Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Spotlight On...Chris Tyler
Hometown: Suffern, NY
Education: Brown University and the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics at NYU.
Select Credits: Waiting for Barbara (Bryce, New Museum), A Crucible (Randy, The Wild Project), SQUIRTS: New Voices in Queer Performance (La MaMa), Flying Snakes in 3-D!! (Jaylen Shebazz, Ice Factory).
Why theater?: Little League just wasn’t cutting it.
Tell us about This is a Play About Being Gay: This is a Play About Being Gay is a queer identity politics play exploring contemporary cisgender gay male existence. Through a number of poignant, clever, and subversive strategies, the play simultaneously deconstructs and reifies gay stereotypes - thereby fostering a nuanced theatrical experience that inquires whether or not "it" does, actually, "get better."
What is it like being a part of This is a Play About Being Gay?: It's been a real joy working on this play. Teddy is such a savvy writer, and I've been a huge fan of his ever since I first encountered his play Dead People (which he co-wrote with Leah Nanako Winkler) two years ago at 3LD. He's got an uncanny ability to juxtapose overwrought tropes from popular culture with elegant, spare poetry, and I'm in love with the way that he fractures narrative conventions without sacrificing the integrity of his storytelling. As a queer person, though, working on this play has also taken me to some pretty dark places. It's honest and unforgiving and capable of dregging up shit you didn't even know was still bothering you from your closeted days in high school. Except that's what makes it so effective. So much of today's theater (and film and TV) with seemingly "positive" gay storylines tends to sterilize or melodramatize queer experience in reductive (and, therefore, dangerous) ways, but this play really fights back.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Theater – or, performance, more broadly – that is radical and rigorous in both its politics and its aesthetics. Performance that actually has an opinion, a point-of-view; performance that manages to take itself seriously while also engaging thoughtfully (and aggressively) with both its audience and the zeitgeist. Performance that elects NOT to employ racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, classist, or any number of other oppressive strategies in order to cheaply entertain its audiences. Performance that spits in the face of the status quo. Accordingly, I’m invested in the work of performance makers who do just that: Big Art Group, Brian Bauman, Justin Vivian Bond, Dan Fishback, Young Jean Lee, Taylor Mac, Erin Markey, and every single person out there consciously choosing to work creatively in revolutionary and responsible ways.
Any roles you’re dying to play?: Elle in Diane Paulus’s 2018 reimagining of Legally Blonde: The Musical.
What’s your favorite showtune?: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x10pkt3_alexis-neiers-phone-call-full-scene_fun#.UdzwS1Pmmwc
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Definitely the Weisslers.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Taylor Swift...and I would play her...and it would be called: "Freakier Friday.”
What show have you recommended to your friends?: Macy Rodman’s Monday night drag show, BATHSALTS: A Drag Show for F&%$ups, at Don Pedro (90 Manhattan Avenue in East Williamsburg). The show starts around midnight, goes ‘til 2 or 3 AM, and features some of the strangest, most talented queens this city has to offer (including my good friend, Ashleigh Nicolle Smith).
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Text-to-speech (TTS) vocals.
What’s up next?: I’ll be hosting (and performing in) TRL: TOTAL REJECTS LIVE! at This ‘N’ That (108 N 6th St. in Williamsburg) on Wednesday, July 24th at 10:30 PM. TRL is a variety show that attempts to recreate episodes of MTV's Total Request Live that aired on the same date X number of years before. With 10 different artists "covering” each of the tracks on the countdown, the end result is nothing short of a beautiful disaster. This month, we’re going all the way back to 2008 – so if you, like me, are feeling nostalgic for a 15-year old Miley Cyrus, you definitely won’t want to miss out. More information available at https://www.facebook.com/events/590272741013702/?fref=ts