Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Spotlight On...Thom Fogarty

Name: Thom Fogarty

Hometown: St. Augustine, Florida

Education: BFA, Dance Performance and History, The Ohio State University

Favorite Credits: EURYDICE by Sarah Ruhl, DESDEMONA: A PLAY ABOUT A HANDKERCHIEF by Paula Vogel and THE ARTIFACTS and THE MENTEE, both by Steven Fechter.

Why theater?: After years of dance, as the body gave out, it was time to branch out and theater is the logical next step. Dance is theatre is dance is theatre - now I honor the WORDS of the playwright.

Tell us about Lancelot: Lancelot zeroes in what it means to be an artist and a man in today's America.  As if maintaining a roof over one's head isn't hard enough in an economically depressed part of the country, factor in what it means to be the outsider, whether real or imagined, to feel bullied by one's past, to hide your art and your light, to never know what it means to shine.  How does Ryan, the protagonist, come to grips with what he has done and what he wants for himself? In Steven's inimitable way, the two antagonists are both strong women who will stop at nothing to get what they want and what they think is best for Ryan. Sex becomes both a hindrance and a necessity. It also touches on everyone's fear of what is truly appropriate when it comes to sex and when does the line get blurred between pedophilia and true love. These are all things that Steven is demanding we explore with this production. Hours after leaving the theater I want the audience to still be talking about the play.  Days later I want them to still be wrestling with the choices the characters made.  To stir passionate debate fits the kind of duality I seek: to be both profane and profound.

What inspired you to direct Lancelot?: The opportunity to work with a brand new script by the brilliant Steven Fechter - and it being something he has written since we have been working together was exciting. The previous two plays of his that I directed, THE MENTEE and THE ARTIFACTS, were both older plays, that had staged readings and then sat.  After seeing our production of DESDEMONA: A PLAY ABOUT A HANDKERCHIEF by Paula Vogel, Steven contacted me with the script for THE ARTIFACTS and said that he had waited for a director who could make this piece 'sing' and he believed that I could.  Both of those plays had strong women as the protagonists - this was a departure for me - the protagonist is a man searching for the meaning of his own life.  So here we are three shows in and he encouraged me in starting our own theatre company - 360repco [www.360repco.org].  It also allows me to work with my daughter, Lulu Fogarty, again - I still get to go to the 'playground' with my kid, greatest feeling in the world.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Physical theatre in particular excites and intrigues me.  When I read a script I am always thinking of the physical landscape of the piece, in other words where is the movement and what will the actions of the play be.  I think that everyday movements, actions we all do daily and therefore are immediately recognizable to all, can go a long way to providing the audience with a frame of reference to their own daily existence.  It draws me in and makes the words ring truer.  We do it all the time, we rarely just speak with someone without any action. Now how broad or minute that action is depends on the emotional terrain the playwright has given us to play with. Music is a huge source of inspiration, and I oft times find myself needing to make that aural connection to the play before I see the movement.  Also films are a source of keeping up with the triggers that the largest viewing population are taking in. I try to see as many small, off the grid films as possible to counter balance the big budget juggernauts that define to popular taste of the industry.  Somewhere between these two antithetical forms of entertainment, I find the truth of the human condition and psyche.

If you could work with anyone you've yet to work with, who would it be?: In terms of NYC actors whose work I love and are still performing OFF-BROADWAY - Samantha Soule, Meghan McGeary, Didi O'Connell, Will Pullen, Tasha Lawrence, Daniel Abeles, and Johanna Day. As for the big wish list - Cherry Jones, Zachary Quinto, Marisa Tomei, Patricia Clarkson, Maria Tucci, Laurie Metcalf, Mary-Louise Parker and Estelle Parsons.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Any of THE HILLTOWN PLAYS by Lucy Thurber.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Divine, though he's long gone, and it would be called "I Am My Own Company".

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Cooking and entertaining friends.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: "Comeback Story" by Kings of Leon.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A CHEF.

What’s up next?: Well, it's a long term engagement, but I will be directing a production of LILLIAN SMITH'S STRANGE FRUIT by Lillian Smith with an updated adaptation by me, that was given the blessing of the Board of Directors for The Lillian Smith Center.  The play had one and only production that traveled the classic out-of-town tryout circuit of Montreal, Toronto, Boston, and Philadelphia before opening on Broadway in Nov. of 1945. It ran for 60 performances and when it closed it was thought that Lillian said it was never to be performed again.  What I discovered, through scouring Smith's archives at the University of Georgia, was that she meant the Broadway script as produced was never to be done again.  I found enough notes in the margins of her copies, along with letters to her sister, that allowed to me make the changes she wanted to make.  And October 2015 will find it being produced AGAIN - for the first time - at Piedmont College in Northeastern Georgia - minutes from where Lillian wrote her groundbreaking work.