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Artists in their own words: Aimèe Hayes

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Scene from Colossal (Photos by: John B. Barrois)

Who: Aimèe Hayes

What: Director

Where: Mid-City

Artist’s chosen location for interview: In the lunchroom at Southern Rep’s headquarters

Q: What is a museum you wish existed?

A: I love museums. When I travel I make it a point to go to museums. My first thought is that I would love to have a museum where I can see how directors score their scripts and see the notes they take.

I’m really interested in process. Whenever I interview writers I ask them all kinds of questions like: ‘What kind of pen do you use? Do you drink tea? Do you have to use a certain kind of paper? Do you use a typewriter, a computer, or do you write by hand?’

I would love to have a museum that curates the workstations of writers and directors. It would be great to see who was cluttered and who wasn’t. I’m always fascinated by people who have clean workspaces. I love to look at a huge desk that is completely empty. I find that beautiful and strange.

In the museum we could see the chotskies the writers and directors put in their area when they create. Do they have a Buddha at their station? If there’s a quarter on their desk you can ask ‘Why is that quarter there? How is that significant?’ I save all quarters that have the year 1966 on them. I love them when I find them and think it is a good day, so that could be on my station.

Every time I direct something I’m finding a new way to track things in my script. Even though I’m extremely organized, I have so many piles, but I know what is going on in each of those piles. I love folders, and I love to get my ruler and Sharpie the name of the folder. I always ask my staff, ‘Why aren’t you labeling your files correctly?’ It drives them crazy.

You would look at my desk and ask, ‘What is this mania,’ but I know where everything is and where to find it.

Q: When do you think is the best time to create?

A: Different times have always yielded different kind of work for me. The best time to create is from necessity. I love when problem-solving yields an answer that is simple and elegant.

Maybe rather than the best time, it’s about the type of budget you have. Unlimited money makes everything possible, so I would say wondering where the sweet spot is can be really interesting. You don’t want too much or too little. We see this in commercial theater where they maybe had millions of dollars to put on a show and it’s still so lame.

You can’t budget brilliance, though.

Q: What’s a conversation topic you never tire of?

A: Probably theater. It’s my everything. It has come before most things in my life, so conversations about why a story is told the way it is told as well as what it means and how an actor’s certain performance manifests the playwright’s intentions is great to talk about. I often wonder about why a director uses something specific, why the lighting may or may not work, and how that whole process of engagement works.

That’s always interesting to me, especially if you’ve seen one work done by different people. I could talk forever about Beatles’ covers and why they do or don’t work and how they can illuminate the work in a way John, Ringo, Paul, and George never thought about. This idea of why something can elevate or take something to a gross level is incredibly fascinating.

Understanding the road to genius and illuminating that is so intriguing. In a way, that’s what theater is. We hear something in the playwright’s words, and we want to riff on that.

Q: What memory comes to mind when I say the word ‘stamps’?

A: All the stamps that I collect. I’m somewhat of a stamp hoarder. I won’t use them, and they aren’t important stamps. I don’t have the first presidential stamp or anything like that, but if you go through my secret admin files at home, you’ll find wads of old, unusable stamps.

I’m not an extravagant person, but I’m also not one of these people who is thrifty, but I’ll have these moments where I’ll say, ‘I should cut this stamp off of this envelope and reuse it.’ Some voice from some parental or teacher-like force comes through, and I have all these cut-out stamps. I don’t know what to do with them.

When they sell me forever stamps at the post office, I want to tell them, ‘Don’t you know that nothing is forever.’ It’s a lie. Although, if anyone has ever needed hope, it’s the post office.

Those stamps are next to my giant collection of keys. I’ve lived in over eighty locations, so I have wads of keys. I’ve lived in every neighborhood in New Orleans and almost every state in some way or another, and of course Southern Rep has been in so many different locations, so I have so many keys from Southern Rep.

These are such bad collections that I have.

Q: If you could, who would you make immortal?

A: Myself. I mean, I think about death everyday, and I’ve been assured that thinking about death on a daily basis is incredibly normal. In one of Walker Percy’s works there’s a part about deciding to live everyday. It’s the idea that having another day is a decision that’s within our power, and that gives us agency to embrace life. Some days I don’t want to, and thinking about the end of life is really scary, and it can also be rather comforting.

Now that I think more about it, I don’t think I would like to be immortal. Death is kind of the last adventure, and being a theater person, I really want to go back into being star stuff. That’s all we are. We’re all made out of stardust.

That’s very comforting to me. Whenever I’m uncertain about the world, quantum physics gives me comfort. So I’m not sure any of us should be immortal. All of us turn into a crank eventually. I don’t ever want to be the angry old lady on the block. I mean, I’m already there, but at least I’m conscious of it.

 

You can see Aimèe Hayes’ directorial skills on stage from June 4 through June 19 with Southern Rep’s production of Colossal. Colossal is playing at the Robert E. Nims Theater with Thursday through Saturday performances beginning at 8:00 P.M. There are also matinee performances on Sunday at 3:00 P.M. To learn more about Aimèe’s current and upcoming projects, you can follow Southern Rep on Twitterand Facebook.