Saturday, August 11, 2012

Interview With A Veteran Director: Nik Perleros

During lunch Nik Perleros had some time to give me his thoughts on how this weekend was working for him.

So how's you're experience so far?

"It's been awesome. I'm the only veteran director, which was sort of a relief. But also, I really wanted to be a writer. That was my hope. Part of it was that I'd already be done with my job right now. I'm shooting a little movie tomorrow and the call time is 5am. So I thought, if I'm a writer, I could actually get some rest. But I just love the directing. This is my third time. I have system that I like to use."

When I ask what it is he asks himself, "Gosh, what is my system? Um.. essentially, work really hard, block the show almost entirely and get it on its feet within the first hour and a half. And then from there on, we'll fix issues. I think it helps people to give them enough time for lines. Today's show is different because it's a four-person show and what I love about a four-person show, I'm able to say, 'Ok you two go over lines, I'm going to take these other two and we're going to go figure out the physical stuff we have to do.' I feel like with more people, I can be more efficient. So we've gotten a lot done today. Yesterday when it was just me and Carl and Julia.. it's just all on them. The line load, the workload.. everything is on them. They're tired, I'm tired. It was also a low-energy piece. So even though it's been my third time, I mean every single time you direct it's a brand new experience. Even though I have my system, yesterday it wouldn't have worked. The blocking was almost so simple, it was done in the first ten minutes. So it's always really challenging. It never feels like I'm truly a veteran. You're always learning."

Have you ever been stumped for a vision when a play has been handed to you?

"I felt a little stumped yesterday. I've never been fully stumped because I always have actors and the design people to ask for help. And they lend so many good ideas. I'm always a technically-minded theater person. Storytelling is always what I'm working on but visually, I always know almost immediately. They've read the script too. I just ask people a lot of questions. They offer so many great insights, good ideas, bad ideas.. everything that kind of makes it obvious. For me it's helpful to be talking. So no. Never been fully stumped. It's been daunting. The last 14/48 I got the play that had 15 scene changes and over 30 light cues. My challenge was to not shy away from it and do everything in the script. And we totally did. I don't know how we did. It seemed impossible. Maybe it was because I could see the tech stuff so it wasn't scary for me. Also I think I've been really lucky. Whatever I ask for tech wise, every member of the crew is so generous with me so I'm always able to get what I want and what the show needs, which is awesome. Maybe my demands just aren't that crazy, but sometimes I feel like I ask for a lot. Today I feel like I've asked for more than I've asked for in a while. But it's just set pieces. Things that have to be built. One is a chain link fence and one is a see-saw, which is a downgrade from 'I'd like a full swing-set. I wouldn't ask for things I wouldn't think are doable. I try to do the compromising before I even make the request. Like in my mind, I think, "Can I do this?" But today seems like a very tech heavy day for most shows. Yesterday seemed very light, but today people got their confidence up so they're like, 'Let's just go for it!' So today the tech people are a little more like, 'I don't know if we'll have time for that.' But they're amazing. They work so hard."

As far as the actors and his great cast are concerned, "This is the third show where I've directed Trick. And I believe that makes me the diretor who's worked him most at 14/48. I'm trying to be the Scorsese to his DeNiro. Our partnership is good and we always have so much fun working together. That's kind of exciting. Plus I get to work with a whole group of new people I'd never worked with before. I'd never met Basil before this time. It's so much fun to be working with him. I'd never met Evan. I worked with Carl yesterday and he's great. I just love working with comedians."

Jonah Von Spreecken pops in and says, "Angel, I'm shaving," and he clearly does have blue-ish shaving cream on his face. "I don't know if that's something you want to document for the blog."

We bust out laughing.

"I'll do it now!" I say enthusiastically.

"Track down Truman if you need photography," he says heading elsewhere.

Nik tells me he doesn't do a lot of theater anymore.

"That's why I'm always very grateful to keep getting asked back to 14/48."

How do you keep that directing muscle trained?

"Short films. I'm directing short films all the time. I'm constantly making movies. And it's different, but that's what I'm doing as much as possible. Writing all the time. It's what I want to do."

Do you think film and theater translate back and forth?

"Sometimes I see myself not always buying theater acting. That's why I'm happy that feels a little more like a sketch. Because if it's big and broader, that feels like it works really well for me. I don't want my actors shouting, but they need to be talking loud. I'm always bummed a little when you're doing just this close talking. I can see it. So that's the only thing is sometimes my taste doesn't always translate. I do prefer one medium very strongly over the other, but the filmmaking aspect..there's nothing like this [he means 14/48]. This is what helps train me to get me better to go out and make the other stuff. It's challenging and truly collaborative. 14/48 is just magical. It's harder, more complex, more fulfilling."

He mentions how much work he and his cast have put in this morning and, while his cast is on a break, he's noticed he's finally feeling some exhaustion from yesterday. He takes off for a break and that's when I head out for power nap myself. I trust we'll all find our opening and closing night energy soon enough.

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