Sunday, March 1, 2015

Spotlight On...Matt Panesh

Name: Matt Panesh

Hometown: Manchester UK

Education: Not much

Favorite Credits: Around the World in 8 Mistakes (director), and this show.

Why theater?: You get to live and die a thousand times and at least try to understand a thousand different lives.

Tell us about 300 to 1: A schoolboy re-enacts the homoerotic blood & biceps epic 300 to the ghosts of Wilfred Owen & Siegfried Sassoon, the homosexual First World War poets. It's funnier than it sounds, honest...

What inspired you to write 300 to 1?: A few things. First off, I got mistaken for Gerard Butler at the Edinburgh Fringe...yup, seriously, and no, I couldn't believe it either. I also wanted to address the way we treat veterans, you know, the Centenary of WW1 was coming up, and I saw all these Remembrance events...if you die, you get all these services and stuff, but if you survive your war, you get cast aside and ignored. More veterans of the Falklands War committed suicide than died on the battlefield. 20% of all serving men and women will have mental health problems when they come out of the services. Up to 30% of the homeless in the UK are ex-servicemen and women. Without sounding trite, I saw this as an opportunity to make that point, and better still, to use comedy so I'm not beating the audience around the head with a big moral stick. Lastly, I wanted to look at the homoerotic tendency of action films and how we sell war to kids.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Stephen Berkoff is an inspiration definitely, his one man show "Tell tale heart" opened my eyes to what could be done physically. I had the pleasure of working with Gareth Armstrong on this, he also directed The Rape of Lucrece with Gerard Logan, a superb actor which was the best Shakespeare I've ever seen. Brecht's theatre inspired me, and the films of Chaplin (as they inspired Brecht!). Truth is what it's about, and so inspirations also come in the form of Richard Pryor, Bill Hicks, Lenny Bruce. People who use humour to make a point. I love that. Dario Fo's Accidental Death of an Anarchist is the most politically astute farce I've seen.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Stephen Berkoff or Dario Fo.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Dandy Darkly's show. I missed him in Edinburgh, heard lovely things. It's great to have the opportunity of catching it.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Gerard Butler called "playing me playing you"

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Sodom by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. The rudest guy in literature, if they taught Wilmot at school everybody would love poetry.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I never feel guilty when it comes to pleasure

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: bored

What’s up next?: A 3 week London run, a 2 month UK tour then work begins on the new show "Greyhound: Journey through the heart of America"