Friday, January 17, 2014

Spotlight On...Lisa Szolovits

Name: Lisa Szolovits

Hometown: Newton, MA

Education: Occidental College

Favorite Credits: This show. I've done a whole lot of assisting at places like Playwrights Horizons and The Public and a lot of directing for other people's companies and festivals, but this is the first time I've directed a project from its inception to a full production like this. I feel very responsible for the work, which is both scary and thrilling.

Why theater?: It's an opportunity to practice empathy, to exercise all your senses in a way that changes how you pay attention to the world. Every one of us played make believe as children and theater feels like the most basic extension of that essential human function.

Tell us about We Were Nothing!?:
I think Will sums it up nicely.

What inspired you to direct We Were Nothing!?:
Such a large percentage of my interactions with people is not in person. I think that's the case for a lot of people - yet it's a part of our relationships that's underrepresented on stage. And when I do see texting or phone calls on stage, it's often dull and unimaginative. My big carrot for directing this show was getting to tackle the challenge of performing this long-distance language in a way that's theatrically compelling and feels truthful to how these forms of communication feel.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Theater that feels like the people who made it - that feels like humans are choosing to wrestle with something big and to share that vulnerable process with us. I love watching hard work and invention. Daniel Fish, Marianne Weems, and Nature Theater of Oklahoma inspire me. So do Janelle Monae, Maurice Sendak, Andrew Bujalski . . .

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?:
Frances McDormand. I'm kind of obsessed with her at the moment.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Most recently, Bodycast at BAM. (Frances!) I wanted that show to keep going and going.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Sarah Polley would write/direct. I'd let her decide the rest.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Darrell Lea licorice

What’s the most played song on your iPod?:
I went and found my very old, very large iPod and charged it up because I am persnickety. The only things on there are a bunch of This American Life podcasts and sound cues from an Adam Bock play I assisted on three years ago. So I think it's like "p.72 vo v2."

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Living somewhere cheaper and warmer.

What’s up next?: Will and I have been working on You're Sadder Than You Realize - a play about Justin Bieber and an 18th century French cannibal - and I'm hoping we can find a way to stage it in this really extravagant way I have in mind. I'm also adapting text from the Aeneid and Dido & Venus with Aubrey Saverino, creating a performance project in Google Hangout with Amy Clare Tasker and Wolfgang Wachalovsky, and planning a theatrical experiment  using laser tag technology with a friend who is getting her PhD in visual perception, action, and motivation.