Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Artist in Residence: Jeffrey Lo

At Dragon, part of our mission is to foster the growth of young, up and coming artists, be they directors, actors, or designers. To support this mission, we sometimes have an "artist in residence." Currently, Jeffrey Lo is serving as the Dragon Artist in Residence. Since he's involved with Streetcar we thought we'd sit down and talk to him about life at Dragon. Here's what he had to say.

Q: So Jeffrey, what does it really mean to be the "artist in residence" at Dragon Productions Theatre?

A: Defining my role as Dragon's Artist in Residence can be a little difficult to do because it involves so much and evolves every day. At it's core, my role is to support any and every Dragon production utilizing my artistic skill set. I am a playwright, director and sound designer so if you track my work at Dragon you'll see that I've shifted from being an assistant director for Turn of the Screw and Streetcar, to sound designing Private Eyes, to finally producing the upcoming New Works Factory in April 2012. The great thing about being the Artist in Residence at Dragon is that while I'm able to use my different skills to support Dragon - I am able to call Dragon an artistic home where I am able to learn, experiment and grow.

Q:Well that leads us to another question - you're Assistant Directing for our current production, A Streetcar Named Desire. What exactly does the assistant director do?

A: The assistant director's role really depends on the director and the show. For Streetcar, Jeanie was the first director who actually gave me a couple of scenes to direct myself. Those two scenes being the scene with Blanche and the newspaper boy and the following scene with Blanche and Mitch right after the date. Jeanie and I met before the days we would block those scenes and she gave me an idea of what her vision for those scenes were and the direction we wanted them to go in. Once the actors came in, Jeanie was wonderful about allowing me to get my feet wet and direct those scenes myself while pulling me aside and giving me pointers and suggestions along the way. It was a really great experience for me.

Q: That's awesome! Do you find one aspect of the theatre more challenging or rewarding that the others? Is there one thing you tend to love the most, or that you aspire to focus on in the future?

A: It'd be hard for me to just pick one because there are different things I love about each area of theater that I work on. I love to work sound because I'm constantly listening to music and get so inspired by how different songs, lyrics or even instruments can affect the way I'm feeling. I have a lot of fun trying to support what the directors and actors are doing on stage and really working the audience through sound. I love directing because I really love the sense of community I work to build within a cast. I really enjoy comparing the group of people I have on the first day of rehearsal and the mini family that I have by closing night. But if someone were to put a gun to my head and told me to pick just one thing to do in theater I wouldn't hesitate to pick playwriting. A part of that answer is cheating because I can heavily influence the sound and direction when writing a script but there's something special about getting down to the core of a show and basically mapping out its blueprint - which is really what a script is.

Q: What other projects have you got coming up?

A: The big thing I'm working on right now is a play that I wrote and directed called
Barcelona Love Song. This project is really special to me because I'm getting another chance to work with Skyler Garcia and Irene Van who I love to death and I worked with 5 years ago on a show called All I Have which is the show where I feel I made my first true artistic breakthrough. The three of us are working on the Barcelona Love Song with a group of 8 students - mostly high schoolers - and I'm just really enjoying the opportunity to reach back to an energetic and youthful period in my career and try and help these students have that same breakthrough I had way back when. For more info on the show, you can check it out at www.06ensemble.blogspot.com.

Anyone else have questions for Jeffrey? Feel free to shout them out in the comments!

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