Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Spotlight On...Gabriel Vasquez

Name: Gabriel Vasquez

Hometown: New York City

Education: SUNY Purchase

Favorite Credits: Sweeping the floor at the Performing Garage.

Why theater?: Because it’s the weirdest art form! I always feel funny about thinking that but it’s really how I feel. I was about to say something about how it’s happening right in front of you, but that’s also the reason theater is so sloppy and bizarre. There is so much pretending going on and not many options for masking it. And while it is physically happening in front of you, the spontaneity was very likely sucked out in a long rehearsal process. AND even though it was rehearsed for ages, it’s impossible to make people look exactly where you want them to. You also can’t hide the light plot or any of the other things that remind you it’s a play.The list goes on. So maybe I’m a masochist, but figuring out how get around those issues and be honest about this fake thing I’m making is the most exciting thing in the world. It’s a goofy, funny way of telling stories that requires creativity and a sense of humor. And it reminds me that I like people.

Tell us about What Makes Us Feel Good: Well, first of all, it’s a true story. Sort of. The show follows William Bradford Bishop’s quest for masculine freedom after murdering his family and is chronicled by a group of actors in the form of a children’s show. Joined by his loyal friends, Johnny the Cow and Mrs. Teapot, they seek a place where they won’t be plagued by negative feelings. Simultaneously, the actors portraying these roles try to get through the show without voicing their deepest personal secrets. The demonic talkback looms from the background. A life sized squirrel appears.

What inspired you to direct What Makes Us Feel Good?: I have been absolutely obsessed with this piece since I read an early draft about two years ago. My mouth has actually watered at the idea of directing this since 2015. The playwright Brett and I work together often, so when the Tank showed interest in the piece, it seemed natural that I'd direct it. This is the first time this show is going to be on its feet, so it’s a chance to test it out before potentially doing a longer run.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like work that is wild and unapologetic. I always want more of whatever it is you’re dishing out. I can’t think of a single instance where I thought a play went “too far”. And dancing. I think every play should have dancing. A selected list of companies I have found to be inspirational: Elevator Repair Service, Little Lord, Nightdrive, The Rude Mechs, Title:Point, Radiohole, Forced Entertainment. Things in life I find inspirational: failure, trash tv, Lifetime movies, the B-52s, Jordan Tannahill’s book “Theater of the Unimpressed”, YouTube binges.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I’ve never told anyone this before, but I sometimes fantasize about collaborating with Mark Mothersbaugh on musical about his theory of devolution.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I told everyone to see Frontiéres san Frontières at the Bushwick Starr. I also thought Sam Gold's The Glass Menagerie was exquisite.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: One time a very drunk girl told me I looked like John Mayor, which I found hilarious. So I think I would have John Mayor play me in a movie called “One Time a Very Drunk Girl Told Me I Looked Like John Mayor, Which I Found Hilarious”.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I’d go back to 1966 to see the America Hurrah trilogy at LaMama. Or 1984 to see the Wooster Group’s L.S.D. (...just the high points).

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: The Food Network and cherry coke zero.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be____?: an accountant, according to my mother.

What’s up next?: What Makes Us Feel Good in April, a one-act with Rhapsody Collective in May, and a residency at The Drama League to develop Such A Tragedy over the summer.

For more on What Makes Us Feel Good, visit http://www.thetanknyc.org/theater/708-what-makes-us-feel-good/ and https://www.facebook.com/events/1290007511091460/