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S2 E8 with Micah & John

Updated: Jan 20

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Micah: It's another beautiful evening. Welcome everyone listening. Uh, thanks for joining us. Uh, this is Grey Box Collective's. Any other Anythings, uh, and we're in season too. Let's, uh, celebrate that cuz another, another. Year has come round. So, um, we're excited to be back. Um, I am here with another one of our lovely, um, um, collaborative artists.

Um, and I've always been , I've always been a, uh, huge, like, I guess I've made a mockery sometimes with, when people are like, oh, this person needs no introduction, and then they proceed to give an introduction.


So I'm, I think I'm gonna actually not give an introduction. But it's not because you don't need one, it's because I want you to present yourself as you are. So, without any further ado, um, I would love for my guests to introduce themselves and give us a quick worm down. Who am I speaking with today?


John: Hello, I'm John. I am an ensemble member with the Grey Box Collective, and it's a, it's gotta be, gosh, my. Fourth season with the Grey Box Collective now, so


Micah: yeah, absolutely love it. So, okay. Okay. Tell us how you got introduced to Grey Box. Like what was the first experience?


John: Yeah, I just saw the auditions on Facebook and um, I didn't know Molly at the time, but like, she was like a mutual friend of like my friends in the ASU school of theater. Um, so yeah, I saw the audition come up and I was like, and I was like really close to where I lived at the time. Um, so yeah, I just showed up to audition like, gosh, four years ago now,


Micah: and. I love that. That's honestly so wild. I, so I'm curious, you mentioned, uh, like ASU was kind of the common ground, uh, where, where, you know, the sparks began to, to, to appear. Um, and I'm curious about, uh, what part of the arts or performance arts were you, I guess, What did you first fall in love with?

I know for me it's always been like music was my first love. It's how I got into everything and everything just kind of exploded from there. Um, what was yours? Was it movement? Was it theater?


John: Uh, great question. Yeah. I guess for me, that's a great question. My first, first love would definitely be music.


Like Britney Spears is definitely my first love growing up. Gosh, I had had a little doll of her and everything, , but my parents got me into acting at a really young age. So as a child, I grew up in Los Angeles. I was doing like background work as a child. I'm thankful my parents never wanted me to be like a child star.


They wanted me to do school. That was my main focus. I'm grateful for that. So as a child, I was mostly just doing background work for like, uh, music videos, commercials, film. And then in, uh, middle school I did teamed , so that's how I got in theater. And then, yeah, I went to ASU for theater, the concentration acting.


Micah: That's awesome. Okay, well man, that's really funny cuz I kind of share a similar story. As I mentioned before, like I guess both of our foundations were in music, which is super cool to see. Awesome that you come from la I feel like it's the reverse. Most people that are in Phoenix end up moving to la. My best friend moved out there, uh, after we finished university together, and he loves it.


LA's not for me. Um, but um, it, it was, it was cool to kind of see him grow in his journey. But, um, yeah, I, I do, um, love that you're able to kind of dive into theater. I did the same thing and that's kind of what I'm pursuing full time as well right now. So it's, uh, really kind of cool to see that intersectionality.


Um, I, I am curious. With your time with Grey Box, has there been a show that you've, uh, collaborated on or an experience that maybe you just went to go see? Um, uh. Surrounding the little world that is Grey Collective that really made an impact on you, um, that you really think back fondly on that maybe if you could revisit or re rediscover for the first time or reimagine, uh, for a second time. Uh, is there any project that like stands out to you?


John: Yeah, I mean the first show I did was Tangled Mess. Alice says Spring 20 and yeah, uh, gosh, I was 20, uh, junior in college during that show. And, um, I guess that it is just that sort of nostalgia thing. This was like before the pandemic, before anyone knew what was gonna happen and um, yeah, it was that, gosh, I can't remember if the artist box, the Tempe was just like closed down now.


So it's definitely that nostalgia of thinking back to my first show with Grey Box Collective. And yeah, I had never done, like, I had done device theater before, especially at asu. It's, I've definitely. Device works, but I never done anything as like postdramatic and nonlinear as something with Grey Box. So it was really a great experience for me.

So yeah, it was my first time being exposed to Grey Box's, uh, structure and yeah, it was really cool


Micah: cool. Yeah


John: I think folly of my first time with tangled


Micah: nuts. That's so awesome. I, you said something really interesting there, like it was your first time collaborating on a project that was more of a non-linear structure.

Um, very abstract in the way that's not only that it's approached, but in the way that it's actually performed as well, uh, which is super cool to kind of explore, especially as a, as an artist. Um, and especially when. Kind of accustomed to that sort of, uh, linear storytelling in theater or film or, you know, the common, uh, ways that we typically consume that, uh, entertainment.


Um, I do wonder, uh, when you were in the rehearsal room, uh, How did you feel like you were able to contribute to the layering of storytelling, uh, that non-linear exploration? Like what were some ways that you, uh, kind of like to infuse yourself into the project? Yeah,


John: so, um, really with the rehearsals, how we did a tangled mess, I was just being with Molly, like, uh, like a, gosh, I can't remember so long ago now.


Um, Yeah, it was, it was three years ago. So yeah, my memory, um, there's like a green room in the basement of the Nelson Fine Arts Center in, at Tempe Campus. Asu people who've gone to ASU know what I'm talking about, the green room. We would meet in there and she would gimme prompts that I would like, write down answers.

And those texts became a text that I used in the. So that's really, and then of course, the movement aspect. And I, I'm not a dancer, I'm not a mover. I mean, I guess I'm a mover. I took like movement classes in college, but like I was definitely kind of, you know, scared to go into like the movement aspects of it.


But once I did it, I really, um, enjoyed it. It was really free unless I stopped thinking about it and like just did.


Micah: I love that. Yeah. There is really something to be said about that. Like I know I plan everything I get in my head, I'm like, okay, let me do this. Let me do that. Even when I did improv in school, I felt like I would go in with a plan and I was like, well, who's it really improving more if I like have a plan and I'm like thinking about my character and what choices I'm gonna make, blah, blah, blah.


So like really being able to let go and kind of just. Respond, uh, and be present in [00:08:00] what your environment is, who your audience is, what the vibe is, like really reading the room in a sense. Right? Uh, I think that's such a cool, uh, dynamic that's not often explored in the arts. So, uh, yeah. That's so that's awesome.


I love that. Um, cool. , I, I do wonder, uh, Grey Box Collective is really, really, I guess, built on the idea of how do we work through trauma, um, and explore and support it through art. Um, how has that, I guess, balance been for you? Because I know, uh, a lot of people kind of sometimes, uh, Perceive art as a form of therapy sometimes, and there are actual, like certified forms of art as therapy.


Um, this is not therapy in that sense, not in, not in a, a professional or, or clinical sense. But, um, when we're thinking of the idea of a trauma informed creative practice, what does that look like or feel like, uh, to you, um, in your times working with.


John: good question. Um, it's definitely, you know, You know, respecting others' boundaries and, you know, um, you know, reading the room, seeing, you know, what's appropriate for this occasion.


You definitely don't wanna like trauma dump on, you know, people in rehearsal room at the same time. You know, I do feel once Dani, one of my favorite songwriters, an underrated songwriter once said, you know, you really have vulnerable. To, uh, you know, write good songs. And some My favorite No Doubt songs were when we Dani started to really write about, sorry, I'm a Dani, stand her breakup canal and no doubt.


So, um, it, yeah, it's definitely that balance is a good question of, um, you know, respecting faces, being professional, but at the same time, you do have to be vulnerable. In the space and you can't be afraid of failure. Kind of going back to that, being afraid of, I have to remember, you know, a lot of theater in general, just trial and error, and especially Rehears, you just have to like try things out.


Not everything will be in the, in the actual show, but let's just throw it out here. You never know what's gonna sit. You know it's in Spanish and you don't know if you don't try. That's cliché. Um, so yeah, I hope that answered that question.


Micah: No, yeah. I love that. And I think one thing that really kind of stood out again to me was. Uh, just the idea of like, as simple as the phrase is, you don't know until you try really is like it holds such weight more than I think we realized. Um, one of my favorite things that Molly says is just like, we have permission to speak and draft. And I think like, especially in a rehearsal room or during the creation process like that is so prevalent and I think as much as we try to foster that sort of community, It's okay to try.


It's okay to speak and draft. It's okay. Fail, like you mentioned, like it's okay to fail. Um, it's not an issue, it's not a problem. It's not a detriment to who you are as an individual. Um, when we have a failure, we just know that that doesn't work. So we try something else. Um, and I think that that's such an empowering thing.


It's really just a matter of. Swapping up our perspectives. Right. So, yeah. I love that. That's great. That's great. Um, so, okay. All right. We keep coming back to music. So let me, let's, let's sit on music for a bit. A quick question. In the world of music, where do you find yourself composing, performing? Do you play anything?


Talk to me. What's your music life like?


John: That's a good question. , uh, I mean, I guess according to escape, which is where I'm like a songwriter, I'm like a composer. Leadership. Mm-hmm. um, in the technical terms, um, I mean, yeah, I guess I try not to label to myself to much as an artist because I do feel I, well, I've trained different disciplines and I'm take inspiration from a lot of different mediums.


I try not to label myself. I feel like others. See my art will label it. It's not really my job to label it. But yeah, I guess with music I see myself a writer, foremost. I don't see myself as a, I mean, I guess I am a composer cuz like I produce my music and whatnot, but like, I really hate music theory. I, I just, I don't like it.


I, I did it in middle school. I didn't like it. Um, it's not my thing. Yeah, I, I, for me, lyrics are the most important thing. So I definitely see myself as a writer, but because my degree is in theater, I have that urge to perform my own music. So I definitely see how I'm also a performer, definitely guess singer songwriter.

If I have to, I put a label on it.


Micah: Yeah, I love that. And honestly, I totally feel you on not liking to put labels on things. Sometimes it's pretty limiting, right? You're like, oh, I'm this, and then that's when people see you as, and you're like, okay, that's it. And I was like, no. Uh, we're multifaceted individuals and our taste, feelings, thoughts, you know, that all changes over time.

Um, so yeah, I, I, I totally respect that, but I do love that. I , I feel like I'm kind of in a similar boat. I feel like music has always been something a little personal for me. And I, I, I love, I've, yeah, music's been a part of my life for forever now. I write very sparsely. Uh, I do primarily perform. I love what you said actually about like, not being afraid for other people to use your art and then, or interpret it the way that you, that they.


See fit. Um, I really do think that, uh, not to say there's two types of artists, but in my mind sometimes there are kind of like two types of artists, uh, that one, they have very specific vision for their art or for their story that they're sharing with the world. Um, and they want that message to be clear and they want anyone else who tells that story or shares that story to be as clear as they were with the intention.


And then there are others. I think I'm kind of on defense, but like yourself, that. Are really open to, okay, interpret it how you will, like, just because it meant something like, or just because it meant this to me, doesn't mean that you'll, you know, observe it or, uh, take it in the same way that I, you know, uh, initially took it in.


Uh, so I, I. Love that idea. And I think that's really freeing as well. I guess that supports your idea of like, not labeling anything, right? You can't label your own work even. Cause some people just interpret it a little bit differently and it is really beautiful to see how that evolves or changes, uh, from individual to individuals.


So yeah, I I love that. I love that. All right. So if you could give me, I know you've thrown out a couple names, Brittney Spears, Gwen Stefani, and if they're in your top three, that's cool too. But give me your top three artists right now. Like who are you listening to?


John: I like what I like, I like Miriam Makeba. I like Selena. Oh, it's the third one behind Mitski.


Micah: Okay. All right, see. All right. This is actually why I love doing this, because I remember when I was in college, university, I used to do this all the time. It's literally how I built out my, like music tastes over the course of my life is just asking people what they listen to.