Monday, November 13, 2006

An interview with Wilson Loria

Wilson Loria will play the Shimberg Playhouse this weekend with his one-person show To the Winners. I hope you enjoy this interview with him.

If you had to describe your show in one or two sentences, what would you say?

It is a solo where an actor makes use of mime, music and dance to tell a story about a young man's search for the answer of a question which was whispered to him on the day he was born.

Above and beyond your description of the show, why do you think people should see it?

There's too much paraphernalia on stage in theater today and the actor is being considered one more element of the whole process. Over there, in back of the stage... With To the Winners -- and also according to my belief of what theater should be -- I try bringing the actor to the apron of the stage, so to speak. I want the actor to be the main element of the performance and that should be a very big reason for people to come and see my work.

It seems your show incorporates a lot of forms - theater, music, dance - tell us about how you developed the piece.

In 2002, I was doing my Master's in Performance Studies at NYU's Tisch School the Arts where and when I met my dear friend and director Fernando Calzadilla, a director from Venezuela. I had written To the Winners as a short novella many many years before that. One day, I decided to transform that story into a monologue. After having completed the text as a play, I asked Fernando to read it, with the perspective of mounting it for the stage. Voilá! He liked it a lot and soon we started rehearsing both at his house and in the same room which served us as a classroom at NYU during the weekdays. Of course, we used it on the weekends. Why a lot of forms? I do believe that the actor should develop his art continuously. If the actor only acts or sings, he or she, in my humble opinion, is just a theater worker and not an artist.

Where have you been with the show, and how was the show received?

To the Winners has been presented in Miami (for its open to the public rehearsal), São Paulo and Curitiba (Brazil), New York, Gulfport (St. Petersburg), Tampa, Orlando, Montreal (Canada), Santo Domingo (the Dominican Republic), and Minneapolis. I believe the show has been received very satisfactorily by the public and the critics, in general. In Canada, for example, To the Winners was awarded Best Text of the 2005 Montreal Fringe Festival.

What's been the most fulfilling moment up to this point for you as an artist?

Being able to develop my work as a solo artist. Everybody knows how hard it is to be accepted as a newcomer. But I believe that people are slowly acknowledging me as an artist. And that's definitely wonderful.

Ok, now to lighten things up - what's the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you on stage?

I would not say embarrassing but definitely funny ... This happened when I was about 16 in Brazil. I was in a play where I played the role of a blind person. People in the cast were supposed to place me in front of a microphone stand. Well, the play went on and on and on, my cue was about to happen any minute, and nobody came to take me to the microphone. It stood in front of the stage. Miraculously, I walked straight to it without any hesitation or help from anyone. That was pretty funny. But the story follows ... At a certain moment, a child, from the audience, ran right in front of me and tripped over the microphone stand. Guess what? The blind man, me, once again miraculously grabbed the phone so that it wouldn't fall down on the stage floor.

Who are some of your role models/heroes in regards to your life in art?

I enjoy and respect Robert Wilson's work very much as well as Brazilian actress Denise Stoklos with whom I had the pleasure of working at the legendary theater La MaMa, in New York, a few years ago. Working with Mr. Wilson is still a dream of mine...

Anything else you'd like to add?

I will be presenting To the Winners in Orlando at the Studio Theater on January 26, 27 and 28, 2007. I would also like to add that Broadway is unquestionably important to the world's theater scene. No question about that. But the new artists are the ones who need the most support they can get from the public. How many times does a person need to see Oklahoma, for example? Just kidding ... Please, support the new faces, the new voices, the new theater!

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