Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Spotlight On...Brian Fleming

Name: Brian Fleming

Hometown: Bell Harbour, Co Clare - Ireland

Education:  MA in Festive Arts from the University of Limerick. Hdip in Arts Policy and practice from Galway University and a BA in psychology from University College Dublin

Favorite Credits: I once got a cheque for 'Giving Tongue.' Apparently it's the term for a particular ritual in fox-hunting and was they named the film after it, but it sounded so rude, I wanted to keep the cheque and frame it. I was also a bit embarrassed to bring it to my local bank

Why theater?: I'm a musician so I'm used to playing in noisy chatty venues, so it's great to do something considered in a theatre environment. You get the chance to be perfect, say things exactly the way you mean to. I like the controlled environment. I didn't know my shows were going to be theatre shows as such, but that's how they turned out.

Tell us about A Sacrilegious Lesbian and Homosexual Parade: It's about an amazing inspiring event that I've been happy to be a part of for the past 14 years. LGBT groups are excluded from St Patrick's day parades in the US. This is the story of the St Pat's For All parade, which has been happening in New York for 15 years and is New York's only all inclusive St Patrick's Day Parade. I kind of got involved by accident. The name comes from a banner an old lady brings in protest against the St Pat's For All Parade in Queens every year.

What inspired you to create A Sacrilegious Lesbian and Homosexual Parade?: I've come over from Ireland 14 times now to participate in the parade. It's a very inspiring life-affirming event. I was actually studying it last year for my thesis for an MA in Festive Arts and I thought you can't just write a bunch of words about this and hope to capture what it does. I need something that conveys that life affirming excitement that the parade creates, so I started working on a script. Then Dublin Fringe Festival invited me to put it on in the festival in September 2014, so I brought in the wonderful director, Raymond Keane and a dramaturge with whom I'd worked before, Michelle Read. I've always been a bit embarrassed about how Ireland is portrayed over here by the bigots who run the 5th Ave parade. People in the US don't realise that there has never been a problem in Ireland about LGBT groups marching in parades and a lot of people in Ireland don't even know about the LGBT groups being excluded in the US, so I hope this is a fun, entertaining way to tell that story.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: Theatre that moves me, by telling me something abut the human condition speaks to me. Skillful acting, clever plot-lines and great sets are all fine, but if it doesn't move me and somehow teach me something new about life living, then it's kind of wasting my time. Sometimes I might be cool about wasting my time.
Artists who are fearless, or at least appear to be inspire me. Rónán Ó Snodaigh is an Irish drummer who has made amazing innovations in playing the traditional Irish drum, the bodhrán. John Scott and Michael Keegan Dolan are two amazing Irish choreographers, who show incredible courage in making way out choreography. I like some of your American comedians who take a chance. I think Louis CK, Randy Credico and Tina Fey push the envelope a little and I'm looking forward to seeing some of that kind of comedy when I'm in New York. There's a well-known drag queen Panti Bliss, in Dublin who came to the parade in Queens last year. She's pretty hilarious, fearless and inspiring

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Patricia Arquette (I just saw 'True Romance' again). I don't act though, so we'd have to find something else to do. Maybe I could teach her to play bodhran?

What show have you recommended to your friends?: The one about sex... oh wait they all are! I'm going to go to a little event called FRIGID Snapshots and see some 3 minute extracts from the shows and try and get a feel for them. They all look amazing on the website. I need to narrow it down.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Daniel Craig "Traditional Values"

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: Ballyturk by Enda Walsh, performed by Stephen Rae, Cillian Murfi and Stephen Rae. It was on in Dublin last summer and I missed it.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Wanking, I guess, is the honest answer, but in case this isn't that sort of a blog, I'd have to say surfing is a close second. If you think of all the times in the Big Lebowski where they procrastinate by say 'let's go bowling,' that's like my life in the West of Ireland, if you substitute the word 'bowling' for  'surfing,' though I think they're better at bowling than I am at surfing.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: A drummer and guess what? mostly I do work as a drummer, so I guess that worked out pretty well. When I was a kid there was and ad on tv for a candy bar called Yorkie and the guy in the ad drove a truck, so I wanted to be a truck driver for a long time, mostly so I could eat bars of chocolate all day. Now I have a big van to carry all my drums all over Ireland, so that has kind of come true too.

What’s up next?: I'm writing a novel and TV series called 'Traditional Values' about the seedy underbelly of the traditional Irish music scene, or maybe I'll just go surfing...