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Interview with I AND YOU director Simone Alexander

29 March 2018

simone

 

How did you hear about our New Directions program and what made you interested in the program?
It was really serendipitous because I came across the call for submissions on Facebook back in September the first day we moved to Austin. I saw it and at the time it was 2 weeks until the
deadline, so I told myself that I might as well throw my hat in the ring because directing is why I wanted to move to Austin in the first place.
Why did you choose to direct I AND YOU?
I had heard a lot about Lauren Gunderson but this was the first play of hers I have gotten to read. I loved that it was a story about young people and her intent and vision were very accessible. I was very moved by the play from the first reading but I have grown even more in awe of her writing and vision for these characters.

What’s you favorite line in the play?
“Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged, Missing me one place search another I stop somewhere waiting for you.”
– a quote from the play quoting Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself

What was the first thing you ever directed for an audience?
The very first thing would be my attempts to direct my younger cousins in Disney remakes when I was 10 years old for all the parents in the family. With all willing parties, the first thing would be in college when I directed The Shape of Things by Neil LaBute as part of our student-run theatre company Out of the Box.

When was the moment you got bit by the theatre bug?
Honestly, I have always been a theatre kid and dancer my whole life. My earliest memory was trying to learn the choreography of It’s the Hard Knock Life from the 1982 movie version of Annie that I would constantly borrow from the library.
If you could direct any show here in Austin what show would love to share with the Austin community?
There are so many great plays being written right now that are on my directing bucket list but I’m really drawn to new works and stories from folks that we don’t always get to hear about
specifically women, queer people, and people of color. BLKS a new play by Aziza Barnes that would be an absolute dream to share with the Austin community.

You have been have recently relocated to Austin, What has been you initial impressions about the art scene here?
Austin’s art scene is very passionate and filled with excitement! I love that there is so much going on but also it has a real grass roots energy that I think is so necessary for a successful arts scene. You can see every kind of genre of performance here and that is the perfect environment to be inspired by.

You have never worked with any of these actors before, what has it been like to work with Kenah and Mia?
I haven’t and that’s an aspect of directing that I have always really loved. Starting as an actor first, I understand the process of finding and becoming the character but what it so intriguing is when an actor reaches the point where they are able to surprise me with strong unique choices. I had a really great feeling about both Kenah and Mia from the auditions they are both really young and full of creative energy. Throughout this rehearsal process, they have really brought this wonderful specific energy to these characters and that has built the heart of this story.

Has the rehearsal process surprised you in any way now that you are no longer just reading the play but now you can see it?
Definitely, there is always a new energy when any play starts the rehearsal process. This play deals a lot with the themes of unity and humanity through the gaze of teenage first love. The
unique thing about this play is when we started rehearsals we started to see where Lauren had put these easter eggs surprises and when we begin to discover and build onto that it makes this
love story even more unique and stronger. Also working with the whole production team takes the entire story and overall concept to the next level. That’s where the magic happens.

What’s next for Simone Alexander?
Directing is my happy place and I plan to do more of it in the future. Theatre has always been a part of my life and I’d love to create more of what I love. Producing, writing, and building a
theatre company are all things I see on the horizon.

What do you hope the audience is talking about when they leave I AND YOU?
I hope the audience leaves I AND YOU thinking about all of the different kinds of people that have made an impact on their own lives and made them feel connected to humanity in a larger
sense.