Monday, February 8, 2016
Spotlight On...Zeke Hunter
Education: SUNY Purchase
Favorite Credits: As a director, The War Machine by Johnny Alspaugh and The Elephant’s Fable (Project Greenlight 2015 first round finalist)
Tell us about The War Machine: The War Machine follows Cole Hopkins, a military veteran, saddled with debt and bored with civilian life, who decides to return to Iraq under contract with a private military company in 2010. Shortly after returning to the thick of it all, he's wounded in a I.E.D. blast and subsequent firefight with insurgents. During his time spent recuperating in the hospital, he begins to have second thoughts about rejoining the company and considers cutting out of his contract early. However, fate leaves him no choice but return to Iraq. Spurred by fear, jealousy, and a growing case of PTSD, his mind begins to spiral out of control, putting his entire company at risk.
What inspired you to direct The War Machine?: Cole’s story is intense but once distilled to its elements, not uncommon, however it is not the type of story often broached on American stages. Johnny, the writer, has been a friend of mine for the past year thanks to this intense but fortuitous acting class that we both take. He invited me to be a part of his first table read of the play several months back and I was inspired by the quality of writing and subject matter and expressed an interest in producing / directing a film adaptation of the piece. Shortly thereafter, the piece was accepted into the Venus / Adonis festival at the Hudson Guild Theater and Johnny invited me to direct this production as well. I come from a mostly filmic background so engaging in this theatrical process has been a big learning experience for me. Personally, I’m thrilled to be able to spend this much time with the material, exploring the nuances of the writing with such a tremendously talented cast and creative team.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Anything with strong acting. The most recent production to really knock me off my feet was Miss Saigon performed on the West End in London. Of course it also had the spectacle and sparkle of a big budget production but at its core, an unshakable and gifted cast carried the performance. The character of the Engineer as played by Jon Jon Briones was a real treat.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I would love to direct Bryan Cranston. He strikes me as having the perfect balance of incredible talent and off-screen charm, and I think he would be a pleasure to work on set with.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: The Book of Mormon. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have put together one of the funniest pieces of theater that I’ve ever seen and the set design is also incredible.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Probably not. To re-enact moments of my own life feels self serving and potentially disingenuous to other perspectives. But if such a movie were to be made, I’d call it "Man and Mad Machine".
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Hedwig, when Michael C. Hall was performing.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Nutella everything.
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Three years younger looking, but a lot more bored.
What’s up next?: The War Machine will be premiering at the Hudson Guild Theater as part of the 2016 Venus/Adonis Festival, February 15th (6:15pm), 19th (9pm), and 21st (3:30pm). Running time is 90 minutes without an intermission.
For more on The War Machine, visit https://www.facebook.com/thewarmachine2016/. For more on Zeke, visit https://www.facebook.com/ZekeHunter/