ML - Michigan Avenue

2013 - Issue 3 - May/June

Michigan Avenue - Niche Media - Michigan Avenue magazine is a luxury lifestyle magazine centered around Chicago’s finest people, events, fashion, health & beauty, fine dining & more!

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the bigger brother to us, and they were incredibly supportive. There are so many things that came out of that production, but it really solidified us as a company. KH: The Lookingglass aesthetic—I don't know if I can paraphrase what it is, but it's visceral; it's visual; it's large or expansive storytelling. Was that established from the beginning? DS: David Catlin and I went to Northwestern together and started directing each other in plays. We didn't have a lot of money, so we couldn't execute the kind of visuals that now, years later, we're able to. We've always had a very improvisational rehearsal process with emphasis on ensemble rather than an individual. It was always this idea of a collective—artists of equal say and power combined with this crazy physicality. Catlin was a high school wrestler, and I was always playing basketball, baseball, or football. We wanted to bring that physicality to the theater. Before every rehearsal for at least a decade, we had serious one-hour or longer workouts as part of the rehearsal process. We'd just get all sweaty. KH: Lookingglass started in 1988, the same year I started a theater company with a bunch of my friends. We lasted two years—it was all the fighting, and everybody had jobs... but you all seem to be really close and still good friends. What's the secret? DS: When Catlin and I first talked about creating a company, we were looking at not only our favorite actors to work with, but also personalitywise—who were the people we wanted to hear, and who were the people we could have passionate, heated debate with and they wouldn't fly off the handle or take things too personally? We were looking for not only great talent as actors, but people we could envision spending a lot of time arguing with, but leave a room and still go get a beer. It's not enough just to be a really talented actor or director or writer. Who sees things from a different perspective that might wake you up to a different way of considering a scene? There was a healthy amount of ego we wanted, which any actor should have, but it should never take the place of the bigger picture of the group. KH: How does your theater training and experience with Lookingglass inform what you do as a director? What draws you to directing that you don't get when you're performing? DS: I've always loved the idea of working as part of a team. I like team sports; every player has a position, and every player is just as valuable as the next. What I love about directing is it's another team sport, but I get to be the captain. Sometimes it's really fun to be captain and lead the team; I also find it to be an incredible challenge intellectually. Sometimes as an actor, the experience is much more visceral or emotional and quite lonely because you're in your own world processing your character's point of view. I love doing that, but just as much, I love working with an incredibly talented writer, an incredibly talented set designer, costume designer, sound designer.... I love the whole process of the team working together and collaborating, where every person's idea is actually informing and elevating the next person's idea. I find it thrilling and satisfying on a level that's just different. Once I finish a directing job, I'm hungry to be an actor again and just focus on myself, responding to something more intuitively and viscerally; and once I finish an acting job, I'm jonesing to direct again, so I'm just trying to find a balance. KH: You've directed Run Fatboy Run and Trust. Do you plan to direct another film? DS: Absolutely. I would love to direct another movie. The challenge now is that I've got a daughter [Cleo] who's almost 2. It's going to have DS: I'm definitely open to that if it's the right piece of material and a role that will be challenging. It would just have to be something I feel is special and original. I would have loved to be in House of Cards with you. Did you know that [Lookingglass ensemble member] Laura Eason is on that show now? KH: Yeah, yeah. DS: Man, between you and Laura... We'll have to develop something. KH: I'll get to work on it. Now, let me ask you about the Rape Treatment Center. DS: I'm on the board of directors of the Rape Foundation, which raises money and oversees the fiduciary responsibilities of the Rape Treatment Center at Santa Monica–UCLA Medical Center and also this place called Stuart House, which is an amazing model program: a separate facility just for the treatment of child victims of sexual abuse. I've been involved with this organization for about 14 years. KH: It's a national organization? DS: No, but the programs that have been "Some of my favorite Lookingglass memories are the first couple of years, when we were just taking incredible risks." to be a really special thing for me to take time away from her. It's hard being away from her for months at a time. KH: So what are your must-dos when you come to Chicago? DS: One of my best buddies, Billy Dec, has fantastic restaurants, so usually I immediately hit the ground and meet him at one of them. Sunda is great. He's got a new Mexican place, Ay Chiwowa, which I haven't tried yet and am going to hit. I also live in the West Loop, so [there are] some great old haunts that I love. Chicago's a phenomenal restaurant town. KH: Chicago in the spring and summer—you can't beat it. DS: It's true. I love the new Millennium Park. I like spending time at the Historical Society. I try to spend time on the lakefront, the beach, or visiting friends who have property up north. Sometimes I'll check in on the campus in Evanston. KH: Would you ever do TV again as an actor? launched out of the Rape Treatment Center and Stuart House have served as model programs all over the country. For instance, years ago when GHB and other rape drugs were becoming more and more prevalent on college campuses, I worked with the Rape Treatment Center to do some PSAs with NBC and "The More You Know" campaign [on an] introductory video. We worked with the National Interfraternity Council and got these videos to every fraternity on every campus in the country. And it's that kind of mobilization that we try to do. We try to think big even though we're quite small. KH: Okay, just one last question: It's the year 2038 and Lookingglass is turning 50. What will you be doing? DS: Honestly, it would be great in 25 years to do a play where the entire company was onstage together again. That would be really meaningful for all of us—maybe for no one else [laughs], but for us it would be great. MA 102 MICHIGANAVEMAG.COM 100-103_MA_FEAT_CoverStory_MayJune13.indd 102 4/16/13 10:23 AM

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