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The Creative Life: Interview with the Actor

For the very first article in my “Creative Life” series, I interviewed my friend and fellow thespian,  Adam Wier- founder of the Haberdasher Theatre in New York City.

EXPLODING NOISE:  I know you pretty well, but tell the readers a little about
yourself, your occupation, and your theatre’s philosophy.

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE): Well, let’s see….. I [just turned] 25!

I’m originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, and seven years ago today I moved to New York
City. By day, I’m a student at Hunter College double majoring in
Spanish-English translation and interpretation and the Thomas Hunter
Honors Program, which is an interdisciplinary liberal arts program
there. I also teach SAT prep courses for Kaplan. By night, I run
Haberdasher Theatre as its managing director and vice president of its
board of directors.

EXPLODING NOISE: When did you realize you wanted to be an actor?

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE): Sort of late in the game compared to a lot of people. I know of people
saying they’d wanted to do it since they were five. I had been acting
since I was very young. My grandmother actually had helped found a
theatre company in Indianapolis called the Buck Creek Players, which
is still around today. But I don’t think I really knew it’s what I
wanted to do as a career until junior year of high school when I
started to really feel pressured to think of what to do with my
life–I actually still am trying to figure that out. But what I
realized is that out of all the things I did in high school, what I’d
miss the most is theatre, so I decided to keep doing it.

EXPLODING NOISE: What would you be doing if you could not be an actor?

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE): Well, I’m not sure exactly. I like to think I do a lot of things, not
just acting. Among them being translation and interpretation, of
course, and writing plays and tech work… I like to think I’d still
be doing those if it weren’t for acting, but acting really is the
genesis of all that. If you ask me today, I guess I’d be upstate in
the Catskills practicing Zen [Buddhism], but then if you ask me tomorrow, who
knows what I’ll answer then.

EXPLODING NOISE: What is one thing you wish someone had told you when you FIRST
started on your journey as an actor?

 ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE):Don’t feel pressured to conduct your career the same as everyone’s
elses. For some actors, hitting the beat and auditioning every day is
great. For others, like myself, it’s not very rewarding, and I got
into acting, and the theatre, because I got something back from it
that I liked. For me, it was a happier road to take a more holistic
approach, create my own work, and just do what I sort of come by
through contacts. In short, find the path that’s right for you rather
than what your teachers or fellow actors tell you that you SHOULD do.

EXPLODING NOISE: Are there times when you’ve considered giving up the life of a
professional actor do to its difficulty? What keeps you going?

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE): You know, not so much. I think it’s because I don’t put pressure on
myself on booking things because I know I can always just write or
produce a show and be in it. I said to myself early on that making
money acting, while nice, isn’t necessary for me. It’s more about
making sure that’s always in my life as a form of expression, and
luckily, I have a theatre company with an awesome group of people that
ensures that I always have something theatrical going on in my life.

EXPLODING NOISE: What motivated you to start your own theatre company?

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE):Making your own work is really important. As actors and creative
people, we pride ourselves on being free of the daily grind we accuse
accountants of. (Sorry accountants! I still love you! You make the world
go ’round Monday-Friday, nine to five.) I think, though, we can fall
into that monotony and “(not so) quiet desperation” just as much when
we get bent out of shape about not getting this role or booking that
job. Having your own outlet is really important for not becoming one
of those embittered actors, complaining about how they didn’t “cast me
because I was too short.” Instead of getting upset about it, I just
decide to try to get my own production of it going.

EXPLODING NOISE: How did you come up with the name of your company?

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE): Hollie Elizabeth Klem, the artistic director and my business partner
(and platonic soulmate?) came up with it. As she explained to one of
the actors in our current productions, “Haberdashers put the fine
trimmings on hats. We put the fine trimmings on theatre.”

EXPLODING NOISE: What’s the hardest thing about running your own theatre company?

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE):Having a social life. Actually. Scratch that. Staying awake. It’s an
exhausting job. In between shows, I find myself catching up on a lot of
sleep.

EXPLODING NOISE: It seems that most of the members of your company have a specific
administrative role assigned to them. How has that helped shape the
Haberdasher into what it has become?

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE):The members have shaped the company into its current form just as much
as Hollie and I have. While each person does a piece of the
administrative pie assigned to them, we all help each other. It’s
really a group effort all around. Everyone does such a fabulous job,
and it’s really invigorating to be in a company with a communal,
let’s-all-help-each-other feel, because you always feel supported. We
all trust each other immensely with our work, and there’s a perfect
ebb and flow to when we help each other and give advice and when we
back off and just let that person do their thing. We’ve all been
working together for years and have all become good friends in the
process. One of the most fun things to do is to work with your
friends.

EXPLODING NOISE: If you had unlimited funds and could produce any play that you
wanted, which would you choose?

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE):Well, I actually like small theatre, so I don’t know if the extra
budget would be totally necessary. I think small theatre has the most
heart, and I will always be the champion of Off-Off Broadway theatre.
I actually boycott the Tony’s. (I’m sure I’ll get eggs thrown at me
for that one.) But if I could do any play, it’d be a tie between
Vampire Lesbians From Sodom, Rocky Horror Show, and Book of Liz.

EXPLODING NOISE: What ambitions do you have for your theatre in the future?

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE):Well, we’re expanding our runs with our next show, Dorothy in Oz,
which is a version of the Wizard of Oz that takes place in a mental
ward. Beyond that, I would also be interested in doing more plays a
year, but I think we’re not close to that yet. We also have a special
topics class program that’s still in its early stages, as well as
looking at ways to revamp our month of literacy promoting children’s
theatre since the bookstore in FAO Schwartz, where we used to perform,
has come under new management. We’ve also started an arts blog at our
website http://haberdashertheatre.wordpress.com/ that’s brand new, so we’re
developing that as well.

EXPLODING NOISE: What advice would you give to someone who wanted to start his own
theatre company?

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE):It’s hard in the beginning, but eventually, if you manage your money
well, it all pays off and money becomes less of an issue. However, it
will always be something of an issue. Art requires money, and those are
just the sad facts. If you don’t believe me, check out The Hunger
Artist by Franz Kafka. It’s a nice little parable on the issue. It’s
also Kafka. Who would turn down some Kafka?

EXPLODING NOISE: Tell me the most important life lesson you’ve learned to date and
how you’ve applied it to the Haberdasher and being an actor.

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE):Wow. This is a toughy. My first instinct is to say that every moment
is a lesson if you’re listening carefully, but that sounds like a cop
out. So I’ll combine it with another cop-out, and it’ll be a
two-for-one: Everything will be fine. Really. It will. If you don’t
believe me, just wait and see. I’ve gone through periods of being
comfortable to periods of having the cash for only one meal a day.
I’ve had my heart-broken, and I’ve been in happy relationships. Some
shows have wonderful, amazing turn outs. Some shows are so-so. But in
the end of it all, it’s really fine. It’s easy to forget that in the
moment. Theatre people, myself included, love to get wrapped up in
what they’re feeling, but sometimes it’s good to say, “Okay. This is
really bumming me out. But now I’m just holding onto it. It’s time to
let it go, and move onto the next step.” Even with Haberdasher, when I
read a review I don’t quite like, I say, “Okay. That
sucked………….. Now what amazing thing am I going to put on
next?”

EXPLODING NOISE: Tell me a little about your world travels and what you have learned
(if anything).

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE):Well, I came back from living in Spain at the beginning of February
this year. I was there for six months, and it was really, with the
exception of a day trip to Toronto, the first time I left the country.
It was crazy. When I’d gotten there, I was fluent in Spanish already
but not used to using it 24/7 and in a dialect that I wasn’t used to.
I found my mind racing to understand everything everyone was telling
me and little cultural things…. For example, kissing on the cheek.
Some girls were weirded out when I tried to shake their hand instead
and there was a period of adaptation where I told myself, “No,
remember to kiss them on the cheek. Not thrust your hand at them.”
What was the biggest shock by far is when I went to Germany and was
there for a few days. It was the first time I’d been in a country
where I couldn’t speak the language. I had been to France before, and
while I’m not fluent, I can understand it, and do basic things like go
to the store, say “pardon me,” etc. In Germany, it was extremely
humbling that when I was lucky enough to make a friend there who spoke
English and he asked where my hostel was, I couldn’t tell him. The
words were so foreign to me that I couldn’t tell him. I just guessed
at what it meant in English.

EXPLODING NOISE: You have been a New Yorker for about 7 years now. What is your
favorite part of New York life?

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE):The pace. Some people hate it. And it definitely is tiring. But to me,
it’s motivating and exhilarating. I also really enjoy a good crazy
person or two. Nothing says New York City like someone cursing a
pigeons in Central Park.

EXPLODING NOISE: What other off-Broadway plays and companies would you suggest
people in the NYC area check out, besides the Haberdasher?

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE):For those who like classical work, definitely check out our friends at
Hudson Warehouse. http://www.hudsonwarehouse.net I would also
recommend Repertorio Español for the Spanish speakers. But most of
all, I recommend going to theatremania.com and looking at the Off-Off
Broadway section for something that catches your eye and then going to
check it out. People always jump to Broadway when they’re looking for
a random play to go to, and while Broadway is definitely New York
theatre, the real theatre, the real art, the real creative juices flow
in the tiny theatres. We don’t need a lot of special effects, because
we’re creating magic there.

EXPLODING NOISE: What is your favorite thing about living a creative life?

ADAM (HABERDASHER THEATRE): Freedom. I can create, be, live, learn, exist and die in whatever
fashion that pleases me and those who happen to be watching.

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CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS

I just saw Werner Herzog’s new film Cave of Forgotten Dreams. If you haven’t seen it- SEE IT!

It was beautiful; moving. I actually fogged up my 3D glasses with tears…

Besides Werner’s ability to move you via his storytelling, I was moved by the humanity- by humankind itself. It’s not often that I find myself marveling at the beauty of humanity, but that film didn’t just tell the story of cave paintings, it stripped human kind down to its purest form.

While watching the film I felt like humanity’s true purpose was revealed: CREATION.

We’ve been doing it since the beginning of time. Creating- telling stories, listening to music, and shaping the world around us. Communicating with those we’ll never see. Leaving a bridge to the past for future generations. These cave people weren’t working themselves to death, trying to make money, or coveting trivial things. They were exploring, learning and creating. That’s what separates us from “lower” lifeforms. The ability to create IS humanity.

So go out into the world and CREATE something.  Imagine the world that you want to see around you; shape it to your liking. It is our responsibility and our privilege as humans to do so.

So happy movie watching and happy creating everyone!

http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/463722/Cave-of-Forgotten-Dreams/overview

It’s easy being Green and Crafty!

So I am still sort of shaping this blog into what it will become, but after a day of unproductive loafing around and “interneting”, I decided that I need to be more committed to living a creative life.

I read through many posts on Instructables,  Makezine, and Etsy.  The posts made me realize that there are many things that I need and want in my life- but I also realized that I can make most of those things.

So that said, I am committing myself to full hippy-dom, and first trying to make my own ‘whatevers’ out of recycled materials (including clothing and jewelry -yipes!), before purchasing anything new. This commitment should help me be more creative in my everyday life, as well as help me save money, and be more environmentally responsible because I will waste less.

So check out those sites, and get inspired yourself! Read the rest of this entry