Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Spotlight On...Martina Anne Bonolis
Hometown: Syosset, New York
Education: Bachelor’s in Theater and Sociology from Middlebury College, Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University Teachers College, Actors Theater of Louisville Acting Apprentice 2010 to 2011
Favorite Credits: As an actor, Famine in The End by A Rey Pamatmat at the Humana Festival. Famine, one of the four horse(wo)men of the apocalypse, was a foul mouthed, overworked, under loved, highly aggressive foodie. The absolute bile that would spew from her mouth if somebody ate her organic Kashi cereal was amazing. Rey wrote the characters after he met the actors, so I asked him why he wrote Famine like he did. His answer was simply that I seemed nice and it would be funny to watch me say terrible things. That’s the magic of the theater! As a director, my current project! I founded a theater company, the Wise Fish Theater Collective, and we are working on our own adaptation of 6 Characters In Search of an Author by Luigi Pirandello. (We go up May 6th at the Robert Moss Theater. Come on down!) Working collectively on such an ambitious project, being inspired by my actors and collaborators…the experience has been magical.
Why theater?: Because theater is present and requires presence. Theater requires that audience and actors commune in the same space at the same time. In the modern world, where people are more likely to consume media by themselves and on their own time, theater demands that we return to shared experience. Also, for me, theater represents the best of humanity. Theater celebrates play! A bunch of adults will just agree to pretend to be whoever or whatever, and a bunch of other adults will agree to come watch them pretend. When you think about it, it’s completely ridiculous. That’s what makes it great! It’s a reminder that when all is said and done, what brings us together is stories, imagination, and community. I also love how theater embraces its own limitations and uses them to tell extremely nuanced stories. What does it mean to use a puppet? A mask? Theater will never be as realistic as a movie, and that gives it an incredible power.
Tell us about 6 Characters in Search of an Author: This is the inaugural piece of our new company, the Wise Fish Theater Collective. As a collective, we are interested in new, absurdist theater that explores current issues. However, we felt that before we began to explore current issues, we had to explore the medium itself. We needed a piece to serve as our base. 6 Characters is an exploration of theater and, more broadly, of art. Of what it can and cannot do, of what it means, of where it fails. As a company, we tend toward the silly, so we created our own adaptation based upon our company members’ interpretations of the original script, and it turned out rather ridiculous while maintaining its points. Heck, we like it.
What inspired you to direct 6 Characters?: I love the play and was chomping at the bit to get my mind around it. As a director, rather than an actor, I get to explore the whole piece in a different way than an actor does. Also, as our company is collaborative, I was excited to do a play about theater, which discusses theater, with a theater group discussing theater. The whole thing has become so meta that we have caught ourselves on multiple occasions in situations and conversations that mirror our script. It gets pretty bananas.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: The absurd, the surreal…anything that embraces the theatricality of the theater and is a move away from realism. I think that the truest scenes are often the least realistic. I am inspired mostly by poetry, (e.e. Cummings, Lewis Carroll, Walt Whitman) and authors (Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Milan Kundera, Kurt Vonnegut). Also music! James Blake gives me tons of feelings, and I love Motown classics and some old fashioned Allman Brothers.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: In an ideal world, Melissa McCarthy. Google her early stuff, specifically “Marbles,” and you’ll understand her bizarre genius. You know she’s willing to riff and follow a train of thought to its illogical end.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: 6 Characters in Search of an Author. Jk. But seriously. But also any work done by BKBX (Broken Box Mime). Their last show, Above/Below, hit you right in the core without saying a word. Absolute beauty. Also The Royale by Marco Ramirez at the Lincoln Center Theater. His embrace of the theatrical medium tells a story that I promise will explode your brain.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I think Laura Dern because she looks like me. It would be called, “Huh. So That’s What That Is.”
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: The all female version of Julius Ceasar set in a psych ward that was at St. Anne’s Warehouse. I can’t believe I missed it! Arrrgghhhh.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Kissing my dog directly on the mouth. Also I do a lot of bird watching, which I’m only guilty about because it’s supposed to be nerdy. But ask yourself this; who is the real nerd? Somebody who knows the difference between a song sparrow and a hermit thrush, or everybody else?
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Doing mental health advocacy! I am also a researcher, currently working on a research involving OCD and memory. So I guess just that full time. Also I would have loved to have been an astronaut but I think I missed the window.
What’s up next?: Our next production will be chosen in the next two weeks! We have some awesome possibilities, but I’ll keep them secret until we can officially announce. And here's our Indiegogo!
For more on Wise Fish Theater Collective and 6 Characters in Search of an Author, visit www.wisefishtheater.com