Friday, June 6, 2014
Spotlight On...Erika Iverson
Hometown: Laramie, Wyoming
Education: BA from Williams College, MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts
Favorite Credits: I'm currently playing Fernande Olivier, Pablo Picasso's companion and muse in This Is Not A Theatre Company's A Serious Banquet, an art happening based on the actual party they threw for Henri Rousseau in 1908. It's on through June 19! Visit thisisnotatheatrecompany.com for details. I'm also a founding member of Magis Theatre Company where I've played everything from Shakespearian ingénues to supernatural fish.
Why theater?: There's something about the experience of performing live on a particular day, for a particular audience, and knowing the performance is unique-- that performance with that audience on that day will never happen again. No You Tell It is a storytelling series, but we've chosen to work with the unamplified human voice (no microphones!) in an intimate space, to keep that feeling of live theater.
Tell us about No You Tell It!: Legacy: No, YOU Tell It! (noyoutellit.com) is a “switched-up” storytelling series where performers write their own true-life tales and then trade with a partner to present each other’s story. Every show is based upon a theme, left purposefully open to multiple interpretations. For this special festival installment, the NYTI creative team, Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons, Mike Dressel and I are working with a group of four storytellers as they develop their stories based around a piece of comic art created by Sha-Nee Williams.
What inspired you to direct No You Tell It: Legacy?: No You Tell It was created by Kelly Jean Fitzsimmons two years ago—I was one of the first storytellers she approached. After the first performance, where I wrote and told a story in addition to directing two stories, KJ asked me if I wanted to keep working with her. I’m so thrilled to be a part of this amazing project, where I serve as a kind of dramaturg during the writing process and then direct selected stories. For this show, we chose two new storytellers and two NYTI alumni. We showed them the image that Sha-Nee created inspired by the word “Legacy.” Then they were free to write about anything that sprang from that image. They were not told that the theme was “Legacy” until they were well along in the writing process.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I think any kind of theatre that celebrates the performers is powerful- whether it is the sheer skill or athletic prowess one sees at a circus show or dance performance, or the kind of radical honesty we ask from our storytellers at NYTI. If I can’t feel that it’s important for these performers to be present on the stage, I’m not particularly interested. My colleagues at No You Tell It, Magis Theatre Company, This Is Not A Theatre Company, and my students. They help remind me why this kind of work is important.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Emma Thompson? Twyla Tharp? The Cirque de Soleil? I would have said the late Pina Bausch-- dammit, I knew I should have studied German in high school.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: I'm excited to see The Astonishing Adventures of All American Girl & The Scarlet Skunk at the Comic Book Theater Festival, mostly because I’ll get to see my dear friend Alex Gray, child of two British parents, wearing a sparkly skating costume and defending Truth, Justice, and The American Way. Beyond the Festival (and of course A Serious Banquet!) I would tell them to see my friend George Drance in *mark at La Mama ETC, where he tells the entire Gospel of Mark in a one-man show. Whatever your religious background or faith practices might be, it is a remarkable feat of storytelling and a reminder of a time when the followers of Jesus were considered dangerous outsiders.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I've been saying forever that I was going to do a one-woman show about my complicated relationship with my hometown called Leaving Laramie, so I would say myself, but I might be getting too old for the part. Maybe Ellen Page? She's a bit too skinny, but she'll do.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Right now it's Haribo Gummi Bears. Avoid all imitations!
What’s next?: Kelly Jean, Mike and I are developing workshops for adults as well as for children to give participants of all ages a NYTI experience. I feel that for public speaking, for writing skills and for a unique window into "walking a mile in someone else's shoes," NYTI is a great program for high schools, community organizations, or other adult education venues. We've had a few successful workshops and are looking to expand, so contact us if you're interested in bringing NYTI to your business, museum, club, temple, church or school!