Like New York City itself, the East Village is one of those places that seems mythical to anyone who’s never been there—less a location, and more an idea shaped by popular media. It could be easy to forget that people actually live & work there.
Metropolitan Playhouse is in the neighborhood, and for years they’ve been presenting the series East Side Stories, sharing tales that get at the truth of the place that inspired them, whether they be fictional or factual. Included in 2015’s series are two collections of monologues created from interviews with East Village residents, and GSAS! got out to see the evening entitled The Indelible.
Actors Lillian Rodriguez, Jason Brown, and Tammy McNeill went out and found locals whose stories intrigued them, then, under the direction of Chris Harcum, shaped those interviews into monologues: Lillian as Jonas Mekas, a filmmaker, poet, and artist who founded the Film-Makers’ Cooperative and the Film-Makers’ Cinematheque (now known as Anthology Film Archives), Jason as Jeanise Aviles, hair artist / color specialist / wigmaker / performance artist / KnitBomber, and Tammy as Jimmy Webb, manager and buyer at Trash and Vaudeville.
I sat down with the actors and director after a performance; listen in as Chris, Lillian, Jason, and Tammy discuss their relationships with their subjects, prisms, tensions, and what it means to change while maintaining authenticity.
“…there are different elements of what you get with the interview from the person, what you get from the spirit of the person, what you bring to it, because it is your body, your voice, your everything that you tweak and do different things with to be that person, and then what you’re doing in giving to the audience. So there are four or five different elements that I feel are always kind of changing, and being part of this…”