Benjamin Manno has C-L-A-S-S. He also plays the harmonica, acts, writes, directs and is on the look-out for two identical cats to star in his new screenplay. Feline leads, anyone?
InViolet: You are a fairly new InViolet member. Lucky us! What’s your InViolet journey been like so far?
Benjamin: Grand! Thrown right into the mix, which is great. Not many companies will actively pull their newer members into the fold without a level of tenure. InViolet has provided programs like ONS, and SMS to give me a place to start submitting writing; something that I don’t often submit.
InViolet: How do you identify in the theater world?
Benjamin: A hopeful dreamer…Really that question is probably the scariest thing you could ask, right? How do I identify in the theatre world? How does anyone identify in the theatre world? Sometimes, it’s like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks in terms of success. In terms of art, I like performing in pieces that reflect a dry reality of life. Spending too much time being something you are not is exhausting, and I like living, breathing and writing about the times that veneer falls to the side. That’s when we find out, at our base, how much love we can give, how much BS we will put up with, and ultimately what we believe. That to me is fascinating.
InViolet: Have a favorite InViolet memory you can share?
Benjamin: Each night of Judgment of Fools. Every night had a different energy and reaction to the text. When things got heated that was the best, because you knew you hit on something good…
InViolet: You are directing a piece for our upcoming One Night Stand: The Post-It Plays. Who’s the writer? Who’s your cast? How are rehearsals going?
Benjamin: I am directing Megan Hart’s piece, Probably, Maybe acted by the wonderful Nurit Monacelli and Juan Villa. SCHEDULING IS HARD. Like. The hardest thing ever…it has nothing to do with my actors, you are beautiful! It’s just the reality of busy NYC lives. Nevertheless, it’s a wonderful piece that is absolutely relevant, dealing with micro-aggressions that are seen or maybe not seen, by those closest to you.
InViolet: Your significant other, the one and only Jacqueline Guillén, is also an InViolet member. Do you two collaborate often? It’s impressive how you two are able to focus during our meetings without constantly making out. Must be challenging, yeah?
Benjamin: We collaborate semi-often…and make-out never. We have class. C-L-A-S-S. But, whenever we aren’t busy running around doing everything else on the planet, we like to enjoy an evening of sitting in the same room as one another in absolute silence. Honesty-time. We never really worked together in college and NYC as afforded the opportunity to act in multiple things together, which has been a ball! We have a few sketch ideas in the works, and play instruments together for INTAR’s Salon and to our houseplants.
InViolet: Word on the street is you’ve been flexing your writing muscles lately. What are you working on?
Benjamin: Yes! I am terrified for SMS, the first time I will really have something read out loud. I like writing, I find it like a puzzle of story, character and plot. When I have an idea, I have to lay it out, and fill in the blanks. Make the bends and curves fit, and flow. The worst thing that can happen…it doesn’t make sense; a nightmare inducing thought.
InViolet: What are these short films you wrote that require identical cats? (And… let’s all put our heads together… how can we get you a pair of identical cats to make this dream a reality?)
Benjamin: I has screenplayz. I wrote two small pieces about a cat swap, and I need two cats that look identical, or at least close enough to fake it…Part One will be read at SMS next week, and the second I will submit later. But, yeah. If you have any feline leads for the future. I would like to produce it sometime in the Summer. But, that is if finding cats don’t put a paws on the whole operation…
InViolet: You’re quite a musical fella. You play guitar, harmonica… (anything else?). When are we going to see these skills in action?
Benjamin: I don’t know…have an open mic or something InViolet Theater…gosh.
InViolet: What’s next for you?
Benjamin: I am currently acting and directing in the One Night Stand, and will be acting in a show called ‘Astronauts Wanted” in late April that will go up at Dixon Place Main Stages. Other than that, writing and working on my own work. This year, I decided to not chase, but rather create.
INSTA – blackbeltsandbrows