2017 Toronto Fringe Preview Questionnaire: The Seat Next to the King

3 Jul

04-27-2017-051849-3711Your name: Tanisha Taitt

Your production: The Seat Next to the King

Your role: Director

Tell me about your show.

It is September of 1964 and behind the doors of a public washroom in a Washington D.C. park, two lives linked to two of America’s most important figures collide when a white man seeking sex meets a black male stranger. Steven Elliott Jackson has written a bold and affecting play — one that explores race, sexuality and masculinity — and the cost of reconciling these things to two very different human beings with a shared innate need.

Now again in the style of a tweet by Donald Trump.

It is not September 1964! It is 2017! FAKE NEWS! Also — SEX in Washington D.C. I have a lot of this.

What other shows or artists are you looking forward to seeing?

I definitely want to support the work of fellow female creators who are talented friends of mine. I’m looking forward to Welcome To The Bunker, Bad Baby, This Is Not She, and Nourishment. Really hoping to see them all — unfortunately I’m working fulltime during Fringe so hopefully I can make the calendar work.

This year we lost the great Jon Kaplan who was a incomparable supporter of independent theatre and a ubiquitous presence at the Fringe. Are there any thoughts, stories, or memories of Jon you’d like to share?

I miss Jon so, so much and it breaks my heart that he isn’t here to see this show. I really hoped that he would make it. Jon was incredibly kind, passionate and ever-encouraging. We had the loveliest conversations. He was so supportive of my first play, and interviewed me for a preview piece in NOW when no one else would have considered me enough of a “name” to do that. I especially loved Jon’s intense respect for TYA, and always enjoyed running into him and sharing hugs at YPT. He saw children and youth as critical audiences, which so many adult theatre artists still fail to understand. It will be so strange to not see Jon making his way around the festival. It will be so strange to never see him again. I adored him. He made our artistic community more reflective and more loving. An absolute gem of a human.

The world is becoming an increasingly crazy and volatile place. If you could air-drop an elite squad of theatre artists any place in the world, where would you drop them and what would their mission be?

That is a next to impossible question. I could choose one place, but then I couldn’t justify it over somewhere else. Art isn’t needed one place more than another; it is a universal imperative. I also think that elite theatre artists already exist in just about every nation on earth. I would never presume that I could give any nation artists that could do for their societies more than there own creators could. Not the sexiest answer, but my honest one.

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