Artists In Their Own Words: Andrew Vaught
Who: Andrew Vaught
What: Writer and Artistic Director
Where: French Quarter
Artist’s Chosen Location for Interview: The Orange Couch
Q: What is something that you think you are that doesn’t fit in with your everyday life?
A: You know, I think that I’m a Medievalist. I really like reading about the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. There’s this thought process they had that I identify with, but it doesn’t sync up with my everyday existence—it’s an embracing of absurdity or choosing to believe things.
If you were to ask a Medievalist, ‘Why does the sun come up?’ they could say, ‘Because a giant pushes it up’, and that’s that. When I was younger I used to play with little tin soldiers—I was an only child—so I really learned to immerse myself in different worlds. Living in New Orleans really compounds this absurdity of existence.
I have this Medieval idea that panhandlers on the side of the road control the traffic. If there’s a traffic jam, pay the man. That’s how my Medieval thinking carries over here. And sometimes you can look at what people believe, like what people in the Senate will say, and I can think ‘Oh, we are in the Middle Ages'.
Q: What’s a performance that always shocks you?
Q: What is your favorite number of people to be around?
A: Five. I like a much smaller group. When it’s a bigger group I become more of an introvert. In the Cripple Creek Company we have about ten people, so that’s super manageable, but with the theater company I have to be out there and talking to people a lot. I can get by if I don’t know anybody. Strangers are easier.
With five people, everyone knows each other—there’s a nice flow of conversation, you can break off in pairs if you have to, and someone can run to the store without making it feel like the party has broken up.
Q: If you had to change all the lights in your apartment to theatrical gel lights, what color would you use for each room?
A: Well, I moved into a garret—I say garret, but it’s really just an attic—so I only have the one room. It’s funny because when I first moved in, it definitely looked like a set because all I had were work lights.
So, I would put a blue, an amber, and a green in there. I’d have a little swirl. A wash. And I do have a door to my kitchen, which is really meant for a 5’3” guy. It slopes downward [makes a sharp angle with his hand].
I’d put a green light in the kitchen because of a playwright named Alfred Jarry. Cripple Creek did three plays by Jarry, who is this French absurdist playwright. He is a proto-absurdist. He wrote these plays called the Ubu plays, which are these weird fictional amalgamations of Macbeth and Jarry’s history teacher when he was in school—this disgusting tyrant that kind of destroys everything around him. Jarry was really tiny and lived in an apartment specifically designed for him. Kind of like the offices in Being John Malkovich. I would make my kitchen green because in one of the plays he has this disgusting phallic reference to 'My Green Candle'.
Q: If your heart had its own neurological system—you know, a brain—what do you think it would think about?
A: It would think the most about…birds of prey. Whenever I see one, I’m like [looks up with mouth open]. I remember I had a down year a couple of years ago, and this Mississippi Kite flew in front of me. It was a really uplifting experience. Every time I see one it’s amazing.
If I had to boil it down further, I guess my heart would think about how to soar.
Andrew Vaught is the Artistic Director of the Cripple Creek Theater Company, whose show The Cradle Will Rock opens this weekend. The play will run at the Marigny Opera House at 8 PM on weekends through August 22, and admission is free. To see more about Cripple Creek’s performances, you can follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Read about his theatrical, visual and musical influences for the production here.