Friday, January 31, 2014

Spotlight On...Jake Lasser

Name: Jake Lasser

Hometown: Cortlandt Manor, NY

Education: B.A. Columbia University (class of 2012)

Select Credits: Theater in Asylum's ¡OlĂ©! (NYC, US Tour, and Prague International Fringe Festival), Marc Arthur's Mascot, Dara Malina's LilithEquus (Columbia School of the Arts)

Why theater?: Come on, let's start with a difficult question! (Kidding.) Theater for so many reasons, the least of which is that theatre making is the hardest thing I know how to do, which in some twisted, New York artist universe makes it my favorite thing to do. Less selfishly, theatre for its potency as a social and political force, for the way it demands more of artists and audiences. Theatre for its unparalleled aesthetic complexity as an art form that includes all other artistic media. Theatre because it is inherently populist and unendingly collaborative, and because it gave me the excuse to be an expert on horse-grooming last month in Equus and on life as a Czar's son in late 19th century Russia this month.

Tell us about Vera; or, The Nihilists:
What a strange old play! It has Oscar Wilde's scarcely beatable wit mixed with this young, radical political energy that feels just as necessary today as I imagine it did in the late 1800s. You can dig into it and excavate tangled webs of complex political philosophy (it was written at the end of a very exciting century of philosophical writings and political happenings in Europe) or simply one coy, silly, cheeky joke after another.

What is it like being a part of Vera; or, The Nihilists?: Awesome. I'm going to have amazingly toned abs from all the uncontrollable laughing. It is an absurdly hilarious rehearsal room full of absurdly talented people.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I'm crazy about theatre that pushes the form and f***s things up. I'm really interested in the American theatrical dependence on linear narrative and how American artists can successfully upend that. I'm also attracted to successful models of intense collaboration and devised work. I love Jan Fabre, the TEAM, the Rude Mechs...that said, I'm also a sucker for a good gut-renovation of a good old play. Ivo von Hove and Michael Thalheimer are two geniuses at that game.

Any roles you’re dying to play?:
This is a tough one. Definitely Treplev in The Seagull (Chekhov). Also Katurian in The Pillowman (Martin McDonaugh). The title role in Baal (Brecht). The Fever (Wallace Shawn). And then my alternate-universe Ethyl Eichelberger self has always wanted to play Medea, Klytaemnestra--all those magnificent murderous mamas.

What’s your favorite showtune?: Maybe "Salomon Song" from Threepenny Opera or "Moments in the Woods" from Into the Woods...which seem like polar opposites, now that I think about it! And lately I've been listening to Dave Malloy's Great Comet on repeat--I just got the recording and am certifiably fixated.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Pretty much the same names I said inspire me--Ivo von Hove, Jan Fabre, Ariane Mnouchkine, the TEAM, the Rude Mechs. Oh, and Elizabeth Marvel, just to watch her work.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: “I Broke My Finger Acting” or “I Ripped My Pants Acting” or “I Wonder How I Got these Bruises...Probably Acting” starring...Diane Keaton and Woody Allen's nonexistent hippie lovechild?

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
I've been in rehearsal so much lately that I haven't been doing much recommending. The last show I saw that I would recommend was Robert Wilson's Life and Death of Marina Abramovic.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?:
"Sawdust and Diamonds" by Joanna Newsom. I used to listen to it every night before bed.