by Joshua Ryan Taylor
The Rogue Festival is almost here! Enjoy our final Rogue Performer Preview article and check out others that have already been published this month in our A & E section. We also have an article about this year’s Rogue Festival Muse, and once Rogue begins, watch for reviews and video interviews. For more information on the Festival itself check out their website and keep an eye on KRL’s Rogue Festival Event Page.
The Outdustrial Theatre Company is producing an unusual show this year at the 17th Annual Rogue Festival. Titled ASS or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bong, it’s already making waves in the scene.
KRL reporter Joshua Ryan Taylor sat down for an interview with the writer and director of the piece, Joshua Ryan Taylor.
Q: Hello, welcome.
A: Thanks for having me.
Q: Can I offer you anything? Water? Tea?
A: Just water, thanks.
Q: Of course. You have great hair, by the way.
A: Oh, thank you. It’s getting a bit long. I need to cut it before the festival.
Q: Who’s your barber?
A: This incredible person named Whoever’s On Shift at Supercuts.
Q: I love them!
A: This is excellent water.
Q: I combined the Hydrogen and Oxygen myself. So, I have to ask. What’s with the title?
A: That’s a fun story. The title is due for Rogue months before the show goes up, and the script was only in its third draft at the time.
Q: How many drafts did it go through?
A: Something close to seven, all things considered. Anyway, we needed a title that captured the tone of the show without tying us down to a specific plot as it was still up in the air. We needed a title that would tell audience members exactly what kind of show they were in for without telling them anything about the show itself. Thus, ASS.
Q: And the subtitle?
A: The subtitle’s just a jab at Stanley Kubrick, whom I make fun of whenever possible. I’ve always been amused by the title of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
Q: That’s the one where Peter Sellers plays like three roles, yeah?
A: Exactly! That’s why it worked well. See, the three actors in this show all play multiple roles. One plays an even dozen, I think.
Q: And who are the actors?
A: Maria Monreal, Dakota Simpson, and Hannah Weyant. They’re all ultra-talented and criminally underutilized. I wanted to give them the opportunity to really go for it, you know? They’ve never had the chance to just totally show off, and I think all artists need that every now and again.
Q: Is this your chance to show off, too?
A: Last year was. My 2017 Rogue show, Thanks for Coming, was, I think, the best piece of theatre I am capable of creating at this point in my life. With this year, I knew I couldn’t top it, so I had to do something completely different. Thus, other actors.
Q: So there aren’t any similarities between Thanks for Coming and ASS?
A: Well, there’s one character who appears in both stories. But the two have nothing at all to do with each other. They take place in the same universe, but that’s it. Well, and two jokes are recycled from last year, but they’re recontextualized and, quite frankly, better.
Q: What’s it like directing an actor in a role you’ve already played?
A: Dakota saw last year’s show, so he saw my take on Eileen. But we were both fortunate that he took her in a new direction. His vocal patterns and physicality are quite different, so it was like dealing with a brand new character.
Q: He plays a woman?
A: He plays many women. The actors play characters of any sex, age, or species. That’s part of the fun, watching one person become a 40-year-old man, and a 9-year-old boy, and a 1,000-year-old-woman, and a cockroach.
Q: It occurs to me that I have yet to ask anything about the actual story.
A: Ah, yes.
Q: Give me your quick pitch.
A: ASS is the story of two twenty-something roommates who inadvertently become major players in the fight against aliens who are attempting to destroy the earth.
Q: So they fight aliens on stage?
A: Oh yes. There’s space travel, magic duels, talking cockroaches, sword fights, the whole shebang.
Q: And how did this story come about?
A: There were a couple impetuses (Impeti?). I’ve always been curious about staging impossible things. Like Into the Woods, you know? That show has a giant, a talking cow, climbing a beanstalk, the witch’s transformation, birds flying around – just a ton of things that are impossible to stage literally. The fun of seeing that show, to me, is watching a director figure out how the hell to do it all. And so I wanted to do a show that had just as many – if not more – impossible things in it.
Q: Do you sometimes think of as many as six impossible things before breakfast?
A: Ha! Alice in Wonderland doesn’t make a lick of sense, and it’s always been a dream to do.
Q: What were the other impetuses for the show?
A: So it is impetuses? We’re sure?
Q: Pretty sure.
A: Huh. Well, I also wanted to poke fun at superhero save-the-world stories. Because, by and large, I think they’re awful. They’re just terrible stakes, you know? They never don’t save the world. And that genre of stories has a set of tropes that would be a lot of fun to play with and mock. Also, I really wanted to do a story about stoner Millennials saving the world. Because obviously…
A: It’s just hilarious to me that the world would be saved not by some rich white dude in a suit of armor but by minimum wage-earning college students who would rather be watching Netflix.
Q: Is that a comment on what’s going on in the world politically?
A: I mean, no. Like, yeah. But like, no. Yes, the idea that young people will be the ones to save us is powerful and likely correct. But also this show is about forgetting that all for an hour and just having fun. The state of the world is on my mind every other waking moment – can’t I forget it for an hour and just enjoy a silly show about aliens and magic?
Q: Tell us a little about the venue.
A: We’re performing at CalArts Severance, the largest Rogue venue. I work at CalArts (I was actually hired to do theatre tech, then one thing led to another, and it’s been four years), which means that we’ve been fortunate enough to rehearse in the performance space and utilize it to its fullest potential. Plus, I’m the one who designed the lighting grid, so I could sort of tailor it specifically to our needs.
Q: Is there anything else you want to say?
A: We Need to Talk About Kevin is on Netflix, and it’s a great movie that everyone should see.
Q: Is there anything else you want to say about the show?
A: Oh. Well, we have a Friday 10 p.m. show. Feel free to attend whilst less than sober. In fact, we encourage it. Also Katie Hale and Marisa Jones are powerful, beautiful women without whom this show wouldn’t be possible.
ASS or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bong
1401 N. Wishon Avenue
Saturday, March 3 @ 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 4 @ 5 p.m.
Friday, March 9 @ 10 p.m.
Saturday, March 10 @ 8 p.m.
Tickets are $12 plus $3 Rogue wristband required for entry into any Rogue Festival performance.