Saturday, July 26, 2014

Spotlight On...Brandon Baruch

Name: Brandon Baruch

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Education: BA in Theater, Occidental College class of 2007

Favorite Credits: Lighting Designer for Queenie Pie at Chicago Opera Theater; Lighting Designer for BARE: A Rock Musical at The Hayworth Theater; Lighting Designer for Spring Awakening at Theater of the Arts (I received an Ovation Award Nomination for that one.) Also, I'm particularly proud of my work as Playwright for Me Love Me, which ran at Open Fist Theater in Hollywood and The Players' Theatre in Greenwich Village. I've also done some sexy lighting for a number of beautiful dance pieces. Any time I get to light a naked male dancer, that's going to go on the list.

Why theater?: I love storytelling. Theater is the most ancient form of storytelling. I do not practice religion, nor am I a fan of spirituality, but I will concede there is something sacred about Theater. It's a very human activity. 

Tell us about NO HOMO?: NO HOMO is a play I started writing about a year ago. It received its world premiere at Schkapf Menagerie in the 2014 Hollywood Fringe Festival, and it will receive its East Coast premiere at The Players' Theatre in the New York International Fringe Festival this August. NO HOMO is a comedy about two straight best friends who are totally gay for each other, but not in that way. While both men are confident that their relationship is healthy and platonic, their needling friends and family are absolutely convinced there's something more going on between them. When the guys are forced to take a closer look at their friendship, it leads to a drunken evening from which their friendship might not recover.

What inspired you to write NO HOMO?: I have a soft spot for straight guys. I've hooked up with a fair number of them (I don't recommend it, but obviously I recommend it.) A couple of years ago, I became really good friends with a (hot) straight guy who I actually didn't want to sleep with, and it turned out to be one of the healthiest relationships of my life. None of my friends nor family, however, believed me that I didn't want to sleep with him, and they were all convinced we were either already doing things, or that I harbored secret emotions for him that would ultimately lead to heartbreak. I thought it was so interesting that no one could see our friendship for what it was, so I started musing on the nature of platonic relationships between men (colloquially referred to as "bromance," but I think the term is reductive.) I also had an itch for the last few years to write a non-gay gay play. As a gay man born and raised in Los Angeles, I have never identified with coming out stories, nor do I have any particular interest in stories about gay rights and equality. I understand the suffering and indignities older (and even current) generations of gay men have faced, but I feel like most LGBT storytelling concentrates on struggles I have personally never struggled, and I wanted to write a play that was true to my own experience. NO HOMO is a gay play to the extent that it takes place in a world where gay people exist (and has a bunch of hot guys in various states of undress), but ultimately the play is a love-story that rises above sexuality.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like so many different styles of theater, but I enjoy anything that approaches its emotional core with honesty. I don't like overly-manipulative or calculated drama. As a designer, I'm also heavily attracted to spectacle, but I think theater spectacle is best used to disarm the audience and render them vulnerable to the truths of the piece. I am inspired by other artists with distinctive voices. I have respect for people who know exactly what they're trying to say, even if I don't identify with the way they're trying to say it.

If you could work with anyone you've yet to work with, who would it be?: There are a number of actors in Los Angeles who I would die to have workshop a play with me. No big names, just incredible talents. 

What show have you recommended to your friends: A group of people from The Flea Theater recently brought their production of Women out to Hollywood, and I told everyone ever about it.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: The actor must be discovered, and the movie will be called "[Sigh] Everything's an Effort". Sundance, here we come.

What's your biggest guilty pleasure?: I spend a LOT of money on citrus. When blood oranges come into season, I struggle to pay my rent.

What's the most played song on your iTunes?:
Die Antwoord's "I Fink U Freeky"

If you weren't working in theater, you would be______: designing architectural lighting.

What's next?: I'm trying to ride the momentum of NO HOMO.  When we return to LA from NYC, we hope to sit down for a six week run. I'm already back to lighting design - I designed Sally Struthers in Always... Patsy Cline, which just opened in North Hollywood. I also have a number of other design gigs lined up, including a world-premiere musical at Sacred Fools Theater and a world-premiere play at Bootleg Theater. I'm also designing a Broadway-style review at the high school that inspired "Glee." I will write my next play as soon as the story strikes me in the face. I don't like to force such things.

For more on NO HOMO, visit www.nohomoplay.com, www.hff14.org/1568, www.twitter.com/nohomoplay, www.instagram.com/nohomo_play, www.facebook.com/bromantictragedy.

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