This Featured Artist is Presenting:
Can you describe how you go about making your work?
Book a venue and panic. Ok, not always panic, but years ago a mentor of ours told us that every time we had a writing idea we should immediately book a venue. That way it forces you to put pen to paper or hands to keyboard and get something done. It imposes timelines – one of the great challenges for the self-employed. As far as getting ideas goes, the majority of our work comes from issues we’re passionate about such as social justice, empathy, kindness, communication, and understanding for all people. We research, we talk, we cogitate, we do more research, we do more talking, we drink wine, we sleep (sometimes), and we just keep working ideas until a narrative appears. It is just as Michelangelo said “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” Our task is to take the narrative that already exists in our minds and give it a voice on the stage.
What drives you as an artist/company?
We have a passion for compassion. It is our task and our mission to start conversations, to provide tools for communication, to help people navigate issues, and understand that opposing viewpoints can coexist and even complement each other, but that it requires understanding, compromise, and above all, hard work. And to bring about these seemingly pedantic conversations with artistry, creativity, and love. We have always sought to give a voice to the underdog and a stage to the under-represented because although these issues may sometimes seem less important, in reality they can have life or death consequences. We celebrate the every-man and the every-woman, the unsung heroes of daily life, and seek to bring hope and light to an evermore challenging world.
How did you begin making work?
As with all great dreams (perhaps) our journey with Tasty Monster Productions started with a bottle of wine and a credit card. We got to chatting one night about theatre, the world, and our various frustrations with the established arts community in our area and began philosophically solving all the problems around the kitchen table. By the end of the night and the end of the bottle, we had gone from philosophical to practical and had decided to put our money where our mouth was. We already had a project and, after a few hours, we had a season. We got on the internet, bought a domain name, and the rest was history.
One thing our readers might not know about you?
Heather – One thing you may not know about Luke is that he writes beautiful poetry…even though he doesn’t write if for me.
Luke – Hey! I wrote you two poems!
Heather – And they were lovely, but you know it’s our anniversary coming up…
Luke – And some things require a special moment of surprise. Speaking of which, Heather is a constant surprise to me. Every day is a brilliant adventure. One thing you may not know about her is that she is a wonderful aerialist. I am always amazed at how beautiful the aerial silks can be and the sheer strength it takes to master them.
One thing our readers might not know about your work?
That it’s awesome. But they will as soon as they come! Alright, seriously though. Most people don’t realize that the vast majority of the time it’s just the two of us. We do everything. Writing, producing, advertising, marketing, directing, designing, and everything else that goes into making a production – from page to stage. It sounds egotistical but really, it’s more financial. Among many somewhat crazy tasks, Heather learned how to run a lighting desk so that she could run tech for Luke’s solo show, Ferdinand, while Luke designed and built a collapsible set for Heather’s solo piece, SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL. We’re currently in the market for a wealthy patron. Any takers?
What do you most like about the work you will present at this year’s festival?
This is a relatively unknown story that is massively important and impactful as regards current events. The Falklands is an almost unknown war to most Americans but one that had a huge effect on the people and the politics of the time. It was a war of actions that should have been a war of words. This play is a cautionary tale with real world consequences that brings back to the fore the human story that lies behind the inhumanity of war and its ongoing legacy.
Why should audience members choose you?
We are in an era where diplomacy and communication are becoming lost arts, where it is more and more essential to promote peace and understanding in the world. This is not a story about war, but a story about the people of the war – a shepherd, a soldier – and the fallout of other people’s actions on them and their communities. FALKLAND highlights how easily we forget that decisions made by governments have far-reaching consequences on ordinary people who had no part in the process and ultimately are the ones who suffer. They are the ones whose lives are unequivocally changed while for politicians it’s business as usual.
Have you ever performed in a fringe Festival before?
Describe your most memorable fringe Festival experience.
Working on the fringe is always memorable. It’s a place where, regardless of location, people from all over the world come to create fantastic, challenging, entertaining, and thought-provoking work. It is a place where there are no limits and no holds barred. As an artist and performer, it is a new world of possibility and exploration. It’s hard to know what would be our most memorable experience, but one that stands out comes from Edinburgh Festival Fringe which we have been a part of a combined twenty-two times. It was a chilly and somewhat overcast day on the Royal Mile which had not quelled the usual frenetic flyer-ing by performers of all nationalities and genres. Tourists and locals were sitting out at street cafes in the grey haze braving the Scottish summer, drinking, conversing, and generally enjoying the Fringe frenzy around them. We had snagged a prime spot between a coffee shop and a local pub and were happily passing out postcards for our show when a local couple who had been watching from the bar nearby challenged each other to a “postcard-off” promoting our show! They decided that they had five minutes to see who could give out more postcards – they had even memorized our marketing catchphrases and elevator pitch! This spontaneous support for our effort was an amazing gift and completely unsolicited, and that night we sold out. We are always stronger together.
Have you ever been to Florida or Tampa before?
What are you most looking forward to about your visit?
Heather – Getting in the ocean. Growing up in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay I was always near the water and I would visit Ocean City every chance I got. It’s not so easy to do that living in New York. We have the Hudson River but it’s not quite the same. I miss doing Tai Chi in the sand.
Luke – Going to Universal Studios! I love movies and we don’t have a many chances to celebrate them in the UK so whenever we’re down in Florida I love to go to the theme parks if I can. Now I just need to get a job on Harry Potter…
Why did you choose the Tampa Fringe?
When we started Tasty Monster Productions one of our most important goals was to help and support our friends and colleagues in making new work. Providing a platform for up and coming performers, playwrights, designers, and more to give them a launch pad for their careers and future opportunities. When our friends told us they were launching the Tampa Fringe Festival it seemed like a no-brainer that we should be involved immediately, and we jumped at the chance.
What do you hope to get from presenting on the Tampa Fringe?
We’ve always wanted and needed to start conversations and this play is all about doing that. Our hope is that by bringing the production to Florida, and to Tampa in particular, that we start the proverbial ball rolling and promote dialogue for change. We want to expand our network of friends, collaborators and fans across state lines to create a national platform which will help us to get out of our comfort zone and bring our message to the United States and beyond.
Describe the context of your work and where you come from?
We always like to say that we are citizens of the world. We have family in all corners of the globe and love to travel with our work. Right now we’re based in New York City but we’ve spent time in many cities across the United States and in Europe. It is this sense of multi-culturalism that spurs us to discover new places, new people, and new stories, and strive to break down the barriers between peoples everywhere.
Where is home and what is it like?
We’re somewhat nomadic but think of ourselves as New Yorkers. We love our neighborhood in Astoria and especially the multitude of cultures that surround us. Recently we read that there are over a hundred languages spoken just within the borough of Queens. That is awesome. When we’re in the city we have a lovely apartment shared with other artists near a beautiful park and near to the river. It’s inspiring having so many different influences around us on a daily basis.
Anything else you would like to say?
Come to the show! Come talk to us afterwards. We love to meet new people and we want to hear from you. We want to know your reactions, thoughts, and feelings. Theatre is a collaborative experience and the more we come together the further we can go. Our journey is ongoing – join us on the road – there are stories to tell and horizons to discover. And plus, we’re super awesome people. Come join the Tasty Monster family!