Fresh from our first meeting with our three wonderfully talented directors who premiere their own original director-driven pieces on Saturday, April 21st, we wanted to share another glimpse of what you’re going to see next week! Co-Curator Nicole A. Watson asks director Anita Gonzalez about her piece at the Salon, Liverpool Trading <–> New York, what inspires her, and what advice she has for emerging directors.
Nicole: What inspired you to create the piece you are currently working on?
Anita: The piece is about performers who travel back and forth across the Atlantic looking for work performing while making a living in pubs and ports. The play was inspired by 19th century African American and Afro- Caribbean entertainers who traveled regularly on steamers between NY and Liverpool working as dressers and stewards and longshoremen, and then “hit the boards” to sing or dance or perform Shakespeare in working class hideaways. Of course they performed side by side with other seamen and working class blokes – Irish, Scottish, Welsh, etc.
As I worked on the project it expanded to included traveling artists from working class communities who were inspired by Black pop, British Rock, and Trip hop. I combined this info with a story about a woman searching for her family on the other side of the water. Through the process of finding herself she encounters both racism and acceptance.
NAW: As a director – do you have a dream project?
AG: My dream projects are to work with international artists to create histories about cultural communities and their exchanges. For example, I would love to present this piece with UK and USA artists who travel back and forth performing the work in working class establishments on both sides of the water even as they present the play about themselves and their histories.
NAW: What is the best advice you could give to an emerging director?
Keep making work. Small projects big projects – what ever you self-produce or whatever comes your way. When working with producers remember that it is their project and that your job as director (in most cases) is to realize the story of the show within the space and the budget that they have proposed. Be imaginative, but serve the script as well as the audience.
NAW: Where/From Whom do you draw inspiration?
AG: Movement theatre artists, Martha Clarke, viewpoints, Anne Hamburger. Artists who work with visual storytelling and technology. Also artists who create moving images through the simplicity of molding the human body and/or voice (Meredith Monk)
NAW: What’s next for you?
AG: Next for me is the Juneteenth festival next month (May 16th) at the Jewel Box Theatre where I am directing DARASA, an a cappella musical about the Civil Rights movement based upon gospel and traditional songs.
Also coming up is a university theatre performance of Liverpool Trading <—> New York in 2013, and more research on port and pub performance culture at Mystic Seaport (NEH Summer Seminar) in June and July.
Make sure to check out Anita Gonzalez’s Liverpool Trading <–> New York as part of the 3rd Annual Working Theater Directors Salon’s Night of Director-Driven Work on Saturday, April 21st at the June Havoc Theatre! For more information, check out our website or visit us on Facebook.
Anita Gonzalez’s work has appeared on PBS national television and at Lincoln Center Out-of Doors, Dance Theater Workshop, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, and other national and international venues. Her recently completed American Syncopated Musical Le Hot Blu (with composer-writer Ken Lauber) was read at New york Theatre Workshop (2007). Ybor City has been presented in New York, Florida, and Italy and is now being re-written as a musical. Current projects include Diplomacy a new work about the art of negotiations, and Liverpool Trading, a project about performance exchanges between Liverpool UK and New York City. Other directing projects include The Anarcha Project with Petra Kuppers (2008) MigrantImagiNations at the Joyce Soho Theater in New York City (1999), Tiye Giraud’s Sugar Tit (1998), and the musical Hola Ola written in conjunction with Dolores Prida (1996). Gonzalez earned her Ph.D. in Theater/Performance Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (1997). She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Theater at the State University of New York – New Paltz, an Associate Member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, and a member of The Dramatists Guild.