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Thursday, August 13, 2009

David Of All Trades-Staff Writer Directs at FringeNYC

The Fab Marquee Interview by Antonio Minino.

In the entertainment world, specially and specifically in Off-Off Broadway theatre, you will find that artists work in all aspects of the craft. Whether it is a desire to experiment with their creativity in different ways, or more of a "step up to the plate" situation, this practice is not uncommon. When all the hats are worn by one person in the same production (Producer-Writer-Performer-Director) it can sometimes lead to disastrous results, seldom are the success stories of this all-in-one venture. In this case we have a hat collector, without the faux pas of wearing more than one at a time: David Stallings, a playwright, staff writer (The Fab Marquee), and Arististic Director (MTWorks), directing one of the opening shows of The New York International Fringe Festival. Not new to the festival, as one of his most applauded plays, Anaïs Nin Goes To Hell, premiered at FringeNYC last summer, I asked him a couple of questions about Look After You written by Louise Flory.

David Stallings | ©

 A.  Tell us a little about the show you are directing at this year's New York International Fringe Festival, Look After You.  
D. Look After You is an intimate piece that follows Hannah, a young woman recovering from a brain aneurysm. More immediate and urgent than her physical recovery--she is primarily suffering from memory loss--is her struggle with the relationships in her life.

A. You also worked as a dramaturg on the piece. Has your vision of the play in the workshop writing process with playwright Louise Flory changed as a director?  
D. Actually, my vision has maintained the same focus throughout. It's all about telling a story and the approach to the story. We decided early on what the primary plot and theme elements were and cut out the rest.  As a director my goal was to tell the story with hope and positivity.  That was also my advice to Louise as her dramaturg.

Jason Altman (Jake) and Louise Flory (Hannah) in Look After You

A. Mainly known as a playwright, how does directing diverge from playwriting and how is it the same.
D. Well, both are storytellers.  But playwriting gives birth to characters and circumstances that are always yours--no matter what actor or director comes along. And as others add to it, that part of you grows and is strengthened. Directing however is coming to a foreign work and giving your life's blood to it to bring it to life.  Finding your own truths and rhythms in a preexisting story if you will. 

A. Being a reviewer for The Fab Marquee yourself, how do you feel about others reviewing your work, and what advice do you give young playwrights and directors on how to handle reviews (favorable or not), including ones written by you. 
D. In reading a review, you learn more about the reviewer than anything else. Figure out their taste and see if it fits your own.  Do not accept a good review if the reviewer missed major themes or ideas. Figure out if their distaste is a style question or a storytelling question.  Most importantly, see shows these reviewers have seen and come up with your own opinion. That is how best to evaluate their worth when judging you. Remember, reviewers are not gods--they have bad days--days they do not want to work, and often enter a play with preconceived ideas. Find what you can take from their review that is useful and then walk away.

Look After You will play at The SoHo Playhouse from August 14th through the 29th as part of The New York International Fringe Festival. 5 Performances Only. For more information on the show and to purchase tickets, visit .

To learn more about David Stallings, visit

This year, the New York International Fringe Festival will offer performances by 201 of the world's best emerging theatre troupes and dance companies hosted by 18 of New York City's most prominent downtown performance venues. Invited performers represent 7 countries (including Spain, Italy, China, Japan, and Australia) and 20 U.S. states (including Iowa, New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Washington, Texas, Wisconsin, Nevada and Missouri). The festival presents works covering a wide range of disciplines including drama, comedy, dance, performance art, children's theater (FringeJr), outdoor theater (FringeAlFrecso), spoken word, puppetry, improv, and multimedia. In November 2007, Michael Bloomberg presented FringeNYC with the prestigious Mayor's Award for Arts and Culture. For more information on the festival, visit .

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