Friday, July 18, 2014
Spotlight On...Thomas Hischak
Hometown: Rochester, New York. Now reside in Cortland, NY
Education: St. Louis University, Southern Illinois U. at Carbondale
Favorite Credits: Books about theatre and film, lots of plays
Why theater?: Movies and TV just don't do it like live theatre.
Tell us about The Emperor of North America: It is a comedy based on historical fact. In the 19th century, a crazy businessman in San Francisco declared himself Emperor. Even crazier, everyone at the time was amused, went along with it, and humored the old fellow. The play is about a frustrated writer today who writes a biography of the Emperor and finds the old man is starting to enter his life. Oh, and the play is also about "War And Peace". But isn't everything?
What inspired you to write The Emperor of North America?: I ran across the Emperor while doing research on David Belasco. He just sounded like a guy who needed to be put on stage.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I am a big Tom Stoppard fan. Very highbrow, I admit. But his plays are mostly comedies. Anyone who can write a comedy about physics or poetry or moral philosophy or James Joyce is my kind of writer.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: George Bernard Shaw. I know he's dead. And we probably wouldn't get along. All the same . . .
What show have you recommended to your friends?: Recently I was very impressed with Act One at Lincoln Center. It has recently closed but was taped for "Live From Lincoln Center" and will be shown on PBS next year. I will encourage my friends to watch it.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: An over-the-hill actor. It would be titled "Who? Never Heard of Him"
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Old musicals. I mean really OLD musicals. Victor Herbert. Jerome Kern.
What’s the most played song on your iPod?: I'm old myself. I still listen to CDs. A lot of recent musicals, both good and bad. Most are bad. But once in a while . . .
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be ______?: In the home.
What’s up next?: A comedy, I imagine. We need more comedies. Lots more comedies.