How did you run across Green Bird?
It’s hilarious – after being out there for a year I was thinking
“Well, I planned on being out here for about a year, all of a sudden
I’m here and there’s no signs of me leaving any time soon.” So,
I started thinking more about scripts. I also happened to
have pirated cable at the time so I was able to watch a lot of television
very clearly which makes it more enjoyable thus you watch more of
I watched a lot of PBS and they have a show called “Egg: the Arts
Show” I don’t know if you’re familiar with it – they do it in installments,
each week they have a different topic and they happened to have
a week about theatre – and they were talking about this show that
Julie Taymor was working on called The Green Bird, this very
classic storyline. I saw all the weird shit that she was doing
in her rehearsal, they had some rockumentary footage of it, and
I thought “well, that looks like a pretty interesting show” and
so I was sitting at my computer at the time so I typed “Green Bird”
into a search engine and it showed me it had been produced by Berkley
Rep, which is the company where I did my internship and where one
of my really good friends is the resident sound designer.
This really good friend happened to be flying into Phoenix – this
was on a Wednesday night, he happened to be flying in to Phoenix
Friday, so I bribed him with a six-pack. “I’ll give you a six pack
if you bring me this script,” and he did bring me the script and
I did give him the six-pack.
The weekend after that I was coming to Chicago, and there was a
play reading at Strawdog scheduled for when I was in town. I had
two different plays that I really wasn’t excited about and all of
sudden I found this thing and I read it and I really had a lot of
fun with it and I decided that that was the one that I wanted to
read with the company. The company read it and it was just a really
fun, joyous occasion. At least I think so, that’s how I remember
it, I don’t know. It was just shit loads of fun to read and at
that time I was pretty much assured that it was something the company
would want to do, if indeed the company at that stage was interested
in having me back after I left so abruptly.
Is it something that you wanted to come back and do specifically
at Strawdog or did you start putting feelers out to work at other
companies in order to get it here? How much of it was Strawdog,
how much of it was the script, how much of it was wanting to come
back and be creative again.
It was really an equal combination of all of those things and I
was hungry to do something again when I was sitting in Phoenix but
I have a tendency to wait to make a decision until I feel I have
enough information – all of those different ideas. When I came
back I had no idea what my reception would be like inside the community
as a director having been gone for a couple years. That was one
of the things that it was dependent on: the idea of me wanting to
stay here in Chicago. Because I love Strawdog and, like I said,
Strawdog is home, people are great, blah, blah, blah – but I was
kind of stuck at Strawdog almost exclusively when I was in Chicago
before and I wanted to make sure that that didn’t happen again,
if only for the fact that I wanted different… As I’m getting older
I want more people to see what I’m doing, I think the stuff that
I do is relatively interesting and I want more people to have a
chance to check it out.
He eats cheese stick.
The adaptation of the script that you’re using was done by Stephen
Epp with Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis, was that the same
script they used at Berkley?
Well, yes, it’s different than the Julie Taymor script – Julie Taymor
did a different adaptation after the guys at Jeune Lune did their
first adaptation. Her adaptation was, from what I hear, relatively
similar to the adaptation that the guys at Jeune Lune had already
It was an independent adaptation.
The one that Julie Taymor did?
Yes, but I think there was some kind of innuendo that it was reflected
of or inspired by the kind of adaptation that Jeune Lune did – although
I don’t know if they did any of the anachronistic stuff which is
what I imagine is most of the stuff Jeune Lune was playing with.
At any rate, the script that you’re using: there’s been rewrites.
There’s been a million of them – and when I spoke to Steve Epp at
Jeune Lune I asked him if he was at all interested in coming out
and playing with us and playing with the script a while and he basically
said no, you can do whatever the fuck you want to it. Actually
he said, no, I’m not interested – I said, well, I’m going to be
needing to do some work and that’s kind of why I invited you to
come out and he said you can do whatever you want.
I was under the impression that the way the rights work you need
to be careful with certain authors and what you do.
Yeah, and for better or for worse I just don’t care. It’s one of
those situations where I learned the hard way at Strawdog through
Waltz Invention that the director’s main job is not always
to serve the play, sometimes the play is not exactly right, the
director’s main job is to serve the production, whatever that director
need sot do to make sure they can get some sort of clear point across,
make sure people know what the hell they’re talking about, like
I think that’s a director’s obligation. Now, if you find yourself
in the middle of dealing with a script that you have to really change
a lot of in order to say something cohesive then you’ve picked the
wrong script for yourself and you should probably just bail on it.
But, in this case I’m adjusting gags, recognizing the original intentions
and figuring out a way to sharpen them up a bit in our context.
I can’t not do it. That’s exactly how we approached Measure.
We cut everything out of it that we didn’t want.
Yeah, and that was Shakespeare.
Yeah, like I’m telling you, if I’m going to fucking knock Shakespeare
around I got no problem with taking Steve Epp down. No disrespect
Steve, seriously, you’re my soul brother.
Eats cheese stick.
Seriously, let’s get another shot.
[At this point another round of shots is purchased and consumed]