The following is an interview with Malik B. El-Amin and Kate Jopson, the producer and director (respectively) of Griot Theatre’s currently running production of An Accident. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with El-Amin and Jopson about the inspiration behind the production, what enticed them to bring the show to the Griot stage, the creative process of the cast and crew, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Griot Theatre recently opened the play, An Accident, at the Lounge Theatre in Los Angeles, CA. What initially inspired you about this critically acclaimed story?
Malik B. El-Amin: I saw a staged reading of the play at Pasadena Playhouse and was struck by the idea that a violent tragedy would create intimacy between strangers. It’s unlikely these two characters would have otherwise met, and had they met, even less likely they’d have exchanged more than a few words. The accident created a bond and almost a sense of obligation between the two. I found that fascinating.
BD: For readers who may be unfamiliar with An Accident, how would you describe its premise?
MBE: A woman wakes up in a hospital unable to move and with little memory of her past, only to discover that the man who ran her over is her sole visitor. An Accident explores how small decisions can change the course of a life and how the body and mind heal in unexpected ways.
BD: Kate, what enticed you to take on the directing reigns of the show, and how would you describe your process in articulating the development of the characters?
Kate Jopson: I think Lydia (the playwright) captured the fear, frustration, boredom, and absurd humor of the recovery process. Sometimes, things are so awful, you just have to laugh. We took her foundation and ran with it, finding a visual and emotional way of showing what it’s like to feel alienated from your body and to come to terms with a new way of being. The piece looks at the recovery of the man who caused the accident, as well. We imagined it’d be a messy process of working through that guilt, and I like that the play doesn’t try to smooth it over.
BD: Malik, why do you feel that this play will resonate with audiences, and what do you hope that they will take away from the performance?
MBE: First, I think they’ll be struck by the skill and talent of the actors. A two-person play places great responsibility on the actors involved, and Kacie Rogers and Kent Faulcon rise to that challenge, and then some. Second, I hope it shifts how we look at disability. Some of us are born with our disabilities, and others acquire them over the course of our lives. I think the play offers affirmation to those in our community who have dealt with disability in their own lives, and may offer a new perspective to those who have yet to experience it.
BD: You have quite a talented cast and crew involved with the production. What can you tell us about their creative process in bringing An Accident to life?
KJ: Kent and Kacie were deep collaborators on this piece. We experimented with a lot of different concepts in the rehearsal process and not only were they game to play, but they also provided great insights. I loved that they were willing to dance in and out of realism with me.
The Scenic Designer JR Bruce thought a great deal about how we put our bodies on pedestals (especially in LA) and how so much of our identity is tied up in them when really they are just “vessels.” He also wanted to visually have the characters fears hanging over them and show how the two characters balance each other. The story relies heavily on lights. We go from real spaces to psychological spaces quickly, and Stacy McKenny Norr had to find a way of expressing the inside of these characters’ minds in a small space with limited instruments. We couldn’t have done it without her persistence and keen sense of timing.
BD: An Accident will be running through October 29th. What is the best way for our readers to garner tickets for the show?
MBE: For tickets, visit www.GriotTheatre.org.
BD: Are there any other upcoming shows or projects that you would care to share with our readers?
MBE: Griot Theatre will continue to explore contemporary and classical work through staged readings over the next several months. In the summer of 2018, we’ll present Othello by William Shakespeare. This modern adaptation will take place in an Asian country. The play will feature a woman in the role of Iago, and yours truly in the title role.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about An Accident?
MBE: The best way to learn more about the show is to come and see it. Your readers may enjoy a 50% discount by using the password “bodyhalf” on the ticketing website. Otherwise, they may visit us at www.GriotTheatre.org or at www.facebook.com/GriotTheatre.