Sunday, June 1, 2014

Spotlight On...Brett Ackerman

Name: Brett Ackerman

Hometown: Merrick, NY - Boca Raton, FL - Alpharetta, GA

NYU - BA History/Cinema Studies

Favorite Credits:
One Last Box

Why theater?: We're all bowling alone these days. We live in a weird time where everyone can create something and just put it out there on the Internet. Even though it connects with more people, it also has this disconnecting effect as well. I think theater is one of the last bastions of community building that we have. Besides going to the movies, it's one of the few things people can have this incredible shared experience that you can't replicate watching something alone at home. The emotional reactions from the audience alone can be more lasting than the plays themselves. It's just one of the distinguishing features that gives theater a more indelible quality. I can still remember the first time I saw Les Miserables (8, original incarnation on Broadway, went with family). I really can't remember when I first saw Tiny Hamsters Eating Tiny Burritos (still cute, though).

Tell us about White Space: Part existential crisis, part prison escape, part Flash Gordon. White Space is set within three panels of this old space adventure comic. The first panel has a background character named Alex walking on a normal day in his futuristic city. The second has another background character named Samantha pointing and shouting at something. And the third is Alex dead. One day, a piece of Alex's panel drops off, which allows him to talk with Samantha. Together, they plot an escape from their panels.

What inspired you to write White Space?: Our director (and lead actress) Nicola McEldowney told me that the Comic Book Theater Festival was seeking play submissions. As a lifelong comic book fan, I immediately began thinking of writing something that would be a great way to represent a comic book in a show. I've always been interested in telling the story of the characters in margins, who are usually part of these fantastical stories but we never really get to know them. They're usually just canon fodder but they probably have families, friends, and other things going on besides just getting vaporized by a laser.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
Theater that doesn't take itself too seriously. I always preferred things that had a comedic bent to them, even if they weren't a flat out comedy. I like drama too but I find anything that takes itself too seriously could fall into unintentional comedy very quickly unless it has all the elements right. I'm usually inspired by great stories, especially ones made by my friends. I'm lucky to have a lot of creative friends. It constantly forces me to improve my writing so I can keep up with them. Otherwise, here's some famous people I'm inspired by: Jim Henson, Dan Harmon, the whole Pixar Brain Trust, Parker & Stone, Kevin Feige, Edgar Wright, Christopher Nolan, Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Terry Gilliam, Charlie Kaufman, Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, the Marx Brothers, the Coen Brothers, Paddy Chayefsky, Billy Wilder, Film Critic Hulk, and many more that I'm probably forgetting here.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Probably someone I have a mutual respect for but I don't idolize. I would never want to work with one of my heroes. I don't want to be disappointed with them.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: In terms of theater, I always recommend Avenue Q whenever I have the chance. It's probably the most accurate representation of living in the city in your 20s. Plus, I'm a huge Muppets fan so that kinda explains where the love comes from. In terms of everything else, I've been obsessed with Rick and Morty lately. I even included a couple of references to it in the show.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Michael Cera - "Awk: The Musical"

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Bad 80s/90s action movies. "Commando", "Night Hawks", "Tango & Cash", "Running Man", etc. are always a joy to watch. They make no sense. The characters are paper thin. But there's something about their ridiculous story lines that appeals to me. Having said this, I still despise "The Expendables" series.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: Either "This Must Be the Place" by the Talking Heads or "Two Face Part 1 - Harvey's Nightmare/Dent's Soap Box" by Shirley Walker.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Very, very sad.

What’s up next?:
I'm currently working on several projects. A sketch comedy showcase centered mainly on pop culture. Another meta-ish

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