Two years ago, I interviewed playwright James Comtois and director Pete Boisvert about their theater company, Nosedive Productions for PinkRaygun.com. Today, Nosedive’s 10-year history is littered with all manner of comic book, fantasy, and horror stories. Comtois’ latest play, The Little One, is now playing at the Kraine Theater in NYC for a limited engagement and hopes to take the vampire myth into exciting new directions. I recently had the chance to talk with James about indie theater, how far Nosedive Productions has come in ten years, and how this show, the company’s largest endeavor to date, will propel Nosedive into the next ten years.
TERESA JUSINO: What do you get out of working primarily in the indie theater community?
JAMES COMTOIS: Oh it’s great fun. First of all, it’s fun to be working with a lot of people that you know really well and you’re on the same page with in a lot of ways, but also are diffferent enough that they bring something to the table that you wouldn’t have figured out on your own. I mean, people like Pete, Patrick (Shearer), Christopher (Yustin), these are all people that I’ve known for years. When I write something that’s a little bit weird and quirky, they don’t go, like, “What’s going on here?” They’re like, “Oh, this is James. I think I have a hunch, I know why he came up with this idea.”
Also, it’s fun to be part of a scene where you’re looking at other people’s work that you really admire—like with Flux Theatre Ensemble, or with Impetuous Theater Group, or like Vampire Cowboys—where you’re fans of each other’s work as well as peers and buds. It’s just incredibly rewarding and fun. I think the [Vampire Cowboys’ Saturday] Saloon in particular is the best example of that. It sort of feels like summer camp reunion! Because we’re not doing this for the money, we’re not doing this for press, but you get very large, very attentive crowds who are really into what you’re doing and you get to see what your friends and peers are doing with basically non-existent budgets and very little time. It’s incredibly fun both to make the stuff and watch the stuff.
TJ: Nosedive does a lot of genre work. What work in that arena has inspired you, personally?
JC: Stephen King. A little bit of Anne Rice, though Anne Rice got a little too sort of Woe is me, I’m a vampire *brood, brood*. Neil Gaiman is another huge influence. I think the Sandman series is amazing. As for things that aren’t really related, I’ve just been on an absolute binge with Doctor Who of late! I grew up on the Tom Baker, so I’m going back and watching a lot of the earlier ones, and the new ones, which I’m really digging. I like the new guy, and love the direction Steven Moffat is taking it in.
TJ: Tell me about The Little One.
JC: It’s a story about a much older vampire (Rebecca Comtois) who has a fledgling, newly-turned vampire, Cynthia (Becky Byers). he has to take her under her wing and sort of show her the ropes on how to be a vampire, and it’s kind of all really from the point of view of the vampires and vampire culture, and about Cynthia coming into her own and their relationship over the course of several centuries, because they are vampires, so that’s how long we can follow them, basically a huge span of time.
In some ways it’s also a very traditional vampire story. There’s no courting humans. Without giving too much away, there are specific reasons in this play why they can’t socialize with humans, both biological and just the nature of being an immortal being. There’s no real benefit to be gained from maintaining friendships with humans, so the humans in this are really just used as fodder for feeding. It’s really the vampires’ story.
There’s absolutely no romance in this…
TJ: Not even between vampires?
JC: Not really. I mean, there are vampire relationships, but they’re already established. I mean, you meet a vampire couple. And obviously the way to hunt for humans is sometimes to seduce them, and there’s the idea that over centuries you’d be very good at going to the clubs and luring in poor witless humans.
TJ: What made you decide to write this play?
JC: I had the idea for this story for a little while, but because there was just so much vampire stuff all around, I was like “You know what? Let’s just put this on the back burner. Let’s just wait for this to die down.” And then there were a few scenes very specifically that were very distinct in my brain that kept playing over and over and I was like “I’ll just write this down to get it out of my system.” And that was a 20 page writing session in one night, and that triggered another couple of scenes. So, the next night I wrote another 20 pages, and then I was like “Well, this is the play I’m writing. We’ll deal with the worry about whether or not this is an over-saturated field later.”
TJ: What would you want a new audience member to know about this show or Nosedive that would entice them to see The Little One?
JC: Well, I think we take a couple of new angles on the vampire myth. There’s always a bit of a deconstructivist take in me that always kind of goes “If this were to happen…how would your life actually be structured?” So, there’s one chunk of it where they’re playing with some philosophical angles that you may not be seeing in other vampire stories. And also we’re going back to a lot of roots—these are viscious, bloodthirsty killers. We have Qui Nguyen doing fights for us, and in addition to a lot of interesting thoughtful stuff, there’s also a lot of really cool fights and blood-letting and gore! There’s part of me that wants to have his cake and eat it too.
The Little One is NOW PLAYING at the Kraine Theater in NYC. For dates, showtimes, and tickets, please visit the Nosedive Productions website.
Teresa Jusino was born on the same day that Skylab fell. Coincidence? She doesn’t think so. She is a contributor to PinkRaygun.com, a webzine examining geekery from a feminine perspective. Her work has also been seen on PopMatters.com, on the sadly-defunct literary site CentralBooking.com, edited by Kevin Smokler, and in the Elmont Life community newspaper. She is currently writing a web series for Pareidolia Films called The Pack, which is set to debut Fall 2010! Get Twitterpated with Teresa, Follow The Pack or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.