"Cool/Cruel Summer": An Exclusive Interview with Christian Meola

By Danielle Wirsansky on October 24, 2014

The Fall season is full of theatre from musicals to Shakespeare and more. But if you’d like to sink your teeth into something different, Cool/Cruel Summer is the show to see. It’s experimental theatre at its best. Below is the exclusive interview of the Creator/Conceptor of the piece, Christian Meola.

Christian Meola in Cool/Cruel Summer

Q: What kind of theatre is Cool/Cruel Summer? How would you define it? Would you define it?CM: The show is taking place at the 621 Gallery in Railroad Square on October 30th, November 1st, and November 2nd, all at 8 pm. There is no show on Halloween, so if people aren’t trick or treating they can see the other great theatre going on; Jiana Estes is doing a piece that Thursday/Friday, and STA’s production of The Maids is that weekend as well.

CM: It is difficult to define. I have described it as a merger of live performance and film. It’s a performance art piece that utilizes multimedia in an effort to create one unit that is part performance and part film. It is an attempt to cross the boundaries of these mediums and explore the grey area between what theatre is and what film is.

Q: What inspired the show?

CM:  A lot of my endeavors have been heavily influenced and inspired by film. I didn’t realize my subconscious was begging for me to play with film and projection screens until I started working on this show in February. While studying abroad in London I was exposed to a lot of video installations and theatre pieces that used film, so that also influenced my decision to present the show with the film component. I also started paying closer attention to characteristics associated with my generation. I started listening to more 2 Chainz and recording what hashtags were trending on twitter. I also began to see film and video in a different way. I began to ask, “How would this particular video clip appear if it were to be taken out of context or manipulated in some way?”

Q: Without giving anything away, what is the show about? What can audiences expect?

CM: The show is about past, present and future. It is about personal and societal image: how we perceive our surroundings, our society and ourselves, and also the manipulation of these perceptions. It is about cultural trends and whether my generation is as ignorant, apathetic, and dependent on technology as adults seem to think we are. And it is about whether we should become better friends with our subconscious, particularly if our dreams can tell us something we otherwise are unable to receive. Expect choreography, subliminal messages, discreet film references, and middle fingers in the air. ;)

Cool/Cruel Summer

Q: What do you want the audience to take away from your performance?

CM: I don’t want to prescribe to the audience what I think they should feel about the piece. Rather, I am just going to present ideas I feel strongly about. If the audience responds, that is ideal. If not, I’m prepared for that as well.

Q: Is this a one man show? Who else is involved?

CM: Technically, yes. I conceived the show’s content and am the main performer. However, my AD Nick and my cast Robin and Cara undoubtedly helped make this piece come to life. I tend to get lost in my ideas, and they have kept me grounded. Without them this piece would have been impossible. My friends in the film school Jake and Nicola helped me film much of the footage used in the show so shoutout to them also.

Q: What is your greatest pleasure as a performer?

CM: My work is created for the audience. My pleasure as a performer stems from my desire to establish a relationship with the audience by sharing myself, and hopefully in return they will somehow receive it. When I am given this opportunity, I am grateful and inspired.

Christian Meola in Cool/Cruel Summer

Q: What about theatre draws you to it as a creator and performer?

CM: Theatre is immediate. Theatre happens live before a person’s eyes. In some cases theatre can even be smelled and touched, and this excites me greatly. This is not true about film. However, film has the ability to tell stories and present images and ideas in ways theatre cannot, and this excites me as well. I don’t really want to pick one or the other to explore, which is why I am experimenting with ways in which I can create using both mediums.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to add that I haven’t thought to ask?

CM:  “I’m sorry-I’m just so excited to be here. I mean I just came from Deep River, Ontario, and now I’m in this…dream place. Well you can imagine how I feel…” -Mulholland Drive

Check out the event page with video trailers here: https://www.facebook.com/events/721893504556184/

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