Thursday, August 8, 2013

Spotlight On...Lee J. Kaplan

Name: Lee J. Kaplan

Hometown: Jacksonville, FL (originally) / now New York, NY

Why theater?: It is my first love. I started acting in school plays when I was very young and it was the one thing that I most looked forward to and that I couldn't get enough of. It gave me that feeling then and it still gives me that feeling now: the pure adrenaline rush of going out onto the stage, not knowing what's about to happen and sharing that feeling with the audience members who have come to watch and be part of the experience.

Tell us about Bully: Bully is a multi-character, solo show based on real-life events that took place during my childhood. From sixth through eighth grades, I experienced what it was like to be a victim of verbal and physical abuse. I've written my role in this show as a boxer, learning how to stand up to the bullies.

What inspired you to create Bully?:
When I was home for the holidays a few years ago, I found a journal that I kept when I was in sixth grade. The journal contains some vivid descriptions of abusive events that happened to me when I was that age. Reading that journal sparked more memories and I realized that I needed to speak out about what happened to me.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: As a solo artist, I'm particularly drawn to watching and learning from other solo artists who are drawing from their life experiences and creating art.  I'm absolutely inspired by the people in my life who are following their passions -- whether it's a passion for the theatre, for medicine or teaching or law. I must also add that I've been inspired time and again by the students who have seen my show and who have reached out to me afterwards. They are simply amazing.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Oh! There are so many people who I'd love to work with and so many wonderful artists that I've already had the opportunity to work with. No matter who it is, I hope that we'll challenge each other and learn from each other. That's what I most enjoy and what is so fulfilling for me.

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
I had the opportunity to see Tennessee Williams' Two-Character Play, which is currently playing off-Broadway at New World Stages. I've definitely recommended that show -- it's wonderfully done.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Lately, I've been trying to catch-up on the NetFlix series "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black". I find both of them wonderfully-written and performed.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Through the experience of moving this show from ideas on a page to a fully-realized production, I've learned that I enjoy so many facets and aspects of our industry. While I most enjoy performing (whether it's in the theatre or in film/TV/web), I've also discovered a passion for producing, writing and editing, as well. I imagine I will keep myself occupied through some combination of these interests.

What’s up next?: I'm hoping to bring Bully to more theatres and schools in the Fall. Keep an eye on the Bully website {www.standuptothebully.com} for updates!

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