keep mindful of is that he feels really deeply and doesn’t necessarily know how to express it.  There’s a real kind of hopeless frustration about him that is really poignant to me cause we all have times when we can’t express ourselves.  That keeps the character three-dimensional for me.

AS
Last question.  You have to finish this sentence:  I would do anything for love but…

WS
I won’t do that?

AS
You don’t have to copy Meatloaf.  It can be your own.

WS
….
I would do anything for love but….set someone on fire.
That sounds horrible.  That’s a terrible thing to do.  Yeah, I wouldn’t do that.

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Spark Plug: Cindy N. Kawaski

Spark Plug: An interview series with playwright Angela Santillo and the artists of Spark.

 

Time: 
Sunday, 11:30am.

Setting:
Café down the street from our rehearsal room.  Ms. Kawasaki is drinking tea.

 

Angela Santillo
When someone asks you to be in a new play, what is the first thing that crosses your mind?

Cindy Kawaski
Yay!  You know, my training was at the Actor’s Theater of Louisville and that’s all about new plays and script changes right before you get onstage.  So I like that energy, that really creative “birth of theaterland.”  We literally got script changes before we went out for our premiere.  Like, “Oh hey!  By the way, next to your makeup are script changes.” But the only way to deal with that is to be positive about it and be excited that you have something to keep you present, you can’t phone it in.

AS
Is there anything different as an actor approaching a new role versus being in an existing play?

CK
You really get to be part of the creative process in a sense.  I mean, that’s true anyways but sometimes your performance can be colored by, “Oh, so-and-so played this when she did it.”  There’s some stigma maybe attached to a certain role and sure you can transcend it but it’s hard to.  Sort of like polluting a jury pool but when it’s fresh, anything is possible.

AS
Describe your dream project.

CK
I like to write and direct also but in a collaborative way.  Some of the best pieces I have done have been Viewpoint pieces that have been created from scratch and come out of actions/reactions.  I would love to work on some more pieces like that but take classic pieces and reinterpret them that way.

AS
What do you think the audience should know before they see this show?

CK
I really don’t think they need to know anything.  I think if everyone’s done their job than anyone can come off the street and know the rules to the world.  I don’t know…

AS
That’s an answer.

CK
They should just be awake!

AS
Last thing.  Finish this sentence: The greatest love story ever told is…

CK

I used to say Lolita but then that got weird looks.  Yeah…that’s going to be my answer.

 

 

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Spark Plug: Michael Kreitzinger

Spark Plug: An interview series with playwright Angela Santillo and the artists of Spark.


Time: 
Around 8pm.

Setting:
Rehearsal room in Bushwick before table work on Scene Six.   Mr. Kreitzinger is ready.  Ms. Santillo’s audio recorder is having problems.


Angela Santilo
So you are making your New York debut with Spark.

Michael Kreitzinger
Yes I am.

AS
How you feeling about that?

MK
I’m feeling very good.  I’ve been here for about eight months and I was kind of apprehensive about doing anything in general when I first got here but now I feel settled into the city.   I’m excited, especially to do it with Elizabeth (the director).

AS
So let’s talk about that.

MK
Yes.  Because the first play I ever did was one of Elizabeth’s plays.

AS
Exactly.  So this is a reunion.  How has that been?

MK
It’s been kind of funny.  Cause when I started theater in high school, I started relatively late in comparison to everyone else.  So the first acting I did was this little student written film that Elizabeth did and in retrospect it’s kind of the same scenario.  Being in New York, being a little fish in this bowl and her directing is my introduction into this theater world.  It’s comforting having somebody who knows where I come from and knows what I do, even though it’s been a very very long time since she has seen me perform.

AS
So give me your top five bucket roles.

MK
Oh man…well I’ve already done one of them, Katurian Katurian in The Pillowman.  I always gravitate to big, over the top, evil villains.  I would say Javier in Les Mis, Sweeny Todd…oh man two more.   Every other actor in this world is like, “I know exactly what I want to do” but I’m like whatever comes my way, I’ll take it.  Is that okay?

AS
Yeah, that’s a perfect answer and you are giving me perfect segues man.  Let’s talk about The Bearer.  You play him and he is a pretty ominous character.  What do you keep in mind when you play a villain?

MK
I think it’s the opposite of what people think you should come on and be.  You know, that you have to be ominous or dark.  But I think you just come on and do the opposite.  How many people do you meet in this world who walk up to you and are like, “Oh, I’m an evil person.”  It’s usually the people that are like sociopaths, nice and charming.  I think it’s reserved energy also when you come on.  For example, when I come on as The Bearer it’s a lot of containment.

AS
Okay, so last thing.  You have to finish this phrase.  The best worst love song is…

MK
Oh without a doubt, it’s eight minutes long, is Celine Dion’s It’s All Coming Back To Me Now. 

AS
Yes!

MK
It’s in combination with the video.  You know it’s wind blowing, windows breaking, her hair flying, running down hallways.

AS
Yes!

MK
And it’s eight minutes long so it never stops.  It just keeps going.

(Playwright’s note:  It’s All Coming Back To Me Now is actually six minutes long.)

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Spark Plug: Chelsea Militano

Spark Plug: An interview series with playwright Angela Santillo and the artists of Spark.

 

Time:
Sunday afternoon, on the brink of doing a run thru.

Setting:
Rehearsal room, seated by the windows and heaters. Ms. Militano is laughing. As is Ms. Santillo.

 

Angela Santillo
So. Are you ready?

Chelsea Militano
Yes.

AS
Why are you an actress?

CM
Because there’s nothing else I can do. Ha! No, cause I dig relationships and to be able to learn about myself and people in the world, I like that dynamic of it. That always growing, always learning, always asking questions and the high you get performing. Even the high you get sitting in your room, looking at a script and figuring it out.

AS
So you are new to New York.

CM
Yes.

AS
What’s the most exciting part of being in actress in New York City?

CM
Discovering that the world is actually really small. The theater world is pretty tiny. Like it’s a big world and New York is a big scary place but it’s really not. And navigating that and taking the city in and then deciding who I want to be in the city and how am I going to make that happen.

AS
Describe the perfect role.

CM
The perfect role…a woman who is strong but also is very vulnerable and real. Who loves, is misunderstood, and has barriers and blockage and she hides that through kicking your ass but really she is super.

AS
So basically you want to be a complicated woman?

CM
Um, yyeeahhh.

AS
Ha! So you play Mystery, among other roles. It’s a pretty vocally demanding role with all those love sounds and what not. So what are you going to do to prepare your voice?

CM
Well, I’m going to make I do my special “O” exercise lots. I’ve been doing that in the sauna. Ha! And trying to free it. That’s the hardest part. I’m not scared about it being exhausted but of letting myself vocally go to where I know it can go.

AS
Now, finish this line. Be mine or else I will…

CM
Kick your ass.

 

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