Monday, March 30, 2009

GO-GO KILLERS! Interview with United Stages!

Note:  This interview is no longer available from United Stages' website– I have presented it here, in archival form.

Seeing Stars: An Interview with Sean Gill and Rachel Klein
Imagine that you’re a ferocious and calculating girl gang deb in any B movie made in the 60s and 70s. You’ve been wronged by every small-town boss who ever thought he could own you because his family was rich and you were under-aged with a juvie record longer than Jerry Lee Lewis’ bangs. At last vengeance will be yours starting in May at the Sage Theater thanks to Go-Go Killers! creators playwright/filmmaker Sean Gill and director/choreographer Rachel Klein. Together they’ve ganged up to declared war on the powers that B.
In your new show Go-Go Killers! you combine dance and theater. Could you call it a “dancical?”

Rachel Klein: I might be swayed into calling it that. We aspire to create the same magical flow between our dialogue-driven scenes and dance numbers that you might see in a classic musical. If a character’s rage or passion for a particular moment can only be expressed through a full company fight-dance, then so be it! That is just a natural occurrence in the world of Go-Go Killers!
Is Go-Go Killers! as B movie inspired as the title suggests? Do girl gangs vie for turf?

Sean Gill: It’s sort of an amalgamation of several different B-movie genres, with violence-prone go-go dancers like in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, retrofuturistic underground lairs like Danger: Diabolik and ludicrous girl gang wars like in Switchblade Sisters. It takes place in Manhattan, 2019: the outlying lands have been scorched by a “Warming Catastrophe” and the greedy, malevolent ruling class reigns supreme with a cast-iron grip. These avaricious overlords fear one thing, and one thing only: ferocious, calculating girl gang debs who roam the countryside and have declared war on their corrupt masters. As far as vying for turf, if another gang were to stand between predator and prey, a spit-take-inducingly brutal fight-dance would surely not be out of the question.
Please finish this sentence: I love B movies because..…

Sean: Of the endless possibilities. It’s basically the only genre where you can have neon spandex, loads of ass-crack and hard-hitting social commentary in the same breath. It’s raw, unfiltered and not clamoring for the attentions of the critical elite. It doesn’t even know what the word “elite” means. It’s an unpredictable, unstable beast where a crime flick prologue could easily turn into a sci-fi thriller, a Tennessee Williams-esque family drama or a murder mystery at an aerobics studio.

Rachel: I agree with Sean. B movies, or “genre films” are extravagant ideas executed in a realm with little to no boundaries. I find the charm of this genre exists because the creators and actors are completely committed to the scenarios, no matter how outlandish the circumstances. Examples of this include Jane Fonda’s portrayal of Barbarella, who is absolutely committed to saving the galaxy, while zooming around in a pink spaceship with shag carpet walls, or the honesty of each vicious verbal confrontation over men and turf in Teenage Gang Debs. If there were even a shred of “wink and nod” in these performances, the allure would be destroyed.
Sean, why do you and Rachel make a good creative team?

Sean: She’s always looking for new ways to engage people, to make the theatrical experience more immediate, intimate and absorbing. More visceral. As a filmmaker, these are the sorts of sensations I want to appeal to within my audiences, and, as a playwright, I’m lucky to work with someone who can genuinely envision them on stage. She also harbors an obsession with colors that pop and costumes that sparkle; something about them releases a childlike energy within her, which, when combined with the deranged enthusiasm I draw from poorly-dubbed movies where characters are named “Trash” or “Hot Dog,” it hopefully creates an atmosphere where tawdry thrills and serious art can collide.

Rachel: Sean and I compliment each other’s stylistic sensibilities very well; he writes a world of untamed action, usually stemming from the collective cultural memory. He is magnificent at reshaping nostalgia to tell his own story, which is the perfect framework for the specificity and physicality of my directing approach. Together we aspire to create pulp entertainment for the stage. We also have cultivated a developmental working relationship where we bounce ideas off of each other constantly. Our collaborations usually succeed in that they are a shared vision from the beginning of the first drafts until the closing performance.
Ideal audience in the front row?

Rachel: Tura Satana, Charles Busch, Justin Bond, Mary Woronov and (ideally!) Paul Bartel.

Sean: Maybe Jack Hill, Russ Meyer (R.I.P.) and, what the hell, Enzo G. Castellari.
What’s next? What genre are you tackling next?

Rachel: I have a couple projects lined up that I am directing. Hound by John Patrick Bray, which is a twisted take on the Sherlock Holmes mythos, and John Van Druten’s witchcraft-tastic Bell, Book, and Candle next fall. However, I would loooove to explore doing a play inspired by gritty teenage bad-ass movies from the 1980s—like Class of 1984, Beat Street, Surburbia (the punk movie, not the Bogosian film), Repo Man and Tuff Turf. It would be fantastic to work on a punk high school play because that genre embodies an extraordinary defiance and standoffishness. The characters alone would be exciting to work with: the agony of high school with the added drama of a teen/adult power struggle, covered in the mandatory studded leather attire and intense eye makeup. Plus the soundtrack would be loads of fun to find!

Sean: I’ve got a couple genre films in the works with my Black Hole Adventure (Choose-Your-Own Adventure meets Flash Gordon in The Twilight Zone) and an Italian-style post-apocalyptic New York City gang movie with influences like 1990: The Bronx Warriors, The New Barbarians and Rappin’. Theater-wise, I’ve got several projects on my slate, though I’d obviously be collaborating with Rachel on this bad-ass punk nonsense. I’d probably class up her list of influences by inserting Lambada, Deadbeat at Dawn and Street Trash as further points of departure.
Thanks very much!

©2009, United Stages.

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