Office Hours: John Collins and Rinne Groff on "Gatz"
January 31, 2019: Rinne Groff chats with John Collins about "Gatz" and origins of Elevator Repair Service.

John Collins is the Artistic Director and founding member of Elevator Repair Service. 

Rinne Groff is an award winning playwright and Head of Playwriting in the Department of Dramatic Writing in NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She is also a founding member of Elevator Repair Service. 

Transcript

RG: Hi I’m Rinne Groff and I’m a playwright and performer and founding member of Elevator Repair Service. I also teach in the Department of Dramatic Writing and I am very excited today to interview my friend and colleague John Collins, who is the artistic director of Elevator Repair Service. Anything else you want to say about yourself right now? I’m going to ask you a whole bunch of questions about yourself. 

JC: You go right ahead. 

RG: Okay, well, I wanted to start just by talking… I thought it would be fun, almost, to talk about the beginnings of the company and see if we agree about what those beginnings are. When you think about the start of Elevator Repair Service, where do you start that little line?

JC: Well, I mean I guess there are at least a couple of different answers that would be legitimate. One is, you know, December 1991 when we were doing the first show. And I mean that show we did it was a Dada play, like a seven-page play by Tristan Tzara. It was sort of this… 

RG: It was called “Mr. Antipyrene, Fire Extinguisher.” 

JC: Which tells you all you need to know about the show. 

RG: With a seven-page text. 

JC: It was like a sound poem. It was you know a lot of… And we got together, worked on that in your apartment, I believe, was our rehearsal space at the time. 

RG: Right and at that time I was in the Target Margin show “Titus Andronicus.” 

JC: Right, well, we had both been involved in that. 

RG: You were doing sound? 

JC: Yep, and James Hannaham was also involved in that show. I think he was just working security.

RG: Yes, exactly. It didn’t go so well; I think his jacket was stolen from the theater. 

JC: This was when you do theater on the Lower East Side and it was a dangerous neighborhood. 

RG: Yes, it was still a little dangerous. 

JC: And that was a storefront. 

RG: Right. Ludlow Street. The theater called Nada on Ludlow Street. So is the first time we did it at midnight? Is that a false memory? 

JC: Yes.

RG: Okay, so literally we had two shows at midnight some weekend. 

JC: Right. We had worked together on that Target Margin show and you were involved with it. I was involved with it. Bradley Glen was involved with it. 

RG: And Colleen? 

JC: Was Colleen? I don’t think she was involved in the Target Margin thing. I don’t think. We’re going way back. And then Bradley’s girlfriend Heidi and… 

RG: Kathy did the lights or is that also missing memory?

JC: Well, no. Both Colleen and Kathy Profeta… Colleen Werthmann and Kathy Profeta both worked on our first show but not on the Target Margin show. Yeah so I had a homemade light board with a bunch of rayistats screwed to boards and like wires taped together. 

RG: That you had made.

JC: Yes, and I don’t know why I insisted on using that. So we have with this tiny show that probably had ten lights in it. There were two light board operators: Kathy on the real light board which was a two-scene preset, a dinosaur by today’s standards, and then Colleen on this homemade, you know, probably, very dangerous thing that I had taped together. But, yeah, we had we gotten to know that theater by doing the Target Margin show. 

RG: And Aaron Bell was the artistic director. And so I really don’t remember but was it after “Titus Andronicus” closed in the evenings that we did it? Okay. 

JC: Well, no. It was we got to know the theater during that. It was a September run of that show. And I mean I think I remember thinking at the time like I won’t be able to direct a show in New York for at least five years. You really have to pay your dues before you can direct your own play. But then Aaron Bell, who ran that tiny space, put on three shows a night most nights. I don’t remember, probably Bradley encouraged me to pitch it to him and I just asked him, “Could five of us do a show in here?” He was like, “Yeah, sure. I’ll give you a midnight slot in December.” December 13th and 14th at midnight we did the show. 

RG: That’s so wonderful and that year was? 

JC: 1991. 

RG: 1991. Okay, now we’ll come back to this moment. But when you said that one legitimate start is to say December 13th, 1991, what are some other… 

JC: I don’t know. I’m just thinking about in college before that. You know, because I was starting I directed a couple of little things in college and…

RG: All of which I saw; none of which I was in. 

JC: No, but we did work together on your senior project. 

RG: You did the lights on my senior project. That’s right. 

JC: And Susie was the stage manager. 

RG: And Susie was the stage manager and Susie Sokol was in both of those shows that you directed. 

JC: Just one. 

RG: Oh just one: “God’s Hungry.” Yeah. Okay, cool, so I think… 

JC: So James and I were also working together at Yale, too. So there was the seeds of something but I don’t think… But when we did the show at Nada in ‘9,1 I wasn’t even… I was nervous to call it a company, then I remember we put Elevator Repair Service on the back page of the program down at the bottom and said like some cryptic reference to something. I think it was the second thing we did which was about six months later at the Ohio Theatre, the Salvador Dali Marx Brothers thing. That’s when we were actually introduced under the name Elevator Repair Service. 

RG: Well, my memory is that you put that on there, not totally as a joke, but a little bit as a joke. And then in that little Brian Parks cameo review–because at that time The Voice had a little cameo reviews–it referred to Elevator Repair Service. 

JC: I think it didn’t.

RG: Oh, it didn’t. Okay. 

JC: I think my name got used, associated with it. I don’t, I don’t know if he actually… 

RG: Said Elevator Repair Service. Okay, but then so how did you decide with the second one to stick with it? 

JC: Well it still felt like kind of an accident. I mean this was a joke kind of between me and James. 

RG: And you can tell the joke. 

JC: Yeah two office temps walk into to a… no. The reason for the name… 

RG: The origin story. 

JC: The origin story of the name is that when I was eleven years old visiting a relative at work who was developing a survey for unemployed people actually in Canada. This was for Canadian employment centers where you would go if you were unemployed. You could, with this thing my aunt was working on, you could sit down at a computer terminal and answer a bunch of questions about your interests and your skills and it would spit out some good jobs that you should apply for. So my cousin and I, who was also eleven, did it just for fun to see what it would say. And we got all sorts of interesting answers about what sort of jobs we should apply for, but the most memorable was elevator repairman. So James and I thought it would be funny to make this come true by naming our theater company Elevator Repair Service. I thought it seemed–I mean he may deny this–but that always seemed more about James’s sense of humor than mine, something kind of perverse. 

RG: Yes, that’s very funny. Well, the perversity really would come forth when the company grew to such an extent that we were getting checks for Elevator Repair Service. It was always hard to explain that that’s a not-for-profit company, that you’re not being employed in this other way. Especially for you, as I think an artistic director, that it’s like you’re the president of Elevator Repair Service but it’s a not-for-profit. Let me try to explain that to the IRS. 

JC: As I walked in today and there’s a real elevator repairman working on an elevator right out there. I always feel sort of sheepish and guilty for trading in that name when I don’t do that. 

RG: And do you have any sort of jealousy, like that should have been your destiny? 

JC: I probably chose the right career, I just didn’t name it the right thing. 

RG: It’s interesting to me that you say that statement about that when you came to New York you thought it would be five years before you directed a show or whatever, that it was something far in the future, because a feeling that I always had about you and something that I deeply admired is that I felt like you had a vision, that you knew you wanted to be the maker of work and the guide of the making of work. So is that perception accurate, that your vision was clear or… 

JC: I think I knew what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work with an ensemble. I idealized the Wooster group, where I had done a little internship, and was completely in love with their work and thought you know Elizabeth LeCompte could do no wrong, you know, because everything–all of her work–just appealed to me so much. And even though I think I knew, even then, it probably wasn’t exactly the kind of work we would make, still there was something so inspiring about it. And the most inspiring thing about it was that she built this company. She built this ensemble. They made these things together. And that kind of work seem to represent the best of all my experiences in theater. The reason that I wanted to do theater was that kind of intense collaboration, you know, creating a little family around the work you were making. I trusted it in large part, because I felt like that was something about their work and made it so compelling to me and they just suited me. I liked the idea of just working with people I knew. I never ever imagined myself and I couldn’t imagine myself sitting behind a table and watching people audition.

RG: That guy can’t imagine that either. He finds that funny. 

JC: It sounds like Jay Wegman. I did want to do that but I also felt like I couldn’t imagine anybody would give me the opportunity to do that. So starting small, like we did, turned out to be the way to go. 

RG: Right, but I also always never want to undersell that. As a person who was drawn to that, that it was because I felt like you had a vision and that I witnessed you… It wasn’t easy do. You know what I mean?  I feel like there were so many… You could see how companies would fall apart all the time. It really took a person who was saying, “No, I can see that this is something worthwhile doing economically, the sweat and tears, like you know all those sorts of things” and that was something that was always… that I think that kept all of us together is that you had it. Like, you knew that’s what you wanted. 

JC: But we also had such a good time doing it. And we went on for such a long time without… I mean you know we were lucky and privileged that we were able to support the work we were doing with our time and with our apartments. 

RG: It was rehearsals late at night in people’s apartments. Many of your housing decisions early in life were based on, “Could this be a space in which one could rehearse?”

JC: Right, let’s get this weird cave-like loft so that we’ll have a place to work. 

RG: Exactly and, right, rehearsals at night, everybody working during the day. 

JC: A lot of things you could really only do when you’re in your 20s. 

RG: Exactly. 

JC: But it turned out to be a good strategy, too, in retrospect. You know it was ten years before it really even occurred to me that we should have administrative employees or that anybody should make a full-time salary of any kind. So we were sustaining the work just on our own enjoyment of it, you know, and so there was less at stake in a way in terms of… unlike now where there is the staff. There are full-time employees, people who depend on the company doing well to get by. 

RG: I guess I have two questions about that. One would be you know you said it was a full 10 years and then you thought, “Oh maybe there should be some administrative support.” At what time is that in the timeline in terms of is that moving into the Avenue B? Is that right? Is that around that time? 

JC: Yeah, I mean a couple of things happened right around then. One was that. I think I did have my first part-time administrative help, but that was also a time when you know just after “Room Tone,” a show we made in 2000, 2001, or maybe it was like 2001, 2002. There was a point early on there where it had been about 10 years of making work together but some people had moved on. You know, we were a little smaller and I remember you know Steve Bodow and I not being able to come up with an idea for the next show. I mean we did. We came up with that show, but somewhere early in that process, we were like, “Maybe we need to take a little break.” And there was a kind of hiatus after that show and which we came back from with “Gatz” 

RG: That’s so fascinating. The pause that refreshes. Maybe it’s fun just because “Gatz” is happening right now at the Skirball Center to talk about just all the little pieces that came together, because we never dreamed that it would be what it is. We didn’t start with this idea. So how did it all start? 

JC: Well I have like these sketchy memories of… Well it was Steve who came and said, “Why don’t we do something with this book?” 

RG: He had brought in The Great Gatsby

JC: Yeah, he had just reread it; I’d never read it. 

RG: Oh, that’s wild. 

JC: And he said, “Maybe this…,” because you know at the time–and this is still true in some ways–the early idea for the material for the show wouldn’t necessarily tell you much about what the finished show was going to look like. A lot of times, it was just a jumping-off point. And I think that’s all Steve had in mind was that, you know, “Let’s look at this text. Let’s see if it inspires something. Let’s see if it, you know… Let’s see if some attempt to make it into theater yields some other interesting idea.” I read it then for the first time. I guess we were… 

RG: I have a memory of Scott Shepherd having the book open and deciding to type dialogue, like he started creating a script. That was a little bit ways into the process of, “Well, what would it mean if we just took things that people said?” And I remember him typing that up. That could have been after a showing even, like that we’d already done something with it. 

JC: I think there was something. We were working up to a presentation in the summer of 1999 at the American Living Room, here. And I think somewhere in there…. I wish this was all better documented. I wish I knew the order of these decisions but I know that we were looking at scenes from The Great Gatsby that had dialogue in them. So we looked at that bit of chapter five and a bit of chapter one. We had another idea at the time that we were gonna populate the show with a bunch of like junky, homemade puppets. We were sticking eyes on every little object we could find around that 30th Street loft. 

RG: And does that come after “Highway to Tomorrow” or before “Highway to Tomorrow”? 

JC: Before.

RG: Oh wow. Okay, so the puppet idea was reused in a different show. 

JC: Right. 

RG: That’s so funny that it’s before “Highway to Tomorrow.” 

JC: And there’s a reason. The way it all went down was that we had this idea we’re going to do The Great Gatsby and somewhere in there we also got the idea that we would read all of the text. That was some sort of like far-off ambition that might be the way we eventually did it. But we had decided at least that we were going to be reading text verbatim from the book and that the book itself would be present. that Scott would be carrying it around. That was the first time in you know eight or nine years that we decided, we better ask permission to use any of the material. We asked the Fitzgerald Estate and they said, “no.” 

RG: “No, thank you.”

JC: What they suggested instead was, “Why don’t you do with theater adaptation of The Love of the Last Tycoon?,” which was Fitzgerald’s final and unfinished novel.

RG: Right, which did resurface in strange little ways in “Highway to Tomorrow” also…

JC: Well, yeah. I mean that’s where that title comes from. 

RG: Oh, is that right? I don’t even know.

JC: I mean it’s a terrible title and it was in Fitzgerald’s novel as a terrible title of a bad movie that was being produced by this Hollywood studio in the book. So we tried doing that. It’s one of the few things we’ve ever just completely abandoned outright was we tried working on The Last Tycoon and I think we called the show “Highway to Tomorrow” after that movie in that book. It just didn’t work. We were trying to do the things with it that we had done for Gatsby and it didn’t make sense. That was an idea for that book but not for this one. So we just we tossed it all out. We kept two things: we kept the puppets that we had made and that long dance that was made from everybody imitating a scene from The Last Tycoon, the movie, but then we did the Bacchae. Put all that stuff in the Bacchae.

RG: “Highway to Tomorrow” is the Bacchae so that’s a long circuitous story. But then “Gatz” keeps going. And I remember… So I guess I was a part of an iteration where we were doing everything but in a very limited section. 

JC: The thing we did in the summer of 99 was… Yeah I think we did… It’s funny… Trying to remember which part of chapter one it was exactly. I think it’s…

RG: Well what I remember doing is Daisy’s coming to tea because… 

JC: Oh, yeah. That’s the chapter five part. 

RG: That’s chapter five. 

JC: Yeah and that staging is still in the show now from that 1999 thing. That’s the most like… And you can kind of tell, if you know the companies work, that that scene is a bit of a relic from ERS in the 90s, of things more antic and silly and fun. 

RG: Do you remember the moment when you said “I guess we have to do the whole book?” 

JC: Well, I remember being frustrated trying–because we thought of course we have to cut it–I remember being frustrated trying to figure out what should be cut, because it made so much sense for Scott, who was playing Nick already–or the thermos was–that he would read some of the narration because it’s first person. You know, it all could make sense as spoken dialogue.

RG: Right. It is a first-person, right? 

JC: Yeah. And I think I also wanted to identify some kind of impossible problem to try to solve. So I don’t remember how that idea came up, but once it was there to like, “Oh, maybe we should just read every word of it,” I do remember having the thought that like, “You know, maybe that would mean like serializing it. Maybe you would take a week to do that in short performances.” It did not occur to me then at all that we would be doing the whole thing in a single day. I thought that we would decide to try to do all of it but that that would fail in someway, in some interesting way, that it would be… you know, that somehow in attempting this ridiculous thing… 

RG: We learn some… we’d get somewhere else. 

JC: Yeah, it would push us to something else. 

RG: Well, I feel like part of that story is Scott’s incredible memory. If you didn’t have a person… None of us would have ever done that ridiculous thing of learning that, you know what I mean, or could have. So it also is about the serendipity of your family of the group of people you’re working with. It feels like it’s worth talking a little bit about that notion about the impossibility of it is what makes you say “Oh that’s a door to go through.” Can you just talk about that a little bit? Do you always have to find that impossible thing in the work? 

JC: I’ve tried to think about it in different ways over the years. Either there’s something absurd or impossible or wrong for the theatre in terms of like the material we choose or maybe just the assignment. That is something I think I’ve always looked for in some way because it sort of forces us to problem solve together as a group. Not having a known outcome when we get in the room together in a way guarantees that just that process of trying of working together is going to be what produces the result, not what I thought of ahead of time or anybody else thought of ahead of time. There are a million different ways to make theatre and that’s just one of them, but I think I like it because it’s exciting. It involves discovering things with the ensemble. So choosing something that’s impossible or seemingly impossible or wrong somehow, in a way, it takes a certain burden off of you because there’s no way to get it wrong. 

RG: Yeah, because it is wrong.

JC: It is wrong. It’s wrong to begin with. But what you’re doing is just trying to work your way out of that situation into some other situation. And in the process, you know there will be creative discoveries made. 

RG: Yeah, I think that’s so interesting, because here we are. I’m interviewing you at NYU where I teach right and I teach how to make things and it’s such a nice little thing to drop in. That because you’d spend so much time thinking about how to do it correctly and how to do it right and the way that that can lead both to paralysis just in terms of “Oh my gosh. I’m not getting it right” and then maybe also to boring work like, “Oh, I got it right.” Do you know what I mean? And that there’s no reward for getting it right. 

JC: And not that that didn’t happen to us too. I can remember after we made “Language Instruction” in 1993-94, I think I decided at that point that that was, “Oh, that we figured out our formula.” And I remember really wanting to have an answer to that question: What is the ERS process? What’s the series of steps we try to repeat every time because they give the best results? And I think just in trying to think of another show like that, something just felt so stale about it, you know. There wasn’t… Yeah, we could look at “Language Instruction,” which was a sort of absurdist, biographical piece on Andy Kaufman and say, “Okay ,let’s find another person or subject from history, that’s real, that we can do this kind of research on, and that will involve these kinds of elements. And we’ll rehearse it in these three chunks…” And you know all those things had been you know…

RG: Fruitful. 

JC: Yeah, but they had also been things we had discovered. They’d been things at the particular situation we were in dictated to us and they worked out great. And I mean I still struggle with that sometimes. With “Gatz” having been the most successful thing we’ve done, it’s very hard not to look at that and go, “Okay, we have to repeat that.” And now it’s not even about you know doing something that will work, there’s also the pressure of like, “Oh, there’s what all people expect us to do,” you know. So I still struggle with that. It’s a very real impulse to look at the thing you’ve done that you think worked and then try to repeat that. And some things have to come from that kind of thinking, but you have to be really careful. 

RG: I do remember once talking with some young person who was saying something. I think [they] came to know ERS around the time of “Sound of The Fury,” “The Select,” and “Gatz” and said, “Oh you’re a company that stages classic literature.” And that even someone would say that was so shocking to me and the comparison was to another company that also did that kind of work but actually was a company that did that kind of work. And I thought, “Right, you are so… That’s not what it is about. That’s random that it happens to be that those are the shows that you saw.” 

JC: Well, the funny thing is we did decide to do two more novels but because internally it felt like a perverse choice to do the same thing again. And I only did that because I thought, “Well, because of the way we approach work, this is a way to guarantee that we’ll make a very different kind of show if it starts from a similar place.” I said, “I’m sure that you know Faulkner’s writing is going to force us to do very different things than what Fitzgerald’s writing did.” And likewise with Hemingway, where we really did cut it up a lot. 

RG: Right, right, different choices about the text obviously and how to use the text. 

JC: But it’s true I’ve had people come up to me and say, “I’ve seen all your work starting with ‘Gatz.’” We’ve been doing it for 15 years before that. 

RG: And a couple of things, cause we’re not gonna go for that much longer, but it feels like, what is the experience now? You’ve seen so… you know all this history of “Gatz,” before “Gatz” saw the light of day, and now “Gatz” has had all these different lives all over the world including one right now. How has it changed? Has it changed? 

JC: The show itself? 

RG: Yeah. 

JC: I mean I think, fortunately, it’s beautiful writing and it’s writing that holds up so well. It keeps inspiring us. So I think in a way the most obvious thing that has happened over the time we’ve been doing it is that the performers have gotten into deeper and deeper relationships with their roles and a deeper understanding and appreciation of what the writing is doing. You know there’s so much there. And you know because of the way we chose to do it, with this contrasting setting of the drab office, there are still little ways of manipulating the connection between those two. I still see things that I hadn’t seen before. 

RG: Well in terms of the design, that’s something that I noticed over the years. Obviously, I think the first time, right, certainly when it was at the Performing Garage, it didn’t have that set. Was Louisa even involved at that time? 

JC: Yeah. It did have a set then. 

RG: She was but it wasn’t… The set has grown and the lighting design has grown with little subtle moments. There are things that I, in terms of the design, that I can really keep an eye on that’s like, “Oh, a connections being made between two things or…” That is something that I see just in tiny, tiny ways, incrementally change. That’s probably early on in the process. 

JC: Yeah, well, I mean it started out just at the little garage in Williamsburg at the collapsible hole we did it there. We did the first half of it out there.

RG: And I saw it there. 

JC: Yeah, and we just had, at that point, we had some of the same furniture but it was just like some flats with some bad, fake wood panelling stuck up on them. 

RG: But, Louisa… That was her design? 

JC: No. 

RG: That wasn’t her design. 

JC: When we got to the Performing Garage, we had to orient the show in this sort of wide and shallow way, which I was very frustrated by at the time because we done oriented differently before. So we had to build… we had to design a set in there that would kind of fit the Performing Garage. That’s where the shelves came from, over on the side, because we didn’t know what to do with that stage left area that had to keep going in there. So she came up with the shelf idea. It’s funny, like, some of the things that she’s added more recently to the set design, like this sort of cinderblock wall that kind of hovers over the back and the duct. It’s kind of recreating what was in the Performing Garage. There was a big duct that ran above the set there. I mean that said I keep thinking of it now, it feels like a part of my body at this point. And it’s aging the same way some parts of my body are. 

RG: And you have moved it and where does it live when it’s… 

JC: In Connecticut in a trailer. 

RG: In Connecticut in a trailer. Yeah, it’s a pretty good life: living in Connecticut in a trailer. Okay, so, what else are you working on right now?

JC: Oh, gosh. Well, we’re trying to… we’re at this very early stage of trying to think of a new thing. We’ve only had like basically a work period and some meetings. I’ve gotten really interested in the idea of telling the truth versus telling lies and and what that could mean in a piece of theater. In a way, theater is the sort of art of lying, you know, of making you submit to something that’s happening live right in front of you, that’s undeniably real, but is also not true. That has always been a fascinating thing to me about the medium. Those early shows we played with that all the time you know.

RG: Actual Fear. 

JC: Yeah, that’s right. 

RG: But also right even I can think of in “Room Tone”, we were using this text that was about questions and then playing with, “Well, what if I just answered those questions?” Like there was something about I was sort of in role, but it’s like, “Well, what if Rinne just answered those questions instead of the character?” 

JC: Well we always played with what was real versus what we were asking you to imagine. You know we used to stage things… we used to plan for things to go wrong, planned accident to try to make the audience think something very real was happening that was out of our control. I’ve always been interested in that. 

RG: And one can’t help but say it’s the current political climate that’s making you… 

JC: That is. It is. That is in fact what inspired that idea. 

RG: And there’s a lot of performances lately that are about, well, the Cavanaugh hearings. It feels like [that] is the biggest example of that, right, where a performance is being enacted–and a very performative performance. I mean Cavanaugh’s… When I was watching, it’s like if you did this on stage no one would buy it: what is happening with that man’s face in this moment, which I think is real. I don’t think he’s making his face do something. It’s crazy, I mean it’s so outsized. That performance is so outsized, but the question of “Is it truthful or not?” is a very interesting one. How are you playing with it? What are some of the tools? 

JC: We’ve looked at some of the things… Some of the little bit of work we’ve done so far is to look at some things that an audience takes for granted as true, like a curtain speech. 

RG: I knew you were gonna say a curtain speech. You know that you once had a desire to do an entire show that would just start with the curtain speech and then just never stop being a curtain speech? 

JC: That’s because Aaron Bell used to give those long curtain speeches and I think it was James Hannaham’s idea that we should just have… He said, “We should have Aaron Bell come out into the curtain speech before the show at Nada and then it just turns out that’s the show.” 

RG: It just never stops. So curtain speech, what else?

JC: We’re doing a scene at one point where April Matthis and Maggie Hoffman do like a DVD director’s commentary on the scene but the commentary comes from something else. So you’re conditioned to sort of listen to that and process it as like, “Oh, this is real truthful information about this fiction you’re watching,” but in fact that the truthful information turns out to be the fiction. So we’re playing with some of those ideas. I haven’t quite settled on what kind of text would be good to put in the middle of this, but these ideas… and [in] some ways getting back to our roots a little bit on this piece: to just kind of investigate the form somehow. Like ask some questions about what is it that’s fundamental about this form: live performance, audience and actors in the same room. 

RG: Well, you know, there’s some story like from the Spalding Gray legacy which is that when he was playing the stage manager in “Our Town,” the story goes something like right before he went on, he was all going fine and then one time he looked out in the audience before and he saw someone that he knew. Obviously, the stage manager in “Our Town” is playing with the notion of like, “I’m just a guy who’s just telling you the truth.” But then once Spaulding saw that guy out the audience, he’s like, “He’s gonna know I’m not this guy.” You know what I mean? So all of a sudden he just felt intensely self-conscious. So the sort of legacy story goes like from then on he was only gonna do his own material. Do you know I mean? That that felt so foolish to be onstage like, “I’m the stage manager.” 

JC: See I love that. I love the fact that you can have both at once, you know. And not quite knowing whether or not you’re looking at a real person or an imaginary person, or someone who’s telling you the truth or someone who’s trying to convince you of a fiction. 

RG: Yeah, okay, that’s cool. Anything else you wanna say about what’s going on? Let me think if there’s something else good to say. It’s really just that one show? You have a bunch of touring coming up. Which shows? 

JC: Just “Gatz” 

RG: Just “Gatz.”

JC: “Gatz” is going to Princeton and then to Perth and maybe more places beyond that. This run has reminded people that they can book this show.

RG: All right, congratulations on the show 

JC: Thanks, Rinne.