Thursday, August 11, 2016

Spotlight On...Dominique Salerno

Name: Dominique Salerno

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Education: Princeton University (AB), American Conservatory Theater (MFA)

Favorite Credits: Clarin, the old clownish manservant in Jose Rivera's Sueno, Olivia in Twelfth Night, and Ariel in The Tempest.

Why theater?: In a world dominated by digital connection, I think that the live interaction between the audience and the performer is more necessary than ever. Bringing people together in a room to tell stories is such a primal human need, and I love being a part of it.

Tell us about The Box Show: The Box Show is a one-woman show in which I perform over 25 characters from within the confines of a small kitchen cupboard. The entire show takes place within this tiny space, and every time the cupboard doors fly open, we discover an entirely new reality: a drunken couple mid-fight in Las Vegas, the entire Greek Army inside the Trojan Horse, a lonely Giantess, a lost Pope and so much more! It is fast-paced, wacky, absurd, heartfelt, hilarious, and truly transformative! The show plunges the audience into vastly different worlds without ever leaving the physical space of The Box.

What inspired you to write The Box Show?: My grad school (American Conservatory Theater) has this fantastic mid-year festival called "SkyFest" where you can propose your own dream projects to create in two weeks. I proposed that the school lock me alone in a room with absolutely no materials to make my own one-woman show from scratch. It just so happened that the room they assigned me had this small AV cupboard built into the wall that hadn't been used for years. I climbed inside and the show was born out of my curiosity and creative imaginings. I have an improv/sketch comedy background, and I think the style of show came from my hunger for that joyful exploration during a rigorous and serious acting graduate program.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: As a performer, Improv is my soul-food. It is something that I need to do for my own creative well-being. As an artist on a larger scale: I love edgy, daring work. I love documentary theatre, and theatre for social justice. I always feel that the soul of theatre hinges on the live experience created by both the audience and a performer in that shared moment. For that reason I think I am drawn to work that can be slightly shocking or interactive. I love anything that shakes the audience up viscerally, and I think the Box Show is a blend of my improv addiction and my attraction to edgy work.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Lin Manuel Miranda, Jose Rivera, Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, and Key and Peele. (A girl can dream, right?)

What show have you recommended to your friends?: I haven't even seen the play yet (I am going after the Fringe) but I have recommended Bedlam's Sense and Sensibility. I love that theatre company. I caught their production of Saint Joan years ago, and it rocked my world.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Julia Louis Dreyfus. "Can't Stop. Won't Stop".

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I still haven't seen Hamilton! So maybe I could go back in time and see it at the Public!

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: The T.V. show: Criminal Minds.  I am seriously addicted.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Teaching, most likely. Or working for the Southern Poverty Law Center to combat the rhetoric and actions of domestic hate groups. I wrote my undergraduate thesis on the religious dimensions of the white power movement, and I have a real passion for fighting extremism.

What’s up next?: The Box Show will have its final run at the United Solo Theatre Festival on Sept 15th at 9pm. After that, I am looking forward to being an actor again. That's the beauty of writing and producing your own one-woman show from the ground up: it's so exhausting that I am aching to just be a cog in someone else's glorious machine. Auditions, here I come!

For more on The Box Show, visit and For more on Dominique, visit