Thursday, August 11, 2016

Spotlight On...Ezra LeBank

Name: Ezra LeBank

Hometown: Eugene, Oregon

Education: BA, SUNY Purchase; MFA Smith

Favorite Credits: Edinburgh Fringe, La MaMA, Israel Acrobatics Convention

Why theater?: I think of myself as an event planner. It’s my job to create an evening that is worth it for a group of people to set aside their lives for an hour and imagine together. Once I learned about circus, the idea of creating images that appear magical as a way of telling stories seemed like the coolest thing. What’s better than coming up with a crazy proposal, and then inventing it? For example: Okay, what if we crash an airplane, swim to the bottom of the sea, and discover lost love – now let’s build that with our bodies. I love the mix of the literalness and abstraction forced by working with our bodies as the aesthetic material. We are real, and everything you see is imagined.

Tell us about Flight: Flight is a sequel to The Little Prince with an acrobatic twist. It’s a story about learning to see with the heart, and finding the courage to fly. The three of us who perform are all acrobats, and we morph into cactuses, waves, and far-off islands as we invite the audience to discover this wonderful story in a way they’ve never imagined. We blend acrobatics, comedy, and storytelling to create an adventurous hour at the theatre with a lot of heart.

What inspired you to write Flight?: I had a dream to create an acrobatic show that would invite adults to feel like children again. When The Little Prince fell into my lap, it was clearly the story I had been dreaming of. Once we started developing the show, it leapt to life! It’s a lot of fun, and a great reminder that just because we get older, doesn’t mean we have to grow up.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I'm a big fan of contemporary French circus. I saw an amazing show in Paris that was all about stacking and chopping wood. I would never have dreamed that could be so incredible. The care they put into each simple concept is mesmerizing. The French idea of ‘cirque’ is philosophical in a way I had never understood from other circus. They develop what feels like some of the most purely poetic performance I’ve ever seen in any format. It makes me laugh, cry, and reconsider my life’s purpose without being sure what’s happening. They’re on a whole different level.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Any collection of French circus artists. Am I pandering too much? I should probably focus my energy on learning to speak French.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I tell everyone to see Ockham's Razor, a London-based aerial theatre company - their new show Tipping Point is at the Edinburgh Fringe this year. It's spellbinding, and so much fun.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I don't know that anyone would want to make or see that, but in some alternate universe where people flock to dull movies, I'd probably be played by the neurotic Jew of the moment, so Jesse Eisenburg has probably got that role on lock. Maybe they’d hire a wonderful acrobat to do stunts and make me appear much more talented than I am for a little dramatic edge. I would be okay with that (nudge nudge).

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: This is nerdy, and reveals my love of mime, but I’m sad I never saw Marcel Marceau do his solo act live. Friends say he was magical on stage.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I have a dangerous obsession with Almond Croissants.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Living off the grid in the rainforest, climbing trees, and making friends with turtles and squirrels. Or taking a nap.

What’s up next?: The day after Flight closes in New York, I’ll be on a flight (no pun intended) back to Long Beach where we will have our first rehearsal the following day for a new, large-scale acrobatic theatre show called ‘Elements.’

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