Bernardo tells us about being InViolet’s new Literary Manager, building audience participation into his plays and making the move to LA.
InViolet: How do you identify in the theater world?
Bernardo: Actor/Playwright/Podcast Host
InViolet: What is your favorite InViolet memory?
Bernardo: Being in Megan Hart’s This is Fiction. I was brand new to the company and getting to be in my first InViolet Play at The Cherry Lane was a dream come true. Walking every day on Commerce Street I felt like a real New York actor. Plus the cast and crew was an all star team. Megan Hart is a ridiculously talented playwright who also happens to be a kind and generous person. I would do anything she wrote in any space anywhere.
InViolet: You are InViolet’s newly crowned Literary Manager! Tell us what you plan on doing with this sexy title.
Bernardo: First off I’m going to read all of Bixby Elliot’s play and send him detailed notes. Then I’ll make a Power Point presentation for the company detailing all of the things Bixby needs to improve on as a writer.#jokes
No, I honestly just want to help us do more and more readings of our work and get more of it produced. This company has so many talented writers and we are building up quite a catalog of plays that deserve to get done all over the country. It’s an embarrassment of riches and I just hope we can get more of these play out into the world.
InViolet: You recently celebrated the 150th episode of OFF AND ON, a New York Theater podcast by interviewing Stephen Adly Guirgis (who actually directed our 2nd World Premiere, Kiss Me on the Mouth by Melanie Angelina Maras). Congratulations on all you’ve accomplished with the podcast! Our members listen to you constantly (obviously). What keeps you interviewing folks week after week? What has the process taught you over the years?
Bernardo: I love doing the podcast. It’s an excuse for me to sit down every week with a theatre person and talk to them about the thing we both love the most. The more interviews I do the more I fall in love with theatre people. It’s a crazy career and the fact that so many people sacrifice so much to pursue it is astounding. Think about how cool it is that we are in a community with all of the people who were brave enough to say no to the “normal” path and said fuck it I’m pursuing my dream. And then we get to have drinks with those people, have those people over for dinner, be in a company with those people. It’s fucking cool.
InViolet: You just went to your hometown of Houston, Texas to see the premiere of your play JUDGMENT OF FOOLS at Horsehead Theatre. This is the 3rd production of this play in one year, yes? Amazing. What’s the journey of this play been like for you?
Bernardo: This is the most experimental piece I’ve ever written. It has audience participation as the main ingredient. So the play changes depending on the city and the venue and the people. The biggest challenge has been the script itself, fine tuning it and learning how best to get audiences to want to participate. We have over 100 years of audiences being trained to dress up and sit in a quiet room when watching theatre, so fighting against that is tough. But I hope this piece is the first of many I write that uses these techniques and hopefully creates an environment where the audience gets to be more involved. In Houston the other night the show ended with everyone in the audiences hugging each other and talking about peace. That was fucking cool. This company is really great and the cast is superb. I hope everyone who reads this will send their plays to Horsehead Theatre Company because they are a great group of people doing really create challenging new work.
InViolet: We interviewed Gerry Rodriguez a few weeks ago and talked about your play NEIGHBORS. Your cast and director Lou Moreno killed it at our InProgress Play Festival this June and we were psyched to see it was part of Two River Theater Company’s Crossing Borders Festival. What’s next for the play? What are your hopes and plans for it?
Bernardo: I hope it gets done somewhere. I am desperate for a rehearsal process and to see it up on its feet. The next workshop is here in L.A. at The Blank Theatre on November 14th. Ideally a theatre will do it both in English and Spanish. I know this sounds weird but I think the play is in a really great place and I’m fucking proud of it. Plus Gerry is brilliant in this piece and I hope if anything, it gets done so people see how talented he is. This is one of the best actors in New York. He should be on stage all year round.
InViolet: You recently made the move to LA. You are now a part of “InViolet West,” our affectionate (unofficial) name for our members who now call Cali home. How has the adjustment been for you?
Bernardo: I am surprised at how much I like it. Life is easier out here, you have more time to think and breathe. I’m even teaching myself to surf. But I miss theatre. I miss it so much. You don’t get to be in it as much out here. It’s a balance. I’ve had the best financial year of my life out here but it’s not as fulfilling as it was in New York. I hope with time I get to be more involved with things I love out here but as of now it’s a purely adult decision. #Adult
InViolet: Your wife, the amazing Lauren Saffa, is a documentary film editor. If you could choose one InViolet member whose day to day life you’d like to see captured in a big budget, widely released documentary film, who would it be?
Bernardo: Andrew Blair. What is that guy doing, one minute he’s in New Zealand, then he’s on the today show, and then he has a mildly racist instagram account for his dog, and then he has access to infinite memes and gifs that he sends me on whatsapp all day…does he have a job, how does he survive?
InViolet: What’s up next for you?
Bernardo: The workshop of Neighbors on Nov 14th! If you are in Los Angeles come on out! And same ol same ol, auditions, writing plays, and the podcast.