Tuesday, February 22, 2011

FRIGID New York Interview - Scout Durwood of "Hi, How Can I Help You?"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Scout Durwood
Show: Hi, How Can I Help You?
Website: http://www.scoutdurwood.com/, http://www.mighty-little.com/

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I've been involved in theatre since I was young, but I think I always had a sense that I wanted to pave my own way rather than be involved in what was already going on. I did my fair share of neighborhood musicals, but it wasn't until college when I wrote my first solo show as my honors thesis,\ that I really figured out what I want to do, which is more or less exactly what I am doing now full time.

Who are your biggest influences?

Steve Martin has been huge in my life, both through his comedy as well as through the influence he had on my dad. Growing up I thought my father was the funniest person in the world. It wasn't until later in life when started listening to Steve Martin's old comedy albums that I realized that a lot of what my dad was doing was just an impression of Steve Martin. I really look up to physical comedians, Robin Williams, of course, Gilda Radner for her honesty and innocence, Mike Birbiglia has recently helped turn my performance in a new direction, and, of course, Sarah Silverman. When she broke out with "Jesus is Magic" I was a senior in college and it really changed the direction of my comedy in a big way. And Kermit the Frog. He has been huge in my life.

Tell me a little bit about your show.

The show follows the lives of six women who work in a New York City house of domination the night of the 2008 presidential election. It focuses on the interpersonal relationships between the women and is cast against a background of political hope as America slowly but surely decides, "yes, we can."

What inspired you to write it?

The original concept for the show was "children at play." I wanted to put myself in a room of toys and see what came out of it. Early in the writing process, I came across an article in The Post about a group of women who had been arrested in a dungeon, and the idea to set it at a house of domination was born. So the two major influences are fairly contrasting, which, I think, is what gives the show such a unique flavor.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

Lucile Baker Scott and I are going on our fourth year together. Since our first project together in 2007, we've been involved pretty extensively in each other's work. Lucile works primarily as a playwright, and has forrayed into working as a director the past couple of years (with great success, I might add). As far as a collaborative partner, I really couldn't ask for anyone better and feel extremely lucky to have her in my life artistically.

What's next for you after FRIGID?

Ole! I'm heading back to Europe and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival this summer with a cabaret show based on my work as Lady Scoutington called Trail of Glitter. Honi Harlow is my partner in crime on that one, and so far it has been crazy fun just beginning to string ideas together. I host a weekly show called "Takin Off the Ritz" every Monday at The Ritz (obviously) so that takes up a pretty big part of my life. We also do a "Trail of Glitter" every other Thursday at RF Lounge.

I am working on my debut EP, "Pretty When I Don't Talk" which is set to come out late this spring and features original music and comedy by Lady Scoutington.

I am also continuing to be involved with the development of "The Naked Side of Grace," Lucile Baker Scott's new piece.

And finally, if you could say anything to your potential audience,
what would it be?

I am really proud of "Hi, How Can I Help You?" which is something that I don't always say as an artist. It is such a rare treat to have the opportunity to do everything I love to do onstage. The show took almost two years to go from the first draft to its debut last summer in Edinburgh, and I think the time spent really payed off. I was worried at first that the show would lose relevance as we moved farther and farther away from the 2008 election, but if anything, it feels more relevant now than ever before. And I get to rollerskate onstage, which always makes me smile.

Hi, How Can I Help You?
Written by Scout Durwood & Directed by Lucile Baker Scott
Presented by Mighty Little Productions, Brooklyn, NY

The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street)


Thu 2/24 @ 10:30pm, Sun 2/27 @ 7pm, Tue 3/1 @ 9pm, Fri 3/4 @ 4pm, & Sat 3/5 @ 8:30pm

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