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6Qs with Actor Karim Muasher //

03.27.10
byMarwa Helal

KarimHeadshotBorn in Amman, Jordan and raised in Virginia — Karim Muasher has been committed to theatre since his  junior high days.  He studied theatre at Ithaca College where he began creating original work and continued to do so during his MFA in London. He is currently starring in Authenticating Eileen — an original production that was developed through cast-collaboration — where he plays a shy, introverted data-entry specialist. Here’s 6Qs with him and a preview from the play, with the debut of his ukulele, “Juniper.”

STATS
Mild, Spicy or Very Spicy: Very Spicy
Favorite Muppet: Kermit
London vs. NYC: NYC

1. How did your upbringing influence your work?
I grew up in Norfolk, Virgina and I watched a lot of TV when I was a kid. That was okay with my parents — there were some attempts to get me outside, but I mostly liked watching Cable television. I remember dancing around my living room to the opening sequence of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” dancing around, doing karate moves so that was one of my favorites but there are so many. It wasn’t even about good or bad, I just watched everything.

I had a fairly strict family, they pushed me to work really hard at school and that kind of work ethic extends to the art making. I think you have to be very focused when you’re working on a play, or an acting role, or anything artistic.

And I believe in doing a lot of background work and giving things attention, it’s work — not an excuse to have fun. The fun is the work, one friend describes it as “serious play.”

2. What are the challenges of your field and how do you overcome them?
There are a lot of challenges and I’m always negotiating them. One challenge is economic. I don’t make my living making my art and that’s something I’m trying to move toward through a combination of things; through teaching and performing. Another challenge is creative — what I do primarily is create original work, that’s removing myself from the auditioning — so the problem isn’t in finding a part or finding a play that I want to do. The difficulty is in that I have to do it all myself; I have to raise the money for the play, find the rehearsal space, perform it and create it, too. And that’s a huge burden to create something from scratch.

3. You have many talents; acting, writing, producing, puppetry, etc, — is there one aspect that you like more than the others?
I’m definitely a performer. I’m working on a solo show now and I have the story and the character, and the way I’ve dressed him is really important to me, so in a way that’s costume design. I also have to make decisions about the lighting, etc, — all of these specific choices come out of the same root thing, out of the same creative spark. All of the different aspects of creating a play are all coming from the same source so there really isn’t one aspect that’s more enjoyable than the others.

4. Where do you get inspiration for an original work?
Creating something new is a journey into the unknown, so it’s always different and it’s a process of continual frustration. It’s like being in foreign territory and not knowing where you are or where you’re going. For example, I was working on this solo show and I knew I wanted to tell a love story,  I wanted to tell something about the universe and how the universe exists, so I was was wondering how am I going to do this. I was in the subway one day and the whole story came to me in one moment, this whole intricate thing developed and I don’t know where it came from…

5. Your bio claims that you create absurd work out of the realities around [you] — tell us about that.
I  like to create theater that is something more akin to fairytale or fantasy. What I think I’m good at is putting things through a kind of filter –

some people want to create things in the here and now, but I’m more interested in putting things through an alternate-reality filter.

6. Do you have a favorite role or stage moment?
All roles are learning experiences, they can’t be compared. But my favorite moment was when I was in this beautiful play, Empire of Feathers and at the end, this guy who had been searching for this magical, mystical bird discovers that this bird is just an old war plane and he’s spent the entire length of play trying to get away from war machines, which he’s been making his whole life — so he gives this speech to the audience, while he’s under the spotlight about when he was young he was so proud of his family and proud of the world they had built and he’s so sad because he’s clearly not happy about it anymore and at the saddest moment I’m up on this ladder, and I start throwing these red feathers down and he discovers there really is a bird after all and it’s such a beautiful moment. The audience reaction was great, it was a really successful play.

For more on Karim’s work, visit his site >>



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