Thursday, August 7, 2014

Spotlight On...Sam French

Name: Sam French

Hometown: Saint Petersburg, Florida.

Education: I just graduated a few months ago with my BFA in directing from the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama.

Favorite Credits: Co-directing and co-writing The Beatles present: the Lord of the Rings the Musical and co-devising an audience interactive dance-party called Interrobang?!

Why theater?: Because I wasn't any good at baseball? Because I love narrative and I love being a part of a crowd and theater is the best hybrid of the two.

Tell us about Freaks: a legend about growing up?: Freaks is at it's surface a pretty simple story about four friends in their early twenties reuniting for the first time in a long time-- to discover the different people they've become and to determine what future they have together. But it's inspired by magical realism and by that awesome sense of imagination that college kids are just beginning to develop out of ("growing up"). So there's mythical thunderstorms and a belief in time travel and the fear/excitement/belief that MAYBE the world is not yet set in stone for them.

What inspired you to write Freaks: a legend about growing up?: I actually started it as a writing exercise where you write your least favorite kind of play-- which for me was the college kids sitting around drinking play. I had never read or seen one that was really accurate about the factual circumstances of that age while also being accurate about sort of the intangible circumstances. And when I was writing Freaks I was also so aware of the plethora of articles being published about the "me" generation. So Freaks was written out of a desire to capture the awkward magic between growing up and grown up, and to sort of put the voice of criticism/celebration into our generation's hands.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love theater that plays with language, that plays with the audience, that invites interpretation, or that looks at the mundane parts of life with a flair of the mythological. There are a lot of theater artists who inspire me, of course, through their work and/or mentorship... but the people who most inspire me are outside of theater-- Bruce Springsteen, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Cormac McCarthy. Oh, and-- and I'm completely serious about this-- the upper management team of the Tampa Bay Rays.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Anyone? Woof. If I could get in a room with Bruce Springsteen and a committee of Major League Baseball executives to just pick their brains about developing a play that had the same depth of energy and narrative that a concert/game had, I'd be pretty stoked.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Fuerza Bruta, many times. Battlestar Galactica.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I've been told I look like Ethan Hawke or the rat from "Flushed Away" so my prospects are pretty sweet. I don't know what it'd be called but I would want Wes Anderson to direct it.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I'm not guilty of any of my pleasures. I feel like there are some things that people expect me to justify-- like that I think "South Park" is one of the smartest written shows of our time-- but I'm proud of it.

What’s the most played song on your iTunes?: "The Promise" by Bruce Springsteen.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Absolutely working for a baseball team.

What’s up next?: At the same time as Freaks, I'm co-directing a musical called Jimmy! for the National Theater of Student Artists. It's about Jimmy Carter and space aliens, so if you're around Brooklyn you should absolutely check it out.