Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Spotlight On...Ian W. Hill

Name: Ian W. Hill

Hometown: Born in Philadelphia. Raised mostly in Cos Cob, Connecticut, but in NYC since 1986 and, happily, Brooklyn since '01.

Education: Northfield Mount Hermon School; NYU/Tisch School of the Arts (Film Production)

Favorite Credits: Even the Jungle (slight return) (collage play made mainly from "The Jungle Book" and "Apocalypse Now"); Ten Nights in a Bar-Room (19th-Century temperance play set in a post-apocalyptic future, with zombies); NECROPOLIS 1&2: World Gone Wrong/Worth Gun Willed (film noir political fantasia collaged from almost 200 films); ObJects (original two-act science-fiction play); Gone (original short play in experimental, poetic language). Plays are available at http://www.indietheaternow.com/Playwright/ian-w-hill

Why theater?: I spent over 20 years of my early life thinking that I was going to be a filmmaker, and film is still probably my first, greatest love.  But after film school, and making several short 16mm films and a featurette, I felt more and more that while I had interesting ideas for form in cinema, I didn't really have much to say in it.  At the same time, I was acting a great deal on stage, and discovered I was having better and more interesting ideas for theater -- things no one else seemed to be doing -- than I was having for any of the other artistic media I was working with.  I wound up living in and managing a theatre on the Lower East Side for almost 4 years, starting as an actor and designer but rapidly turning to writing, directing, and producing, and it's continued to excite me more than anything else (though I'm beginning to have the itch to get behind a camera again, now that I've lived a little bit more).

Tell us about Switch to Kill:
Dean's given you the basic plot logline -- all I can add is that it is wonderfully full of sudden twists and turns in both plot and emotional content that are constantly fun and surprising, and should keep any audience on their toes (or the edge of their seats).

What inspired you to direct Switch to Kill?: Jeff Lewonczyk sent it to me, thinking it would fit well with my noir tendencies and sensibilities, which it does, right down the line (even when I'm making theatre that isn't obviously or directly influenced by film noir, it still is).  Besides liking the script immediately, I was also glad to find something I wanted to direct that wasn't an original project of my own, which is what I've been mostly doing for the last few years.  I enjoy making my own work, but it can also get claustrophobic.  It's exciting to be an interpreter on someone else's vision again, it gives a different kind of freedom to my work.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like so many many kinds of theatre, it's hard to say what speaks to me, except for "things that keep me energized and interested," which can be anything from the most abstract, unusual, experimental work (most often for me) to a very traditional production of an old chestnut, as long as it is filled and coming from a true place.  I don't generally like direct audience participation in theater, but I like works that make you internally feel like a participant.  My main theatrical inspirations are mostly from the avant-garde theater of the late-60s to the mid-80s, such as Robert Wilson, Liz LeCompte, and especially Richard Foreman, but the majority of influences on me come from other art forms, painting, music, and of course film.  David Lynch, David Cronenberg, Nicolas Roeg, Ken Russell, and Peter Greenaway probably have influenced and inspired me more than any theatre artists.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I've worked with so many talented people -- famous, not-famous, eventually famous, formerly famous -- that I'm mainly interested now in people completely new to me whose voices sound in unexpected ways and who are naturally great but I can make them be better while learning from them how to be better at what I do myself.

What show have you recommended to your friends?:
As regards the Comic Book Festival, besides the obvious Skillman/Van Lente (King Kirby) and Sikoryak (Masterpiece Comics) pieces -- from creators I love with great track records on both page and stage -- I'd recommend shows from some of The Brick's regulars, Matt Barbot and Charles Battersby's plays, and the bill of dance and movement pieces that Patrice Miller is putting together.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Oliver Platt in "The Most Unfortunate Lucky Bastard You Ever Knew, or: That's a Secret I'm Telling No One Never".

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Donuts, danishes, muffins... anything sweet and cakey.  Currently banished from me, as much as possible.  Torture.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?:  On iTunes it's "Warm Rising Sun" by Radar Brothers, which my wife was listening to over and over, turned me onto, and wound up as part of one of our shows last year.  On my iPod it's "911" by David Lynch's group Blue Bob, which will be used in some form on Switch to Kill, so it's getting a lot of play.  It always tends to be whatever song is becoming crucial to the current show.txfac

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Taking photographs (on old-fashioned film) and writing poetry.  Somewhere in northwestern Massachusetts.

What’s up next?: Every year since 2007, my wife's and my company, Gemini CollisionWorks, presents 2 to 4 shows running in rep for about a month at The Brick, and we'll be doing that again this November.  Still deciding on what those shows will be -- STK has made me feel like directing someone else's play again, but I may also create some kind of collage or movement piece in either of my NECROPOLIS or Invisible Republic series.  Maybe the first episode in a serial-for-the-stage I'm working on, Serial Republic: A Chickie West Enigma, following a hard-bitten 1930s dame reporter on her adventures across the American 20th Century into lands of impossible mysteries, absurd fictions, and bizarre metaphysics.