Meet Rachel Park & Kevin Bigger, directors of NOTHING AND NOT MUCH: stories about the universe

We’re so excited to see this directing duo’s piece tonight – all we’re saying is that words like dinosaur and human ladder have been overheard from Rachel and Kevin’s mouths this week, so how could we NOT be excited?

Check out our Q&A with Rachel and Kevin below for a sneak peek into NOTHING AND NOT MUCH: stories about the universe.  We hope to see you at the show tonight – we’re sold out, but scroll down to get on the waiting list!

Directors Kevin Bigger & Rachel Park

Q:  What are some challenges you face as emerging directors in New York?

A:  Sometimes it seems like the hardest thing is figuring out how to find a starting point!  For actors and playwrights, there are so many opportunities everywhere – classes, auditions, festival submissions – but for directors, it’s often like, “What am I supposed to do next?”  It’s a constant struggle to make connections, have people see your work and hope they love it as much as you do.  There doesn’t seem to be anything resembling a set path that we are supposed to take.

There’s always the option to grab a group of actors and put a project together, but the question of how to fund such an endeavor is never easy to work out.  There is no shortage of young, talented directors trying to forge a path for themselves here in New York.  If we could only all find the means to have our work produced we would all be very happy people.

That being said, part of the joy in working as a director in this city is the satisfaction that comes from mounting a successful production.  With the amount of effort that goes into each project – often months of preparations going into one single evening of a performance-the payoff of actually getting your work out there is always great.  If we didn’t love this so much, we would never be working this hard to do it.

Q:  Who or what inspires you in your work?

A:  We both pull inspiration from many sources, both similar and dissimilar.  As we met in undergrad at Boston University, we’ve had a lot of the same teachers inspire us both: Sidney Friedman, Elaine Vaan Hogue, Judith Chaffee and many others.  The single most important thing they taught was the joy of collaboration.  We love working with each other and with other talented individuals more than anything else.  Given the choice to direct an already existing show or collaborate on the development of something brand new, we would both jump at the chance for the latter.

Our mutual training was also hugely inspired by the lineage of Jerzy Grotowski and the work of the Polish Theatre Laboratory.  In particular, Kevin spent seven months living with Double Edge Theatre – a 27-year-old ensemble theatre originally trained by Grotowski’s lead actress.  This highly physical, nonlinear approach to storytelling through theatre creeps into all of our work.  In all of this, there is a level of making the ordinary magical.  We love attempting to create magic on stage with very simple ordinary objects.

With magic and collaboration being the most important things to us, we find inspiration in a lot of literature: Italo Calvino (obviously), Haruki Murakami, Bruno Schultz, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and T. S. Eliot.

Rehearsal: NOTHING AND NOT MUCH: stories about the universe

Q:  Tell us a little bit about your project for the Salon and how you are developing it.

A:  Nothing and Not Much: stories about the universe was born four years ago with a phone call.  Kevin was living on a farm in Western Massachusetts and Rachel was living in London.  The phone call went something like this:

“Hey Kevin!  I found this author that I think you would love.  You should read his stuff.”

“What’s his name?”

“Italo Calvino.”

“Yeah, sure I’ll look into it.”

Then we spent most of the next three months reading tons of his work.  When we re-united, we started writing.  What emerged was a 90-minute One Act that received a full production in Boston a few years ago.  While parts of it are adapted from many of Calvino’s stories and novels, the spine of the piece comes from Cosmicomics, a collection of stories that playfully imagine the formation and evolution of the universe and Planet Earth.  Narrated by an eternal being named Qfwfq, the stories explore the adventures of particles, substances and creatures imbued with human qualities as they search for meaningful connections with one another.

As time has passed, we’ve pulled the play apart and continued to develop the script into a full two-act play.  While some of the characters and stories from the original version remain, what’s being presented is a wholly new entity.  What we’ll be showing at the Salon is a selection of some of our favorite scenes from the entire play.  You’ll get to see the beginning, some of the middle and the end.  We jump around a little bit, but you’ll see the essence of the story and the heart of the piece.  We hope you love it as much as we do.

NOTHING AND NOT MUCH: stories about the universe will be shown tonight as part of The 2nd Annual Working Theater Directors Salon’s Night of Director-Driven Work at 7:30pm in The Studio Theatre at Theatre Row.  We are currently SOLD OUT, but CLICK HERE TO RSVP AND BE PLACED ON THE WAITING LIST.  If you are on the waiting list, make sure to get there early and we will try our absolute best to get everyone in!  Admission is FREE.

For a full schedule of events, visit us on Facebook or check out our website.

Kevin Bigger is a Brooklyn based director and writer.  As a director: The 39 Steps (National Tour), Manuscript (Center Stage New York), Interpreter of Maladies and The Problem.  As an assistant: The 39 Steps (Broadway, Off-Broadway, Huntington Theatre), Quartermaine’s Terms (Williamstown), The Visit, Crave and 4.48 Psychosis.  In addition to this project, his writings include a new work-in-progress, The Burial of the Dead.  His favorite person to collaborate with is Rachel Park and he is beyond excited to be working with her again on this project.  Training: Boston University (BFA) and Double Edge Theatre.

Rachel Park is a Brooklyn based director and collaborator focused primarily on new works development.  Directing credits include the upcoming Team Awesome, A Homeless Halloweenwinter deathThe Lady and the Tyger, and The Elephant in the Room: a night of new work.  Additional work on: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and The Pink Bedroom.  Assistant directing on: The Glass Menagerie (BCAP) and The Visit (Huntington Theatre).  She currently works as a producing associate with Page 73 Productions.  Training: Boston University (BFA).

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