Monday, November 19, 2012

Featured Associate Artist: Bess Wohl

Meet our Featured Associate Artist for November! Bess Wohl is the playwright of Pretty Filthy, which just had an incredible concert performance at Joe's Pub. Congrats to Bess on an awesome show! And without further ado... Bess Wohl!

Name: Bess Wohl
Year Joined The Civilians: 2009
Where you're from: Brooklyn, NY
What City You're Living In: New York, NY

How did you first get involved with The Civilians? 
Steve and I met at Williamstown Theatre Festival, where he was directing THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE by William Saroyan. I acted in the play, playing a hooker with a heart of gold. (Typecast!) Michael Friedman did the music for the play, and also played the piano onstage. For some reason I can't remember, he was painted orange from head to toe. Like Ernie.

What have you done with us, both in terms of investigating and performing? 
I spent time in California interviewing porn stars and visiting porn sets for the creation of our musical about the Adult Entertainment Industry, PRETTY FILTHY, for which I've also written the book. We also went to the AVN Awards in Las Vegas, and the Adult Expo there. We met porn stars, went to parties and saw a new prototype of a porn robot. Needless to say it was all very illuminating!

Tell us about something that surprised you, either in an interview, in using the investigative method, or in a rehearsal process. 
I was honestly surprised during our time interviewing people in the Adult Entertainment Industry at how friendly everyone was to us. I'm not sure what my expectations were-- but they didn't know us at all, and they warmly welcomed us onto their sets and into some very-- ahem-- intimate moments and situations. They were always lovely and helpful, much more so than lots of people I've encountered in other more "legit" businesses.

Why has it been interesting to work in this way?
As a writer, I find it very challenging to write about a world I don't know. The investigative process gives us a deep understanding of unfamiliar worlds, Also, truth is always stranger than fiction, and the real things people say have the most poetry to them. The challenge is to take that reality and craft it into something that also functions as a work of art.

What is the last project you worked on outside of The Civilians?
I've been working on a bunch of TV and film projects-- just wrote a movie for Paramount and am writing a TV pilot for USA. I also was just up at Hartford Stage for their BRAND: New festival with my new play, AMERICAN HERO.

What artist has had the biggest impact on you? 
There are so so so many, but to pick one.... I'd go with the poet, Frank O'Hara. I love the natural, improvised quality of his work. The musicality of his language. The freedom he found in the form. The feeling of spontaneity and life that infuses his poems. The humor and surprise of them. The honesty and open-heartedness. I'm always trying to capture those qualities in my own work. I just love love love Frank O'Hara.

What’s the last play you saw?
I saw David Henry Hwang's GOLDEN CHILD at the Signature. It was so theatrical and fascinating and beautifully done. Go see it!

What’s your favorite bad movie?
Top Gun! And it's not bad. It's awesome. My ego is still writing checks my body can't cash.

Do you like sports?
I'm obsessed with baseball. The 1986 Mets changed my life. Lenny Dykstra aka "Nails" was my first love. Keith Hernandez, Mookie, Gary Carter, Daryl, Doctor K... Those guys were rock stars.

Question from Last Month’s Featured Associate Artist, Marsha Stephanie Blake
How many times has Michael Friedman made you cry in rehearsal?
Michael has never made me cry! But give it time... I'm sure it will happen someday.

What question would you like us to ask our next Featured Associate Artist?
What's the meaning of life?

Bess Wohl with Michael Friedman

No comments:

Post a Comment