Hyena written and performed by Romana Soutus and directed by Rachel Levens comes to The Club @ La MaMa - March 18 - 27, 2016. Romana took time out from rehearsals to answer our 6 Questions about the show, the postcard and a lot more!
1. Your solo show HYENA opens at La MaMa on March 18th. Where did the title come from?
I started conceiving the piece while I was in La MaMa Umbria, and while doing a workshop with Roberto Varea this image of a woman growling at an audience came into my head. That image stuck with me for a couple of days, almost relentlessly. All of a sudden, it just kind of hit me "HYENA", that's the title. It just felt right.
In no part in the show do I actually talk about hyenas, which is in part why I love the title even more.
2. What are some specific challenges of doing a solo show?
HYENA is incredibly interactive. The audience is my scene partner. We're constantly in rehearsal going "okay, well, this is the part when we find out how the audience reacts to this!" There are parts of the show that I'll technically will have never done until we open. That being said, I won't have that sensation of ever feeling "ready". And even when I've done the show 3 or 4 times, I still won't feel prepared because each audience is different and I need to respect that.
That excites me because I know that each experience with an audience is going to be unique and special.
3. We love your postcard for Hyena - how did it come about?
I met our visual designer Paola Pagano through the La MaMa Junior Committee. We were both chairs of the end-of-year Cartel Dance Party together and after the meeting when we first met, we just decided to go out for a drink together. I had to run to a rehearsal of a workshop of HYENA, so the meeting ran little short. We started talking about the play and she asked me to send it to her. When we next saw each other at the Dance Cartel party, Paola took me aside and said "I'm doing the visual design for your show. I have to". I think she nailed it!
4. What was the last good book you read?
I'm currently reading "The Collected Short Stories of Lydia Davis". It's 733 pages of really beautiful and delicate writing that also seems to be incredibly violent. That juxtaposition totally excites me (clearly). Each short story inspires me. "She shakes hands with a great many people until someone breaks her wrist", who doesn't want to write a whole play based on that one sentence??
5. If you could go on a vacation tomorrow, anywhere in the world - where would you go?
I finished Patti Smith's "M Train" recently, and the way she described Tangier really interested me. I've had this impulse to go to Morocco my whole life, so going to this artist Mecca would be the best vacation for me right now.
6. What does working at La MaMa mean to you?
HYENA is a born and bred La MaMa piece. I was at the La MaMa Umbria Director's Symposium when the first spark of the idea came to me, I started writing it with Catherine Fillioux on the Playwright Retreat, I did the workshops in the Great Jones rehearsal studios and La MaMa staff gave me input and direction, and now, here I am, performing it in the Club! La MaMa is home. I love walking into the office and seeing everybody. I call half the people in that office "mom".
Working at La MaMa means being part of a family. And my artist family is amazing.