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NORTH TEXAS PERFORMING ARTS NEWS

DALLAS SOLO FEST 2019

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Solo Fest Q&A: Jeremy Julian Greco

The final interview with the artists of the fifth Dallas Solo Fest is the San Francisco-based artist, who brings Keeping Up with the Jorgensens.



published Wednesday, June 12, 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: Jeremy Julian Greco, whose Keeping Up with the Jorgensens begins performances at 8:30 p.m. on Friday, June 14.

 

Photo: Louis Pepin
Jeremy Julian Greco in Keeping Up with the Jorgensons

Dallas — San Francisco-based performer Jeremy Julian Greco brings Keeping Up with the Jorgensons to Dallas Solo Fest’s second weekend, and intends to take his audiences on a wild ride – quite literally, in fact. His solo performance invites audiences into his mad-cap retelling of a hell-adjacent childhood road trip to Disneyland. TheaterJones connected with Greco over email to discuss what he calls his “tour de force of dysfunction,” and to take a look back on the road he’s travelled with the piece so far.

 

TheaterJones: In your previous solo performance, With Held — which was also your first — you played Mail Artist John Held Jr., and told his life story. In Keeping Up with the Jorgensons, you play yourself and tell a story of your own. As both a writer and performer, was that an easy switch to make, or was one show more difficult to work on or generate than the other?

Jeremy Julian Greco: Though With Held was based on John Held Jr. and his life story, it was also a story about our friendship. I weaved tales of our friendship throughout the play. So, not only did I play Held, I played myself as well. I discussed why we were friends. Our cheesesteak outings, and our annual New Year’s Day Golden Gate Bridge Walk. Audience members always wanted to hear more about me during that piece. Though I only made brief appearances throughout the play, John would always tell me, "You're all over the play — enough."

It is never an issue playing myself in either play, though. I'm just another character. It all changes when I hit the stage, what I'm playing in both plays is someone I once was. Or who I think I was. An audience is there. There are lights, an audience. When you perform a solo piece over time there is always a slight change and new discovery.

The characters are not the hard part, it's getting the right rhythm of the language that's the hard part.

 

You're telling a family story in this piece, and you play some of your family members — when you were first writing and performing Keeping Up with the Jorgensons, did that cause you any trepidation? How do you as a performer navigate telling the personal stories of your family?

I didn’t experience any fear or worry in playing my family. The trepidation, especially when one first puts on a new show, is how the audience reacts. When I was first workshopping the show, that was always my biggest concern, especially when one is telling a story about their own lives. Let's face it, as solo performers, we really have to walk a fine line and not fall into self-indulgence. I'm taking memories and constructing a story. What I look for are the universal aspects of uncomfortableness.

 

The story in this show is one from your childhood, in 1982. What inspired you to write about it so many years later, and why does it feel important to share at this current moment?

I started writing this play just before my 44th birthday. At the time, I realized the first time I started talking with my birth father was when he was 44, I was 20. That's 24 years. I looked at my life, I looked at my daughters. I thought about what it would be like if they stopped talking to me. I started to wonder do we ever really escape our genes, nature winning over nurture? We try to change, but no matter how much we are able to be different from our parents, there's always some aspect of them there — something we can never escape.

This particular moment, this road trip with my father, is something I always tried to write about. Around the same time, I came across the John Steinbeck quote (we have the same birthday) from Travels with Charley, "...we do not take a trip; a trip takes us." When I took that quote to heart, the story fell into place.

 

It's obviously a story that stayed with you through your life – does its meaning or facets change for you personally as you continue to perform it, or did its significance feel clear to you from the moment you picked up the pen to write it as a performance?

You know, as I perform this over and over again, everything changes. It takes on a life of its own. It's like painting a picture; once you're done, it's not yours anymore. It's there for the audience to look at and make their own conclusions. Once I step on stage, once I perform this story it's not mine. As artists, it is also our jobs to create a compelling story. A lot goes into the rewrites. The original story even changes as you rewrite. The characters I'm playing from my family, they even start taking a life of their own. What is significant to me is the audience members who come up to me after a play and tell me about their own childhoods. What's fascinating is how our childhood experiences overlap.

 

Beyond living with this story for decades, you've been performing it since 2017. Do you think it will always be a part of your repertoire? Or, as a solo performer, is there an inevitable time to retire a show, and how do you know when that moment comes?

 I think the time to retire a show is when one gets bored with it. I'm still discovering new moments as an actor. I'm still discovering new things in this script. As long as it's still fun to perform it, I'll perform it. Many times already I've thought, "Well, I guess this is the end of the show. I'll start writing something new." Then another great opportunity, like the Dallas Solo Festival, comes along.

 

The crux of this play is your desire to get to Disneyland. Has Disney retained that magic for you?

Yes. Right before I did this play, we all went back to Disneyland. I loved taking my kids and wife. So much of me wants to hate Disneyland — it's so expensive and they treat their employees so horribly, but I love it. I love it, I love it. I tell you, when I walked in and I saw Sleeping Beauty's Castle I was giddy as school boy.

 

 

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: Jeremy Julian Greco
The final interview with the artists of the fifth Dallas Solo Fest is the San Francisco-based artist, who brings Keeping Up with the Jorgensens.
by Haley Nelson

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