Monday, December 17, 2012

Meet a Master Mason Monday - Gavin Starr Kendall

My grandfather was a real Mason. So I guess this honors his memory?

Photo: Kent Meister
Tells us about the first person you met at The Brick.
I came into contact with a hodgepodge of Brick regulars during the 2nd Baby Jesus One-Act Jubillee in Dec. 2007. Jeff Lewonczyk and Hope Cartelli were preforming together. Ian Hill and Berit Johnson were in a piece by Carolyn Raship that Daniel McKleinfeld directed. Dominic D'Andrea directed something. Got my first tastes for works by Eric Bland, Qui Nguyen and Matt Freeman. Audrey Crabtree was working box office one night. I thought everyone was pretty cool but it wasn't until the opening night party for Notes from Underground in the new year that I got to know some of them a little better.

Tell us about your first show at The Brick.
Jake Witlen (director) and Eric Sanders (playwright) asked me to be in Hollow Hallow for the 2nd Baby Jesus One-Act Jubillee. I think the only way it fit the theme of the fest was that it was set during Christmas. I played an 
Abu Ghraib soldier a little reluctant to carry out my orders from my commanding officer. It starts out sweetly with me talking to my daughter on the phone wishing her and my wife a Merry Christmas and ends with me freaking out, pulling the tooth out of a planted audience member and then dragging that person backstage and electrocuting him as screams rang out through the theater. I remember Hope had this slightly scared look in her eyes when I first met her in the dressing room after one performance. The Brick was a little nervous too because we had some audience participation where we brought people to the stage, hood them and verbally abuse them. Luckily no one reacted too badly. I certainly left my mark on the place thanks to Jake and Eric. The play really disturb some people. So much so that it became the worst thing they'd seen in awhile. But then later, those same people reversed their opinions saying it was the best thing they had seen for that same reason.

How did you first get involved with The Brick?
After the 2nd Baby Jesus One-Act Jubillee I knew I needed to hang out at The 
Brick more. In February 2008 I ran into Moira Stone on the subway on a Monday. We had been in a festival together years ago and she was opening Notes from Underground that Friday. I promised her that I'd be there. There was an opening night party and I was able to talk with some of the regulars in more depth that night. Jeff Lewonczyk cast me in Babylon, Babylon based on what he'd seen in the festival and rest is history. Most of my professional and personal Brick relationships started at that opening night party.

What aspect of The Brick do you love?
I like some of the ordered chaos that keeps the place running.

What is your favorite show you've seen at The Brick?
Notes from Underground has always stuck with me. It was confined to a small portion of the back stage and only lit by candle light. I still remember the shadows cast by the candles and the way it illuminated the cast. It certainly got me excited about working at The Brick.

What are your thoughts on Williamsburg? How has the art scene changed over the years?
I don't know. I mean, it's a cool place to hang out but I really don't care what the pulse of Williamsburg is.

How has gentrification affected your personal life?
I'm all for revitalizing a neighborhood so people can raise families and hang out with their friends in peace and harmony but instead of creating affordable places to live, it invites Yuppie bullshit-artists to take over.

If you could move The Brick anywhere where would you put it?
I don't think The Brick should move. But a second space would come in handy. Someplace with a bigger backstage, dressing rooms, etc. Where if a production wants to build a set there's room for that. Maybe some office space for our dedicated staff. Or we should move to Broadway and play our rock music real loud, leave empty beers cans all over the sidewalk and throw water balloons at all the Tony nominees.

In your opinion, what makes The Brick an incubator of emerging theater artists?
It takes a certain type of artist to create theatre here. Nothing is spoon fed to you. It's a punk rock world of theater. The staff is creating the same type of experiments and challenging shows so they know what's it like the first time you're putting up something new and creative. It may fail. And they're standing there with a beer for you. It may succeed beyond your wildest dreams. And they are again standing there with a beer for you.

What have you gained from your experience at The Brick?
Friends. And a "No Holds Barred" way to making theater. Sometimes this place leaves with you with a bloody nose and a few bruises after a production. But it certainly makes you stronger for the next one.

What’s the best benefit of being a Master Mason?
Mentioning it in my program bio.

What’s something unknown about you that you want your fellow Master Masons to know?
I'm a cheap date and an easy lay.

What do you think about a production of Ibsen’s The Master Builder done solely by Master Masons?
Cliched and unnecessary.

What is one thing you would change about The Brick?
They need a kegerator that serves Brick Brew!

Would you send your children to The Brick?
Yes. (Who wants to make some with me?) We need to pass on our ways to the next generation. We're doing that with Eddie Kim's students from Game Play (the Video Game Festival). I love the opportunity they have with exposure to an emerging theater genre and being on the cutting edge of it. The kids are alright.

What do you see in The Brick’s future?
I wouldn't say I'm qualified to answer this. I gave up forecasting the future years ago. I never ended up where I thought I would. Change is happening constantly at the Brick. The ebb and flow of running a theater. After hearing a little about some of the upcoming plans they have I think they'll be alright.

What would make a good premise for a Brick-based video game?
Something like Pac-Man with the staff running around the space trying to locate power pill grants while the ghosts of shitty reviewers, audience late-comers and people who leave their cell phones on chase after them. The couch floats around so you can sit on it or take a nap.

If you could commission any playwright, living or dead, to create a new work for The Brick, who would it be, and what would they write?
Sam Shepard could do some damage here. John Patrick Shanley would probably groove pretty well. But celebrities are a dime a dozen. I want to see more work by previous Brick writers like Bland, Freeman, Comtois, Lewonczyk, Lovejoy, Meyer, Nguyen, Skillman with room for some new blood.

Anything you want to plug?
I am co-founder of the Bad Theater Fest with Shawn Wickens. We've all made bad theater so why not celebrate it! Our first set of shows were at The Tank.  We had a strange, crazy line-up and I remounted The Lone Starr of Texas with my sock puppet group Afternoon Playland that I wrote and premiered for Tiny Theater at The Brick in 2010. We got some great international press from The Telegraph and on the heels of that success we're organizing the Bad Film Fest. Currently taking submissions. Please follow us on Twitter @badtheaterfest. And you can follow me @thestarrkendall. And this is a picture of my knees.
Photo: Peter Hapak for The New York Times Magazine

No comments: