Monday, January 30, 2017

6 Questions: Jason Trucco


Jason Trucco is the co-director of Hi-Fi / Wi-Fi / Sci-Fi  Predictions Past, Present, & Future took time out of technical rehearsals to answer our 6 Questions.  Hi-Fi / Wi-Fi / Sci-Fi runs February 2 - 19 at The Downstairs @ La MaMa.

1. How did your working with CultreHub come about?

The simple answer is meeting Billy Clark, CultureHub's artistic director. And the discovery that he's more than a dynamic artistic director, he's an artist with guts and imagination. My life is enriched when I collaborate with fabulous people and Billy is one of those rare guys.

Yes, Billy & I talked about these plays that we're now directing together upon our meeting. For me, these early La MaMa plays had inspired the whole adventure of my professional life. Pleasingly, for Billy, there were obvious personal connections, too. His artistic development was rooted in La MaMa's legacy and he was already investigating technologies that these plays anticipated in the generation before they were possible, when they were science fictions. CultureHub's day to day is investigating the future of dramatic storytelling, art & technology.

One example of Billy's connection, take the possibility of live telepresence performances with Seoul Institute or the Arts in Korea, which Billy had been developing for years. Camera Obscura, one of the short plays in our Hi-Fi / Wi-Fi / Sci-Fi collection, written in 1968, tells the story of two lovers endeavoring to communicate by the same telepresence means. And the play questions how the challenges therein work. 

Amazing to think about, Billy had been experiencing those challenges first hand in the same place where Robert Patrick had imagined them as science fiction on stage a generation ago. And Billy decided to join me in a mission to re-stage these classics for a new generation of experimental theater audience with superstars from downtown theater's past, present, and future. Our electric cast includes Augustine Machado, who performed at the Cino, and Valois Mickens, a longtime member of La MaMa's Great Jones RepetoryCompany, along with Great Jones' latest generation, John Gutierrez and CulturHub's Yeena Sung. Three generations of inspiring people form our ensemble.

2. What was interesting to you about Robert Patrick's work?

Yes, Robert Patrick is my favorite playwright. And the plays that I love most are his one man, one woman mini-plays. The maestro takes a traditional situation and tells it in a brand new way. He'll tell a love story backwards. He makes me laugh like hell. Most experimental of New York's experimental playwrights.

3. How are you integrating the use of technology into the piece?

All art is technology. Even paint. That's how I approach it. And, as the title of our show suggests, we are putting hi-tech next to low. Make believe, raw wood sets, telepresence, immersive A/V. We're really mixing it up, as appropriate for a show about past, present, and future.

In Hi-Fi / Wi-Fi, we have explored new technologies that may change how people think about theatre. As you know, live telepresence in a work about the ways technology -- Skype, FaceTime, video conferencing -- enhances and conflicts with communication between two lovers. Yes, that's on the surface. And there are many ways that we've used, or custom developed new technologies, that may not be apparent to a person at first.  Consider this: The text describes a five second delay, which mixes the lovers up. We, meaning our ensemble of lovely and talented artists and technologists at CultureHub, took the reading literally and rehearsed with a homemade audio video system with a lag that was five seconds exactly. The technology drove the actor's pace and performance. It changes the play reading dramatically!

4. What is the last good book you read?

Exodus by God, as told to Moses. Yes, I really find the Bible to be worth reading again and again. And this book contains the script for the world's most successful ongoing work of interactive storytelling, the Passover Seder. 

Also, ExercisesDes Styles by Raymond Queneau, a story fragment told ninety-nine different ways. 

5. Who inspires you?

Thankfully, my life is filled with inspiring people. The person I've been shaking my head in amazement about lately is Sang Min Chae, our technical specialist on Hi-Fi / Wi-fi / Sci-Fi. Sang Min is a visiting student intern from Korea's Soul Institute of the Arts. On the night that he arrived from Korea, he began working with me and Billy on a very challenging technical glitch with my good friend and collaborator, Allee Willis. She's a very vocal Grammy, Emmy, Tony Nominated and Tony Winning, Webby award winning performer. And he saved our necks. 

Computers are divas, very demanding of special attention. Sang Min has a way of approaching every creative and technical challenge as an opportunity to be excellent. He stays as long as it takes to finish the play to its best shape for showtime. He wears many hats, cinematography, projection, model making, Virtual Reality, editing, lighting, programming. And he's courageous in trying new approaches. He's humble, strong, communicative. And, mostly, he's a joy to be around. We all laugh a lot. 

The guys on the last play called him Slam Dunk. And he's saved our necks more than once, with an unexpected yet appropriate solution to any challenge we meet. Experimental playmaking is all about meeting challenges creatively. Sang Min is an inspiring new gunslinger in experimental theater town.

6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?

Working at La MaMa means finding an artistic family.  Yes, there are other wonderful places to work.  And, likewise, there are many wonderful old ladies worth visiting but you still visit your grandmother, even if she lives further than those other old ladies. You know how visiting your grandmother is somehow different? 

La MaMa, boldly led in Ellen Stuart's legacy by Mia Yoo  -- with the most talented office of artist slash every other job -- is a family business. Like my grandparents operated. And, while many institutions claim to support groundbreaking work but don't have the stomach to test ideas in front of an audience until they have been tested elsewhere, La MaMa is continuing a tradition of always being new.

Just as Robert Patrick is the most experimental of the experimental playwrights, CultureHub is the most experimental of La MaMa's experimental companies. Within a legacy of experimenting: that's where I feel most at home.


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La MaMa and CultureHub present

Hi-Fi / Wi-Fi / Sci-Fi
Predictions Past Present and Future
Written by Robert Patrick
Directed by Billy Clark and Jason Trucco

February 2 - 19, 2017
Thursday - Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 3pm
*additional performance Monday, February 6th at 8pm

The Downstairs @ La MaMa
66 East 4th Street
(between Bowery and Second Avenue)
New York, NY 10003

Tickets: $25 Adults; $20 Students/Seniors

For Tickets and Info: CLICK HERE