Welcome to “InViolet InFocus,” our new blog series where InViolet sits down with our members to learn more about what makes them tick.
First up is Mark Cirnigliaro, director extraordinaire, currently helming our InProgress Workshop presentation of Richard Etchison’s “Pride and Sensibility” playing this Saturday 9/24 and Monday 9/26 7pm at Theater at Blessed Sacrament (152 West 71st street, NYC) RSVP@inviolettheater.com
InViolet: How do you identify in the theater world?
Mark: If you mean discipline, I’m a director. If you mean as a white straight male, my role is to do a lot of listening, being open and allow myself to be educated. Also be sensitive to what a potential project needs, even if that means that’s not me. If you mean stylistically, my personal leanings are heavy in magical realism with a big pinch of “see the seams” kind of theatricality. Magical realism is what theatre does better than any other artistic platform. It feels like there is a renaissance of that kind of work all around me right now and that’s exciting!
InViolet: Tell us about your journey as an InViolet.
Mark: Started over a coffee with current company member Amy Villarama, and a year later I was asked to direct a one night stand by Bernardo Cubria and right after that Jennifer Bowen’s wonderful piece The Little Princess for their InViolet In Progress work. I joined them for a retreat and finished that second year becoming a full member. Since then I’ve directed a few staged readings (most recently A Mind Out of the Gutter by Erin Mallon) and another In Progress, The Judgment of Fools by Bernardo Cubria, which was met with a ton of success with its InViolet/INTAR extended co-production. Currently I am working on Richard Etchison’s Pride and Sensibility for their latest In Progress.
InViolet: What’s your favorite InViolet memory?
Mark: Out of all of the amazing moments I’ve had, the moment that sticks out in my mind is the vulnerability I saw in a playwright after they presented work to the group at retreat. A moment of love, relief, trust . . . just pure emotion. I learned everything I needed to about InViolet at that moment. What it meant to its members and their work and it’s commitment to them in return.
InViolet: What has the process been like readying Rich Etchison’s Pride and Sensibility for our InProgress this month?
Mark: It’s fun and fraught and exciting and terrifying and wonderful. Just like every other process I’ve been in. Theatre, by its very nature is trapeze work without a net. No one knows what we have till there is audience. I will say that the cast is fantastic, the script is funny and I think they are doing some really great work in the room. As long as I don’t screw it up I have high hopes!
InViolet: You’re the new Associate Artistic Director of Miles Square Theater in Hoboken. Tell us all about it!
Mark: MST is Hoboken’s own professional regional theatre just outside of NY. It’s the largest arts organization in Hudson County and we are growing quickly! We just opened a new space that is exclusively ours. We have a full education department and producing a full season of work with plans to expand our new plays development next year. Being the AAD has had a steep learning curve, but one I am happy to take on. MST is full of wonderful people, great artists and the future is really bright there. It’s exciting to be a part of such rapid expansive growth. We just closed two smaller productions and we open Dracula in Mid Oct and I am directing It’s a Wonderful Life there in Nov. www.milesquaretheatre.org
InViolet: You just directed a solo show, HONOUR, for FringeNYC to full houses and standing ovations. Proud of you pal. What was the Fringe experience like?
Mark: THE FRINGE WAS AMAZING! Honour is a very special piece that I have been work-shopping with Dipti Mehta (Writer/performer) for over a year. It is a one-woman show that has 7 characters and centers around the sale of a 16-year-old girl into prostitution by her mother in the red light district of Mumbai. It’s a challenging piece and has required a lot of work and a lot of faith. It’s full of heart, empathy, humor and truth. We’ve paired with Apne Aap, an international organization dedicated to saving girls from the sex trade in India. The best review we got was when the director of that organization said she heard the voices of the women she saves in our show; that she felt so strongly about it, she was going to go back to India to tell them someone is giving them a voice in the West. That really nailed it down for me that we had really achieved something. For a moment my art was making an actual difference. We came 36 seats short of having a sold out run at the Fringe. That means about 400 people saw us. By the last three shows most of those coming were not friends and family. That was the best part. We had broken through and begun reaching other people. www.honourcmc.com
InViolet: What’s up next for you?
Mark: Well, Pride and Sense is THIS WEEKEND. Then Honour has two shows at the Tamasha Festival Wed 9/28 and 10/2. Then It’s a Wonderful Life begins. In 2017 Honour is in prelim talks for some touring stops, but nothing concrete just yet and MST will be announcing it’s 2017 season soon! http://www.tamashanyc.org/
InViolet: If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring one InViolet with you for company, who would it be?
Mark: Probably Bixby Elliot. He is always telling me he needs a safe zone. I can’t think of a safer place than a desert island with me. That’s what he means right? They’re all wonderful people! I’d be happy to have any of them!
Find Mark at: www.Markdirects.com