Today, we’re bringing you a Q&A with one of this year’s Directors Salon panelists, Nelson Eusebio (make sure to check out the short play he directed by Clare Barron, Solar Plexus, in Series C of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s 34th Marathon of One-Act Plays!). Additional panelists who will be speaking on Tuesday, June 18th’s Directors Panel include Ken Russ Schmoll, Daniella Topol, and Tamilla Woodard – stay tuned for Q&As with the rest of the panelists about how they got where they are today and their advice for emerging NYC directors.
Working Theater: Did you always want to be a theater director? Why are you a director?
Nelson Eusebio: I wanted to be a comic book artist when I was a kid. Then animator. Then film director. Which is clearly the most logical way to become a stage director. I think I finally decided on theatre directing in college – I really loved English classes and was a double major for a while. Then I realized that the interpretation of literature – metaphor, language, poetry could be combined with the action and storytelling of the theatre, I was hooked.
I am a director because I love storytelling. I remember reading David Henry Hwang’s F.O.B. in college and feeling like this person had read my mind, that he had articulated an experience that I’d been having without me ever realizing it. That flash of recognition – of seeing your own truth in someone else’s – is a big reason why I do what I do. The other is that I realize that if I don’t tell those stories and bring my truth to them, then they may never exist.
WT: What is a piece of advice you would give emerging NYC directors?
NE: Find your tribe. Your people who enjoy making your work with. It can be a shared aesthetic, shared values, shared culture, but find your people. Seth Godin talks about what this means in a great way – he’s the guy who pioneered the whole 100,000 true fans idea and you can find a great talk that he actually gave at the 2012 TCG conference somewhere online.
Keep moving. Mike Lew’s blog has great points about starting/doing a theatre internship, which is super valuable. One of Mike’s points is that just because you interned there doesn’t mean they will give you your big break – that on some level, you’re still the guy who gets them coffee – so that you’ll have to go somewhere else to get a larger opportunity. So always keep looking to move up/keep growing. It will not be linear – you’ll be directing readings, interning at big places, assisting at big places, and directing shows at small ones. This is part of having a complete career in the beginning.
Know the field. Don’t go to NYTW and pitch them a show that should be at TFANA. Know what kind of theatres do what kind of work so that when you do get your ½ hour with an AD, it’s not embarrassing. And when you ask to assist someone, you should be able to talk about their work. Even if you haven’t seen it, do the research to know who you’re talking to. Be as creative and hard-working in developing your career as you are in creating the work.
WT: Do you have a “Creative habit?”
NE: Bourbon and Newports. Just kidding, it’s research – films, internet, books. A lot of all these things. Sometimes it’s a lot of the same books, re-read just before rehearsal – Peter Brook, Hauser’s Tips on Directing, Bogart’s directing book. Returning to these always makes everything a little clearer going in. And then finding something the complete opposite of whatever project I’m working on – usually exercise. Twyla Tharp’s book “The Creative Habit” is also one of those old classics I return to.
WT: What’s next for you?
NE: I’m directing a trailer for a book and applying for grants. I just shot a film for the Asian American film lab’s 72 hour shootout and directed a piece for EST’s Marathon. Starting to do a little more film, which is new and exciting for me. But I really just want to get in a room with some actors and fuck with some text. I want to adapt Genet’s Balcony, so I’m putting together a workshop with some actors, musicians, and designers for this summer.
Nelson Eusebio will be joining fellow directors Ken Russ Schmoll, Daniella Topol, and Tamilla Woodard on the Directors Panel of the 4th Annual Working Theater Directors Salon at 7:00pm on Tuesday, June 18th at the June Havoc Theatre at the Abingdon Theatre Arts Complex (312 W. 36th St., 1st Floor). The event is FREE! Click here to RSVP.
For more information about the Directors Panel and the 4th Annual Working Theater Directors Salon, visit our website or check us out on Facebook, and feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Nelson T. Eusebio III is a freelance stage and film director. For the last three years, he has served as the Artistic Director of Leviathan Lab. Under his leadership, Leviathan premiered over 30 new plays, created 3 short films, and employed over 50 artists. In 2008, he co-founded Creative Destruction, a theatre collective. He has directed and developed work at theaters throughout the country, including the Public Theater/NYSF, South Coast Repertory, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Playmaker’s Rep (NC), the Mark Taper Forum, and the Old Globe Theatre. Member: Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab, Rhodopi International Theatre Collective. Mr. Eusebio is a recipient of the NEA/TCG Career Development Program for Directors, the Phil Killian Directing Fellowship at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and was a resident director at Ensemble Studio Theatre. Training: MFA, Directing, Yale School of Drama, BA, Drama, UC Irvine. www.nelsoneusebio.com