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DALLAS SOLO FEST 2019

Brigham Mosley in&nbsp;<em>Critical Darling</em>

Solo Fest Q&A: Brigham Mosley

Next in our interviews with the artists of the fifth Dallas Solo Fest, Dallas performer Brigham Mosley on being a Critical, Darling!



published Monday, June 3, 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: Dallas performer Brigham Mosley, who makes his third Dallas Solo Fest appearance with Critical, Darling! His first performance is 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 8.

 

 

Photo: Courtesy Brigham Mosley
Brigham Mosley in Critical Darling

Dallas — Brigham Mosley has been a notable and prolific member of the Dallas independent theatre scene since returning from New York a few years ago. He is a founding member of The Tribe (a theatre collective which imploded in 2016) and has recently been collaborating with fellow Tribe member and playwright Janielle Kastner on “Movies That Should Be Musicals,” a series of musical homages to well-loved films. In “Movies,” Mosley puts himself at the center of each film; dressed in drag, he examines each movie from the inside out, taking on the persona of the main character (most recently Cher from Clueless), and turning a single line into a full on musical number. In his new solo performance “Critical, Darling!”, Mosley instead puts us at the center of his own psyche as he reckons with the state of the world at our current moment in the way he does best — through original songs, drag, and a wicked sense of humor.

 

 

TheaterJones: What is the inspiration and story behind Critical, Darling! and what has your writing and rehearsal process been like?

Brigham Mosley: I wrote Critical, Darling! last year when I was at the writer's residency at 100 West (which is incredible, and everyone should apply to!). It was spring/summer of 2018 and it felt like we as a nation were just hitting our new-normal of constant vitriol and screaming-over-each-other. Gun debates and bathroom bills were really forefront of the conversation at the time. I felt really paralyzed by the noise and the anger and the fear and, this is a line from the show, I wanted "my contribution to this planet to be more than just another anxiety attack into the void". I went off social media, I stayed really quiet, I tried to remove my creative process from fear. The writing came out of attempts to go back to the last time I/we felt Safe. Conscious regressing. It was a hope of creating a space where we could all huddle together in our pillow fort and agree that "Man, it's a tough one out there, huh?" But that impulse is childlike, right? It is an impulse that comes from a place of privilege — being able to check out at all is a place of privilege. And so Critical, Darling! became this exploration of the tension in me: to be a part of making this world a better place (with all its raging and marching and boycotting and screaming) and to enjoy my own life (with all its feeling safe and quiet and happy).

 

Your work in Dallas — I'm thinking specifically of your previous solo performances, yours and Janielle Kastner's Dallas-touring "Movies That Should Be Musicals" series, and now Critical, Darling! — has some shared ingredients: drag, original music, parody, and pop culture. How are these things meaningful to you, and how are you using those elements differently when writing "Movies" versus writing Critical!

What a great question! For me, drag is my armor. It deeply ties me to my queer identity where I pull most of my power as a person and performer. I think as boy-Brigham I'm a pretty boring, corn-fed-looking dude, but when I put on my glitter and lashes and heels, I get to transform into whatever the show needs. I get to be one more beautiful/scary/freaky element to pull out of the show itself — why be a person when you can be a painting, ya know? I think that leads into the pop culture question as well because references and allusions are so deeply tied to gay culture — I'm thinking about the work of Charles Ludlam and Ethyl Eichelberger or even just Drag Culture! — so much of queer culture has always been about connecting and subverting pop culture, which is the culture at large. So, making this subterranean playground of language and references and allusions has this sort of scamp-y/campy joy to it!

I used to feel so ashamed of my love of pop culture because it felt cheap — I wanted my work to be Important. But now I realize pop culture IS culture. And this leads into the parody aspect of your question. While I know a lot of what I do is received as parody, for me it's more like theatrical essays or critiques. It's about pulling out the elements of a moment or zeitgeist (or for [“Movies That Should Be Musicals”], a cult classic pop-fantasy movie!) and deconstructing it, then reconstructing it through a queer/feminist/humanist lens. And as for original music, it's all about crystallizing the moment/point. My writing is very dense — not necessarily intellectually dense (but hopefully!), just lots of words coming very quickly — and music acts as my thesis statement or the shadow of the text. In [“Movies That Should Be Musicals”] it comes from a place of "No one on this planet knows this movie better than me and OMG this moment — remember this moment?  Look how problematic this is!  Look how gay this is!, etc.," whereas in my solo work the music is more like "Is this what it is to be a person and to be alive?" I think, in summation, with [“Movies That Should Be Musicals”] I take my fangs out and with my solo work I sharpen those canines!

 

You have a lot of different relationships to storytelling as not just a solo performance artist but a playwright, novelist, and a producer and host for various Spoke Media podcasts. How does having so many different creative outlets serve or hinder you as a creative?

I'm a "More is more" person so having more tools to work with is very exciting for me. Being a playwright helps me think about scale and multi-character stories and conflicts. Podcasting helps me think about the importance of sound and text and how much you can relay with only audio. Writing novels feeds the person who loves to be alone with his own thoughts — not dependent on anyone else to get the thing made. In many ways it feels the closest to solo performance because of the interior aspect of the medium. I think the hindrance of this more-is-more is that creativity reserves are REAL! At least for me. I know that my creative brain will be spent by the end of each day, so I have to plan my creative time wisely and have clear boundaries around my personal creative work and my professional creative work. You also have to replenish all those creativity juices so I make sure I'm reading as much as I can in the downtime.

 

How has your voice evolved as a result of that?

I think I'm more decisive. I think pumping out so much material all the time frees you from the fear of failing as much because everything gets less precious. I think I've gotten better about letting the work be the work and not a reflection of me — which leads to bigger risk-taking and more personal exposure and, I believe, more interesting work. One of my mentors, [SMU Theatre professor] Stan Wojewodski, used to tell us this story/fable about a pottery class — half the students were assigned to make a Perfect Vase and the other half were assigned to make a thousand pounds of pottery. Over the course of the class, the Perfect Vase half produced a thousand pounds of pottery to get to the Perfect Vase, and the Thousand Pounds half ending up creating a Perfect Vase in their ongoing assignment of producing a thousand pounds of work. Two paths to the same top of the same mountain!

 

Despite your career's diversity, you've consistently produced solo performance work, most recently in 2016 with Scarlett O'Hara and the War on Tara. You've also done SoloFest a few times now. What keeps drawing you back to solo performance, and back to Dallas Solo Fest?

Dallas Solo Fest is such a fantastic, celebratory experience. Brad [McEntire] and Audacity [Theatre Lab] are incredible to work with and it's so personally fulfilling for me to be a part of my city's festival for the medium I love so much. And as for returning to solo work, it's always been my baby. I think finding my writing/performance style — the density of text and the speed of performance — has been an individual journey of discovery that I needed to find on my own. To perform your own text is profoundly illuminating; you know when it's connecting and when it's not. Over the years I've been able to gauge what's working and what's missing the mark — I've followed the impulses to incorporate visual elements that have become my drag and add new aural textural elements that have become my songs — I never would have found these things (or at least not found them as quickly) if someone else was performing my work. Solo performance is my crucible and my playground and my laboratory. I'll never leave her!

 

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: Brigham Mosley
Next in our interviews with the artists of the fifth Dallas Solo Fest, Dallas performer Brigham Mosley on being a Critical, Darling!
by Haley Nelson

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