An Interview with
director of Albatross's staged reading:
Pontypool by Tony Burgess
Tell us a little about yourself!
Hey there, my name is Jessa (she/her) and I'm based in Portland, OR. I've been playing around on and off stage with many of the founding members of Albatross since I was in middle school. I've taken a break from being on stage for the past 6 years to focus on being a hair stylist and makeup artist both behind the scenes for theatre, film, and photo shoots as well as working at a salon. When I'm not doing hair and makeup I can be found at home with my fiance and my fur babies watching an obscene amount of movies.
What drew you to Pontypool?
I love scary stories. I think bringing horror to life on stage is under explored in the theatre world. Pontypool is an expertly crafted, tight story that easily lends itself to a small stage. It is an accessible way to bring horror to the stage without relying too heavily on technical elements. I would hope this would open the door to more spooky plays being created and produced.
Pontypool originated as a radio play. What is your vision of approaching this play as a live staged reading?
I want an audience member to be able to close their eyes and be able to listen to the entire show as a full auditory experience rather than relying on visuals to invoke fear.
What about a staged reading elevates this story in a perhaps new or exciting way?
A staged reading allows us to approach the show in a bare bones, minimal way and I'm curious to see how the true horror of the story will emerge from that.
Who/what are your artistic inspirations?
The Portland Theater scene has been particularly inspirational to me in the past few years. I've seen some of the best work produced in my life down here. My favorite shows have been Nesting Season 1 and 2 by Joel Patrick Durham at the Shoebox Theatre and Mr. Burns, a post electric play by Anne Washburn at Portland Playhouse. Both filled with incredibly simple yet effective technical elements, spooky stories, and wonderfully intimate venues. Outside of the theater world, I am constantly inspired by Dazed Beauty, Andre 3000, and my number one Vincent Price.
What do you hope the audience will take away from this play?
I was recently asked "why do you enjoy horror?" and it took me a while to think about that question. I am a highly anxious person, so why would I want to feel more scared than I already do on a daily basis? I work so hard every day to overcome my anxiety and fear of things that are easy for most other people to encounter. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes I'm not. To me, overcoming fear is the ultimate power. On the flip side, many people avoid horror movies because they are uncomfortable with the sensation of being afraid. I feel powerful when I am watching a horror movie. In that instance, I get to control what is scaring me instead of the normal horrors of daily anxiety. I get to choose to be in that position and overcome that fear that many others are unwilling to encounter. My hope for this show is for people to welcome discomfort, welcome fear, and have fun with it.
See Pontypool for yourself! Join us for our staged reading of the story on Sunday, January 12.