Sunday, August 10, 2014

Spotlight On...Anna Fox

Name: Anna Fox

Hometown: Amherst, MA. (Hometown of playwrights Annie Baker and Madeline George, who are super cool!)

Education: BS Skidmore College and graduate of the Eugene O Neill Theatre Center’s NTI Advanced Playwriting Program.

Favorite Credits: Two 10 minute plays. Ginny which was the Jury Prize winner at Fusion Theatre Company’s “The Seven” Short play Festival this past June in Albuquerque, NM, and Alaska in the Summertime which was performed outdoors in a tree at the Williamstown Theater Festival last summer.

Why theater?: I have always been fascinated with language. As a kid each year I would make up a new word and hold a symposium where I’d announce it to my mom and three cats. The only word I can actually remember is 1998's “Mapadoinga!”, which I’m pretty sure was synonymous with “Duh”,“Eureka” and pretty much any other exclamatory phrase. For example, “Mapadoinga! I found my favorite Rubix cube key chain that I thought I lost at the state fair”. (My mom still tries to use “Mapadoinga” in everyday language today. It’s kind of embarrassing.) I also used to try and trick my neighbor is thinking I spoke fluent Japanese just by making up words which I thought sounded vaguely similar to what I heard when people spoke actual Japanese. This was probably slightly offensive, but she believed me for a little while because I was so convincing in the false translation of my made up Asiatic language.

Tell us about The Elephant in the Room: The Elephant in the Room is about PTSD in the form of a group hallucination. The story follows the lives of three girls living in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, all dealing with trauma after some experience with sexual assault. These experiences are never definitively laid out, but this is what makes the play a very literal exploration of the term often thrown around in cases of sexual assault, “blurred lines”. The literal “elephant in the room” is their shared hallucination of a man, who can morph into the specific man or men that fits what’s going on in each of the girls’ minds in the specific moments he triggers them, but it is clear that each of these girls has had experience(s) with real men in the past that crossed a line. A thing I wanted to explore in this piece is how sexual assault effects people differently, since every case is so personal to the people involved. There is something worth exploring in the gray area of sexual assault and how that translates to stage, which to me immediately says heightened realism. I am also interested in exploring the language surrounding sexual assault and how the perpetrator can try to twist the victim’s mind into believing he/she actually wants it. Also, how others blame the victim or tell them they should have been more cautious.

What inspired you to write The Elephant in the Room?: I was inspired to write this play because recently sexual assault is a big issue in the news. I think it’s always been a big, important issue, but right now it’s like multiple people are shining giant flashlights directly at it and calling for greater awareness from society at large. I write a lot of plays about dark and not publically talked about topics, and I think we are living in an age where everything is coming out out in the open. Suddenly, discussing mental health and sexual assault don't seem so taboo, which feels exciting and important. I definitely think this play is relevant to the current dialogue about sexual assault, mental wellbeing and how young women and men present themselves in society.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I tend to like experimental theater, in the sense that the artist is finding a new and interesting way of doing something on a stage. I especially like theater pieces that manage to do something interesting with language, while at the same time look visually appealing, have interesting characters and plot. This can sometimes be a hard balance to strike, especially with the language and visual elements, which I oft find are not as enhanced as the characters and story elements. My tastes are varied because in order to do something new and interesting myself, I feel it is important for me to be experience as many different kinds of theater as possible. I am inspired by tall men who are balding but also have ponytails, precocious children, the way groups of women function, and people that just don’t quite fit in.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Salvador Dali’s Ocelot Babou.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I may be answering this question incorrectly because I’m not sure if you mean a show currently playing or just one in general, but if we are just going with any show, I would recommend seeing something by Nature Theater of Oklahoma or The Debate Society. Also, because I am a big fan of playwrights using language in new and interesting ways, I highly recommend God’s Ear by Jenny Schwartz and Valparaiso by Don Delillo.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Fred Armisen and the movie would be called “The Hinjew of Western Mass”

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Taro bubble tea. It tastes like Easter.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: I don’t play Itunes enough on my computer to get an accurate answer, so I will go with a current favorite song which is “Master Pretender” by First Aid Kit.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A dance/fitness instructor, chef or working with kids with special needs. I actually plan on being all of those things in addition to working in theater. My goal is to have a theater company where I also make food to serve to the audience before the show, teach workshops to kids and hold dance parties on weekends.

What’s up next?: I am in the process of developing a queer adaptation of Cinderella I wrote set at a cotillion ball in Georgia entitled Anna Something, and to beginning to develop a piece called Dangermoth's Revenge about an avid gamer named Dangermoth, a pick-up artist named El Lobo, a manga-enthusiast named Kitty and a Hotmom911, a lonely “MILF” with a webcam and how their lives intertwine on and off of the world wide web. I am also working on a short play about talkbacks after shows and a musical about being stuck in traffic in LA.

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