Interview: Julien

Today we’re joined by Julien. Julien is a young performance artist who loves everything about the theater. They love to act, sing, dance, and are particularly fond of musical theater. They also have a love of writing and enjoy writing screenplays and comics. When they’re not performing, Julien enjoys working on crafts, mostly friendship bracelets and cards. It’s very apparent they have a great deal of passion, as you’ll read. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My primary art form is probably theatre, where I sing, act, dance, stage manage, write, and direct. I’ve written and directed 2 one act plays in the last year. I just finished stage managing my first musical, and was very surprised at how much fun I had. Before getting into the technical aspect of theatre I was more focused on the performing arts and was not sure how exciting tech would be, but I was so glad to find a use for my managing skills in a medium I already loved! I have been singing as long as I can remember and started vocal training 5 years ago. It’s been great to watch myself grow in something that I don’t have much natural talent for – only natural passion.

I also love writing and am currently working on writing the scripts for a comic my friend is making.

Friendship bracelets and other crafts are the art I turn to as mediation. I find the repetition and the slowly emerging pattern very soothing.

What inspires you?

In theatre, I am continuously inspired by the trust and camaraderie that always develops between the entire cast and crew. I love the different aspects of it, and I love being able to use my analytical management skills in conjunction with my creativity and flexibility.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve wanted to be many things, and had been resisting a theatre career path because I worried it wouldn’t be monetarily rewarding enough. I have now come to the point where I realized that while my many interests come and go with time, theatre has always been such an important part of my life that it’s a safe bet to assume it will continue to be.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Try everything. If you become interested in blacksmithing one weekend, find a class. Anything you can teach yourself, do it. Learn as much as you can while you’re young and find out what sticks with you as you get older.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Demisexual

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

As a writer, a-specs are commonly ignored even among LGBT+ literature.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Find analogies for asexuality. They’re usually aimed at allosexuals (non-asexuals), but they can help even a-spec people understand their sexuality, especially if they’re questioning. Find ace-friendly blogs and a-spec people who are confident in their sexuality and see how you relate to their experience.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

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Thank you, Julien, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Turtle

Today we’re joined by Turtle. Turtle is a phenomenal actor who is currently studying theater as an undergrad. She has a delightful passion for acting and it truly shows, as you’ll soon read. Turtle is definitely an actor with an incredibly bright future. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I’m an actor! I participated in acting programs since I was young, got involved in musicals and straight plays during summer camps and middle school, and then in high school I was in the theatre almost every season, in one way or another. Now I’m an undergrad and I’ve done one show so far, and intend to audition for another this winter. I’ve also dabbled in technical theatre, mostly stage management and scenic design.

What inspires you?

Other actors! Sure, solos and monologues are all well and good, and they make you feel important and strong and talented. But there’s nothing quite like acting opposite a scene partner who’s as into it as you are. That’s a unique sort of energy I’ve only ever found on the stage.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I’ve been melodramatic and energetic since I was a kid. Acting classes were a way to express that, and I really fell in love with the theatre when I was about ten and did my first stage production at a summer camp. Haven’t looked back since.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

That’s an interesting question. Lots of actors have certain tendencies that sort of define them. Like, she’s really bold, or he’s really realistic, or they’re very emotionally open. I’m not quite sure what it is for me. Probably that I talk really fast.

In high school I had a typecast, which is a certain archetype that you’re found suited to play. My director always cast me as the cutesy little girl. But then I got taller and gangly and obnoxious, and started botching audition sides for certain characters on purpose, so he had to branch out a bit.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

When I was in high school, I thought a lot about pursuing theatre professionally, but I was always scared that I wouldn’t be good enough, or wouldn’t get paid enough, or that it was just impossible. Which I think is a common fear among artists. Somewhere along the line I had to let it go. I’m working things out as they come. Maybe I’ll major in theatre, maybe I won’t. For now, I’ll keep doing it because I’m passionate about it, and if that continues to be true, then I’m sure I’ll figure something out. Since I adopted that mindset, everything’s been a lot less stressful. I can focus on my art in the now, instead of worrying out the implications of pursuing it longterm.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Heteroromantic asexual. Sometimes I consider gray-asexuality, but those feelings are always in flux, so I just identify as ace for simplicity.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Both my high school and undergrad theatre communities have been really open-minded, so personally, I have not.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

Some people simplify asexuals to “people who don’t have sex,” which is far from the same thing as “not experiencing sexual attraction.” Personally, the differentiation is a little unnecessary, but there are aces out there who do have sex for any number of reasons apart from sexual attraction, and their orientations are just as valid as mine. For that reason, I disagree with that simplification of what asexuality is.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

There’s nothing wrong with identifying with what makes you comfortable now. A lot of my hesitancy with calling myself asexual at first came from an uncertainty that the description would fit me permanently. Pro-tip: it doesn’t have to! Sexuality is fluid. Identify as what you like, when you like. Choose labels when they are useful to you, discard them when they cease to be. That’s fine. People grow and change and there’s no reason the way you identify can’t reflect that.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

If all goes well, check me on Broadway in ten or fifteen years. Until then, not much publicity out there for undergrad actors.

As for my involvement in the ace community, I co-admin an asexuality info and advice blog, www.blazinaces.tumblr.com.

Thank you, Turtle, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Zach Barr

Today we’re joined by Zach Barr. Zach’s passion is the theater: he’s a director, writer, and critic. He attended my panel at C2E2 and I’m so glad he did, because he’s an incredibly enthusiastic artist. If his interview is anything to go by, Zach has an incredibly bright future ahead of him in the theater. My thanks to him for taking the time to participate in this interview.

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WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

I am a theatre director, writer, and critic. My mission is to use theatre to surprise audiences – whether that be through plays and stories with unusual content or source material, or through bold and inventive reinterpretations of existent works. The world today is seen too often in a binary “good/bad” or “right/wrong” lens. By taking subjects or stories that audiences already have some conception of and presenting them in a new and inventive way, the world will look at those stories in a new light, and hopefully I’ll open a few minds along the way. This comes through in the plays I choose to direct, the subject matter I choose to write about, and the way that I structure the reviews I write.

What inspires you?

What the hell doesn’t? I don’t like putting a line between “low” art and “high” art, so even really simple things are inspiring to me. One of my favorite plays (right now) is Anne Washburn’s Mr. Burns: a post-electric play, which is all based on The Simpsons. But it puts it through this crazy futuristic lens that makes the audience look at the story in a different way. Oh, and the website Zen Pencils keeps me from slacking off in my art by reminding me how easy and tragic it would be to stop working at it.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I took some classes at a youth theatre in Kirkland, WA when I was younger, and got hooked then. Naturally, I started out as an actor before I jumped more into the other three fields. But yeah, I can’t imagine not being an artist. Someone said once that theatre is such a hard business to succeed in that you should only do it if you literally would not be fulfilled by anything else. So here I am.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I don’t usually include romantic relationships in my work. Or if they’re there, they’re not the focus. That’s probably significant for the purposes of this blog. But nothing else really.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Two songs from musicals that all artists should listen to: “Die, Vampire, Die!” from [title of show] and “Finishing the Hat” from Sunday in the Park with George. Both fantastic songs about what it’s like to be an artist, how it’s so hard to put your art before everything else, and why you have to do it. Also: become an interesting person. The best artists are also the most interesting people. Go to abstract art shows downtown. Attend a concert of an artist you’ve never heard of. Take a night class in pottery. Listen to a linguistics podcast. Read books by people you disagree with. Widen your mind so you can reflect a more diverse and detailed world in your work.

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ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

Asexual, Heteroromantic. I think. I’m still trying to figure out that romantic part. Maybe it’s Demi. I don’t know yet and I don’t need to pin it down.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

In theatre, not so much. I’ve certainly had the odd person who doesn’t know that asexuality is a thing, but once you explain it to people they generally shrug it off and just treat you normally. But that’s in the world of theatre. People are more open-minded there. In the real world the thing people usually have the most averse reaction to is my statement that I don’t want to get married. I’ve heard “you’ll meet the right person” a lot. And sure, maybe I’ll meet someone I really like spending time with and want to live with. But we’re not getting married.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

The confusion between asexual and aromantic is a big one. I still have strong emotional connections with the people I work and live with – they’re just not sexual or “love-y” in nature. I love my family, my friends, my fellow theatre people, and so on. Just because I don’t have one person I can point to as “the strongest bond” doesn’t dilute the strength of the others.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

Hm…I guess just know that it’s a viable option? And that there are probably more out there than you know of. I couldn’t name any before I announced I was Ace, and now that I’m out…well, I still can’t name that many, but there are still many, many more than I expected.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I’m at Northwestern University right now, so check on what the theatre groups on campus are doing and see if you see my name there. I’m directing a reading of a new musical, Last Exit, on campus (performances May 27-28, Evanston, IL), and I’ll be returning to my hometown of Eastside Seattle to direct a production of Urinetown for Studio East (performances Aug. 12-13, Kirkland, WA). After that, who knows? But I’m probably staying in the Chicagoland area after graduation.

On Twitter: (at) AdmiralZachBarr or (at) ZachBarrReviews
On Tumblr: zach-barr-reviews.tumblr.com
Online: zachbarrreviews.wordpress.com or sceneandheardonline.com

Thank you, Zach, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.