Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Spotlight On...Jon Levin

Name: Jon Levin

Hometown: Port Washington, NY

Education: Oberlin College, L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq

Favorite Credits: There Will Come Soft Rains (2008, Adaptor and Director), Go to Sleep Goddamnit! (2013), The Krumple (co-creator and performer).

Why theater?: There’s something magical about a group of people sitting in a dark room playing pretend together – a kind of communal hallucination.  I like that.

Tell us about Powerhouse?: Powerhouse is about Raymond Scott who was a composer in the 1930s.  He wrote what he called “descriptive music”, “a new kind of jazz”, which became an overnight sensation in 1936. He wound up selling his music to Warner Brothers who quoted heavily from it in Looney Tunes cartoons, which is how his music has stayed alive in the public consciousness.  However, Raymond Scott never saw a cartoon in his life.  In search of the “idealized conception of his music” he wound up discarding working with human musicians entirely and began inventing his own electronic music machines.  Powerhouse explores the chasm between what an artist imagines and what his audience perceives.

What inspired you to create and direct Powerhouse?: I was fascinated by the idea of someone trying to communicate something directly to an audience while being subverted by a litany of cartoons.  That was before we did any research.  Once we started learning more about these people, Raymond Scott, his wives, the Warner Brothers animators - the real life events of the story became even more fascinating to us – though I believe that initial impulse is still lurking in the background.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like theater that moves. I’m a big fan of Pig Iron, Wakka Wakka, Mabou Mines, this guy “Dr. Brown” and a company called Dancing Brick.  Also Pina Bausch and James Thiérrée.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: David Byrne

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Pina Bausch company’s Kontakthof, Geoff Sobelle’s The Object Lesson, and Here Lies Love.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I would be played by a series of trained dogs in “Aladdin III: Help, I'm a Bunch of Dogs”

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Peanut butter on a spoon.

What’s the most played song on your iPod?: “Once in a lifetime.”

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A neuroscientist

What’s up next?: I’m heading off to Norway for a couple of months to begin development on a new piece with The Krumple Theatre company.  It will be a work of Mask Theater.  Then we’ll be doing a short tour of a show called Go to Sleep, Goddmanit! which we’ll be bringing to New York in April as part of Flint & Tinder at The Tank.

For more on Powerhouse, visit www.sinkingshipproductions.com