Friday, June 14, 2013

Planet Connections Interview - Megan Jeannette Smith of "Ghost On A Stick"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Megan Jeannette Smith
Show:  Ghost On A Stick
Relationship to production: Director

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I struggled through my math and science gifted program in middle school. I got good grades but there wasn’t much there I enjoyed doing. So I decided to take a leap and auditioned for the arts high school in my area. It was an amazing opportunity to study acting and directing among other things. I felt like I finally belonged.

Who are your biggest influences?

Tough question. Anyone doing amazing work that inspires me and makes me feel something. I love film too and I tend to gravitate towards films that have strong theatrical elements like Popeye or Willy Wonka (the original), Lars Von Trier is doing this 3 part film series that all take place on a sound stage where the set is defined by chalk outlines, random furniture pieces, and building facades. The work is so purely driven by the talent and the story. This influences me, to push myself and the people I work with to keep the story in focus at all times. You can be a great artist, have a million dollar budget, but if no one is connecting with the story, who cares?

What is your show about?

When I first read Ghost on a Stick, I instantly connected with the raw emotion exhibited by Man. His arc is such a tenuous free fall from the heights of control to utter debilitating helplessness. We watch him struggle to tell his truth, diving head first into the bitter hypocrisy of his job to the joys of his first love won and tragically lost. All the while hoping the interrogators on the other side of the mirror understand the injustice of it all. He’s like a wild animal with a broken heart, searching for redemption through the small child he tries to save. It’s powerful.
What inspired you to direct it?

The script. Jara is a fantastic writer, he’s got a unique voice but one that makes it easy to relate to the character, Man. Even if you disagree with what Man and the other characters have done, you can identify with the feelings that accompany their actions.

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

Jara Jones, the writer and actor. Kortney Barber, the sound designer and Lauren Bremen the lighting designer. They are all smart, dedicated and hard working. I got really lucky with this team.

What's next for you after Planet Connections?

More directing, hopefully! I’ve been searching various sites for my next project. And I’ve worked on two short films recently as an Assistant Director so I’d really like to take a stab at directing a short film this summer. Any screenwriters or DPs reading this should contact me!

What was your best “theatre moment” - that one moment, either onstage or off, that was so sublime that it stayed with you?

There isn’t just one – it’s every time I work with an actor or designer, artist of any kind, and we hit an obstacle or we struggle with the choices presented to us by the work, and we find that one answer that makes it all come together. It’s truly divine inspiration, that “a ha” moment, when it strikes and you just know it’s right. 

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