Welcome back, Theatre People!
This week I am so thrilled to introduce you to Maria McConville Pizzarello. I first met Maria while doing EdTA national conferences, as she and her husband Jason run an incredible theatrical publishing house called Stage Partners. Aside from Stage Partners providing terrific titles like Wrinkle in Time, Alice in Wonderland, and Tuck Everlasting, Jason and Maria are amazing people—kind, generous, sharp-witted and real movers and shakers in educational theatre.
Maria is also quite accomplished as a teaching artist and playwright, and I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did!
What’s a show that inspires you? (explain away!)
I tend to find inspiration from simply being in the theatre...everyone there wants it to go well...everyone is trying their absolute best to have this story connect with that particular audience. Plays that have stayed with me, especially since we have not been in the theatre in so long, are What the Constitution Means To Me by Heidi Schreck, The Thanksgiving Play by Larissa Fasthorse, and I’ll totally be on the bandwagon and say Hamilton, The Musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
What’s one of your happiest moments in theatre?
There are two particular moments in the theatre process that bring me happiness. Can I tell you two moments? One moment is when the lights just go down, the theatre goes silent and there is a collective breath just as the play is about to begin. There is so much possibility in that moment. I also love Tech week. Crazy, I know. But all of the pieces are slowly being put together. The last time all of these people, designers, directors, actors, were all in a room together was probably the first table read. They each went to their corners to work on their part and then in tech week they fuse them together. I find it so exciting.
What’s the biggest ‘fail’ or goof you’ve seen on stage? (do tell the story)
A while back my husband and I saw A Behanding In Spokane by Martin McDonagh on Broadway. It starred Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Anthony Mackie and Zoe Kazan. There was a scene where Christopher Walken was threatening Anthony Make and Zoe Kazan’s characters, warning something terrible would happen to them by the time a candle he had lit had burned out. In the middle of the scene, the candle blew out. You knew that wasn’t supposed to happen because of the look on Zoe Kazan and Anthony Mackie’s faces. Christopher Walken remained calm. The stage manager was signaled and they arrived on stage to relight the candle. As the stage manager exited, Christopher Walken said, as only he could, “Now, where were we?” and the audience lost it.
Why do you love theatre?
I love the theatre because it is a shared human experience that can only happen in that moment. The theatre demands you live in the present moment. It’s also amazing to me that everyone who walks into the theatre for a particular performance is agreeing to pretend, imagine, and listen at the same time.
Theatre is for...
I experience someone else’s story when working on a play or being in the audience. That experience teaches me something about myself, the world, and other people. I may never have experienced that otherwise.
More about Maria
Maria McConville has been a NYC Public School teaching artist since 2005. In the past she has worked with the Theatre Development Fund, LeAP! Onstage, and Periwinkle Theater for Youth. She is currently a Shakespeare and Playwriting teaching artist with Theatre For A New Audience. Maria has worked with 2nd grade through 12th grade, though, she has a special place in her heart for 6th-8th graders. Her students have performed and adapted the work of Shakespeare, written their own plays, devised ensemble performance pieces, sang and danced in musical productions, and performed their peers work on a Broadway stage. Growing up in New York, Maria attended LaGuardia High School of Performing Arts for Drama, and recently adjudicated the auditions for incoming students. Maria is also a playwright; her published plays include "To Date or Not to Date" (Playscripts) and "#VIRAL" (Stage Partners).
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