Joan Kane is a superhero who uses her powers for good.
She is a prominent international stage director celebrated for tackling power issues in well-written works. Her most recent is a powerful drama called DEBRIEFING, garnering great praise at this year’s Fringe Festival. Being the 20th anniversary of the play fest, one would expect them to pull out their big guns. Joan’s presence proves that.
We were able to finally get a few words out of her on her journey. Her company, Ego Actus is bringing high-quality art to the masses as near as NYC and as far as Prague so her time was at a premium.
We hear a lot about inspiration – or Muse – that drives an artist. What inspired you?
I am inspired by art, nature and a good cannoli. Living in NYC I am fortunate because I can visit museums and galleries frequently exploring the work of past and contemporary artists. I also find inspiration in nature: walking the High Line Park and hiking in northern New York. When I walk in nature I’m able to put aside all the demands of everyday life and let my imagination roam free. If I do these activities while eating a cannoli then my life is truly blessed.
Tell us about your “scheme” . . . what have you discovered working on the text ?
When I direct I always ask, “Why is this play relevant now?” The situation in the Middle East is terrifying. Debriefing sheds light on the current situation the world is experiencing and the fear that terrorism invokes. The question that is guiding me in directing Max Gill’s play is, “Where is the humanity in war? “ The characters of Waleed, Finch, Reed, Aliya struggle with their duty to their country versus their feelings of humanity and empathy for “the other.” They are looking for that part of themselves that gets lost in the battle between religious extremism versus modern warfare technology and trying to resolve the conflicts in which modern people on both sides get hurt.
The collaborative process with my cast: Page Clements, Adeel Ahmend, Andrew Rothkin and Nazli Sarpkaya and my team of designers Lytza Colon, Cat Fisher, Bruce A Kraemer and Jacob Sobotnik was instrumental in creating and telling this story. I discovered that a dedicated team of artists was what was needed to bring this frightening story from the page to the stage. I am truly grateful for this amazing group of artists.
What do you want most in your chosen profession? It’s OK to say “fame” or “wealth.”
Wealth is what I would most want from my profession because If I have wealth I can direct and produce more plays. I am especially interested in directing and creating a place for the voices of the contemporary female playwright. Many theaters throughout the USA are producing plays mainly by male playwrights. I’d like to even out the playing field and offer more opportunities for the woman’s voice to be heard. This takes resources and if I am wealthy I have a better chance to reach my goal. Sometimes wishes do come true . . .
Sally Field and Paul Newman both said of their profession . . . “It’s all I can do.”
Is this all you can do?
No, I can do and have done a lot of things. I have worked in retail and in restaurants. I have been a museum educator, a free-lance arts educator. I am a daughter, a sister, a spouse, and a mother. At this particular point I choose to live the life of an artist who directs plays.
Along those lines, if you couldn’t do this, what would you do?
I could see being a brain research scientist or a film maker.
I have directed plays in different festivals in NYC and Europe. Directing in the 20th year of the NY Fringe has been wonderful. Everyone is organized and helpful and we are having a blast.
Joan, you had me with “creating a place for the voices of the contemporary female playwright.” When I have money, I’ll donate to Ego Actus to help our mutual cause!
Natasha Dawsen, editor.