Thursday, October 2, 2014

Spotlight On...Barry Germansky

Name: Barry Germansky

Hometown: Born in Toronto and lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario

Education: BA hons. in Humanities, York University (graduated summa cum laude); MA in Humanities, York University.  

Favorite Credits: Everything I have ever written. Each of my writings conveys different ideas that I want to continually share with others.

Why theater?: At the most fundamental level, the limits of an art form are determined by the imagination of the artist practicing it or the audience member receiving it. That being said, theater is the art form that traditionally allows for the most thorough exploration of dialogue (and thoughts by extension) while simultaneously benefiting from the immediacy of live performance. In short, I love theater because it communicates ideas quickly.

Tell us about The Answer-Killing Question Buys a Crisis: It’s a satire on educational institutions at all levels. Although Western society has long promoted institutionalized education, there have been relatively few inquiries into the nature of this bureaucratic form of learning and how it forces students and teachers to maintain arbitrary standards of knowledge. The play chronicles the struggles of a courageous university student as he rebels against his school's corrupt totalitarian regime and its imposition of a single answer to all possible questions. The school reflects the singular mindset of society as a whole, and the student's professors consider his actions to be criminal. He soon realizes that fighting for his principles is only the beginning; he will soon be fighting for his life, as well. To make matters worse, his best friend and long-time co-conspirator may not be who he says he is. I like to describe the play as a twenty-first century hybrid of "Nineteen Eighty-Four" and "Dead Poets Society".

What inspired you to write The Answer-Killing Question Buys a Crisis?: I want to tell a story that proposes a new approach to institutionalized education. It’s the individuals who make the institution, not the other way around. That’s why the institution itself is a superfluous part of any and all education processes. One of the contradictions inherent in any educational institution advocating individualism is that a collective body of individuals is doing the advocating. But since self-education is the ideal form of learning and we have chosen to live in a society that uses institutions to disseminate knowledge and reach decisions among individuals, the best we can do is create as invisible an education system as possible; that is, an education system that encourages individuals to do their own thinking to the extent that they hardly have time to notice that they are operating within the confines of an institution.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I prefer theater, and art in general, that attempts to heighten “reality,” emphasizing that “reality” does not exist outside the thought of it. In alphabetical order, some of my artist heroes include: Ken Adam, John Barry, Elmer Bernstein, Ambrose Bierce, Ray Bradbury, Paddy Chayefsky, Jerry Goldsmith, Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Hitchcock, Franz Kafka, George S. Kaufman, H.P. Lovecraft, Richard Maibaum, Groucho Marx, Eugene O’Neill, S.J. Perelman, Nicholas Ray, Anthony Shaffer, George Bernard Shaw, Everret Sloane, Max Steiner, Igor Stravinsky, Mark Twain, Gore Vidal, Orson Welles, James Whale, Robert Wiene, Tennessee Williams, and W.B. Yeats. The living artist who inspires me the most is my great friend, Bill Richert (who wrote and directed 1979’s Winter Kills and starred alongside River Phoenix in 1991’s My Own Private Idaho).

If you could work with anyone you've yet to work with, who would it be?: Philip Kaufman and Oliver Stone, who are tied as my favorite living film director.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I actively promote the work of the artists I’ve mentioned above (among others).

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: A hyrbrid actor of William Holden, James Mason, and George C Scott would play me in The Pseudo-Practical Man.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I can remove the guilt from any of my pleasures.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: I don’t have iTunes, but my favorite and second-favorite popular songs since the latter half of the twentieth century are Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me,” respectively.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Working in film (which is what I actually do when I’m not working in theater).

What’s up next?: I am currently starting up a film company called Reel Sense Productions with Tim Sika, the President of the San Francisco Film Critics Circle. In 2015, we will produce a short film called “Silent” and a feature film called A Journey to a Journey.