Saturday, February 1, 2014

Spotlight On...G.J. Dowding

Name: G.J. Dowding

Hometown: A little suburb in Rhode Island known as Warwick.

Education: A semester at Wagner College, some community college in Rhode Island, a year of life lessons in South Slope, Brooklyn, topped off by a stint at New York University at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

Favorite Credits: I will always have a soft spot for my very first production, Quizzically Quimsical, which I wrote, directed and self-produced at the Gene Frankel Theatre in September of 2012. It was such an organic collaboration among all involved and I learned many invaluable lessons (chiefly concerning crafting titles...) about creating art, both in and out of the rehearsal room. I assistant directed and, for the first time, stage managed a Gertrude Stein play, Pink Melon Joy, under the direction of Katherine Brook, who I have immense respect for, at the Tennessee Williams Theater Festival this past summer, which opened my theater mind up to the delightful Ms. Stein and got me thinking more about tackling works of Tennessee Williams.

Why theater?: It allows me to be both selfish and generous. Watching, reading, writing, directing and performing theater has warmed my heart and expanded my mind for a long time now. Creating and shaping theater is my life work as well as the greatest pleasure I have in my personal world. I always want to give to people and am, more specifically, inherently interested in the mechanics of social change. Creating and sharing theater allows me to engage in humanity. I believe we creative types are conduits for artistic vision and once it passes through our bodies, burning so good all the while, it no longer belongs to us. It floats throughout the universe for others to revel in and pluck from the ether for their own benefit, if they so dare.

Tell us about Something Cloudy, Something Clear?: Wow. I will aim for the concise version. This is a memory play, highly autobiographical. Tennessee Williams published this play in 1981, after working on it over the span of 40 years. It’s about lust, love and loss. It’s about nostalgia and redemption; seeking closure. The story takes place on a blown away beach shake in Provincetown during the summer of 1940. August is a fledging playwright working on a play slated for Broadway, dealing with pressures toward concession from vile producers. More poignantly in the foreground is Kip (Kiernan), with whom Williams’ had his first male love affair. This re-imagining, choreographed by Zoe Bennett, focuses on the memory and dreams: creating a downstage world full of self-motivated, half remembered text juxtaposed by a movement laden upstage, where characters, sometimes caricatures, roam about, rehashing a 40 year old story, infinitely looping onward.

What inspired you to direct Something Cloudy, Something Clear?: I chose to read the play for an English high school class at the age of 16. I have kept it with me ever since. Williams’ has always been my favorite playwright. After putting up two performance pieces of my own work, I was intrigued to approach a dialogue based play. I have always been fascinated by the way Williams’ infuses poetry into the traditional American play. Williams’ was an innovator, always aiming to push past imposed conventional ways of approaching theater. My aim here is to keep that idea burning bright.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love multi-media theater. I love work that unravels human compulsions beyond a ‘dinner table’ setting, so to speak. I love watching people, not contrived characters, perform. I’m deeply inspired by the writings of Gertrude Stein, Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and Sylvia Plath. I love the ideology of Pina Bausch and her works. I would be in the audience to watch Mx Justin Vivian Bond discuss the migrating patterns of goldfish.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
There are plenty of people I have yet to work with. I have a desire to collaborate with many people in my social circle. Beyond that, again, I love Justin Vivian Bond. In my dream world, I am a stunning cabaret performer at a smokey and highly attended salon who sings duets on the regular with Mx Bond.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I’m out of the loop on a lot of stuff going on right now. In the past, I have recommended Venus in Fur, Jackie at the Women’s Project Theater, The SOAK Festival at CAVE in Williamsburg. I usually love the work at Manhattan Theater Club. I like to go to shows at Joe’s Pub, Abrons Art Center, BAM, to rattle off a few.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Did I mention I do perform...? Haha Hmm, I have no idea who would play me. Some up and coming young creature I suppose. Titles: they evade me. (Maybe that could be the title!) Perhaps “Forever Red”.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I eat way too many cookies and listen to far too many show tunes...while at the gym.

What’s the most played song on your iPod?: A lady never reveals her obsessive compulsions.....(I’m sure it’s a Judy song or some power ballad from the 80‘s/90’s.)

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be_____: Curled up in a corner crying and/or sucking on my thumb. As a kid I wanted to be a shoe salesman, an archaeologist, and a professor (not simultaneously.) I would probably be a writer. Someday I do want to open a wine bar with a small plates menu.

What’s up next?: I am working on a script version of the only novel the mighty Bob Dylan ever wrote, Tarantula. It is going to be a movement heavy, multi-media play with original music inspired by the legendary artist’s poetry and prose driven novel. It is set in a bar with conversations revolving around the inner workings of a hierarchy and the role that each participant inside of it plays. I just submitted a rough draft of the script to the Fresh Fruit Festival that takes place in July each year.

For more on Something Cloudy, Something Clear, visit and