Seth Lepore And Higher Art
On May 13 and 14, FringeArts presents our second annual Jumpstart, a showcase designed to identify new and emerging talent in the field of live performance. 2013 will feature six artists/companies performing short works, and we here at FringeArts Blog thought we’d catch up with them. So we turn to humorist and solo performer Seth Lepore (sethums.com), who will be performing his new work Higher Art.
Seth is currently touring a trilogy of one-man shows on the underbelly of the self-help movement. The first show Losing My Religion: Confessions of a New Age Refugee won an Audience Encore Award at both the Boulder and Minnesota Fringe Festivals. He also composes music under the name Older Than Hours and blogs about what’s it’s like to be a theater artist and other topics of interest.
We caught up with Seth to discuss his upcoming Jumpstart performance (BUY TICKIETS HERE) and how he goes about creating work.
FringeArts: Where did you grow up?
Seth Lepore: I grew up in Johnston, Rhode Island, a primarily Italian-American suburb outside of Providence. Growing up there had a huge impact on the way I approach my writing and theatrical characters. I had a stunning realization at sixteen that I was living in a sitcom. That helped me deal with how ridiculous everything was. Being close to Providence helped. It’s the little city that could.
FringeArts: How did your show Higher Art come about?
Seth Lepore: The show came about after I heard about the Jumpstart auditions. I wondered what type of performance would be fitting and then I smirked when it came to me. I go to a lot of arts presenter conferences—trade shows where booking agents, managers, self-represented artists like me and arts presenters converge to network and showcase work. I’m getting used to them but they are super weird. Peddling your art like a product is part of living in a capitalistic system but man there is a lot of schlock out there. There’s one particular guy I’ve gotten to know and he’s such a character. He’s been working this network for over a decade but he is so affected in a particular way that I’m just blown away by him. So I decided to up the ante, blow him out of proportion a little bit and have him revel what he considers to be the highest form of art that exists, something that he created which will end theater as we know it.
FringeArts: How did you go about creating this piece?
Seth Lepore: I wrote five drafts in February while I was on tour. When I got back I started rehearsing and tightening it up. I had to get through a lot of the parts that made me laugh until I could pull off the gesture or line without losing it. I also have big improv training so there will probably be moments during the live performance where something bubbles up to the surface that I didn’t expect.
FringeArts: When did you start doing one-man shows?
Seth Lepore: I started in college. I like being all the characters in a play that I’ve developed, being able to just switch it up all of a sudden and be someone else fully. I enjoy being in a studio and just talking something out, getting to know a character and letting them lead the lines and then furiously writing them down.
FringeArts: How did you end up in Western Mass?
Seth Lepore: I lived in Oakland for a decade before my wife and I decided to move back to New England. We weren’t sure where. I live near the five colleges (Amherst, Hampshire, Smith, etc.) but in the sticks. Easthampton, which is six miles away, has a huge amount of artists and musicians who live there. It’s pretty amazing. Plus I’m three-and-a-half hours from New York and two from Boston so if I need a city fix I can get it. I love being in cities but I like being able to be home in quiet.
FringeArts: How do you like to spend your last 15 minutes before showtime?
Seth Lepore: Sometimes I’m relaxed and I read. Sometimes I’m pent up and will be going over my lines and blocking on repeat. Sometimes I want to interact with the audience out in the lobby. I don’t really have a formula other than my nerves making me pee a lot.
Good to know! Thank Seth and see you at Jumpstart!
Monday May 13 + Tuesday May 14 at 7pm
Painted Bride Art Center, 230 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
$18 / $12 Students + 25 and under