** Hedwig and the Angry Inch creator and the show’s original star, John Cameron Mitchell, opens up about his goal to pare down theater and address our ever-limited attention spans, in order to help us get back to enjoying the beauty of the written word.**
**Mitchell once again reiterates plans for Hedwig sequel, currently in the works, and gives a preview of the new revival opening soon, starring Neil Patrick Harris**
**Note, the final performance of this series with John Cameron Mitchell, and guest star Holly Hunter, concludes TONIGHT at Joe’s Pub at 7pm. Tickets are limited, click HERE to purchase your tickets,now.**
To learn more, read below:
On Wednesday, John Cameron Mitchell sat down with Center on the Aisle Editor-in-Chief, Steve Schonberg after the exclusive Joe’s Pub event, “A Good Read.” to talk about his motivation behind creating a simple, paired-down short-story evening and plans for future events.
Best known as the creator and star of “Hedwig” as well as writer and director of the critically acclaimed film, ShortBus, John Cameron Mitchell may be most recently be recognizable to my readership as Lena Dunham’s editor of the HBO series, “GIRLS.”
However, the night at Joe’s Pub was by no means meant to reminisce about his career, instead it’s Mitchell’s newest endeavor, and one created to take a stand against our ever hectic world and adult “ADD” [referring to attention spans, not the disease] to help us all get back to the beauty of the written world.
As Mitchell told me, “it’s a long-term short story project because I found myself not reading like I used to when I was a kid, which was my cheap pleasure, because of ADD and because of the internet and stuff. My attention span was shortening and I had to train myself how to go back and read something long-form and not stop in the middle and check my email.”
He went to admit, “I wasn’t absorbing it the same way and I wasn’t feeling it the same way. I feel like there is a danger with ADD of a loss of empathy and you see it just in the kind of casual cruelty, and cyber cruelty and kind of harshness that comes out.”
I found his comments extremely insightful as we continue to add more devices, platforms, and apps that not only compete for our attention but distract us from our shared humanity. They also create a screen that allows, and almost encourages us to be mean, such as the comments about Kim Novak following the Oscars telecast.
In fact, Mitchell said that there was a study done that “people wo actually read fiction have more empathy than those who don’t, which of course I read on the Huffington [post], which was ironic.” Further proving his point.
Instead of myriad of distractions, he chose to do a reading of two pieces by Flannery O’Connor, “A Good Man Is Hard To Find,” and “The Artificial Nigger,” accompanied by his friend and famed actress, Holly Hunter who he feels as a Southerner [who happens to be from O’Connor’s home state of Georgia], helps make her “the perfect interpreter.”
Slightly disturbed by the overuse of the “N word” during the story, I asked Mitchell if it concerned him at all or if he worried about backlash he agreed, but astutely responded, “that is the work, and Flannery thought of it as her best story” and sadly people don’t know the piece fear of the word.
“If it was two straight people and the word was faggot, I would still support it because of what it’s about. The characters are fucked up and I believe that story explains a kind of racism better than anything I’ve ever seen. Weirdly their racism saved their family.”
“If you didn’t use that word, you wouldn’t actually enter into the realism of the characters” lives’
Mitchell plans to make thees reading a series with a different actor each time, the next probably featuring post-modern short stories.
Curious about one of my favorite shows/films, Hedwig, I asked Mitchell how things were going and he admitted that a sequel was still definitely in the works. However, the format is still TBD (e.g. stage or other).
He also shared that he had just finished viewing the first run-through of the Broadway revival starring Neil Patrick Harris and said “it is in good shape. He [NPH] is going to be great.” Exiting news to this editor who actually purchased tickets to see it on two separate occasions.