In this video I talk to Michael, one of the actors from the New Smyrna Beach production of Emotional Baggage. Michael read the play before he was even cast in it and was so inspired, he wrote his own non-verbal script and directed it at districts.  Michael talks about what fuelled his inspiration, the successes and challenges of a non-verbal play.

Transcript

Lindsay: Hello, Michael! You are at New Smyrna Beach and you were just in the production of Emotional Baggage, but you have also, you read Emotional Baggage before you were in it.

Michael: Yeah.

Lindsay: And it inspired you write your own non-verbal play.

Michael: I did.

Lindsay: Yes. So, let’s start with what intrigued you about Emotional Baggage.

Michael: What intrigued me most was the depth of the characters that needed to be understood, and the amount that could be portrayed without words that sometimes words could’ve limited Emotional Baggage, actually, with the depth of how the story and the plot. We understand more because there’s no words.

Lindsay: I think you’re right! I never thought of it that way. But you know what? In some ways, words might make it cheesy.

Michael: Yeah. It clutters your mind when you think about the lines, and when you just do it, and when you just see it, you understand more of what they feel and who they are, and that’s what intrigued me most, and that’s what inspired me to write my play.

Lindsay: And tell me about, what’s the name of your play?

Michael: My play was entitled Rainbow and it’s about seven characters, all named after a color, and I took what intrigued me most about Emotional Baggage and I put it into those seven characters. I made them much more complex than I could’ve done easily because I wanted to give myself a challenge.

Lindsay: Sure.

Michael: And, basically, I challenged myself to make as complex characters as realistic characters as I could because, sometimes, when I read plays about, you know, things that people go through – bulimia or suicide or drugs.

Lindsay: Struggles.

Michael: Yes, struggles that a lot of people go through, it’s not as much as powerful as I want it to be sometimes.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Michael: And when we do situational plays, we want to hit our audience as hard as we can and send messages as deep as we can. So, I wanted to send as deep a message as I could and I thought Emotional Baggage sent such a deep message with no words. If I had these complex, realistic characters, I could send so much and yeah.

Lindsay: Yeah, then you went on and you actually staged it. So, tell me the most satisfying part of staging a play.

Michael: The most satisfying part was seeing it all strung together and seeing the story told of real people that I can understand myself and that I can, even though I don’t live through what they’re through, I can understand them and that’s the beauty of theatre. You can understand without going through it.

Lindsay: Yeah!

Michael: Just by seeing it.

Lindsay: Yes.

Michael: And that’s what the best part was. Watching other people understand what they knew nothing about.

Lindsay: And what was the biggest challenge?

Michael: Biggest challenge was getting my actors to be able to… It was so difficult because I used a bunch of new people.

Lindsay: Right.

Michael: And I have a larger cast and music was an issue with filling things out and picking music because I pick music very carefully. And just transforming the characters, making them as realistic as possible, because sometimes pantomimes can be cheesy and fake-looking

Lindsay: Yes.

Michael: And I didn’t want that at all.

Lindsay: Yes.

Michael: I wanted to be real pantomime which was something that my district judges warned me about, was to avoid cheesy as much as I could because of my play.

Lindsay: It’s almost like an oxymoron, this real pantomime, but it’s necessary when you’re dealing with these kinds of issues I think.

Michael: Yeah. Because I did have a couple of cheesy scenes I purposely put there just to lighten the…

Lindsay: We need some balance.

Michael: Yeah, I didn’t want it to be all dramatic.

Lindsay: Drama.

Michael: All sad.

Lindsay: Because that becomes, when you have all drama, then that becomes an issue in itself.

Michael: I wanted it to be as realistic as possible. No one’s life is all sad.

Lindsay: Yeah!

Michael: There are happy moments, there are sad moments, there are awkward moments, and I wanted that to be portrayed.

Lindsay: Yup.

Michael: Yes, they have issues, but they live life, too. They go through what you go through. They laugh, they, you know?

Lindsay: Yeah, for sure.

Michael: They have happy times but, you know, they may go through different sad times.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Michael, I’m so thrilled that you were inspired by Emotional Baggage.

Michael: Thank you.

Lindsay: It really, really means quite a lot to me that you took it and then you took it and you wrote your own, you went your own way and wrote your own thing.

Michael: Thank you.

Lindsay: And I couldn’t ask for anything else.

Michael: Thank you so much.

Lindsay: Thank you very much.

Michael: Your work has done a lot for me and I’m sure everyone who worked in my show. They learned as much as I did.

Lindsay: Fantastic.

Michael: Thank you so much.

Lindsay: Thank you!

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