Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: The play, Nephew of the Universe, will soon be appearing as part of the Hollywood Fringe Festival. For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about its premise?
Rob Bruner: It’s my true story about growing up in the Sri Chinmoy Centre, a spiritual organization my aunt began when she brought a young Indian Guru, Sri Chinmoy, to New York from an ashram in India. When my parents divorced, my mom and sister joined the group. I was 12 and found myself part of it. In the show, I dramatize, through various characters, the ups and downs of being in a strict group that required celibacy and strong discipline. I take the audience on my journey, striving for spiritual enlightenment but also attempting to live a normal life as a teenager and then into my twenties. With my family split, I was pulled in different directions as I tried to please everybody and also fulfill my own creative ambitions while deal with my sexual feelings and longings for a normal loving relationship.
BD: What inspired you to share your story through this production?
RB: People are always very curious about that part of my life, and I’ve wanted to tell the story for a long time in an entertaining and dramatic way. I won a grant from the Canada Council (I am Canadian.) to write the show, and then the National Film Board helped develop a concept for a documentary, which I am still working on. My intention is to tour the show and make it part of the doc as I visit the cities where I was active in the group and talk to ex-members, as well as my family and ex girlfriends.
BD: Given that this is a solo show, what can you share with us about your creative process and how you balance the various demands of the productions?
RB: The early drafts are a far cry from what has emerged. I’ve been working with Jessica Lynn Johnson for about a year now, off and on. She is the solo show coach queen in LA. She has helped me formulate a solo style show with narrator and characters interweaving and movement that supports the drama and comedy. As we rehearsed, I was re-writing through the whole process.
This is my first Fringe and first solo show, so it’s a new format and style and it has been a challenge – different from all the theatre, TV, film, and sketch comedy and stand up I’ve done – but all those disciplines have helped inform my choices.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
RB: I’d like audiences to be entertained by a weird and wonderful story. I’d like to leave them with a sense that humanity reigns supreme, and we must stay true to ourselves and our "inner voice" no matter what parents, teachers, or authority figures teach or tell us how to live.
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival an ideal venue for Nephew of the Universe?
RB: The Hollywood Fringe is a very supportive community, so it’s great not to be an island. Fringe participants go to see each others’ shows, and Fringe advertises for you ,so there is more audience. It’s a great place to put up a smaller show of any length. Lastly, it’s a lot of fun because there are parties and gatherings all through the festival – so an opportunity to meet many new wonderful playwrights, artists and performers.
BD: The show will be appearing at the Lounge Theatre from June 2-23, 2018. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
RB: Not so far, but I am sure I’ll be doing more festivals in LA, possibly more Fringe festivals and as I mentioned, there will be a tour to various cities for the documentary – Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, Chicago, and New York.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for Nephew of the Universe?
RB: Folks can get tickets at this link:
These are the shows: Tickets are $15
SUNDAY JUNE 03 2018, 6:00 PM | 75 MINS (preview)
THURSDAY JUNE 07 2018, 8:00 PM | 75 MINS
SATURDAY JUNE 16 2018, 6:00 PM | 75 MINS
SATURDAY JUNE 23 2018, 2:00 PM | 75 MINS
ALL SHOWS AT LOUNGE THEATRE 2, 6201 SANTA MONICA BLVD
(1 BLOCK EAST OF VINE)
More info and synopsis are here.
SHOWS START EXACTLY ON TIME. LEAVE PLENTY OF TIME TO PARK OR UBER/LYFT