Sunday, June 3, 2012

Planet Connections Interview - Troy Miller of "The Bad Date Project"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Troy Miller
Show: “The Bad Date Project”
Relationship to production: Co-Creator, Producer, Director

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I started as a child actor in grade school, throughout the years performing at every opportunity. At the age of 17 I had the opportunity to direct my first one act and it was instantly clear that I was meant to be directing not performing. For the next several years I would balance both the passion I had for performing and the new found love of directing.

Who are your biggest influences?

As storytellers, I am inspired by Craig Lucas’ work in how he weaves his complex narratives together. As a director I am inspired by watching human interaction, by which I mean behavior. I find it evocative, how the simplest action or movement can possess a larger meaning.

What is your show about?

“The Bad Date Project” is about the “interesting” characters you meet when you are single and trying to find a connection in New York City. Living in New York City is hard enough, but try dating in it -- it’s a battlefield.

What inspired you to create it?

Stephen and I had both just gotten out of long term relationships and we were lamenting over how difficult being single can be. The night before, I went on my first date since ending a long relationship and was recounting the date to Stephen and we thought how fun would it be to write a play about bad dates; I mean everyone has had at least one. Both Stephen and I believed that theater should be a communal event and that when an audience can connect to the characters and the story, it is at its best. What better of a story to connect everyone than bad date stories? We began throwing “Bad Date Parties” throughout NYC where we would invite friends and colleagues to come to happy hour and share their stories with us. To our surprise these events were huge hits, people started bringing friends, who brought friends, who brought more friends, and everyone wanted to tell their story. People were bonding over their bad dates at the party and one couple even began a romance after the party.

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

My biggest collaborator on this journey has been Stephen Stocking, he and I conceived the show together, organized the events, wrote the play from the hundreds of transcripts, and have been shaping this project together from the very beginning; without him, there would be no “The Bad Date Project.” Doing the set design for us is Jon Collins, whom I am thrilled to have on board. This will be the fourth collaboration with Mr. Collins; each time he astounds me with what he comes up with and really takes the conversations we have and brings them to a whole new height. The insanely talented cast is comprised of Rachel Christopher, Stephen Stocking, Bridget Ori, Christopher Bonewitz, Tara Carrozza, Leigh Dunham, Michael Levi Harris and Matthew Stapleton. One member of the cast, with this show will mark the eighth production we have done together and too many workshops and readings to count! Keeping us all together and things running smoothly is one of the best stage managers I have met, Matt Remington!

Why was it important to you to be part of an eco-friendly theatre festival?

We were attracted to Planet Connections Festival’s eco-friendly component because we have seen so much waste that can occur during a production and wanted to be a part of a group the celebrates and encourages artists to make choices that benefit the world we live in. As artists we sometimes can have a very singular focus of creating, but as a result we sometimes forget what the repercussions of our actions can be. Being a part of a group of artists who are committed to making eco-friendly choices, re-using, sharing and consolidating to create was a huge appeal. On a very personal note, as I look to start to have a family of my own, my actions and impact on the planet have been a concern of mine and I am always looking for opportunities to preserve my part in this world.

Planet Connections donates a portion of the box office for each show to a charity.  What charity has your production chosen and why?

We have chosen to support The Food Bank of New York because both Stephen and I felt that this charity is helping those that are unable to survive without the help of this charity. It was a difficult decision for us to choose just one charity because there are so many deserving ones, but in the end we wanted to work with one that we felt had a great need and was under-represented.

What's next for you after Planet Connections?

For me, I will have a couple of weeks off before I start rehearsals for the Off Broadway production of “Patient HM” written by Vanda and produced by Emerging Artists Theater. For Stephen, he will be starting NYU’s Graduate Acting program in the fall! For the cast of “The Bad Date Project,” hopefully another production of the show!

If you could do one thing to change the world, what would it be?

I would want to find a way to preserve our natural resources to ensure that our environment and planet will remain sustainable for future generations of theater artists (and everyone else too!).

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