I get a lot of questions about “Ephemera”. They’re usually of the “what the heck is this show” variety: “is it a play?, “is it dance?”, “is there a plot?”, etc. But the question I personally like the best is usually the follow up question to all of that- “how did you come up with this thing?”.
Well, I’d like to tell you.
Ephemera has actually been incubating for a long, long time. Alden Terry and I met on a production of a revived Cole Porter Musical in 2012, and really enjoyed each other’s sensibilities. By the spring of 2013 we decided to make a piece together.
Now, it’s one thing to “decide to make a piece”, and another thing to create what is essentially an evening length, EDM drenched, immersive, 2016 deconstruction of “Slaughter on 10th Avenue”, albeit with completely different characters. While I like to think I’m a pretty creative person, I’ve certainly never conceptualized anything on this level before. So- what really happened was this- Alden and I had this conversation, and I said to myself, “damn, I should probably try to come up with something that doesn’t suck”. And then we both spent the next several months working on other projects.
But, in the meantime, I discovered Anais Nin. If you don’t know who she is, go on, look her up. It’s worth it. She wrote lots of stuff over the course of the 20th century, most notably 1930’s erotica. I was stymied- I absolutely loved her stuff! While none of the stories themselves directly translated to the stage, I loved how her stuff still felt so sexy 80 years later.
And then it hit me- if we made something based off of Nin’s writing, and created a really sex driven piece in a bar, that would allow me to make something that could be both “hip” and “current”, and still organic to me and my Gene Kelly loving sensibilities. In other words, it wasn’t unlike that moment in “Singin’ In The Rain”, when Donald O’Connor cries out, “and then we can still use the costume stuff!”.
Cigars all around.
Since its inception, “Ephemera” has evolved into so much more than that, but this fusion of sensibilities is still one of the things that, in my opinion, makes it special.