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Interview with John


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MOLLY: Hello and welcome to the podcast where we talk about creating experimental art and trauma-informed and sustainable ways that support artists, our communities and the organization as a whole. I'm Molly and you're listening to Any Other Anythings?


Welcome to Any Other Anythings? John! How you doing?


JOHN: I'm doing pretty well. How are you Molly?


MOLLY: I'm doing all right, thank you. Um, so would you like to share or lead us through either a warm-up or a grounding activity that maybe is your favorite?


JOHN: Hmm...yeah this is actually this um this is the grounding, oh I don't know if there's a grounding. There's an icebreaker. It comes from um an organization group I work with sometimes. It's called like your rose and thorn of the day. Where you say like of the day, like what was a good thing that happened to your rose, and then like a bad thing that's your thorn. It's just like a way to connect with everyone. So, like I would say like my rose for the day is that I do not have a headache, which I had yesterday and I had a really bad headache yesterday, so I feel good now.


MOLLY: Yay!


JOHN: But, I guess my thorn is, what's my thorn for the day? Um I don't know, I don't feel like this is not my best head wrap uh...


MOLLY: Okay.


JOHN: Yeah, but I'm usually better at doing head wraps except this one. So, what is your rose and thorn?


MOLLY: Um let's see. I actually have a headache, so maybe I like I borrowed it from you.


JOHN: Aww.


MOLLY: Um, so I guess like I think the headaches coming from, I had this, I spent like three or four hours at the car dealership this morning getting my car aligned and all that. So, that was that was definitely the thorn of the day. Um but the rose was that um because, I was a patient person they gave me a discount! I was like okay...


JOHN: Ohhh


MOLLY: ...like, so yeah like I, I like that I like that image of the rose and thorn coming together because it's like you can have both that's beautiful.


JOHN: Very cool.


MOLLY: Wonderful! Um, would you like to start with some rapid fire questions?


JOHN: Sure! I'm down.


MOLLY: Okay, here we go! So, um with all the Grey Box work that you've done. We didn't even do an intro let's; we'll get there in a moment. With all the great Grey Box work that you've done, uh what is your favorite prop and why?


JOHN: Oh uh my favorite prop that we did was during Tangled Mess and we had like we attached like that thing, that mesh thing to the balloons...


MOLLY: Yeah!


JOHN: ...that was fun, that was really fun to play with. I had a really good time with that.


MOLLY: Yeah, that's a great one, that's a great one. Um what's your favorite artistic risk that you have taken within Grey Box show?


JOHN: Um I think I'd be going back to Tango Mess. It's just that um it kind of gave me, there's that one section where I was at the mic just talking, just ranting and sometimes I'm afraid to do that so um yeah that was the risk for me.


MOLLY: Mm yeah super vulnerable. Um okay one more rapid fire question and then we'll...we'll get into like introductions. Um what's the weirdest thing you've googled for show research or like the weirdest rabbit hole of the internet that you've gone down for a Grey Box show?


JOHN: Oh um I don't know if it's weird, but I've just with this with Grey Box I've just stumbled on, like that rather full of stock images; you know like those um ShutterStock or, whatever brand of um they have a lot of images just like, who's taking these photos?


MOLLY: Yes. They do, they do. Have you seen the, like, oh I it has a way better name than what I'm gonna be able to pull up right now but it's like...like my job, but like a bad representation of what my job is on stock photos. Um and it's like they've got like the DNA spiral going the wrong way. They're not using them like the microscope just, like, yeah.


JOHN: Oh I haven't seen that.


MOLLY: If you need another rabbit hole to go down, um there you go.


JOHN: Alright, cool.


MOLLY: So, now that we know a little bit more about you. Uh, would you care to share uh an introduction and...and your roles um that you've had within Grey Box Collective?


JOHN: Yeah! So, um, I'm Johnny Dallas. Um I just did my first Grey Box show, like last year, yeah. I have a hard time telling time with quarantine.


MOLLY: Yeah.


JOHN: Yeah. Yes, it was Spring 2019 with Tangled Mess. Um I was a junior in college um and I've been, I've done if you count, Take Back the Night. Which was like a short version of Tangled Mess that we did. Um I've done three shows at Grey Box. I said like, I was in another one, but I had to drop out because I had some personal issues come up. So three and a half shows, I'll say I've done Grey Box.


MOLLY: Lovely. Um and you've performed in all of them, yes?


JOHN: Yes.


MOLLY: Yes. Cool, cool, so definitely hang and strung in that performer role. Um and then in Asses in Seats. Right, that was just a few months ago?


JOHN: Mm-hmm.


MOLLY: Um it felt a little bit more like,


I think the creative process on Zoom kind of levels the playing field between that traditional performer and director role. Um, did you feel that within the rehearsal process at all?


JOHN: Um kind of, uh it was um because it was cool for Dienae because they were directing it that um because they were in control of like a whole Zoom setup. That they could show themselves as well and, like share their screen so although they were the director. Dienae was also, like, in the show.


MOLLY: Mm-hmm, yeah.


JOHN: If that makes sense.


MOLLY: Yes, yeah just like redefining some of these roles that we're used to.


JOHN: Mm-hmm.


MOLLY: Um so within the the work that you've done with Grey Box Collective, um what is it that you have valued most within the work?


JOHN: Um I just love the flexibility that Grey Box has because, like, you're very understanding that like we have jobs and we have school and um because I think that's important for work that's about trauma. You have to take into account the performers and all the production people's lives that, you know we're trying our best to do like juggle everything and um I appreciate with Grey Box. That, um you're very understanding of our schedules, and um work, and other any other conflicts we have.


MOLLY: Yeah, I think it's so important to take into consideration like how do we be sustainable as artists.

Um and you've somewhat recently graduated so, how are you like building in some sustainable practices to life as an artist?


JOHN: Oh well, I still try to do even though, like currently unemployed, but I'm still trying to do like my eight hours of sleep every night. Just because I think I was told from a director, that Lin-Manuel Miranda said that like every performer should get eight hours of sleep. Now I never researched it to see if that's true, but, um, I try my best to get eight hours even if I'm not performing that day. Um yeah just trying to stay as creative and productive as I can, but it's also important to take breaks because taking a break is not wasting time it's actually a way to rejuvenate yourself as I've learned.


MOLLY: Yeah, totally um I...I appreciate that um like you're bringing up basic needs of like taking care of yourself. I think that's such, like, we don't give that enough weight and value sometimes. Um that as something as like simple and difficult I'll say as getting eight hours of sleep a night um that's really really an important, like a baseline to have.


JOHN: Yeah sleep is important because like you work so much like it makes sense you need to like to at least make up that time and rest.


MOLLY: Mm-hmm.


JOHN: It's just crazy our society doesn't value rest as much.


MOLLY: That is very true. Very true unfortunately, um and it's like...like uh rebelling almost like I got a whole eight hours of sleep um...


JOHN: Yeah.


MOLLY: ...yeah.


JOHN: It's always like sleep is good! I don't know why it's like taking a break is looked down upon.


MOLLY: Mm-hmm.


JOHN: I wouldn't say all societies, because like in Spain they take like siestas in the middle of the day.


MOLLY: True.

JOHN: It's like their culture.


MOLLY: Yeah.


JOHN: I also think that's...


MOLLY: European culture.


JOHN: Yeah! I think Europeans also like to drink alcohol during lunch time and they have like two hour lunch breaks.


MOLLY: Mm-hmm.


JOHN: Jealous of that.


MOLLY: Yes. We'll...we'll add some new sustainable practices in. Um but yeah like that built-in rest is built or is a part of the...the culture of um the various regions and I...I just it's not something that we do um in the U.S., unfortunately.


JOHN: Yeah, actually, I think I heard something that like the whole fast-food culture is rooted in uh, just that Americans wanting to be on the on the go all the time.


MOLLY: Mm-hmm.


JOHN: Cause like, you know, fast food sort of made that you can eat it in the car or like on the way to something.


MOLLY: Mm-hmm.


JOHN: It's just like an aspect of our culture that you can't even rest when you're eating.


MOLLY: No, it's very true, it's very true. I did that this morning! Yeah, it's true.


JOHN: It's hard not to because, you know, like we have like 40 hour work weeks, if you're working full time, you know. You just eat when you can.


MOLLY: Yeah. Which again is another basic need like, sleeping and eating and these are ways that we sustain ourselves. Uh yet, we're in this structure that doesn't seem to support those basic needs of getting a good night's sleep and eating. Um, so, do you find that there's some kind of like self-talk or inner monologue that you have with yourself, um if you find yourself straying away from those basic needs to take care of yourself?


JOHN: Sometimes, uh because sometimes you know I don't think about it if I'm just busy. I'm just like, I'm not even thinking about what I'm eating or whatnot but then I'm like, I actually should be eating more nutritious stuff now that I know about it. Because I'm very tired even though I ate twice a day already.


MOLLY: Yeah just being in tune with yourself.


JOHN: Mm-hmm.

MOLLY: That's an important one. Um kind of going back to, what you were saying about how these sustainable practices and taking care of ourselves support the work that is around trauma related subjects. Um do you find when you are in a show mode versus when you're out of showboat things change at all for you?


JOHN: That's a good question. Um yeah in a way, I just noticed, uh obviously like when you're in a show you schedule your whole you rearrange your schedule, you know you have you put in like rehearsal times on your calendar or whatever everyone uses to put in their schedule. Um, so yeah I have, like definitely particularly back when we could do shows in person I found that you know there was definitely a show mode. When I was in production, Zoom shows are kind of weird, because it doesn't feel like I'm in production in a way, but I still am. I don't feel like I'm in the show mode as I was prior to the pandemic. If that makes sense.


MOLLY: It does. Could you share more about like some of those distinctions...


JOHN: Um yeah.


MOLLY: ...of being in show mode digitally versus real life? I don't know what to call it, like non-free pandemic performance mode?


JOHN: Yeah it's like, because usually I'm used to um because, like, particularly theaters like there's a space that we all meet in and be creative. Our juices flow as it would. Um, but and zoom, I'm not going to a place I'm staying at home. So how do I get my um energy and motivation up at home where I'm used to resting, to do shows and it'd be a rehearsal and whatnot.


MOLLY: Yeah.


JOHN: It's um and it's cool not having to leave. That's also, like, I'm not used to performing in this space.


MOLLY: Yeah. Um how our environments like dictate what we're supposed to be doing in them and now it's like the same same physical environment for all the different things that we do.


JOHN: Yeah...yeah.


MOLLY: Do you find that you still get like that opening night nerves or...or that like, what's the word I'm looking for, that adrenaline rush with like a live performance?


JOHN: Yeah, I would say so, not so much with stage readings because, I'm just reading the script. I don't have to memorize it, but like with um Assess in Seats and On Repeat I still had those nerves, because um we did memorize the um score.


MOLLY: Mm-hmm.


JOHN: So um I definitely had nerves for that. So, definitely Zoom shows where I have to memorize. I still feel nerves.


MOLLY: Yeah...yeah. Is that a good thing?


JOHN: I think so. It shows that you know that one cares and that they wanted to not mess up and yeah.


MOLLY: Yeah good...good. You never know like is it something that you don't want to invite into your home, um those opening night nerves. Yeah, um, so then having done several Zoom performances with and without Grey Box. Um what are some of the pieces of advice that you'd share with others around performing on Zoom, even rehearsing and connecting with other people on Zoom?


JOHN: Hmm good question? Um yeah that's a great question. Uh it's definitely hard, like if you're like me and you live in an apartment building and you have a neighbor below you, that will come knock on the door, if you just get up to use a restroom at night saying you're loud. Um it's definitely, oh coordinate with your neighbor when you can rehearse, because that's what I did with my neighbor. I was like back with Asses in Seats and On Repeat. I was like, 'Hey, here's my rehearsal times. If you hear movement, I'm not stomping around, as you say I am. I'm just rehearsing, because I'm a professional performer.'


MOLLY: Yeah.


JOHN: Yeah, that's my job. So, um yeah with four new people, like I was with my mom. So, I'd be like, 'Hey mom, uh I have a rehearsal right now. I gotta show right now.' So, um it's like coordinating with people you live with. Which I can't imagine if you really do that with a pet. If pets understand english, which is always, like do they? Do they not? That's like the question I always wonder.


MOLLY: Yeah in this house, no.


[BOTH LAUGH]


MOLLY: Would be great if we could. Um so talking about Zoom performances versus live performances. Uh I know that like building that connection with something that uh specifically, On Repeat you all talked about a lot um and I'm also, like, having just gone through some of our materials and some of our recordings from those debriefs, that's also why I'm thinking of it. Um, so what really worked for you to feel like you had a connection with other creatives?


JOHN: Um definitely, like, um just like that beginning check-in at every rehearsal and um like for On Repeat, this is my first time meeting Briana, like I still haven't met her in person. We've only...


MOLLY: Smiled.


JOHN: ...yeah, like, and we've done a whole show together. It's definitely important to still connect and like get to know each other. Um, like her, finding out you know, she was a Dance Major at ASU. Was important for me, because we were very connected to the theater department.


MOLLY: Yeah.


JOHN: We both probably lived at the FAC, more than our own homes at our time at ASU.


MOLLY: Yes, yeah definitely. So, finding those connections um of life outside of the screen.


JOHN: Yeah.


MOLLY: Yeah. Um, so of the work that you've done with Grey Box, um you you've taken on, um like mental health as kind of a primary topic right?


JOHN: Mm-hmm.


MOLLY: Um and then also uh with Assess in Seats looking more at um, like ambiguous bodies and specifically this like invitation that's happening right now where we're essentially inviting ourselves into each other's homes all the time. Um, so how has that how those topics like lived in your body and how have they settled in for yourself?


JOHN: Um, good question. Um, I mean, I think now with this whole era of Zoom calls for class and whatnot and like, school and whatnot. Um, there's been a lot more discussion about classism. Just like, particularly for kids who, like, some kids they have to uh be in their bathrooms for class because the only quiet place in their house if they live with a bunch of people. Um, and that's just something like I've been thinking about um like I live with the studio with my mom, it's just like, that's just how it is right now um and, not that like I'm ashamed of it.


But it's like, you know what do other people think of that, you know? I mean this, is this situation I'm in now is better than when I was homeless last year so, I'm not ashamed of living in a studio with my mom. But, are other people looking down on us, like didn't you just graduate from college? Why are you living with your mom in a studio? Um, so like, I just been thinking more about like, classism, and like um there's actually this viral photo on Twitter yesterday. It was this um it was like someone had taken a screenshot of their, class their Zoom class, and one of the students was working the drive-through at Wendy's while in Zoom class, and people were, like making fun of her it's, like why can't she be at home for class? But people, if some other people were saying you know like people got to work, you know. Yeah, if they're not in person for class why not be at work...


MOLLY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.


JOHN: ...at Wendy's you know. So, that's just something I've been thinking about, uh particularly signing on to do the Zoom shows. I was like, could I perform in a studio with my mom? But, uh I think it worked out you know my mom made a few cameos and performed. And, I love it.


MOLLY: Yeah. I did too, I did too. It was, I think we added it to uh The Bingo.


JOHN: Yeah, yeah.


MOLLY: As well, like performer's parents walks in, like yeah.


JOHN: Yeah.


MOLLY: So, it was great. Um I think I've, I've as well been thinking on the teacher end of it, of classism and, like, what is it to require students to even put their cameras on? Um, or to expect that they can have an audio that works. Um, and within Grey Box since we're going digital this year part of our our budget is to have like technology kits, so whatever barriers might be there we can we can start to help mitigate them in some way. I mean short of like buying people's internet service. Um, but...but doing the best that we can, because it definitely brings up things that maybe we could hide at one point about ourselves or we didn't share readily. Now it's not really an option.


JOHN: Yeah, and to add on something I've also been thinking about with this new age of Zoom is ageism; and because I also know just some elderly people are just, like, I guess not elderly. But, like boomers they're not too old. Um they're like 50s-60s, they're getting up there. But, they're not like elderly...


MOLLY: Over the hill.


JOHN: ...over the hill. Yeah, they don't want to use Zoom at all. So, I wonder are, so would they be interested in theater shows that are on Zoom?


MOLLY: Yeah...


JOHN: If they don't know how it works, they don't know how to install it. Um I may be expecting everyone to have Zoom or understand Zoom as, maybe ageist. Some people aren't used to it, which is something I've been thinking about too.


MOLLY: Yeah definitely. Um, and I think, I mean I didn't do it here today. Um I know you're familiar with Zoom, but in a group of new people I definitely like walk through; like here are the things. Um, and as I am teaching my mother, who is a boomer, uh how to how do you Zoom, so like we could have a conversation. It's definitely noticing that gap um, but even as an elder millennial. I've noticed in myself, so yeah it's definitely...definitely a change. Um, so with all of that um in mind, are there any other any things that you would care to share um with us today?


JOHN: Oh. Nothing I can think about right now I really want to share.


MOLLY: Okay, okay. Well then, thank you very much for hanging out and sharing.


JOHN: Thank you.


MOLLY: Yeah, um it was lovely to have a chat with you!


JOHN: Thank you! Right back at you. Same with you I enjoyed our chat.


MOLLY: Yeah.




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