Monday, June 21, 2010

Planet Connections Interview - Kevin Davies of The Untitled Project

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Kevin Davies
Play: The Untitled Project
Relationship to production: Production Manager
Website: (the director's) (coming soon!)

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I loved to sing when I was in middle school, so I auditioned for the school musical that year. My acting was so bad that I spent a lot of time backstage, and by senior year I got the hint and took on the role of the stage manager. I was happier running the lights than I had ever been when they were shining on me.

Who are your biggest influences?

At the end of the day theater depends upon the relationships that form between the members of the company. Friendships form this way, and knowledge is passed down this route. So my biggest influences will always be the technicians from whom I learned when I've been working; they've talked me through the hardest times, and have inspired me by showing me what can result when you persevere. Not people you've heard of, probably: the technical director of the Loeb Drama Center, the Production Coordinator of the New College Theater; though the world may not have felt their impact, I certainly have.

What is your show about?

The Untitled Project follows the experiences of a theater company as its members devise a work. We witness the difficulties they encounter in the process, and along the way gain insights into this traumatic and chaotic creative process.

What inspired you to bring it to the stage?

We were interested in asking the question: What makes theater different? Different than film? Different than television? How do we push and explore and probe the form of this medium? A lot of our work for The Untitled Project is an investigation of the unique power of words and space and stories. Too often these days we are accosted by excess stimuli and we wanted to get down to basics in a sense--create something powerful with bodies and words and ideas. Think Peter Brook's Rough Theatre.

What made you want to perform in an eco-friendly theatre festival like Planet Connections?

It's really important to us that our work reaches beyond the walls of a performance space and a performance community. We want to make sure we are sharing a dialogue with other fields and organizations. Theater is a venue for exploration of stories, ideas, and issues and something like the Planet Connections Festivity is doing a very unique thing by bringing that dialogue to the work and also the events surrounding the work.

Planet Connections is fairly unique in that a portion of the box office for each show is donated to a charity. What charity have you chosen and why?

We have chosen inMotion, a charity that benefits low-income women by providing them with free legal services in family, immigration, and marriage law. One of the subjects we explore in the show is silence; we are interested in how meaning is created in the space between words and scenes, and how communication and resistance can take forms both loud/vocal and quiet/visual.

InMotion's great work was a match for us because we strongly believe in the necessity of such financial interventions for the people whose stories the legal system might otherwise never hear. Collaborating with inMotion has enabled us to make our cast, staff, and audience complicit in giving these victims a voice in the legal system: we hope that by calling attention to their experiences, we are able to assist them materially by raising funds and structurally by empowering them to, both figuratively and literally, emerge from the gloom.

What's next for you after Planet Connections?

After Untitled, we are:
- Performing on June 17th from 1:30-4:00 PM at the United Nations as part of a conference on Sex Trafficking in collaboration with Culture Project.
- Developing An Arm and A Leg, a devised piece of theater exploring themes of loss/suffering and synthesizing traditional dance, modern movement, and drama. The piece will premiere in late August and run through early September.

And finally, if you could go back in time and meet yourself as a kid, what advice would you give your younger self?

Don't start smoking cigarettes because you will waste reams of money, it might be better to earn money than to break even, and don't be afraid, because it'll all work out in the end.

The Untitled Project
Conceived by Calla Videt, Devised by the Company

Running time: 60 minutes, no intermission

Venue: The Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street

Performance dates:
Fri 6/4 @ 7:30pm
Sat 6/5 @ 3:30pm
Sun 6/6 @ 5pm
Fri 6/11 @ 4pm
Sat 6/12 @ 8pm
Sun 6/13 @ 3:30pm

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