Monday, June 21, 2010

Planet Connections Interview - Leah Bonvissuto of Cake

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Leah Bonvissuto
Play: Cake
Relationship to production: Director

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I'm the daughter of a musician and a mime. I started performing at a young age and then transitioned into directing.

Who are your biggest influences?

Brecht, Bill Irwin, Five Lesbian Brothers, Dario Fo.

What is your show about?

Cake is about the abduction of a right-wing economist (think Ann Coulter with bangs) in 1999 by a band of far left would-be revolutionaries. Their weapons of choice include a crossbow and chloroformed shoulder pad. Fun and madness, ideology and passion: our characters can never seem to get enough of them, and neither will the audience.

What inspired you to direct it?

Felipe Ossa (playwright) and I collaborated last year on the sold-out and award winning run of Monetizing Emma, the first play about the securitization of teenagers. What attracts me to his work is his fierce commitment to character and theatricality while both dealing with massive sized issues and having a sense of humor.

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

In addition to being green because you should be, putting decisions through that filter allows for more creative choices (unconventional lighting, limited props, web activity). This festival also fosters relationships and support among shows which has led to sharing resources and future collaborations.

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?

The Resource Foundation - For more than 20 years, the Resource Foundation has done a tremendous job supporting development projects throughout Latin America and Caribbean. It does this by providing technical assistance, grants and other resources to thoroughly vetted organizations in 27 countries. The Foundation has a philosophy of empowering individuals to improve their own lives and puts this into practice in aid that ranges from disaster relief to sustainable agriculture. In particular we are interested in helping the Foundation rebuild and repair the structure that houses Fundacion Origen, a Chilean affiliate severely affected by the massive earthquake that struck in late February. Origen operates in an impoverished zone of the country, where roughly 80% of homes were significantly damaged by the quake.

What's next for you after Planet Connections?

I'm directing Cabaret Savignon, an evening of music by Robert Shapiro at Playwrights Horizons on June 14. Then, Felipe and I are remounting Monetizing Emma in this year's FringeNYC.

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

To take a line from Cake - "I'll show you my ideology if you show me yours."

Written by Felipe Ossa
Directed by Leah Bonvissuto

Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes, no intermission.

Venue: Green Room Theatre, Theatres at 45 Bleecker Street (downstairs), 45 Bleecker Street

Performance dates:
Sat 6/5 @ 3pm
Sun 6/13 @ 8:30pm
Thurs 6/17 @ 4pm
Sat 6/19 @ 3pm
Tues 6/22 @ 8pm
Sun 6/27 @ 8:30pm

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