Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Spotlight On...John Kurzynowski

Name: John Kurzynowski

Hometown: Point Pleasant, NJ

Education: BFA, NYU Tisch, Experimental Theater Wing

Favorite credits: As a director, Jaclyn Backhaus' The Three Seagulls, or MASHAMASHAMASHA! for Theater Reconstruction Ensemble. As an actor, The Really Big Once for Target Margin Theater.

Why theater?: I was bit by the theater bug at an early age. I'm from Jersey, so growing up my parents would bring me to every Broadway play or musical, and I always knew that I wanted to be a part of that world. It wasn't until college that I discovered the experimental and downtown theater scene, and the rest is history. I finally felt like I had found a community where my particular and strange artistic voice would be heard and supported, which ultimately led to the formation of Theater Reconstruction Ensemble.

Tell us about Salesmen?: Salesmen is the exploration of American realism as seen through the lens of memory and masculinity. TRE has spent this past season trying to better understand realism and that era in American drama (specifically the 1930s - 50s) and how it relates to us as a contemporary ensemble of artists. Our first production, Jaclyn Backhaus' Set in the Living Room of a Small Town American Play, charted that exploration through the use of a script written in the style of that era and our relationship to the process of telling a particular story. Salesmen is a devised piece that strays away from a narrative structure and instead charts our exploration of realism as though through memory and time itself, which are both more abstract and unreliable than plot and story. Being created and presented by a group of eight men, it also taps into the inherent masculinity of that era and our contemporary notions of masculinity in theater.

What inspired you to create Salesmen?: I have always loved the plays of the 40s and 50s, and have been fascinated by that era in theater. But the style of that period, particularly the Method, has always been a mystery to me. I studied it in college and it seems to come up over and over again, but I've always felt like it and I are just cut from two separate cloths. So naturally I wanted to better understand why I had never related to it and how it could be confronted in a new way. Essentially, I wanted to learn more about why I simultaneously love and reject that style and share that process with our audience.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love any kind of theater that somehow reinvents or reinterprets our established notions of right and wrong, and is essentially wholly true to itself. I'm a huge fan of established companies and artists like Target Margin Theater, Elevator Repair Service, The Talking Band, David Greenspan, and Ivo van Hove, but I'm also constantly falling in love with new companies and artists like Tugboat Collective, Fresh Ground Pepper, and Kristine Haruna Lee.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
Taylor Mac! Hands down!

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812! If you haven't seen it yet, you must this fall/winter! It's one of the most beautiful shows I've ever seen!

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I had to ask around a bit, but the general consensus is Jay Baruchel, which I personally find flattering. As far as the title goes, maybe something like "We Could Talk About Theater, or Not Talk About Theater: The John Kurzynowski Story (Brought To You By Lifetime)".

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?:
Netflix. By far. It's starting to control my life a bit...

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: I think I'd be working in the design field - graphic design or interior design.

What’s up next?: I'll be acting in The Talking Band's episodic puppet piece The Golden Toad, and directing TRE's latest work-in-development You On The Moors Now, by Jaclyn Backhaus and the company.