Working in the Theatre: Colossal – Minneapolis, MN

[music] I feel very fortunate that Colossal is
the recipient of a rolling world premiere from the National New Play Network. So
immediately after we opened the show Will and I go to Minneapolis to
begin a second production with the completely different cast and design team at Mixed Blood Theatre. You know, it’s so incredible to be able to put this particular show together and make decisions that fit this show, these people, these bodies, this audience
in a particular way and then also have the second train
running which is well okay. There’s another production I’m going to do with this
back to back in which I can make a whole other set of choices if I wish. I saw a performance of Colossal at University Texas, Austin in the spring of 2013. A few graduate student playwrights are
selected to have their shows workshopped at the Kennedy Center. One of
those was Andrew Hinderaker’s Colossal. Called Andrew right away saying we like
to do that play. Well, he was far from ready to let the play out in the world. I became more enamored of the play
continued to hound him for permission and eventually he granted it. So we are part of a rolling world premiere which is also part of the National New Play Network and there are five theaters all
signed on to do this. I think each production there’s
more learning being done that is passed on to the next producing
entity. Andrew continues to refine scripts. I think that each production will be tailored to its own circumstances, its space, its personnel, it’s esthetic, and that’s the joy of a rolling world premiere
that not only does the playwright get to continue to see the work involved but each of the theatres learns from what the theatre before it has learned in its production. I worked with Will Davis, the director, so it was interesting to approach it from the standpoint of learning from previous projects but also having to fit it into a different space
and trying to put sort of our own imprint on it. A huge element of it is the scoreboard which has at the time clicking down showing us the different
quarters of the show and in this particular theater we also
super title all our productions and it also needed to be
wheelchair-accessible. Part of the mission here at Mixed Blood is to be accessible to all. That’s part of Mixed Blood’s radical hospitality. Radical hospitality is not a program of Mixed Blood, but it’s really part of Mixed Blood’s DNA to revolutionize access consistent with our vision and one of
the ways the most visible way is we offer free admission
to anybody to any performance. We try to demonetize the theater experience so anyone can see any show on a first
come, first serve basis, without paying anything. [drumline] It’s been very well received. So the audiences come in they see the room set in a manner it’s
never been set up before. [drumline] doing football drills to a drumline
happening has they’re taking their seats I’m and the show is 65 minutes on included
four 15-minute partners close to shore at halftime show I’m one
for whose the whose %uh mmm who well I fell in love with the script
right away and ruined rocker who wrote the play colossal did this extraordinary
job with the language it’s very musical and as a musician as a
singer I fell in love with that part I fell in love with the fact that as someone’s meaningless and then
someone who’s watching it you have to a so all these pieces
together this puzzle to really figure out what is
the story was going on here why either two guys who looks similar bud ones in a wheelchair in one’s not dan
now who’s the father and one of these
different relationships discovering I’ll what is the real story behind the
words when the undertones the language that’s happening
in this play I play the older version of Mike and Mike’s a football player who about ten
months ago was injured in an accident pretty much defending the man that he
loves, a fellow teammate. So now Mike is going through this
transition of now accepting his life and his new identity as a man with a disability, as a gay man, and also finding and redefining his
relationship with his father. [dialogue] Mike is the main character the show who is raised a dancer and then discovers that he loves football and goes college for it. So I play Mike before he gets injured while he’s in college. In his senior year of college. [dialogue] Through the flashbacks and my conversations with the
present-day character Mike, I sort of get to embody kind of a chard his personality when he’s the most macho, when his the most
egotistical, when he’s the most prideful. [dialogue] The masculinity of the play was something that
drew me to it. The physicality of it is, is so powerful. It’s not something you see on stage.
You don’t see guys in full football pads, full-contact hits. In the beginning this play, the first 15
minutes is these guys working out, breaking a sweat and I got to do a
little bit of that as well. I mean, the physical therapy scenes are
supposed to be tough. It’s supposed to be this physical journey as much an emotional
journey. Even within that violent world of sports and football, there are these
moments described in the play and hopefully portrayed in our production of virtuosic beauty. The physicality of the show is never ending and it really deals with masculinity and the male body as a
vehicle for language through dance, as a vehicle for violence
through football, as a vehicle through disability. We need to look at it
through the lens of disability. And all these things talk to each other
with very different verbal and physical language. [dialogue] I’m a performer with disability. I have
a spinal cord injury. Going into this role, I knew that I
was gonna have to encounter a lot of mine own feelings as far as who I was before this injuring who I had to become after the injury. It was interesting to come in and say, okay
I’m going to be dealing with the younger version essentially myself who for all rights and purposes going to be trying to defeat me and and trying to redefining me as what I was before my injury. [dialogue] So for me it was in a lot of ways and gift as an actor and also as a person with a disability to face a lot of feelings that maybe I’ve covered up over the years. I don’t bring Mike home. I don’t I don’t know that I even… transform into Mike. It’s always in me. if I can just boil that to the surface before the play and bring it out, you know. It takes a little while to
heat up before the play. You go out it heats itself up and after the play, it simmers back down. The water’s always there. It’s just a matter of
when you turn the heat on. [dialogue] Will, the director, said on the first day of rehearsals that this play requires us to go up to the edge of what is possible, to go up to our
boundaries. And explore those boundaries. Not necessarily go beyond our boundaries, but to step right up to the edge look over. That’s a real challenge to do fully every day in performance and instead of just half-assing it and pretending like we are putting ourselves out there. [music] The art form of acting, of putting on a play is a group of people coming together with
one common goal to create this piece of life and to have it live on the stage. It’s so similar to a football team going out and risking everything just to try and win it. There’s a huge sense of relief when the play is done. It’s like finishing the long
run. It’s always fun just a long run is. but when it’s done your glad that you’ve finished it. You just want to drink some water and clap your friends back. So there’s everything about it has been surprising, has been breathtaking,
has been heartwarming, has been tear-provoking and has been very well received.
When the shows over, we have post show conversations after
every performance. Many people stay and they have a lot to
say and al lot to decompress about. Those that leave
when the show ends are moved emotionally and having been entertained an amazing
way they hadn’t seen in this building and probably anywhere before. It’s very cool working at Mixed Blood because they constantly do these shows that I think challenge our audience and challenge our designers to tell a very concise, very precise exciting story. It’s really great to be able to work on
a show like this. I think is very unique right now and that is just also great story. This is a story about a father and a son redefining their relationship and finding the love for one another
again and I knew it was going to strike a cord with my dad. [chatter] I knew it was going to strike a chord
with me. It was definitely an emotional journey. I’m glad it’s one that I was able to take. Colossal has brought more than just an opportunity to act. It’s brought me this opportunity to rediscover myself. He always supposed me. As opposed to the father / son situation here. Where it’s like “no no no no no. Don’t do that.” He wasn’t like, “go become a doctor.” He was “go become a Rockstar.” The challenges for me primarily were due to my disability. The fact that I needed to be away from home, the comforts of home, to my own house which is totally set up for me and the people around me. My friends that know what I need, know how I operate. My caregivers who I don’t have to
explain anything to. They already know how to work with me. Fortunately, everyone here at Mixed Blood has been extremely supportive,
extremely loving, extremely kind, and have helped me along the way without making me feel different, without making
me feel special, without making you feel disabled. Mixed
Blood lives up to the name. I mean it’s diverse and it’s blood, it’s a heartbeat, it’s a
machine. It’s a family and it helped put
together Colossal which is all about love. [music]

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