Artistic Director of Cave Theatre Co, James Masciovecchio, chats to BroadwaySelect about directing DIVORCE PARTY


Q: DIVORCE PARTY by Lauren Wimmer is quite a drastic dark comedy. What was the experience like directing a piece like this?

A: From the get go I fell in love by just how unapologetic the humor is in this. I remember laughing out loud when I first read the script on some pretty dark lines. It’s easy to get excited when even a first read is exciting. Divorce Party has been my first experience directing new work too so that has been a lot of fun. Being able to dive into the process with the playwright and help realize the show in a collaborative way has been a great learning experience. Lauren was also so great to work with, always willing to answer a question, or clarify a motive, but also sticking to her guns about certain character things which didn’t always give me the easy way out in a scene.

 Q: In the production the audience sees into the dream world of the character Melanie. How did you go about directing these dream landscapes?

A: One of the things I wanted to be very clear about was differentiating what is real and what is a dream. The reality of the play has so many surrealistic elements to it, that adding in a layer or fantasy to an already unreal play could easily confuse the audience. In rehearsals we explored these fantasies by putting them into a sort of Disney Princess context, with the birds and the anthropomorphic sun, so visually we went for a very theatrical DIY style with the props in the fantasies, while grounding the “real world” with realistic props and set pieces. One of the other ways I tried to clue in the audience was with the blood. Any blood in the fantasy was yarn, but in the next scene which is based in reality, the blood was SFX blood.

In working with Cassie on those scenes we tried to bring out a heightened over dramatic style in how she approached the text. Really pushing that Disney Princess pure and simplistic emotion. Which I think Cassie nails.

Q: You have worked as the artistic director of Cave Theatre Co. since it had its start two years ago. What has been the most thrilling part of this journey for you?

A: To be able to produce the kind of shows that I love has been amazing. I got to check one of my favorite plays Gruesome Playground Injuries off my list. Working with my friends artistically and believe it or not, learning about some of the non-artistic sides of producing theatre. You don’t really get that in school, but learning the business end first hand has been fantastic.

Q: What are some of the challenges you face as an artistic director in NYC?

A: Funding! That’s always the big one but also getting the word out, audience development, which is so crucial. It doesn’t matter if you have directed the most important pieces of theatre ever made, if you can’t get an audience in it won’t matter! I think we’re still working on that one, really finding out who our audience is, and how we can better engage them over a longer period of time.

 Q: Your exploration of the love for theater started when you were in kindergarten. Would you say that a life spent in the theater world has benefited you as a person and if so in what way? 

A: I would like to say it has made me a bit well rounded in my interests. I have a tendency to read a play, and then really get into the context of the play. I was able to do Assassins in high school which fueled my interest in American History which I still read up on 10 years later. You can explore so many different things through theatre that you learn a little bit of everything. Not so much that you become an expert, but enough to hold a conversation.

Q: Why should audiences come out to see DIVORCE PARTY currently playing at UNDER St. Marks?

A: I think it explores long term group dynamics in a very refreshing way. It’s a very honest (albeit surrealistic) depiction of what it means to have known the same group of people for a long time. When those relationships strain as your priorities change, how do you move on? It explores this with a very brash sense of humor that I think is exciting. When your friends know you so well, how do you shock them?

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