Friday, September 11, 2015

Spotlight On...Andrew Neisler

Name: Andrew Neisler

Hometown: Lilburn, GA

Education: BFA from NYU Tisch (Playwrights Horizons Theater School)

Favorite Credits: Adam Szymkowicz's Clown Bar with Pipeline Theatre Company. Vinny Deponto's Charlatan at Ars Nova. The epic, ensemble musical Folk Wandering at Joe's Pub. Also have loved working on a few new things still in development: The Elementary Spacetime Show with Cesar Alvarez and Bull's Hollow with Jaclyn Backhaus and Mike Brun.

Why theater?: Because laughing is so much more fun when you are doing it with other people. Screaming is more fun with other people. Sitting is more fun with other people. Drinking is more fun with other people. Crying is more fun with other people. Also, because, as an artist, I love working so closely with other people. I love being delighted by the people around me. I love what happens when a team of artists commit to something bigger than any of them individually.

Tell us about The Gray Man: The Gray Man is a quiet, spooky little ghost play that I've been developing for the past 4 years or so with playwright Andrew Farmer. I really don't want to give too much of it away. But it's about a young man in tenement-era Manhattan who has just lost his mother. She was all he had, and she kept him very, very close. And now that she is gone... he is starting to come to terms with the world that she wouldn't let him see.

What inspired you to direct The Gray Man?: Andrew Farmer and I started talking a long long time ago about wanting to devise/write/create an adaptation of "Hansel and Gretel". After a while that sort of fell away, but we were still obsessed with what makes scary stories so fun to tell and so fun to listen to. I hate scary movies, but I love going to see them with big groups of friends, and I love listening to Andrew Farmer tell a scary story. We also became obsessed with the idea of a story (or a play) that is itself haunted. I think these were the real tent-poles of the piece for us, and the rest of it came from things we found in research, other ghost stories, and scary things that happened to us along the way. And from the many amazing artists who have helped develop this project.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I don't know that there is a kind of theatre that speaks to me most. What I do know is that I love big, ballsy, brassy things on stage. I love being surprised. I love silliness and riskiness. I love theatre that makes me walk out of the room wanting to live my life more fully. I love theatre that turns a room full of strangers into great friends. I am inspired by the people around me: by my friends and their hilarious stories, by my collaborators and their stupidly brilliant ideas.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: This is cheating but here are just a few: Meryl Streep, RuPaul, Emma Thompson, and Pixar.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I haven't seen any of the workshop iterations of it, and it hasn't even started yet, but I've been telling everyone to get their tickets to Futurity. I am absolutely obsessed with all the people involved and am never let down by either Ars Nova or Soho Rep so what is there NOT to be super pumped about!?

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Either Ben Savage or Fred Savage in "I KNOW WHAT I MEAN"

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Oh man that's tough. I really would love to go see some wild Greek play during the City Dionysia Festival in... let's say 391 BC. Also I missed ERS's Gatz and I think about that all the time.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Drinking beer or wine in the shower at all times of the day

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Traveling the world shooting wildlife documentaries trying to be the next David Attenborough OR a college football coach.

What’s up next?: Directing a sexy, weird night of theatre with Spring Street Social Society this fall. I'm not supposed to tell you much (they take their secrets seriously), but it's a new play by T. Adamson and it's totally bonkers. Also, the non-profit arts incubation company I co-direct, Fresh Ground Pepper, is ramping up to launch our 2016 season! And always working with Jaclyn Backhaus and Mike Brun on a new musical trilogy called Bull's Hollow.