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DALLAS SOLO FEST 2019

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Solo Fest Q&A: Justin Lemieux

Next in our interviews with the artists of the fifth Dallas Solo Fest, Dallas actor Justin Lemieux on Girl Dad



published Friday, May 31, 2019

Editor's Note: The 2019 Dallas Solo Fest runs June 6-16 at Theatre Too, the downstairs space of Theatre Three in Dallas' The Quadrangle. Our coverage of the event will include interviews with all eight artists, and we'll also review each show as well. To see more info about the performers and their shows, as well as info on tickets, go here. All of our DSF coverage appears in a special section on TheaterJones. You can click the Dallas Solo Fest 2019 section title at the top of this page to see more articles. A full schedule of the festival appears at the bottom of this interview.

In this one: Justin Lemieux, whose Girl Dad begins performances at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 6.

 

Photo: Jordan Fraker
Justin Lemieux

 

Dallas actor and monologist Justin Lemieux will premiere his new piece Girl Dad on Dallas Solo Festival’s opening night. Like his previous monologue Warm Soda, which premiered at Theatre Too in 2017, Girl Dad is a heartwarming exploration of Lemieux’s past and relationships. This time, he explores how being a father to two young daughters has challenged his understanding of masculinity, and how he formed that understanding in the first place.

 

TheaterJones: What is the writing process like for you, specifically as an autobiographical writer? Girl Dad is about your changing relationship to masculinity as a father of two daughters, and your previous script Warm Soda was rooted in a childhood friendship; How much planning do you do before you first sit down to write scripts about these large spans of time in your life? Your oldest daughter is 11 so I'd imagine sifting through and condensing 11 years of material into a single script requires some serious reflection.

Justin Lemieux: I really don't start with any sort of a master plan. I start by writing memories that jump out at me or pop into my mind. Sometimes, after writing them down, new memories get stirred up or I remember a detail about the story that I hadn't thought about in a while. Eventually, when I do this enough, I might start to see some thematic connections between the memories I've written down. Then I'll start to piece them together and see if there is a question or a problem that is raised from the pieces. When this happens, I start to write with a more specific purpose, trying to address the question that is raised.

So when it came to condensing 11 years of being a father, I'm less interested in recapping every moment or experience and more interested in trying to figure out the answer to the question I'm asking myself at the beginning of the piece: how has having daughters changed my perception of women and how has my previous relationship with women affected my relationship with my daughters. 

 

You're working with a director, Jenna Richanne Hannum, on this performance. What was that collaboration like, inviting an outside set of eyes into the development of such a personal piece?

It was truly a necessity. At a certain point when I feel like I have enough material to mold into a show, I need a director to come in, much as I did with Jake Nice for Warm Soda, to come in to help guide it with an outsider’s perspective. Especially because the material is autobiographical it becomes difficult at a point for me to determine what is effective and how exactly to most efficiently shape the piece. I feel like I'm always asking Jenna, "why would anyone care?" With Girl Dad, I also felt it was necessary to have a female director to provide me with the perspective that I am not capable of bringing to the table. I never wanted the piece to be a definitive take on what girls are like, or even what fathering girls are like. I don't feel like I'm an expert on either of those things. 

 

In December, you performed W.H. Auden's Christmas poem For the Time Being as a one-man show at the Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture. Your wife, Katy Lemieux, directed that piece. Seeing as Girl Dad is about raising your children, has Katy been involved with this piece as well?

Katy has been very involved, as she is with all my pieces. Starting from the very beginning of all my pieces, she always the first person to hear the first pass on any individual sections I write. Her initial feedback helps me see whether something I've written is worth pursuing or not or if it's just a stand-alone thing. As this piece has continued its development, she's obviously my best source for stories about our daughters. There are several instances where she suggested I write about a specific memory of our daughters because it fit into what I'd already done. 

 

Warm Soda traveled to New York's United Solo Theatre Festival, where you won Best Emerging Actor. Do you have any plans to tour Girl Dad?

I never consider any of my monologues finished. I just reach a point where they are performable. So, I'm always interested in finding more opportunities to perform any of my pieces. After we see how things go with Girl Dad at Dallas Solo Fest, Jenna, Katy, and I will be able to better assess the piece and decide what the best next step for it will be. 

 

Are your daughters coming to the show?

My daughters are not coming to the show. My youngest is 5 and would probably be terribly bored. The 11-year-old would love to come but I'm not sure I can handle all the suggestions and notes I'd get afterward.

 

 

DALLAS SOLO FEST 2019 SCHEDULE

 

Thursday, June 6

7:00 pm... Sexology: The Musical! by Melanie Moseley

8:30 pm...  Girl Dad by Justin Lemieux

 

Friday, June 7

7:00 pm...  Cyrano A-Go-Go by Brad McEntire

8:30 pm...  Sexology: The Musical! by Melanie Moseley

10:00 pm... Based on Actual Events by Jaye Lee Vocque

Saturday, June 8

5:30 pm... Cyrano A-Go-Go by Brad McEntire

7:00 pm... Based on Actual Events by Jaye Lee Vocque

8:30 pm...  Critical, Darling! by Brigham Mosley

10:00 pm... Sexology: The Musical! by Melanie Moseley

 

Sunday, June 9

3:00 pm... Based on Actual Events by Jaye Lee Vocque

5:30 pm... Critical, Darling! by Brigham Mosley

7:00 pm... Cyrano A-Go-Go by Brad McEntire

 

Thursday, June 13 

7:00 pm... The Marvelous Mechanical Musical Maiden by Carmel Clavin

​8:30 pm... Who You Calling a Bitch?!? By Sacha Elie

 

 

Friday, June 14

7:00 pm... Girl Dad by Justin Lemieux

8:30 pm... Keeping Up with the Jorgensons by Jeremy Julian Greco

10:00 pm... The Marvelous Mechanical Musical Maiden by Carmel Clavin

Saturday, June 15

5:30 pm...  The Marvelous Mechanical Musical Maiden by Carmel Clavin

7:00 pm... Who You Calling a Bitch?!? By Sacha Elie

8:30 pm... Critical, Darling! by Brigham Mosley

10:00 pm... Keeping Up with the Jorgensons by Jeremy Julian Greco

 

Sunday, June 16

3:00 pm... Keeping Up with the Jorgensons by Jeremy Julian Greco

5:30 pm... Who You Calling a Bitch?!? By Sacha Elie

7:00 pm...  ​ Girl Dad by Justin Lemieux Thanks For Reading





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Solo Fest Q&A: Justin Lemieux
Next in our interviews with the artists of the fifth Dallas Solo Fest, Dallas actor Justin Lemieux on Girl Dad
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