Jason is nursing a carbonated beverage when I approach him. A light rain is starting to fall, but it hasn’t dampened his spirits.
“I feel really good,” he says. “We had a nice turnout tonight, and people really seem to like it.”
Jason directed Me and the Devil Blues, which has just opened. In addition, he’s the Artistic Director of Flying V, the theatre company that produced the show. “I’m very analytical, so I was paying attention to the details all night, but I’m really happy with it it. I was actually nervous earlier today about the fact that I wasn’t very nervous.”
Perhaps it’s because Jason’s been doing Fringe for several years that the pre-show jitters aren’t as strong as they used to be. Perhaps it’s an increasing confidence in the abilities of his company to do good work. Perhaps it’s special pride in this show. Probably it’s all those things together.
“I think this show is the kind of really quirky, fun and off-beat material that wouldn’t be produced elsewhere, but deserves to be,” he says. “It’s a 60 minute brand-new play with a live band. And the idea of presenting a talk show hosted by the Devil was just really cool from the beginning.”
The late, legendary blues musician Robert Johnson is the guest on the talk show. “Robert sold his soul to be the best blues man in all creation. So this story is about the Devil coming back to take up the other side of his deal. But one of the main questions of the play is: How do you punish someone who thrives on suffering?”
Jason liked the idea of the play, written by Seamus Sullivan, from the get-go. The big work comes in producing it. “I think of Fringe as a lab, honestly, to test things and try things. It’s really helpful when you’re building a theatre company.”
At this point the skies open up. The drizzle turns to a deluge. Patio-goers get up, their pint glasses re-filling with rainwater as they jog into the dry space under the Tent. Jason and I listen to the downpour thundering on the canvas over our heads.
“It was Fringe, actually, that really got me into building a theatre company in the first place,” he muses. “The first season I did Fringe I acted, but I think my real involvement with Fringe started wholeheartedly when I wrote and directed The Naked Party in 2008. After that I directed The Hunchback Variations. And those projects got me thinking about starting to do things as a company. Which led to producing Incurable last year, and Me and the Devil Blues this year.”
I ask him what he wants to see this summer, now that his own show is open. He’s seen Imagination Meltdown Adventure — which he enjoyed — and he’s looking forward to seeing My Princess Bride, Bareback Ink, We Tiresias, Tales of Marriage and Mozzarella, and as many of the others on his list as time affords.
We part ways to go get dry. “Thanks man. I like these conversations,” he says. “Talking about the philosophies of why we do what we do for a living… it’s really helpful. Thinking about it out loud together can really inform what we’re doing.”
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