Tuesday, August 2, 2016
Spotlight On...Alexander Janosek Doyle
Hometown: Jersey City, NJ
Education: Bachelor of Arts of English (concentration in writing) from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD (2009)
Favorite Credits: Writer/Producer of Dr. Schlitz’s Crooners & Hustle: Two New Plays by Alexander Janosek Doyle, not because it was my best work but because it was my very first self-production. We really had no idea what we were doing at it was nothing short of a miracle to have pulled it off.
Why theater?: Nothing compares to the energy of a live performance, and no one in showbiz works harder than live performers. I was reminded of these virtues when reading about the Michael Keaton film "Birdman" (a brilliant film), and saw that the actors were often lauded by critics for continuously acting through the film’s iconic longshots, sometimes having to perform for up to five minutes without stopping or breaking character. All I could think was: So what? Some theater actors do that for three hours, eight times a week!
Tell us about Is That Danny DeVito?: Is That Danny DeVito? And Other Questions from West of the Hudson focuses on the psychological non-adventures of two over-educated but under-employed millennials as they wait for a perpetually delayed bus to deliver them from their New England campsite to their beloved Garden State. As they wait, Dusty (Julian Blake Gordon) and Geoff (Finn Kilgore) pass the time with the help of bizarre locals (Natasha Edwards & Carlo Fiorletta) and conversations on topics ranging from the millennial experience to celebrity culture, pop entertainment, literature, New Jersey, and whether or not a man unseen to the audience is Danny DeVito. This play is my first serious attempt at writing an absurdist piece. In my mind it was supposed to speak to (at least a part of) the millennial experience. Our main characters are young, frustrated, and are just as much victims of themselves and anything else.
What inspired you to write Is That Danny DeVito?: I’m a great admirer of the work of Samuel Beckett, and this play began as an exercise in trying to match the iconic rhythms and moods of his absurdist plays, particularly Waiting for Godot. It seems self-indulgent, but at the time I wrote the play the combination of ennui and desperation in Beckett’s work seemed a perfect explanation for the millennial experience, particularly my own habit of continuing to say “when I grow up…” only then to remember (to my consternation) that I have been “up” for a decade now.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I’ll see anything. Not to say I love every show I see; I certainly don’t, but nothing is off the table. I usually begin a writing project with a mood in mind more than a character or a story, and I know I liked a show when I come out of the theater thinking: I gotta write a play!
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Geez, anyone? Because I’d love to collaborate with Mindy Kaling, whom I suspect is one of the smartest women in Hollywood (and a FringeNYC alum). I think I also keep subconsciously writing parts for Amy Sedaris.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: Fringe shows? I’m personally excited for The Bible Women’s Project and My White Wife, or So I Married a Black Man. Also, of course The Illusory Adventures of a Dreamer. There’s always so much really original stuff at Fringe, it’s hard to have a bad time.
Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Amy Sedaris. A movie about me would probably have to be titled something along the lines of Doyle versus the Bullshit, but isn’t that everyone? Perhaps Guinness: A Love Story.
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Didn’t Ian McKellen and Tim Curry do Amadeus back in the 80’s? That must have been haunting. It might seem obvious, but Lee J. Cobb and Mildred Dunnock in Death of a Salesman. Elaine Stritch in Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Estelle Parsons in August: Osage County must have been brilliant performances. You know, looking back on this list I’m realizing maybe there is a certain kind of theater that speaks to me.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: The comments section.
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Well, in addition to writing and producing I teach American Lit and Film Analysis at Dickinson High School in Jersey City. It’s not a job I plan to retire from, although I have great respect for the work and the efforts of career teachers. I’m looking for an opportunity to focus on writing more, possibly going back to school myself. I think I might have enjoyed staying in academia; working my way through a masters and then Phd in English Literature.
What’s up next?: Hopefully something entirely different. I like to keep moving on to new stories and genres, so it will probably be a while before I return to absurdism (although I do plan to return). Probably a thriller.
For more on Is that Danny DeVito, visit www.isthatdannydevito.com and www.facebook.com/boxcolonytheatre. For more on Alexander, visit Alexdoylewriter.com