Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Spotlight On...Jeremy Williams
Hometown: North Little Rock, Arkansas.
Education: BA in Artistic Leadership/Liberal Studies from University of Louisville; MFA Theatre: Contemporary Performance from Naropa University.
Favorite Credits: West Side Story (dir/choreo) from Arkansas Shakespeare Theatre, Murrow (director) for Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, A Mexican Affair & The Woman Who Was ME with CTC. Handler for Dragonfly Arts.
Why theater?: I love the intimacy of theatre. I love that it brings people together to have a shared experience. I think theatre is a great way to express empathy and teach us how to be more empathetic. I think that's something we need right now. To be able to see and experience someone else's point of view, the desire to communicate, to connect, to find our community.
Tell us about Babel: Babel is a story about the origin of language. And we are telling it without words! We're using bodies to tell the story of towers built, falling, and the creation of different languages. It's a combination of acrobatics, dance, and physical acting to create a new form of storytelling: acrobatic-dance-theatre. We've been working for three years to explore and create language through physicality and can't wait to share it with our audiences at the 14th St Y! Not only is Babel the story of language, it's also the story of human ambition, striving to work together to build something great. It is the story of us.
What inspired you to co-create and direct Babel?: WT McRae came to me with this idea about exploring the story of Babel through physical storytelling. He challenged me with the question "How can we build a tower out of bodies so high that it would offend God?". I had no idea how to do this so we jumped into the studio. Along the way we have changed our questions but the core of physical storytelling remains. We're inspired by our work in circus, dance, acrobatics, and physical acting to create a piece that really explores the human condition. Much physical performance is based on the value of virtuosity. We want to use acrobatics to reveal vulnerability and the joy of trying something new, something a little scary.
What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love theatre that has some sort of transformative experience. I go to the theatre to be inspired, to become aware of the world in a different way. I'm inspired by people's stories, especially stories and voices that have been historically silenced or hidden. I'm also incredibly inspired by natural beauty, the imperfections and constant change that is taking place in and around us. I'm also inspired by great entertainment.
If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: There are a ton of collaborators. I'd love to work with author Audrey Niffenegger to adapt a graphic story for a theatrical piece. I'd also love to work with artistic directors Oskar Eustis and Diane Paulus, as well as producer Ken Davenport.
What show have you recommended to your friends?: Most recently Party People by Universes at the Public Theatre, and The Color Purple on Broadway. Othello: Remix is incredible.
If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: There are so many...even just this year! Starlight Express always comes to mind because I'd love to see the engineering and how they used the space to tell that story.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Binge watching Netflix shows, guacamole, and sour patch kids :-)
If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: HA! I daydream about this from time to time. I've tried to escape the theatre but always get pulled back in. I love to learn, and theatre offers a way to continually be learning. Other jobs I daydream about include physical therapy or maybe contemporary art or craft museum curator. I have a lot of interests.
For more on Babel, visit http://www.convergencescollective.org/babel.html