Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Interview with Stacy Ann Raposa

Stacy Ann Raposa has, for several years, worked with actors to explore the depths of their minds and souls.  In doing so, the actors create solo pieces that are performed in public at the end of a four month process.  Rather than just moving from one solo piece to another, all actors are on stage throughout the show – sometimes playing characters in other actors’ solo pieces.  We sat down with Stacy to hear about the process and how BARE NAKED ANGELS came to be.

BARE NAKED ANGELS:  Angels Unabated
Interview with Director/Producer Stacy Ann Raposa
By Steve Peterson

When did you first take an interest in the performing arts (theater, or acting)?
I was 26 and had just moved to California. I decided that it was finally time to go to college. I signed up for a Theatre 101 class at Glendale Community College and fell in love.

How did the idea of BARE NAKED ANGELS come about?   Where does the name come from?
While attending USC (where I met my co-producer Sarah, who also stars in the show,) I took a class in Solo Performance, which I was immediately intrigued by. After I graduated, I belonged to a theatre company and kept trying to get them to do some kind of solo show. My voice went unheard, so I decided to take matters into my own hands. I assembled a cast and held meetings in my living room, teaching my actors what I had learned and adding my own twist. One of my actors in the original show just blurted out the name during one rehearsal, and it stuck. “Bare Naked” as in the actors are baring their souls to an audience and “Angels” as in people living in L.A.

What is the development process of the material (briefly)?
For the first month, the actors’ homework for each rehearsal is to write 2 pages. It doesn’t matter what they write, just that they write. I have them start with a lot of stream of consciousness just to get them going. Once they get into a rhythm, amazing things start to emerge. Actors write about things they thought they forgot, or write things they didn’t even realize they wrote. We all lend support and understanding to each other and the stories grow from there. I follow many of the philosophies and use a lot of exercises from The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path To Higher Creativity, which is a wonderful book written by Julia Cameron designed to help artists harness their creative abilities. One of my favorite exercises is called Imaginary Lives, where Julia asks: “If you had five other lives to lead, what would you do in each of them?” She then goes on to give numerous examples and then invites the reader to choose five of their own. It is this kind of work that encourages the artist to allow themselves to think in ways that they normally wouldn’t.    

You have several other BARE NAKED ANGELS productions under your belt using the method you developed for solo pieces – has the method changed in any way since you first started?  What have you learned while in the process of giving shape or developing the monologues?
No, the method hasn’t changed. The end product has, though. The very first show I did was a little different. The process was exactly the same, but the end piece was 6 monologues. Beginning with the 2nd show is when I started to break the pieces apart and glue them back together, making the show much more of an ensemble piece.
I have learned that everyone is an individual and has their own way of learning and going through the process. What works for one may not work for another. You need to cater to each and every actor to make sure that they are giving you (and their audience) the best piece they possibly can.

What is the most challenging aspect of directing the show?
The most challenging aspect of BNA is piecing together the show. I have to take various monologues (in this case, seven) and break them down, finding links (words, thoughts, feelings)  that connect certain pieces and glue them all back together to make an ensemble piece. It usually takes me about 2 weeks to complete.

Is there an overall theme to BARE NAKED ANGELS:  Angels Unabated?  And, if there is no overall theme – how do you go about tying, bundling, linking the monologues together into a play?
No, there is no overall theme; each piece has its own individual theme. That is one of the main messages of BNA, even though we are all different, there are a lot of things that connect us, or make us all the same too.  My process is to print out each actor’s monologue and lay them all out in front of me. I scan them once, searching for a word or a feeling that might tie a certain piece together with another piece. I write notes on a white board of links that I find. Then, I write all over the scripts, numbering each chunk of text in the order that I want it to appear. Then, I cut and paste and voila—a script!

What do you want the audience take away to be having seen the play?
That every human on this earth has something of value to say, even if they think they don’t.

What’s up next for you, new projects, other shows, etc.?
Well, Fringe Theatre Co is currently homeless, so I’m not sure what’s on the horizon for us. But I do know that I’ve been teaching my BNA method to actors for 9 years and it is so rewarding—for me and for them. I would love to be able to teach this to more people in the coming years.

Is there anything else you wish I had asked or something else you want the reader to know about you or the play/this production?
BNA has always been a labor of love. It is a very valuable tool for the actor to possess, going through this process. Past students of mine have reported that the process makes them stronger, bolder actors and also forces them to look at others in a different way. It changes lives, and that is something I’m very proud of.

BARE NAKED ANGELS:  Angels Unabated weaves together the intimate true stories of seven brave actors, creating a unique evening of theatre. It’s solo performance with a twist!   The play runs July 17th through August 9th, at Actors Workout Studio, 4735 Lankershim Blvd, North Hollywood, CA 91602.  For tickets and more information please visit www.barenakedangels.com and www.facebook.com/BNAsolo. 

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