A chat with Ensemble Member Clinton Powell and Guest Artist Kiebpoli Calnek during rehearsals for On the Flip Side.
K: Okay! I’m here with Clintonnnnn…
K: Powell. Why don’t I know your last name?! That’s so weird!
[Clinton and Kiebpoli have worked together several times, notably with Medicine Show Theatre.]
K: So, how did you get into the theatre?
C: The first show I did was in fourth grade. It was Mary Poppins. I was the first reporter who asked her if she had a word to describe how she felt before supercalifragilistic. And then I was also one of the bankers… Aaaand, I asked the teacher, I was like, “Well, which of the bankers is the really old banker?” And she was like, “We don’t have to do that.” I was like, “No! There has to be a really old banker!” (Both laugh.) So I did my own stage makeup in fourth grade and put lines on my forehead... Even in fourth grade I was a character actor.
K: Slash director.
C: Slash secret director. (They laugh again.) How did you get into theatre? This is a story I don’t know yet.
K: Ok, so I was a wee lass in middle school, and here in New York City and there was this drama teacher… and she was like, ‘Oh, you’ll never get into the School of Performing Arts’. And I was like, ‘OH YEAH?!?’ So I got my own monologue book and I figured out the monologue I was going to do and I memorized it and I auditioned for the School of Performing Arts and I got in and I did it.
C: Do you remember what that monologue was?
K: Yes! It was Tennessee Williams’ This Property is Condemned. “The sky sure is white. White as a clean piece of paper…” (Both laugh.) That was my favorite... I was like, wait, this is acting? You can say this poetry and, like, just pretend to see things that aren’t there and just be?
K: What drew you to BrickaBrack?
C: I was really drawn to BrickaBrack since they are an ensemble that uses Viewpoints. When I first came to NY I worked with a group called Synesthetic Theatre, and it’s been a long time since I worked with them, but that was kinda my artistic home when I first came to NY, so I was kind of wanting that Viewpoints/ensemble artistic home again… I enjoy the sense of community we have as an ensemble… We’re learning about each other as people. We work well together…
K: So, this is my first show with BrickaBrack [Kiebpoli joined BrickaBrack for this project on the invitation of Artistic Director GG - they’re colleagues from the Lincoln Center Directors Lab.]... but you did The Hope Frieze with BB. Do you happen to know why BrickaBrack uses audience participation?
C: Well, I don’t know what GG or Amy would say, but I find it interesting because we don’t normally view the world from one seat, with one perspective. We view the world many different ways and so I think changing audience perspective, or getting them involved in different ways in different pieces, helps make things more like how things are in real life. You know? How we have various perspectives on things.
K: Oh I like that, thank you.
C: So, let’s talk about On the Flip Side a little bit. Since this is what we’re doing.
K: This is what we’re doing.
C: This is why we’re here.
K: You’re a very good interviewer, by the way.
C: Thank you. (“Interview voice”) How would you…
K: Oh, Lord.
C: What’s your elevator pitch, or how do you describe the show to people?
K: That’s a great question. Let’s see. Hey, Kiebpoli, what are you up to? Oh, I’m doing this show called On the Flip Side. It’s this ensemble piece generated from postcards that have actually been sent. And so we are exploring, I guess, the life of this postcard, or the journey of this postcard. Whether we’re taking our impetus from the image, or the emotions that it evokes in us or, you know, just some improv based on that. But there’s this really nice…oh, that’s a very long elevator. (Nervous laugh.)
C: That’s okay. It could be to the 50th floor.
K: What floor? Cancel! Cancel!
K: Ok, so…on a more personal note, what’s your secret vice, Clinton?
C: I watch the soap opera “Passions” on YouTube.
K: Whaaat?! I didn’t even know there were still soap operas anymore!
C: No. It’s off the air. It’s been off the air… That’s my secret vice… What’s yours?
K: (gasps) I can’t share that on public internet! ...What’s your favorite place in NYC?
C: Well, it’s probably where Times Scare NY is now. It used to be Show World… Because that’s where I met my husband David. I met him at an audition for a show and it was in that building. It’s kinda the place where it all started.
K: Show World? Isn’t that a porn…
C: Yeah it was, but they had rehearsal studios above.
K: Of course they did. I have one more question here. When or where were you the most happy?
C: Probably, City Hall, on March 21st, 2012.
C: But, no, I mean seriously though, for not ever thinking I was going to get married…
C: …would be allowed to get married.
C: …to finally be able to marry David.
K: To the person you love.
C: …after 13 years. It was on our 9th anniversary.
K: Oh My God! This story gets better and better.
C: I know it’s another cliche answer but that was truly a special day.
K: So you’re a romantic, we get that.
C: Yes. Thank you. One more postcard question! If you could send anyone, anyone, a postcard right now, who would you send it to?
K: Oh, my gosh! I would probably send it to my friend Joy in Taiwan and I would send it to her because, because I miss her! And I feel like postcards are just like this tender little moment in time you want to share with another person… Thank you, Clinton. I love this “interview voice.”
C: My interview voice?
K: Yes. How many minutes was that?
C: That was five.
K: That was only five minutes?
On the Flip Side runs September 14 - 17 at HERE.
Musings by the BrickaBrack Ensemble