Friday, August 14, 2015
Spotlight On...Sebastian Boswell III
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Education: BA in Broadcasting from San Francisco State University.
Favorite Credits: Awarded "Best of Fringe" for the 2014 San Francisco Fringe Festival
Why theater?: As a mentalist (a form of magic that involves mind-reading, ESP, and other forms of heightened mental powers) I get called on to perform in the usual venues where variety performers earn a living: trade shows, corporate events, private parties, etc. These can be great fun. But my show has always been more theatrical. In one part of "This Side of the Impossible," I have a bit using Surrealist Sock puppets. This would not work in a corporate environment. Theater audiences allow me to do jokes, routines, and pacing that simply wouldn't work in other environments.
Tell us about This Side of the Impossible: It is a performance of mental miracles and physical wonders, as performed by Sebastian Boswell III. He claims that his powers he is not a magician, but that his powers are real, and the result of a lifetime of study, training, and travel. Sebastian hints at a lot of claims in the show: that he knew (and despises) Houdini. That he was present when Salvador Dali and Luis Buñuel created "The Andalusian Dog." But he is clearly living in the present, having a knowledge of current event, iPhones, etc. So is he genuine, charlatan, or insane?
What inspired you to create This Side of the Impossible: Sebastian is a character I created about 8 years ago for show about nickelodeons (a transition entertainment between vaudeville and movies). I love this character, and wanted to do more with him. I set out to create a mentalism show that was more than just the effects. The character had to be as entertaining as the demonstrations.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like a good farce, because it is extremely difficult to do. I like odd small plays, such as "Tragedy: a tragedy." Also, plays with ideas, such as Stoppard's work. The artists who inspire me are those who are creating from a sense of finding their own voice, no matter how strange that voice might be.
If you could work with anyone you've yet to work with, who would it be?: Hard question. Of course, I would love it if Stoppard would write a piece for Sebastian, but that probably isn't going to happen. Teller, of Penn and Teller, is directing theater, and it would be great to work with him on a show.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: Jerusalem and the Steppenwolf production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? That production of Virginia Woolf was amazing, and went beyond the usual interpretation of the characters. Great acting and direction.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Hmmm. John Turturro, and the title would be "Keep Punching."
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: The original production of Rosencranz and Guildenstern are Dead.
What's your biggest guilty pleasure?: "Survivor." I never miss a season. It is great theater.
If you weren't working in theater, you would be _____?: Writing. I've have 7 plays produced in San Francisco. And I've written a surreal crime-nior novel, and am working on another. I would also make automata and mechanical toys.
What's up next?: After the New York Fringe, I am performing in the 2015 San Francisco Fringe in September with a new show, The Ineffable Experience of Impossible Achievements. It is an entirely new show. And since I won "Best of Fringe" in 2014, I'm feeling I really have to deliver for this year.
For more on Sebastian, visit sebastianboswell.com