Thursday, September 06, 2007
Interview - Jonathan Walters
September 6, 2007
PDF of the full interview here.
Full text also pasted into first post of thread.
Just in time for T:BA:07, a talk with Jonathan Walters, Artistic Director of one of Portland’s most exciting and excited performance companies, Hand2Mouth Theatre.
Walters and Hand2Mouth have created an original voice in the local arts landscape, a company that is both in tune with European and international currents as well as deeply rooted in Portland.
It's taken years of hard work and passion, in an often challenging environment for small, new companies.
But with recent critical successes, grant awards, and especially inclusion in Portland's own T:BA this year, Hand2Mouth is poised at their breakout moment. Hello, world!
A few excerpts...
*On how Hand2Mouth has changed REPEAT AFTER ME from the spring 2007 show for T:BA:
“…we wanted to make it much more of a desperate love song for America by a broken hearted (spurned/disgusted/suicidal?) lover, but one who is co-dependant, and can’t leave. That’s what I am, in a twisted, screwed up love affair with my country, and I can’t break it off. Sooo…we want the audience to realize something like that (that they are trapped in this love affair too, and not outside looking in on our event) during our show, and make it gut wrenching. While having the time of your life!”
*On the influence of current European work on Hand2Mouth’s direction:
“What I hope I’ve borrowed for Hand2Mouth is that in the kind of work I’m seeing (and interested in) the audience member must complete the painting themselves, it’s not all given, and it couldn’t happen without the audience…so the audience member really feels it was a personal encounter. You don’t feel FOR someone on stage, you feel for yourself (and those around you) experiencing the event. Only live performance can do that. H2M is shooting for that.”
*On Hand2Mouth’s new project under development, DOS PUEBLOS, a Mexican / American collaboration with La comedia humana in Mexico City and Miracle Theatre in Portland:
“In Mexico we are a strange sight, a group of Anglo-Americans on stage attempting to partner with a team of Mexican artists to figure out what we love/hate deep within one another. I think we offer a strange cathartic quality, because when we “misbehave” and are punished in the show…it’s a justice that really doesn’t happen much in the world…Americans (at least our current administration) can misbehave and throw tantrums across the world, and never really have to face reckoning. On the other hand when we do kind/humane things to the Mexican performers on stage, the crowd was floored.”
*On Hand2Mouth’s current momentum, the road ahead, and the key role larger institutions play in showcasing and nurturing small companies:
“I think what 2007 means for H2M…is that the people who make decisions about programming new work, and bringing shows for touring, and producing new performances, and funding these…we won’t have to knock on their door, or leave phone messages, seething with the knowledge that they are never going to call us back. I hope those dark days are over…now, we might get a chance for people to see our work, and decide if it has quality, and is important to society, and can stand toe-to-toe with the great contemporary work in the US and abroad. And that chance to actually be considered on that playing field for OUR WORK…that’s all that it’s about.
We don’t expect any handouts now, or a flood of contracts and checks. I also hope this scenario can and will play out for other smaller companies/artists in Portland. PICA has a mission to support NW artists, and really is trying to elevate artists from Portland to a national level, so they are looking at work in town and putting their money and name behind a few each year…it would be nice if other influential organizations in town had the same mission.”