Ethan Fishbane, a New Jersey native, started acting when he was a kid and went to NYU Experimental Theatre Wing where he began his training.
He previously directed the show “American Suicide Bomber Association” which was performed in New York City, Yogyakarta, Indonesia and Johannesburg, South Africa. Ethan is currently directing “Lake Victory”, which premieres August 2015 in New York City.
Tell us a little bit of your ambitious show that you’re directing, “Lake Victory”.
“A Presentation by the People of Lake Victory for Our Leader” is a show that grew out of my interest in socialism and cults of personality. I wanted to create a place where the citizens of this country were obsessed with their leaders based on similar countries in history, however totally theatricalized and based on the images I saw in my head as I was learning about these places.
Lake Victory is a small farming village where its citizens are preparing for the imminent arrival of their leader. It will be the first time he comes to visit their village and the show takes us through various rehearsals of what they will show him: from song and dance to everyday activities such a going to school and harvesting rice. It is not a linear show, nor is it very traditional.
In 2013, you got into trouble for disposing a prop bomb at your apartment from your previous show, “American Suicide Bomber Association”. Did you get into any trouble for “Lake Victory” too?
No, and I definitely do not hope to be!
Would you categorize “Lake Victory” as theatre of the absurd?
I don’t think it’s theatre of the absurd. This work is not illogical and it’s not in a tongue unknown to us. In fact it is extremely organized. Every movement of every actor is choreographed down to the eyes. The communication that does occur is directed and meant for the leader and these people certainly serve a purpose and have a meaning in the context of Lake Victory.
From “American Suicide Bomber Association” and “Lake Victory”, the themes of your works involve serious politics. How do you approach it in an accessible way?
My main goal as a theatre maker is to NOT be a teacher. Whatever inspires me for the work I create, I disguise the best I can. I don’t want people to come watch this work and think that they’ve learned something about a certain political situation currently going on. This is because I’m not an expert on this material. I merely take inspiration and draw on that to create images and characters and stories. But this theatre is meant to entertain, and not to take a political position. If people choose to become more educated after watching some of my work, I fully support that. I think we all need to read more
Have you ever been anxious with the aesthetics of experimental performances today?
Everyone has their own aesthetic. I’m anxious about my own aesthetics, however I can’t really comment on the state of all experimental theatres’ aesthetics because everyone has a different vision and image.
Who do you look up to?
Richard Foreman, Robert Wilson, Taylor Mac.
You’ve lived in different countries such as South Africa and Indonesia. How did traveling impact the way you direct?
I think traveling helps the way I interact with a group of actors and designers. Each time you begin working on a new show, you are stepping into an unknown territory with a new language. You need to figure out a common language to start speaking in so that you can translate your ideas. I have done this everywhere I have traveled until I could truly start communicating with that particular culture and people.
What’s your favorite museum or gallery in New York? And what’s your least favorite?
I always like the New Museum on Bowery. Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Don’t discount that museum! Also, the Guggenheim, and I don’t have a least favorite museum.
Have you considered directing an experimental film?