Friday, October 19, 2012

Spotlight On...Shannon Fillion

Name: Shannon Fillion

Hometown: Bedford, MA

MFA Columbia University, BA Trinity College

Favorite Credits: Julia May Jonas’ Lake Coordination & No One is Excused from the Trouble of Living, Danny Mitarotando's What the Sparrow Said, As You Like It, an adaptation of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, and Lascivious Something at the 6B Garden.

Why theater?:
I began with music as a kid, and I studied different instruments and voice and composition for most of my youth.  Theater seemed just a natural next step, and as a director I find I use my musical background to score a theatrical piece.  I've never been anything but an artist, but I feel that many of the arts blend together in the theater in a way that really inspires me.

Tell us about No Fear Shakespeare’s Richard III: The No Fear Shakespeare series of books "translates" Shakespeare's original text into modern English with the original Elizabethan text on one side of the page and the plain English translation facing it. Chances are, if you are of my generation, you used one to help decipher a line or a character in high school.  But this world premiere is the first time one of these texts has been professionally staged, and I see it as a really unique experiment.

What inspired you to direct No Fear Shakepeare’s Richard III?: The producers, Winnie Lok and Ryan McCurdy, approached me with the idea. I had just finished directing As You Like It and I was really in a mood to work on more Shakespeare.  I was initially very skeptical of the No Fear text as I am not of the mind that Shakespeare's language is too difficult for the average theatergoer to understand.  However I had to acknowledge that I had not as yet directed or seen a performance of Shakespeare's work where everyone in the audience understood every word of the text all the time.  There was always a gap between actor and audience.  So I am fascinated to see what will happen when the audience and actors are all in sync.  Will the story still hold that magic?  How much will we miss the original poetry?

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: A really important part of my education was to see as much theater, dance, performance art, and visual art as possible.  A list of all the things that inspire me as an artist would include a few significant theatrical works like Anne Bogart's Bobrauchenbergamerica, but also music and books and strange events in everyday life.  I spent a lot of training time studying Viewpoints, which teaches us that the theatrical vocabulary is just one of many artistic vocabularies that can all speak to each other.  So I try to keep my eyes open and my mind open and be unashamed about my tastes.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
Well I would love to direct an Edward Albee play, and to have a playwright like that in the room would be incredible.  I would also love to work with the Steppenwolf gang out in Chicago.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Besides mine? I am very excited for Matilda, and for Vogel's A Civil War Christmas at NYTW.  For all my friends back home in Boston I am recommending they see The Hypocrite's Pirate's of Penzance.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Well I don't know about the title, I would probably hire a playwright to write me a witty one.  But it would definitely star a young Meryl Streep, or a Katherine Hepburn.  Go big or go home, right?

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I will preface this by saying I feel little to no guilt about it - "Game of Thrones".

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: If I switched careers right now I would want to own a bakery, or I would run a small bookstore.  Anywhere where I can be in charge, talk about things I love with people who are interested, and still drink a lot of coffee.

What’s up next?: I am doing a workshop/reading of Danny Mitarotondo's Orchestra, a really fascinating new piece that he and I are developing.  We have a reading early next month and are hoping for a production next spring.  I can't say too much without giving all our secrets away - but its written like nothing I have ever seen before.