Then it sort of tells you that you are the voyeur, you are the person who is looking through the peephole watching this sort of reality performance which is not real, which is what sort of the play does. It invokes the feelings and those primal reactions you would have if you were a part of it. It’s like if you were a part of it, this is what you would be like. It’s true because it’s the human truth — it’s inevitable. It deals with the problem quite openly, you’d have to see it. I don’t even know how to explain it but the play doesn’t necessarily criticize it and it happens because the play is happening on the show, but you see the effects of what happens to these people and what psychology is involved in this show. Like Susan Boyle, she had a mental breakdown! I mean can you just imagine? This is what we don’t see in reality TV, is what happens behind-the-scenes and what pressures these people are really put through and what are they made to believe? I mean they tell you it’s reality, imagine what they’re telling them! What responsibility TV really has here, the play in seeing it the problem is obvious through the play the whole time, because it’s just the truth. It’s an actuality of reality. It’s just as entertaining as reality TV, the difference is just that it’s sort of acted out reality. It’s presented by the theater and the actors, it serves as a mother to television — if anybody were to put on any type of play that deals with a problem like this it should be theater because it’s the ultimate place that really uses that entertaining aspect that was invented in theater.
*Martin Kushner joined at this time in the interview*
Martin Kushner: It’s an experience for the actors that I think the audience should have, I think that what we’re hoping for is that the audience to have conflicting emotions and that they end up after the performance having to wrestle with them to some extent. It pulls them in but it also makes them question what they are being pulled into.
Scallywag: How did you get involved together? How did the casting go about?
Larissa Drekonja: I have 2 great people who I have working with me named Klemen Novak and Adam K Fujita, who are the founders of the foundation with me and we’re also producing it together. They both went to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and when Klemen, who’s a friend from Slovenia, moved to New York I used to hang out with him at the AADA all the time — I saw all their plays, all the actors –and a lot of the people that are in the play are from that background.
Martin Kushner: It’s actually a nice bit of serendipity. One of my oldest and closest friends is Victor Miller and we lived and worked together; he hired me, I hired him, back at the Stratford Shakespeare Theater in Stratford, Connecticut which is actually the theater that is no longer operational but at one time it was the major Shakespeare theater and some of the great movie stars from the past like Catherine Hepburn performed there. The last time I saw Victor was the day after Friday the 13th came out in 1980 and he had written the screenplay, and I went over to see him. I had heard about the reviews which were all super negative, worst movie ever made, worst most horrible thing ever done. And I was dreading going over there because he was really trying to make his way as a writer, and I thought “Oh my gosh, he’s going to be devastated.” And I got to his house and he was sitting on his porch smiling as I approached, and I thought he’s either flipped out or what, and he said “you know what? if they all hate it that much, there must be something to it.” So, I moved back to New Jersey shortly after that and for a while we lost touch, and during the summer I went out to California, where he now lives, and we reunited and the whole deal. And when I got back, I got an email from him that Larissa had asked him for a recommendation for a director because they were doing this play and had this theater foundation and he recommended me. So we met, had a wonderful first meeting, and we’re taking it from there!
Larissa Drekonja: And the rest is history!
Martin Kushner: Well, it’s actually history in the making. (laughs)
Scallywag: This play tackles a lot of psychological and mental issues, how did you get and want the actors to represent their struggles?
Martin Kushner: We talked early on about what every actor can relate to and that it could probably translate to a degree of the situation of the characters of the play. These are people in a reality TV show and they’re all trying to be the winner so it’s a little similar to actors auditioning and trying to get a part. We talked about the first time we walk into an audition place and there’s all these actors sitting there, and you’re one of them, and everybody is after these parts. So these are peers and comrades, but they’re also rivals, and you’ve got to do your best. So on a personal level, every actor can relate to the putting themselves in a position of somebody going on to do a “performance” where both the audience and in this case the network that is putting on the show, has to like them, and they’re also in competition with the others. So we started with that, but over time it’s obviously going to go deeper and become more personal as each actor works on their own way of handling the characters’ struggles. So I’m letting them do that because they’re professionals, and if we get into a situation where we’re not getting inside the characters enough, then I may step in and push them further.
Scallywag: With reality becoming so distorted in present day media, what do you think it says about civilization as a whole? What is it about reality TV shows that attracts people nowadays? How do you think it is affecting the youth?