Friday, February 21, 2014

Spotlight On...Anaïs Koivisto

Name: Anaïs Koivisto

Hometown: San Francisco

Education: BU CFA, LAMDA, ACT (and other acronyms)

Favorite Credits: As a director - Erik Ehn's The Saint Plays while I was at BU. For fun - playing Gollum in 4th grade during my elementary school's epic theatrical adaptation of The Hobbit.

Why theater?: It's a collaborative art - the final product doesn't ever belong to any one artist. And I LOVE that. My job, as a director, is to get a lot of really talented people in a room together, make them feel safe, and push them to do the best work they can. In theatre, the work we create as a company is deeper, smarter, riskier, and frankly better than anything I could ever create on my own. I am inspired by the brilliance of the people I get to work with every day. The actors who teach me new things about characters I've been studying for months, the playwrights who find a way to put human emotions down on paper, the designers who take light and fabric and glue and can somehow create a whole new world. After a life spent in theatre, I think I'd be lonely if I tried to work in any other form.

Tell us about Something Wicked?: Something Wicked picks up at the moment of Lady Macbeth's death and charges forward into the unknown. She finds herself trapped in the afterlife, surrounded by memories from her past and accompanied by three witches (yes those witches) who probably don't have her best interests at heart. The piece repurposes Shakespeare's text (along with some live music and a bit of dance) to tell a new story.

What inspired you to direct Something Wicked?:
I've always been intrigued by Lady M. She casts a long shadow over Macbeth, but spends very little of the play actually onstage. It's always felt to me that her arc in the play is ended prematurely. We see her instigate the murders. We watch as she begins to realize their effect on her husband and her marriage and then as that realization turns into regret and madness. And then she kills herself... offstage. I've always wanted to know what happens next. To give credit where it is very much due, I was also deeply inspired in creating this piece by a production I saw as a child and which was one of the theatrical experiences in my life that I would point to as fundamentally altering my understanding of how a story can be told. It was Art Street Theatre's R&J, directed by Mark Jackson and, in a lovely coincidence, produced as part of the San Francisco Fringe Festival (which is, in turn, produced by FRIGID's co-producer, EXIT Theatre). It was a gorgeous and haunting dream of a production and, though the subject matter is obviously quite different, I hope that I've translated some the magic I felt as an audience member at that show into our own piece.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I am unreservedly sentimental, and the theatre that I love most always makes me feel something. Beyond that, my tastes are pretty diverse though I'd say they probably tend towards the extremely amorphous category of "magical realism". Then again, I also really love just great straightforward comedy. As far as who inspires me as an artist - that's a huge and wide-ranging list that I suspect is way too long to be interesting. For a cliff's notes version, I'm going to limit it to one choice per discipline... Art: Rene Magritte. Film: Terry Gilliam. Music: Tchaikovsky (I told you I was sentimental). Dance: Lar Lubovitch. Literature: Italo Calvino.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Absolutely, without hesitation: Emma Rice of Kneehigh Theatre. I was first exposed to her when Brief Encounter came through St. Ann's in 2009 and since then I've seen everything she's worked on that I could get a ticket to. Her productions look like my dreams. She understands things about the way music and movement and speech overlap and her shows exist in a sort of perfect intersection between the three that creates magic.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I recommend Great Comet loudly to anyone who will listen (and occasionally people who won't)!

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Jewel Straite is my celebrity doppelganger (this is the closest I will ever be to fame) so I'm going to go with her. And it would be called "Yes, like the writer. No, not like the perfume."

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Bread. I love bread so much. I wish I had a sexier answer.

What’s the most played song on your iPod?: Right now I'm deep in the process of choreographing the dance moments for our FRIGID production, so what I've been listening to (over and over and over again) lately are the scratch tracks my cast members recorded for me to work with. In particular: one of our ridiculously talented actors, Lila Newman, has arranged the folk song "Three Ravens" as a tango. On the banjo. It's epic.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Much better-rested. I bet you hear that a lot.

What’s up next?: I'll be directing a staged reading of Regina Robbins' fantastic spin on the story of the Pied Piper of Hamlin, Pay the Piper, in March. In April I'll be producing a staged reading of Real | Crazy, written by Cristina Ramos and directed by Katherine Sommer. And then after that it's back to directing for the New York premiere of A Map to Somewhere Else by the incredibly talented and rapidly emerging playwright, Reina Hardy.