To answer the question pertaining to ‘the Box,’ we’ve been thinking about where we could go given that we just started out, and sort of attract the people that we need for our play — a co-production with a theater would help us immensely because it would cut our costs about 50% and we could just share the profits with the theater, so I suggested that we do it in the theater. But I said let’s make it exciting — we have to add something like a twist to it — another reason why people would come. So we said “let’s ask the box!” They’re this sort of underground, particular, almost infamous room/theater, and I said “that would be perfect!” because it’s like they sort of re-invented the ’20s and ’30s, you know? I thought that would be a perfect place because that’s where entertainment really started, in saloons!
So I said let’s put it in a saloon, because ultimately the theater is where television should be criticized — not necessarily saying that the play is really criticizing, it’s just exposing. I went down to the Box and asked what they thought about it and it all worked out. I brought all the pamphlets about the play and what it was about, and I think it’s because they liked the play‘s idea, which is really fueling the engine. It’s because, like I said before and I’ll say it again, it deals with a problem that’s very important and which needs to be discussed and criticized. And I can’t wait to see what the critics say, whether it’s bad or good, I think it’s important that somebody starts addressing it — I think television has responsibilities for what they tell to other people.
Scallywag: What is it about Slovenian art and culture that you want the American audience to become aware of? Do you think this play sort of captures the essence and cultural aspect of Slovenian art and culture?
Larissa Drekonja: It addresses a common problem and with increasing globalization, I think that culture is really an interesting thing to talk about. In the play, it doesn’t really present a particular reality TV show, but I do think that if we’re talking about the dialogue exchanged in this play, it would be more the similarities of the fact that we’re dealing with the same problems or that we feel problems in America as we do in Slovenia. When people think of Slovenia, they think that’s somewhere in Russia. By showing this play, it can show the American audience that it’s not a place of war, (we came out of war in 1991), and show some of the people who may even think we live in huts that we’re similar to the American audience and their lifestyles, that we’re dealing with it too, and I think that sort of puts us on the map. It sort of says, “here we are, and we’re just like you,” and how our thoughts are just as recognized and valuable as it is yours. And I think that’s a great start to initiate the exchange needed — not to be looked at as Russia or so different sometimes because of the systems and the culture itself. And in a sense, to be more accepting of the fact that cultures are different but similar, and in the years to come we’ll be dealing with similar issues — it’s sort of like a starting point. This is what is going to really put the organization on the platform needed to be recognized as progressive and modern, and for a place for young artists to speak out about what is going on in their countries and in their lives. I have this thing where I say how politics takes care of economics and business while artists are the ones that fuel the soul of a nation.
Scallywag: Is this going to be an ongoing performance or a onetime deal?
Larissa Drekonja: What is happening at the Box is sort of a benefit performance. It’s a performance so that people can start talking about it, that’s first. Second, it’s a lot of theater owners and theater producers from Broadway who are going to be invited in hopes to get a co-production because I think the play is relevant and important enough that a theater should have it in for six weeks. I think that this play is made for a place like New York, and because of that, it would make our lives, our dealings, easier to raise money. This benefit is to raise money but to really get a theater on our side. To get a good theater, it’s quite expensive, and we would need another three to four months to raise that asset, we have 25% right now of the budget. It’s mostly to move it a little bit quicker and to show the play and so people know what it is — kind of get the dialogue going about it. It is by invite only, it’s sort of like a backers audition, that’s what we’re calling it. We’re doing it through equity, and it’s technically an audition, but we’re calling it a benefit performance. I’m also trying to make it fun, not just this boring event — at the beginning it was just a stage reading, and I spoke to the Box and we started talking about how we can do it, and I was like “I have to make it fun!” because with a stage reading it’s just people sitting around reading from the script. We had the Box, so we decided to make it a show. Technically by law, I don’t think we can have tickets, I would have to ask the person who deals with equity about that.
Scallywag: Does this play offer a solution to this problem with reality, or is it just an observational look for people to question and analyze themselves after the play?
Larissa Drekonja: The writer chose seven people to be participants (there are eight in the whole play because there’s a producer as well,) but he chose a very particular group of people who I think everybody in the audience characteristically will feel, see, and connect themselves to at least one of them. It sort of tells this truth — if you imagine being on a reality TV show, because people just watch it, they never question it because they only see the entertaining part. They never really question what these people do when they’re not on camera. What do they talk about? There must be something about who’s going to win; there must be some kind of ruthless competition? I think the play itself creates a feeling in the viewer, almost makes you feel dirty — well, not dirty, but wrong within yourself. I think that’s sort of a genius thing about this play — the viewer is the one that is going like “Oh my god, I don’t know if this is true” because humanly you know what the truth is, but because it’s never been shown to you you’ve never really thought about it until it’s showed in the corridor. It is sort of a behind-the-scenes of what’s really going on on a TV show, like “Oh, that makes sense.”