Lauren Schnipper

September 21, 2006

Lauren Schnipper is a 27 year-old actress living in New York City. The interview took place on September 19, 2006.
3:14 PM
IMInterview: Hi Lauren!
LS: Hi Michelle, how are you?
IMInterview: Good. So . . . acting: good or evil?
LS: acting: good AND evil.
LS: shall i explain?
IMInterview: please.
LS: good, because if it weren’t than 3 seconds in this business and you’d be out (evil here we come), good because at the end of the day when i’m performing it’s when i’m happiest.
LS: of course if during that performance everyone was in hysterics then it can be evil
LS: it’s evil because as soon as you decide to move on and do something more stable it sucks you back in
LS: and it’s never the money or fame that sucks you back in, but the promise
IMInterview: is it a disease?
LS: i dont think of it as a disease. maybe because a disease is only a negative in my mind. it’s definitely a passion and you can decide to follow it or not
LS: a disease you dont have that much choice. i think there’s a choice with acting
IMInterview: why do so many people want to be actors?
3:25 PM
LS: a lot of people probably do because they want to be famous i imagine. but i actually dont know any actors in which that is the case.
LS: everyone i know who is an actor is doing it because it’s what they always wanted to do and i guess they just didnt really see themselves doing anything else.
LS: but thats in nyc, maybe in LA the fame thing holds up more.
LS: not that the nyc actors would mind the fame.
IMInterview: what else would you do?
LS: i hate that question because it makes me have to spend time and energy thinking about what else i would do when i could have spent that time and energy focusing on what im doing now which is acting.
IMInterview: ok
LS: not that i dont get asked it a lot and do at times think about it.
LS: apologies for the harshness
IMInterview: another question-
LS: mkay
IMInterview: are the top paid actors talented? should they be making all that $$$?
LS: i think most top actors got there because yes at some time or another they had talent. alot of times they are misused and get lazy with (dare i say it) craft. but in the end you ‘ve gotta be smart and have some chops to get to the top.
LS: should they get that much money?
LS: probably not.
LS: especially compared to people like teachers and doctors that are doing a lot more for society, but i’d take it.
IMInterview: who’s good? who’s overrated?
LS: who’s good? oy.
LS: um.
3:30 PM
LS: ok i just saw the new zack braff movie last night.
IMInterview: the last kiss
LS: i think he’s good. a tad over rated in my mind, but i appreciate what he does.
LS: maya rudolph on snl. i thinks she’s amazing and horribly underused.
IMInterview: who are you jealous of?
LS: i would LOVE debra messing’s life
LS: the whole nine.
LS: i guess you could say i was jealous of her.
IMInterview: would you rather do movies? tv? theater? infomercials?
LS: infomercials for the prestige and cash and theatre to keep me grounded.
LS: im kidding, jeesh.
LS: no no. i would love to be on a sitcom and then do the occasional movie that i thought was brilliant.
IMInterview: who would be your ideal love interest . . .
LS: john cusack anytime any place
IMInterview: haha
LS: he’s so amazing and he’s tall. and not too pretty. and funny. love love love.
IMInterview: who else would you like to work with?
LS: woody allen
LS: sofia copola.
LS: james burrows
LS: sean hayes
IMInterview: what do they teach you in acting class?
3:35 PM
LS: mainly how to tell the truth through imaginary circumstances.
IMInterview: go on . .
LS: the trick is to make those imaginary circumstances your own and that’s where the different methods come into play.
IMInterview: are you a “method” actor?
LS: i’ve studied method and it’s in my “backpack” of tricks, but it’s not my main thing. i prefer imagination.
IMInterview: for you, what’s so great about acting?
LS: two things, connecting with the audience and or connecting with your scene partner
IMInterview: and what’s the worst thing about it?
LS: the constant obstacles that prevent you from getting the chance to make those connections, ie. the business
3:40 PM
IMInterview: who in your life would be surprised to hear you thank them in your oscar speech?
LS: probably sunshine sally demming, one of my first acting teachers at camp
LS: i haven’t seen her in over ten years.
IMInterview: thanks so much for the interview and good luck with the acting
LS: no problem, any time…i clearly like talking about myself.
IMInterview: it must come with the territory . . .
LS: just a littl

Amy Birnbaum

September 15, 2006

Amy Birnbaum is a 25 year-old creative assistant to a Broadway production company based in New York City. The IM conversation took place on September 6, 2006 at 11:30am

IMInterview: ok, first of all, what is your field?
11:30 AM
AB: I work in theatre-Broadway Production
IMInterview: Broadway production: good or evil?
AB: (besides being a rockstar at night of course)
AB: good
AB: (but evil at times)
IMInterview: why?
AB: why good?
IMInterview: why both?
AB: good: working in an environment that caters to the arts, that increases cultural awareness, that deviates from the mindless reality tv
IMInterview: is it all that different from TV?
AB: i dont think its black and white. there are some similarities now, such as the dumbing down of tv programming and musical theatre to create work that appeals to people that want to be entertained and not have to think. and then there’s the financial aspects of both–its all about what show will reap the greatest financial benefits. but where i work, we took on a new, smaller production (Grey Gardens) that will NOT be the next Mama Mia or Wicked, but a smaller show that has a lot of heart
IMInterview: why is it considered more culturally commendable to see theater than to watch tv or a movie?
AB: its not in ALL cases-that’s for sure. and sometimes its def not–there is a ton of incredible tv programming. but if you take a well written play by August Wilson, Eugene O’Neill, Tony Kushner-the language-the challenge. With tv shows they are often didactic, but infiltrated with a whole lot of fluff
AB: and when you see an amazing movie-same thing….
AB: I think the people that say theatre is more ‘commendable’ are making too grand a statement. It’s what you’re viewing w/in the respective genres: film/tv/theatre
IMInterview: theater is so fleeting. once a show is over, you can never see it with that same cast again and you can never see it on your own time. how do you think that comes into play in a society where people want instant gratification?
AB: you can’t expect a person to be in a show forever. its tiring, they need to do tv b/c there is no money in theatre. I guess you buy the cast recording and then become one of these obsessive nuts who go on broadway chat rooms to discuss the original casts. I think the question abt instant gratification is a diff. ballgame. we’re living in a world where if are computers dont turn on in two milliseconds we have panic attacks. With technology taking over our lives, we have no patience for anything. SO-if we have to turn that statement around and tap it back into theatre, maybe that is why producers feel the need to ‘Disney-fy’ everything and make the sets HUGE and have people flying from the ceiling–because audience need that instant gratifcation.
AB: On the flip side-the play History Boys was a resounding success, and that show was very barren-but the play-it was all about the language
IMInterview: so there’s hope after all?
AB: I mean, its hard to say–Light in the Piazza was a good step–I miss Cole Porter and Gershwin. And then there are these great little musicals like Avenue Q and Spelling Bee that are smart, witty, and not as ‘grand’
IMInterview: you mentioned financial concerns that go into production. what don’t we, as the audience, know? what goes on behind the scenes on the part of the production people to get us the finished product?
AB: Lord-these shows are often in the works for 10 years in development. They go through SO many changes, regional tryouts, so many people spending endless hours raising funds, trying to get good reviews, find a theatre
IMInterview: is that true for shows that are coming back to broadway or just new shows?
AB: revivials are somewhat diff….for example-Pajama Game or Three Penny Opera-they already have the books and scores. They often re-write stuff, re-arrange, have new directors come in…but people already know the shows. So, this fall A Chorus Line will be back, Les Mis will be back, Company…all revivals. They too have to raise money, but they already have built in fan bases.
AB: the new shows are tricky–you have to try so many diff things, get so many people backing you to get that financial support. But no matter what, its always going to be a gamble
IMInterview: is production where you want to be?
AB: I love where I work. I’m working with an amazing producer (Jordan Roth) who is saavy, intelligent and SO passionate. I also LOVE music (my college major). I have an affinity for music. I just spent the past 6 hours creating playlists of old school soul and rhythm and blues for a director’s 60th bday party
IMInterview: in your fantasy world, are you on that stage or behind the scenes?
AB: you mean would I rather perform or produce?
IMInterview: yes
AB: to be honest, its a toss up. I do have the dream of making really good music. Right now, I’m working w/ this turntabilist, taking these old samples and adding live instrumentation and then vocals. So I guess, ideally, I’d love to sell my tracks for commercials. So that’s not really on stage, huh.
AB: or if I’m producing, I’d only do it if it’s a project I have IN LOVE with
AB: I dont want to produce to say “I’m a producer!”
AB: I have to be passionate about it
AB: Like-if they wanted to make a musical about James Brown, I’d be in!
IMInterview: ha ha
AB: but who could play James besides James?
AB: that may not work
IMInterview: well, thanks for the interview!
AB: was I everything you’d dreamed of?
IMInterview: everything and more