The following is an interview with Aaron Hendry, the co-Artistic Director of Not Man Apart-Physical Theatre Ensemble and the playwright and director of the play, The Superhero and His Charming Wife. In this interview, Fanboy Comics Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Hendry about the inspiration for the play, balancing multiple roles within a production, why The Superhero will resonate with today’s audiences, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Editor-in-Chief: Not Man Apart-Physical Theatre Ensemble recently premiered the play, The Superhero and His Charming Wife, which you both wrote and directed. What initially inspired you to write this play and further to remain at the helm?
Aaron Hendry: How it all started is very strange! I had this crazy abstract dream – doors hovering in space, hallways of different colors, things opening and closing as I flew through them. There were huge planets slowly spinning like monoliths and then small fiery comets racing wildly by. I woke up thinking about the part of us that craves change and surprise versus the part of us that seeks to have order and security. We need both of these forces in our lives, but when they fall out of balance which each other, our life feels very chaotic. I imaged the two forces as superheroes with opposing powers trying to have a relationship with each other! I wrote the play. I looked for a director, but the idea was so personal and abstract, that finding the right “fit” in a director was hard. I finally got the courage to do it myself! (Thank god I found Michelle Broussard, choreographer, who helped the movement in my dream come to life.)
BD: Having taken on both roles within the performance, do you feel that one came to you more naturally or did they provide a complementary element to your creative process?
AH: Because this play was a total act of invention (the movement, the script, the art work, costuming, video design, etc.), the two roles became one and the same. “Writing” with sound or color became the same as writing with words. Any place I could convey an idea with an image or a gesture, I threw the words out and let the sights and sounds tell the story.
BD: Why do you feel that this play will resonate with audiences, and what do you hope that they will take away from the performance?
AH: The play is about our fear of the unknown. About how we seek to control that fear and they way it can become a harsh battle in our own lives, our relationships, and even our souls. The anxiety surrounding our fears feels like our enemy: a living, breathing, dangerous thing that is constantly at our heels! I think we all can relate to this struggle in some way or the other. I hope that people walk away with the sense that we all can be brave. That the courage it takes to face our own lives, our own relationships, our own weakness is truly heroic, and we all can be heroes.
BD: You have quite a talented cast and crew involved with the production. What can you tell us about their creative process in bringing The Superhero to life?
AH: Collaboration. Its about getting together not just the best people, but the most inventive and the most willing to dig deep and search with an open mind. Designers, performers, musicians – they all are listening and watching each other, developing their own contribution as a part of an every changing whole. It’s a LOT of work, but it is worth it. The result is art that is unique and powerful.
BD: What makes Not Man Apart an ideal home for the show?
AH: Because they are actual superheroes! You should see the things they can do! I say “lift the car up,” and the performer says “with one hand or two?” Even more so, it is because this company is devoted to narrative physical theatre – a story equally told with movement and words. It is a rare kind of theatre to see done well, and they are EXCELLENT at it.
BD: The Superhero and His Charming Wife will be running through May 15th at the 18th Street Arts Center in Santa Monica, CA. What is the best way for our readers to garner tickets for the show?
AH: Go to the theatre website (Highways Performance Space), click “buy tickets,” and select a date! Purchase ahead; we had people literally standing in the aisles last weekend because we were so packed.
BD: Are there any other upcoming shows or projects that you would care to share with our readers?
AH: Yes. This season we will be producing two modern adaptations of classic Greek warrior stories, Ajax in Iraq and Lysistrata Unbound. And we are developing and original adaptation of Paradise Lost for 2017. Stay tuned on our website and join our mailing list.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about The Superhero and His Charming Wife?
AH: It is action packed, thrilling, fun, and intriguing. It includes a dance done by a giant, black oil slick monster that consumes the entire set. (Yes, really.) I think it will be unlike anything that you’ve ever seen on a live stage. Visit the NMA (Not Man Apart) Facebook page to see more info and review as we post them. Thanks, Fanboy Comics!
*Photos by DarylJim Photography