Martin Kushner: And advertising! How you present a product, it’s all about selling yourself. And the tricky part of that is what’s your real identity. I think that any of these subjects and issues a play like this gets at are in a way the same thing, because I think people instinctively know the difference when they’re watching a show between reality and not reality, but at the same time when you take something as simple as American Idol, which is nobody to stardom, it’s been one of the most popular shows on TV in recent times, and these people became famous, even the losers, and there was a level of reality to that that was in a sense, “ok so this guy really is a recording artist.” But look at Susan Boyle, 15 minutes GONE, and she had a nervous breakdown. In fact the characters in the play face a lot of the same pressures because you’re jumping into something which is a game but the rules are so complex and so twisted that it can really affect you permanently in some sense — suicide sometimes. The suicide of these reality participants are out of proportion to any other TV show set. They’ve also done some research on people who win the lottery for instance and many of them end up on various medications — they can’t handle it.
Scallywag: What’s this desire and need for people to be famous? Why do they want to be approved by everybody and do you think this is taking away our freedom?
Larissa Drekonja: I don’t think everyone desires that but by promoting the way the media does – I mean, that’s why I like Scallywag, because the way Christopher said it, he talks about Lindsay Lohan all the time and he criticizes her all the time but he loves her for that. He thinks she is almost like an entity because of that. It’s an interesting point that he brings out because when you see Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, or Britney Spears you can compare them to someone like Marilyn Monroe or Betty Gable, they’re just the new ones sort of. They suffer through the media, but when you look at Amy Winehouse, there’s some reality about her being.
Martin Kushner: She’s also, unlike the others, although Lindsay Lohan is an actress and may have given a couple of good performances, and Britney has some talent perhaps as a dancer, but Amy Winehouse is a genuine talent — she’s an artist with issues so that’s the problem, lumping them together. Because it kind of diminishes all of them and makes them just another media phenomenon. Paris Hilton is not on the same level as Amy Winehouse. That’s where are all victimized! And anything that purports to cut through that is really important now because the alternative media is bland compared to what really cuts through. Maybe it has to start with a smaller online audience because we’ve got some real issues that aren’t being dealt with.
Larissa Drekonja: If one is being admired and doing something because they have talent, then it should be the best ones that really struggles like Amy Winehouse. Like when you listen to her songs, you can hear soul behind it. When you listen to her songs she tells you something that you didn’t know before, or something that you didn’t know you were going to feel at one point or another. But once you’re presented with a fake reality that is giving you fake morals and creating an artificiality about it, then it’s really making the center of our values system artificial.
Martin Kushner: But it’s also, again to the bottom line, that Amy Winehouse is never going to, or unlikely to ever be a super mainstream talent/musician. In other words, even though the record industry has changed, she doesn’t represent the consumer fan base. Britney Spears and all of those others do because they’re younger — Amy Winehouse for all her problems is a more mature talent in my opinion. The others will sell to teenagers, and there’s more market there. The teenage market has been there since after WWII and now all television is geared towards 18-34 or even 24.
Larissa Drekonja: At this particular point I’m going to say it’s media’s responsibility. Because you can color something pink and somebody’s going to like it, if they didn’t see another color. It just really depends on the marketing and packaging. So if you’re going to sell a talent, it’s really the media and television that has the power to sell something. And it tells you what to like, and I think they should take a greater responsibility. Our play tries to help expose that or present you with the fact that it’s really not taking that responsibility but instead it’s using it. It’s turning it into purely dollar bills without thinking about the consequences. They also do have a psychologist on the show, but he comes in way too late. They keep them on cameras 24/7, and they knew what is happening they just don’t want to do anything about it because it would spice up the show.
Martin Kushner: It’s also that celebrity reality show with Dr. Drew that actually didn’t take off as much as they expected because Dr. Drew was actually trying to do something legitimately helpful and it was in a sense too real to be interesting. It wasn’t filled with theater in the same way, that’s why reality TV shows are still in the same category as quiz shows.
Larissa Drekonja: At least with quiz shows, it takes some kind of talent! On reality TV, you can literally go take a shit and it’s interesting.
Martin Kushner: So this play, because it’s a theater piece, takes the concept of reality TV way farther than anything else you would see on TV and therefore it is suggests, what are we really watching? And what are we really participating in? At the same time, it’s got to be entertainment.
Scallywag: The space of the corridor, what does the space really represent? And also Max, the owner and manager of the show, does he represent something much bigger?
Larissa Drekonja: He represents the studio. He is the producer, he is the studio.
Martin Kushner: He is the corporate owner of the studio, in a sense. Because all the networks and most of the TV stations are part of a corporate complex.
Larissa Drekonja: And the corridor represents the actuality of the reality. Also, the space itself is a character on its own in the show.
Martin Kushner: The corridor also creates an illusion of having a freedom of mind.
Larissa Drekonja: A safe place for your identity for your individuality.
Martin Kushner: Yes, it’s the place where you can theoretically be yourself but the play suggests that its sort of a set up in itself.