Sunday, July 27, 2014

Spotlight On...Jack Karp

Name: Jack Karp

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Education: M.F.A. in Creative Writing from American University

Favorite Credits: One of this year’s winners of the Ashland New Play Festival. Incendiary Agents produced at the New Ohio Theater by NyLon Fusion Theatre Company (2013), Irreversible staged readings at the Great Plains Theatre Conference (2013) and Ashland New Plays Festival (2014), Sleeping with Strangers produced at the Pittsburgh New Works Festival (2011).

Why theater?: There are many reasons why I am attracted to theater, but the most powerful is that I am fascinated with the electricity that comes from having live action in front of a live audience. There is a connection and danger inherent in that dynamic that lends theater an emotional punch other forms of entertainment don’t have. Watching a character crumble over a lost love or discover a betrayal is much more visceral when that character is only a few feet away. I am intrigued by the idea that an audience’s being physically in the room as a play’s action unfolds (and choosing not to interfere) makes the audience complicit in a way that can’t be recreated with film or TV. For me, nothing is as powerful or as moving.

Tell us about The Photo Album?: The Photo Album is an interactive, technology-driven show that requires audience members to scan photographs with an app they download onto their smartphones in order to get clues that will send them scavenger-hunting through the theater to find actors and cue them into telling their stories through monologues, scenes, and interactive games that draw audience members into the action. 

What inspired you to write The Photo Album?: The Photo Album is a unique opportunity for us to combine two things we think are at the cutting edge of new theater – personal technology and immersive theater. The mission of The Story Gym is to do theater that requires the audience to get out of their seats and participate in the action. You sit at work, you sit in front of the TV, you sit at the movies. Why would you want to sit at the theater, too?

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Any theater that is powerful and moving and has something important to say speaks to me. But I am most drawn to political theater, theater that explores the moral ambiguities of life, and theater that involves the audience in some way and forces them to participate and be involved. Theatrically, I’m very inspired by Brecht and, of course, Shakespeare. But I’ve also been finding myself inspired by theater and non-theater pieces that find new and interesting ways to use technology to involve the audience – groups like Improv Everywhere, Gob Squad, and The Builders Association, and even the scavenger-hunt app at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Punchdrunk

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Then She Fell by Third Rail

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Brad Pitt, and it would be called "Yeah, Keep Dreaming".

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:
Iced mochas – nothing beats espresso and chocolate for fueling a writing session

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: Lately it’s “Dance Me to the End of Love” by Leonard Cohen.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _______?:
Probably institutionalized by now

What’s up next?: A full-length play I recently finished about the Manhattan Project and Robert Oppenheimer, called Irreversible, is having two staged readings at the Ashland New Plays Festival in Oregon this October.

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