Monday, August 15, 2011

Spotlight On...Liz Thaler

Name: Liz Thaler

Hometown: New York, NY (yes, actual Manhattan)

Education: Wesleyan University, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art

Select Credits: The Peddler's Tale, Director/Playwright, The Zoo (Edinburgh Fringe); Knock, Director, Gallery Players; born bad, Assistant Director, Soho Rep.

Why theater? Because control and perfection are boring. In theatre no one has absolute power--we're all at each other's mercy.

Tell us about Courtney and Kathleen: A Riot Act: 90s Historical Fiction, basically. If Courtney Love and Kathleen Hanna had actually known each other, we think it would've gone like this: lots of booze, lots of cursing, lots of bonding over sex and art mixed with fighting over drugs and revolution. A feminist punk frolic with the corresponding hangover.

What inspired you to write Courtney and Kathleen: A Riot Act?: I was encountering a lot of staid historical theatre, and then in grad school I was forced to research an early Pope. I couldn't take it anymore--I wanted raucous plays about ferocious women tearing it up and making mistakes and carving their names into the Earth, so I decided to create one. These women were obvious material.

What is it like to serve dually as writer and director? Someone who didn't realize I was both asked me, "Do you like your playwright?" I told him it was a love-hate relationship. It's difficult because you have to shred your creations, and there's no one there to make the hard choices for you, it's all on you. Still I can't write without directing, it's the only way to see what works. Plus, having actual people in the room, depending on me to make them look good, pushes me to my best work. But I always feel better when the writing's done and I can focus on the directing. Writing is pain.

What kind of theater speaks to you?: Plays about strange people. (That's the tagline for my company, In Extremis Theater.) I don't tend towards Everymen, because that's rarely how life feels. I like theater that blends ugliness and beauty, comedy and drama, that brings us a taste of everything but leaves an unsettling one in your mouth. Theater that loves you deeply, but pulls the rug out.

What’s it like to be a part of FringeNYC?: So warm and wonderful. It's reinvigorating to be amongst all these artists who really care about creating something new.

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
I just saw Theater of the Arcade: Five Classic Video Games Adapted for the Stage do a bit at the Variety Power Hour, it was amazing.

What’s up next?: Tears, sleep, and an adaptation of Hamlet.

For more information on Courtney and Kathleen: A Riot Act, please visit