In the nineties I was a college student at an uptight Evangelical college in a small town in Virginia. Whatever its drawbacks the experience put me in touch with a great group of life-long friends who all felt some sort of draw to the arts. Becoming frustrated with the boring and cheesy-religious nature of the schools official writing groups we started our own.
While I have been off exploring literature, Scott Browning has ended up in Florida where he has found his home and passion on the stage. With his company Howler's Theatre. Scott helps produce, direct and star in exciting and innovative theatre.
His latest project is a gender-reversed, open air production of The Tempest that requires the audience to move! Scott graciously answered 10 questions about his production. If you want more information or tickets contact Howler's at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. From your reports, Scott, the journey to The Tempest has been one of false starts and near misses. Can you tell us a bit about the original vision and the journey to get to where you are today?
I've had this show in my head for about four years. I've met with city parks just to find out that I can't do anything past dusk, I'd have to light parking lots, or there was just too much red tape. Doing this play has been one of the biggest challenges of my life. I just kept fighting I guess. The play was the first Shakespeare I ever saw. It was on a stage in the park. I don't remember much about the play itself but I remember to magic tricks that were for sale. I wanted to do this show for people with a short attention span like myself. I cut out all the repetition, unnecessary scenes and characters, and made it simpler I guess.
2. What can a person expect when they go to see The Tempest? What is the vision?
EXPECT TO MOVE and stand! Be flexible... Don't expect to sit I the third row. Expect an accessible, somewhat nontraditional experience.
3. Shakespeare is so well known -- and being in the public domain, free to use -- that it's hard for many people to think of Shakespeare as being reinvented. And The Tempest, I think, is especially sacred to Shakespeare purists -- it was the Bard's only original work not based off of other sources and was his last work. What particular challenges did you face in bringing The Tempest to life?
Cutting it was somewhat easy for me. I spent a lot of time on it... All together probably days. Whenever I tuned out I made cuts. Sometimes I'd read and be like "YES. I GET IT... You want vengeance. Now let's move on!"
4. You went to great lengths to switch the genders of the main roles -- why was this important?
I saw a reading of Julius Caesar a few years ago that was all women that gave so much heart to the characters, so I stayed open minded with casting. As for making the lovers two men, everybody generally assumes one way unless told otherwise... I wanted to assume the other way.
5. Howler's, your company, has done some interesting work around Orlando in recent history -- whats next for you?
I have a musical (non-Howler's) happening at the Orlando International Fringe Festival this May!
6. Full Disclosure: We have known each other since college. We were roommates four times in two states. This journey towards the artistic life -- theatre for you, fiction for me -- is one began then and in hindsight I don't think we realized how hard it would be. Let's imagine a young person, at that same college, who is thinking of the arts as life/living -- what would you tell them?
Do it! It's not easy... blah blah blah... Just do it. If all you can think about is creating then create!!
7. From our days rooming together in Florida I remember you had a strong commitment to the local -- you were determined that you didn't have to move to New York or LA to make this acting thing work. You wanted to be a part of the state and its art scene that you had grown up in. What does that commitment look like today and how does it shape the future/future projects for you?
I hate when people complain that there's no culture in their area. If that's true then just create it. While I can't stand the weather in Florida I love the artistic community!!
8. Where can interested parties get tickets and information on upcoming performances?
Like Howler's Theatre on the Facebook for future projects. Write email@example.com to make reservations.
9. Where can people follow the ongoing adventures of Howler's Theatre and get news about future projects?
See No. 8... I wish we had an active website, but I don't have a computer and creating one is beyond my nineties education. I didn't know what the internet was until I met you.
10. The Last Word: The last word is yours, Scott. Anything you want to say to interested parties, former lovers, curious stander by's, critics and fans?
I just did an interview with another Orlando producer that made me realize that, with this production, I just kind of wandered on a plane, took off, put on a backpack, and jumped. I didn't know if an audience would be there, I was just passionate about this project! I still am not sure if the backpack I have on now is a parachute.
Follow Jason Derr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JasonClipOn