Wednesday, May 25, 2011

SoloNOVA Festival Interview - Andrea Caban of "Questions My Mother Can't Answer"

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by David Flores

Andrea Caban is a New York based actor, writer, producer, and teacher. Andrea received the 2008 New York Innovative Theater Award for Outstanding Solo Performance for her documentary-based play You Got Questions? I Got Answers! Her play also earned Outstanding Short Script & Outstanding Performance Art Production nominations. Other solo pieces include a documentary piece developed under the direction of Bill Rauch called Tony exploring the life & restaurant stories of an illegal Mexican immigrant. New York & Regional credits include productions at The Public Theater, Williamstown Theater Festival, Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Long Wharf Theater, New World Stages, HERE Arts Center, GAle GAtes et al, Boise Contemporary Theater and The Hayworth Theater in LA. Andrea is a Medici Fellowship Recipient for her work in Balinese mask theater. She is the Producing Director of Coyote REP Theatre Company (

What is your theatrical background?

I'm a classically trained actor. Got my MFA from UC Irvine, trained at the Public Theater Shakespeare Lab,

How did you get involved in the solo format?

I was working with Bill Rauch while at Irvine. I created a documentary theater piece under his direction and something magical happened. Something had clicked in me. Collecting and performing someone else's words seemed the perfect confluence of my curiosity about other people's choices and my skills as an character actor. I created one solo piece at Irvine, and then another here in New York called You Got Questions? I Got Answers! in which I interviewed 10 New Yorkers about when they felt the most isolated and when they felt the most connected to others. I knew I had another in me and Questions My Mother Can't Answer emerged as a story about the journey I was on, despite my reluctance. My faux anthropological curiosity no longer served me and I became a character in my play.

Who are your inspirations?

Nilaja Sun, Anna Deavere Smith, Lisa Kron and Bill Rauch.

Tell me a little bit about Questions My Mother Can't Answer.

The play is my emotional journey after being hit by a NYC cab, losing my period, and losing my sense of self. I interview 8 women all around my mom's age (60's) about how to stay married, when to have a baby & how to deal with bumps in the road. It's a healing play filled with lots of female wisdom. In a way, it's also the story of my becoming a healer myself.

It's not all woo-woo & gooey though. These women will say ANYTHING, and I ask a lot of them, so they DO say anything. The play has a lot of humor in it because of them.

If you could get any person (living or dead, famous or not) to come see your show, who would you choose?

Nilaja. And she's coming!

What's next for you after soloNOVA?

The play is on the 2011/2012 season at Boise Contemporary Theater. And I'm in the process of booking more theaters and venues. I wouldn't mind doing a tour. Or an Off-Broadway run. We'll see where it wants to go next!

Written & Performed by Andrea Caban
Directed by Rachel Eckerling

MAY 21 at 4pm
MAY 22 at 6pm
MAY 23, 25 and 27 at 8pm

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