Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Interview - Jeanette Bonner of "Love. Guts. High School."

By Byrne Harrison

Jeanette Bonner's recent New York credits include original one-acts with Magic Futurebox Productions, Ars Nova and Primary Stages, and A Christmas Carol (Ghost of Christmas Past) at the DeBaun Performing Arts Center. She has toured nationally in Sesame Street Live,The Bully (Vital Theatre Company), and Spell in the Well and Other Tales (Shoestring Players). She is a company member of National Comedy Theater and performs in their weekly improv comedy show. Jeanette received a BA in Theater and Dance from Trinity College in Hartford, CT, and is currently writing a full-length farce about all the things that could go wrong on stage, and do.  www.jeanettebonner.com

Her play Love. Guts. High School. is currently in production at the Midtown International Theatre Festival.

Tell me a little about Love. Guts. High School.

Love. Guts. High School. is a 60-minute semi-autobiographical show about falling big for your high school crush.......who doesn't like you in "that way."

How did you come up with the concept?

I knew I wanted to write a solo show before I knew what it would be about, so I enrolled in a class taught by playwright Matt Hoverman.  When discussing the potential topics of our shows, he asked us to consider if we had any unanswered Life Questions: "if this particular thing hadn't happened in my life, would I still be who I am today?"  I think we all know immediately what that one Thing is, and for me is was the story of this crazy high school relationship.

How did Peter Michael Marino become involved in the development of the show?

Last fall, my classmates and I decided to showcase the 30 minutes of material that we had from class in a performance at Stage Left Studio.  We got together a few times to talk about how to approach this strange new art form.  I literally had no idea that I needed to hire a director; I was thinking, "Can't I just direct myself?"  Thankfully, my classmates set me straight.  I asked a few friends but they were too busy to take on a new project, so I turned to a Facebook page called Solo Show Artists Unite and asked around.  Peter was recommended to me, and we worked so well together instantly that I never even interviewed anyone else!

Is this your first solo show?


What has it been like working in this genre?

I really love creating my own work.  It has been extremely empowering, especially after many years in the audition circuit.  What's nice about being the playwright and the actor is, I can stop myself in the middle of rehearsal and go:  "I would never say that!" and delete or change whatever I had written.  You definitely dont' have to justify any weird language or thoughts, which can come up alot when acting out another playwright's language.  I also dearly love being able to rehearse any time of day in any location.  I have rehearsed with my kitchen table in my bathing suit (it was like 90 degrees in my apartment, in my defense), and at midnight in my bedroom!  I even ran lines on Ellis Island once, no joke.  But mostly I am in love with telling MY story. 

Producing it myself is a whole nother story.........it has given me a lot of anxiety!  But it has taught me SO MUCH as well.  You really don't "get it" till you try to do it yourself.

Any advice for someone who wants to do their own solo show?

DO IT.  Take Matt's class and do it.  It's ultimately so rewarding, in a thousand ways. 

What else is coming up for you this year?

Well, I'll admit that my show has eaten up my life a bit so I've fallen off the wagon in terms of auditioning for projects after the show ends!  But I do have another play I've been developing, it's a full length farce, and I'm contemplating producing it myself (a glutton for punishment, aren't it??).  In addition, I shot a short film in May called "Fetus Envy" and we are hoping it will gain momentum.

And one that's just for fun... if you could go back to high school again, what would you do differently?

Ha, this question is REALLY relevant to my show.  If I could go back to high school and tell my younger self not to get involved with that one boy... would I?  I don't know.  I believe that experience made me stronger, and makes me who I am today.  I think he helped show me how I deserve to be treated in a relationship, and helped me to discover that I deserve to be loved.  It seems every young woman needs that one heartbreaking relationship so that when her true love comes along, she can recognize it and appreciate it for what it is.  So would I go back and do it all over again differently?  No doubt I'd want to.  But knowing what I know now, I'd have to say, I can't.

Love. Guts. High School.
Written & performed by Jeanette Bonner
Developed with Peter Michael Marino

Dorothy Strelsin Theatre in the Abingdon Arts Complex
312 West 36th Street, 1st Floor. (Btw 8th & 9th Avenues)

Tickets are $15 to $18 and can be purchased at www.web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/27845 https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/27845 or by calling 866-811-4111.

Show Dates                                                                  
Tuesday, July 17th @ 7:30pm                                                      
Wednesday, July 25th @ 7:30pm
Friday, July 27th @ 7:30pm
Thursday, August 2nd @ 9:15pm

More information can be found at www.lovegutshighschool.com orwww.midtownfestival.org.

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