Friday, February 12, 2016

Spotlight On...Taylor Doherty

Name: Taylor Doherty

Hometown: Buffalo, NY

Education: Theatre Graduate studies at Bowling Green State and The University at Buffalo, Undergrad English studies at Hilbert College.

Favorite Credits: I’m the Artistic Director of the Buffalo Laboratory Theatre.  So, I’m particularly proud of the work I’ve done with them. Since I’m “the boss”, I can have complete control over my artistic vision.  (Which is another way of saying that I’m spoiled rotten as an artist.)  But having a company of amazing professionals like the Buffalo Lab allows me to take giant, insane swings at entirely new forms of storytelling… like Silver Chalice.  God bless the mad souls in my company.

Why theater?: We live in an era of isolated entertainment.  YouTube videos on the Subway, Netflix at home… tweets thrown out into the void in a desperate attempt at connection (and retweets). The theatre is that place where a whole group of living people come together to see and hear other live human beings tell a story.  We still have that.  And that’s important.

Tell us about Mystery of the Silver Chalice: Mystery of the Silver Chalice is an interactive play where the audience gets to make the vital choices on a guy’s magical blind date – his last chance to finally find true love.  At points during the show, the audience uses small remote controls to choose what nice-guy Rob does next: who should he go on the date with?  What should he wear?  Where should they go?  And lots of other choices, too.  The audience can be nice, and help him make the RIGHT choices, so he will live happily ever after… or they can choose to make it the worst night of his life.  There are between nine and eleven choices to be made, and the narrative branches and changes with each one, giving us hundreds of thousands of possible combinations and eleven distinct endings.  And they’re all super-funny.

What inspired you to write and direct Mystery of the Silver Chalice?: In grad school, we had to write a manifesto about out “theatre philosophy.”  I’m still not entirely sure what mine is, but I DID know that I was interested in finding new ways to get the audience to emotionally invest in the action they see on the stage.  When you give the audience a remote control, and give them agency in what happens next, “live theatre” becomes a whole new kind of thing!  People lobby each other to vote certain ways intermission!  People come back two and three times, so they can see what happens if other choices are made. And they’re all in it together, so you still get that magical communal moment that theatre does so well. But I’m a writer, so I want a tight, potent (and FUNNY) story… and that is the fun challenge of a show like this.  Writing a branching narrative that takes ALL possible audience choices into account.  This means the script is freaking GIGANTIC… but the audience only sees a fraction of it on a given night. I’m also a shy, sensitive guy deep down.  So I like the remotes because they give the audience incredible agency and control without putting them “on the spot”, with some guy shoving a microphone in their face or trying to pull them up on stage.  I think audiences really love that.  And most of all, it allows everyone to have a ton of fun in a whole new kind of way!

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Well, my son’s name is Beckett.  So, that probably says something about the kinds of theatre I enjoy.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Robert LePage.  His work is brilliant.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I’m always an “off the beaten trail” kind of guy.  So, I’d encourage taking risks on lesser-known shows in smaller venues.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: You, the person reading this, would play me!  And the film would be called “This Was Probably A Mistake - A Sexy, Awesome Mistake.”

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Easy!  Waiting for Godot.  Paris, 1953.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Playing any immersive videogame, like Fallout or Mass Effect.  But I’m not sure that’s “guilty”, because I see it as amazing medium for storytelling.   So barring that… I can’t believe I’m about to admit this, but I’m a sappy, sappy romantic at heart.  So I love Hallmark Channel Christmas movies.  They’re terrible and formulaic… and they make me happy.  (ugh…)

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Living in my mom’s basement, making Indie videogames and writing bad poetry.

What’s up next?: More attempts at pushing the envelope with interactive theatrical storytelling!   More remote controls!  More branching narratives!  Vive la Revolution!

For more on Mystery of the Silver Chalice, visit Joe's Pub.

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