What follows is a New York Times interview with David Herskovits, Artistic Director of Target Margin Theater and Director of our upcoming presentation of "The Really Big Once?"
Keep your eyes peeled....there's a hint in that interview about our June 2010 presentation...let's just say there's some relation between David Herskovits and the June show. First one to guess correctly by writing in a comment (below) wins a pair of free tickets to "The Really Big Once!"
Back to Tennessee Williams’s Surreal Road
TEN blocks is no longer half a city mile as far as the Target Margin Theater is concerned. Led by its artistic director, David Herskovits, the company will spend Jan. 14 through 31 at the Ohio Theater at 66 Wooster Street in SoHo exploring Tennessee Williams’s “Ten Blocks on the Camino Real,” a one-act. This series of 10 uncharacteristically hallucinatory scenes, originally staged in a workshop by Elia Kazan at the Actors Studio in 1949, eventually turned into the 1953 Broadway play “Camino Real.”
Q. How has Target Margin, which is known for experimental work, ended up doing Tennessee Williams?
A. I met Frances Kazan, Elia Kazan’s widow, at an event at the Kitchen a couple of years ago. We had a really nice conversation, and she said: “You know, I have these old notebooks and papers of Elia’s that are fascinating. Would you like to look at them?” They were more interesting than I could have imagined, and they opened the door for me to the collaborative process between Tennessee Williams and Kazan, in particular on “Camino Real.” These two guys worked really hard to expand their horizons with the play, and that is enormously poignant to me. Kazan once said, “The closest I ever came to the avant-garde was ‘Camino Real,’ and I never got it right.”
Q. Was their project a failure or was it the timing, trying to do experimental work on Broadway?
A. I don’t know, which is one of the things that drew me to it. What was its particular place in American history, and how does that context inform the work? It was very wrapped up in Kazan’s experience with the House Un-American Activities Committee — that was taking place in the run-up to “Camino Real,” and he writes about how ostracizing it was. The play is about finding a place in the world — here a surreal, crazy, mythopoeic environment — with Kazan dealing with his sense of ostracism, and Williams, his sense of alienation. But Williams is a bigger, more capacious writer than he is given credit for. The poetry and the myth making are always in his plays. It’s just that in “Ten Blocks” it’s all there without the kitchen sink of his naturalism.
Q. And in the title of the play, you pronounce it REE-ul?
A. Yes. It’s interesting. If you look at the published stage directions, Williams was explicit about that.
Q. Do you see any similarities between the Actors Studio, which Kazan helped found, and Target Margin Theater, which you started?
A. Stylistically we seem to be so different, and yet the feeling of intimacy, of collaboration, of having a specific artistic purpose and pushing that to its extremity as rigorously as possible, is the same. To me theater should be fun, challenging, entertaining and mysterious. I want people to have the same experience of traveling as Kilroy does in “Ten Blocks.”
Q. In some ways, then, “Ten Blocks” connects to the classical Greek material you’ve produced recently?
A. Yes, though to me it’s also like an old saint play, following through a series of mystical experiences strung together like jewels on a necklace.
Q. And do you see any kind of gay subtext, given that this is Tennessee Williams?
A. “Ten Blocks” is charged with desire, erotic desire specifically, and Williams’s own sexuality is inseparable from that. It’s absolutely breathed in and out, but not to the exclusion of other kinds. The work has a kind of deep homemade theatricality that I love — a little bit like Jack Smith [the director of “Flaming Creatures”], if you know his work — and is a good example of what I value, which is work about manifesting the possibilities, not about telling people one thing.
Q. Is there anything contemporary about it?
A. The obvious lens to focus with is that it’s about America’s relationship to the world around it. There’s that line of Esmeralda’s, the Gypsy’s daughter, about “the monetary system has got to be stabilized all over the world,” though of course she’s talking about Bretton Woods. And if you want to see Kilroy as America — a powerful but stupid America, stumbling around trying to figure out where it fits in the world — sadly, we find our relationship similarly so clumsy now that people throw their shoes at us.
Q. Speaking of the Williams-Kazan collaboration, you’re married to the novelist Jennifer Egan. Do you ever talk about collaborating?
A. Every now and then we laugh about it. We have a great symbiosis, because our work is so overlapping, and we can feed and nurture each other. We each like being the partner of the other.