This week on Out of the Rehearsal Hall, I talked with award-winning playwright/composer/performer Brian Quijada and Geva’s company manager Angela Giuseppetti. We had a really fun conversation that ranged from Brian’s early interest in writing and performing, snooping parents, live looping, the value of awkward questions.
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Episode 3: Brian Quijada
I’ve been a fan of Brian’s for over a year now, since I first read his play Where Did We Sit On the Bus? but we’ve never met in person. We’re Facebook friends and I love following his music and theatre projects. So it was a real joy to talk to Brian and learn more about what inspires him, how his work is influenced by both his family and the music he hears, and how he found his way into working on new plays. And of course, it makes me even more excited for Brian’s eventual trip to Rochester, when we present Where Did We Sit on the Bus? as we had planned to this spring. (Keep an eye out on Geva’s website for updates about that!)
It was particularly great to talk about live looping, a musical form that has really influenced Brian’s theatrical work. In the episode, Brian describes the history of looping and how it works, so I won’t go into that here. And he shares with us a song, a mashup of Bobbie Caldwell and Bill Withers. We’ve only got the audio on the podcast, but here at Geva Journal, we can share the video!
Our conversation was over 90 minutes, so not everything fit into the podcast (as it is, this episode is a long one – but too interesting to cut anything out!). And one piece that was left on the cutting room floor was a conversation about a really innovative live loop improvisor who is doing some incredibly exciting work online. Marc Rebillet is the musician, and if you take a look at some of his videos, you’ll see what makes his work so compelling. When his tour was cancelled, Rebillet started weekly YouTube events called “Quaranstreams,” where for over 2 hours, he improvises music, accepts calls and then improvises new songs inspired by themes given to him by his callers – it’s really quite exciting to watch! Here’s a short example (caution: he does use profanity).
We also discussed a couple of upcoming theatre projects.
Poor Yella Rednecks is the second in a series by Qui Nguyen (Geva was anticipating producing Qui’s earlier play, Vietgone, this current season). Brian is the composer on that world premiere, and as he says in the podcast, the production had to be cancelled at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, at least for the time being. But it’s still planned for production at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Another composing gig, Sara Porkalob’s play Dragon Baby was originally intended for a workshop this spring at American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, and the creative team took their workshops online when they couldn’t meet in person. To keep up with that project, which sounds incredible, visit Sara’s website.
I highly encourage you to check out Brian’s YouTube channel for more of his music. And here’s his bio:
Brian Quijada is an award-winning actor, playwright, composer, and Artistic Director of The Wild Wind Performance Lab for New Play Development at Texas Tech University. Quijada has spent most of his career acting in Off-Broadway and Regional Theaters including The Public Theater, Roundabout Theatre Company, Playwright’s Realm, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Victory Gardens, and Actors Theatre of Louisville. Brian has also acted on Television and can be heard voice acting on Spanish ad campaigns. As a playwright/composer, Brian’s plays have been developed at Pittsburgh CLO’s Spark Festival, Victory Garden’s Ignition Festival, Ars Nova’s Ant Fest, New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Festival, The Kennedy Center’s Page-to-Stage, and The O’Neill’s National Musical Theatre Conference.
Commissioning institutions include Seattle Repertory Theater, A.R.T., and The Kennedy Center. His play Kid Prince and Pablo, recently received its World Premiere at The Kennedy Center Fall of 2019. His critically-acclaimed multi Jeff award-winning, multi Drama Desk nominated show Where Did We Sit in the Bus? has toured all over the country.
As an educator, Quijada has taught solo performance, social justice, verse writing, digital music, and devised theatrical looping master classes at Carnegie Mellon University, Point Park University, University of New Mexico, Western Washington University, Hunter College, Carlow College, Slippery Rock University, Los Medanos College, and KCACTF Region 7 and Region 3. Brian is a proud member of The Ensemble Studio Theatre.