Sunday, August 12, 2012

Spotlight On...Liam Mulshine

Name: Liam Mulshine

Washington, DC

Education: BFA in Theatre from Boston University with a semester at the Accademia dell'Arte in Arezzo, Italy

Select Credits: Rhinoceros (Berenger, Boston University); Waiting for Lefty (Phillips, Boston University); Art for Sale (Tut'Zanni Theatre Company)

Why theater?: From the point of theatre-making, I love the way putting on a show creates this community of people all working together towards one goal, towards building something far bigger than any one person. Contributing towards the birth of a play is a high like no other. Between the inception of the idea and the first night an audience actually sees it, there's almost always the inevitable moment where the question "can we actually do this?" comes up. I love overcoming that challenge.

Tell us about Art for Sale: Art for Sale is a Commedia dell'Arte-style comedy done in traditional Italian masks, but with our own modern spin on everything. Commedia dell'Arte features theatrical archetypes who are essentially the progenitors to characters you see on every sitcom nowadays - Bart Simpson, Phil Dunphy, Monica Geller, and so on. In Art for Sale, those characters are part of a theatre company attempting to present a show and the disasters that loom at every turn. It's also an examination of the relationship between art and commerce: art as a "pure" thing versus art as a commodity. We also incorporate non-traditional masks, puppetry, and singing. So whether or not the deeper themes resonate, it'll be a good time. We're performing at the New York International Fringe Festival this month. You can buy tickets via the links on our site.

What is it like being a part of Art for Sale?: SO MUCH FUN. One of the co-founders of our company, Ali Landvatter, wrote the basic outline for the show, but nearly everything came from improvising together. That's how Commedia works best - you know the needs and basic personalities of the characters, and you decide, "This is the scene where this happens" and you play. We rehearsed last month for about two weeks before performing at a theatre festival in Italy, and I don't think I've ever laughed so hard so many days in a row. It's incredibly challenging too though. We've struggled a lot - not only in figuring out how to best tell the story, but in working with our masks. They're beautiful, dynamic tools that demand a precise, fluid, infinitely energetic physicality to match. In the best moments of performing, I feel like the mask gives me the ability to be bigger and bolder than I'd ever be without it.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
Theatre that immerses me in a new world, sets up certain boundaries and conventions, then rips those apart in a way that's thrilling and disturbing and invites the audience to look at life from a new perspective. Lisa Kron's Well did that to me, as did Noises Off, Cloud 9, and Our Town.

Any roles you’re dying to play?: In twenty or thirty years, I'd love to tackle George from Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. I don't know if I'm ready for that one at this point in my life. Betty/Edward from Cloud 9. I've already done it, but I'd love to play Berenger from Ionesco's Rhinoceros again. And I personally think I'd do a great Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd.

What’s your favorite showtune?: I'd say it's a toss-up between "Worst Pies in London" from Sweeney Todd and "New Music" from Ragtime.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Probably Moisés Kaufman. I still think about and am affected by his production of I Am My Own Wife I saw years ago.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Jesse Tyler Ferguson in "Palebeard".

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
Most recently, Four Clowns, a show I saw at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. It's the raunchiest, most hilarious clown show I've ever seen.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: "The Simpsons". I've broken my at-least-two-episodes-a-day habit as of late, but I quote the show nearly daily and I'm pretty much never not in the mood to watch an old favorite.

What’s up next?: This fall, my theatre company, Tut'Zanni, is embarking on a tour to various colleges and universities to perform our show and lead Commedia dell'Arte workshops. It's in partnership with the Accademia dell'Arte in Arezzo, Italy, where we all studied abroad during college. Besides those tour dates, I'll be in Los Angeles, which is where I call home right now, auditioning and creating new work.