I first interviewed playwright and performer Jeff Seabaugh in 2009 when he was premiering his one man show "How To Make An American Family" in the Midtown International Theatre Festival. Now, three years later, Jeff is bringing the sequal, "We Crazy, Right?" to the NYC International Fringe Festival from August 10-26.
"We Crazy, Right?" tells the tale of Jeff's journey navigating the tricky waters of the New York City foster care system to become an adoptive father of three, and his decision to leave his life in the City to become the sole gay, stay-at-home dad in his suburban Westchester town.
"We Crazy, Right?" will play at the Theater in Jimmy's No. 43 (43 East 7th Street, between 2nd and 3rd Avenue) on Friday August 10 at 7 PM; Sunday, August 12 at 4:45 PM; Saturday, August 18 at 12 Noon; Sunday, August 19 at 7:15 PM; Friday, August 24 at 2:30 PM; Saturday, August 25 at 8:45 PM.
For more on Jeff be sure to visit http://www.jeffseabaugh.com!
1. Last time we spoke, you were premiering your one man show "How to Make an American Family" in the Midtown International Theatre Festival. Now you are premiering your new one man show "We Crazy, Right" in the NYC Fringe Festival. What made you want to write "We Crazy, Right"? After writing "How to Make An American Family" I felt I had told the story on why I wanted to be a parent and how my role as a caretaker in my family prepared me for the job, but it seemed it was just a part of the story. The feedback I received from audiences was very positive, but many expressed interest in hearing more about our journey to become parents, and about our adoption. I thought I needed to share more about how two men can become dads and what life is like once they do. I also think that being a stay at home dad is still a new concept and I wanted to share my experiences and why I think it’s good to have a parent home with children even when they are older.
2. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing "We Crazy, Right?" I want people to walk away from "We Crazy, Right?" thinking about what really makes a family and what's important to them. I think my story is also about following your heart. In 2010 I knew that my life wasn't working and I found the courage to admit that and make a change. It was the scariest thing I had ever done but it was the thing that pushed the giant reset button for my life and saved me. So, I hope that my little story gives people the courage to step outside of their daily grind and admit to the dreams they have, whether that's starting a family, changing a job, taking a class – it doesn't matter – what matters is that they shake things up and don't give up!
3. What excites you about having "We Crazy, Right?" in the NYC Fringe Festival? The NYC Fringe Festival is like no other festival in the world. The heart and soul of The Present Company radiates through all they do and it definitely trickles down to the participants. I feel like we're a big family putting on this giant festival of shows.
4. What was your favorite part of the creative process in writing "We Crazy, Right?" I'm always shocked when I can get words to appear on a page and make sense. I never think it's going to happen and I do everything I can to avoid sitting down and actually writing. When I know I have to write something, cleaning out the basement becomes really attractive. However, when I do write, even if it's only a sentence or a paragraph, there is a great feeling of satisfaction. Once some words come out then it becomes a puzzle – I love the editing and re-working stages of writing.
5. Where is your favorite place to write? I can't write at a desk – seems too much like a job. I have a really comfy rocking chair that belonged to my Mother. It's in a cozy corner of our bedroom underneath a skylight. Whenever I'm stuck or searching for a word I can look up through the skylight and see the branches of a giant oak tree in our backyard. This helps me either find just the perfect word or phrase or fall asleep for a quick cat nap!
6. "We Crazy, Right," is your story of navigating through the NYC foster care system to become an adoptive father with your partner and to leave your NYC life to the sole gay, stay-at-home dad in your suburban Westchester town. What was it like to revisit this journey and did you discover anything new while recounting it? Reliving the stories of our family was definitely the best part of writing this autobiographical show. Being in the trenches of raising three kids doesn't always allow me much time to reflect and reconsider. Writing the show gave me a unique perspective into the world of my family. I see how much the kids have grown and at the same time I see how much work there is to still be done. I can't believe that we actually adopted three kids! Revisiting the process made me see why some people don't do it – it took years and some really difficult situations for us to realize the dream of having a family.
7. What do you love about most about your new life and what do you miss about your old life? I love the stability and structure my new role has brought to my life and to my children's. Like I say in the play it most definitely has not solved all our problems but I think it helped the kids settle a bit. Their early years were so chaotic and now there is some predictability in their lives. They know that I will be home every day and, yes, there are always snacks ready! Their favorite snack? Ice Cream Planets!! I'll send you the recipe – it's not healthy at all but oh soooo good and the easiest thing to make!
The thing I miss most about my old life is connections with other adults. I have some pretty meaningful conversations with our golden lab, Vanilla, but I miss talking with friends or getting together after work. Life before kids was more spontaneous. Randy and I could go see a show, go to dinner, or take a road trip whenever we felt like it without having to arrange a sitter for the kids! I guess we'll have that again in our golden years.
8. What have you learned about yourself from being a performer/playwright? I think you have to be a little bit crazy to be a playwright who performs your own work. The biggest lesson I've learned is that you are nothing if you aren't humble. There's no room on the stage or in life for ego. The minute my ego takes over and I'm thinking I’ve got it all going on, the universe gives me a big smack down. So, I try to leave the ego at the door!
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? The best advice in theatre came from my college drama teacher, Josie Helming. She always told us to "say your words loud and don't fall off the stage."
The best advice for life came from my grandmother. She told me to "never wait for someone to hand you an opportunity. Make your own." I try to live those words every day.
10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? Carol Burnett. She'd be my BFF. I would be a guest on her variety show and I'd get to be in one of the "As The Stomach Turns" skits. She is a master class in character acting and I have to say I've learned more about performing different characters from watching her show than any class I've ever taken.
11. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? I want to be Plastic Man so that I can stretch myself around the house. Inevitability, if I'm upstairs, whatever I need is downstairs, and vice versa.