"Call Me Adam" chats with playwright Barry Levey about his one-man show Hoaxocaust!, about Barry's unbelievable round the world adventure as he tracks down deniers of the Holocaust from Illinois to Iran, meets engineers and ex-presidents, and dodges a brother in Hungary and a boyfriend back home on a journey to discover the shocking truth.
Hoaxocaust! is part of the 2014 International Fringe Festival's Encore Series playing at Baruch Performing Arts Center (55 Lexington Avenue, entrance on 25th Street) on September 11, 18, 21, and 24. Click here for tickets!
1. Your show, Hoaxocaust!, just finished its initial run in the 2014 NYC Fringe International Theatre Festival and is now being presented in their Encore Series. What excites you about having your show in the Fringe Encore series? Though an experienced playwright, I'm a novice performer, and it took me all 5 Fringe performances to get comfortable being onstage. Our opening night, I think I did our 70 minute show in 59 minutes--without dropping any lines, mind you; just speeding through it like a bullet train. I'm absolutely thrilled for this chance to continue my growth as an actor and keep getting to know our audiences night after night--to be able to really dialogue with them, and share the experience, and not be terrified that I'll lose my place.
2. How do you feel the Fringe Festival helped foster this show in a way another festival might not have? I don't know that I'd ever have been willing to risk being so vulnerable as a first-time writer/performer outside of the Fringe. For that matter, I don't know of any other producing organization that would have offered me the chance!
3. Hoaxocaust!, is a show about those who believe the Holocaust never happened. What made you want to write a show on the non-believers? When I first became aware of Deniers in the news, I was mystified at how these people could possibly exist--what kinds of supposed "facts" they could possibly believe or promulgate that justified their inanity. At first I thought that anything they had to say would be flat-out hysterical. I wasn't prepared to find them quite as terrifying as I did, and as I hope I convey in the piece.
4. What do you hope audiences come away with after seeing Hoaxocaust!? What have been the biggest reactions so far from audiences? I hope people come away from it, first and foremost, entertained. I'm a big believer in the first dictum of "Don't Be Boring." I also hope people feel engaged, like they've been part of a dialogue rather than some one-sided harangue. And I hope they're a little bit scared: of what's out there, and how interrelated but asymmetrical our self-perceptions can be compared to the ways we're perceived, and how difficult it is to choose what past traumas we let define our present-day identities.
5. Who or what inspired you to become a playwright? Pure selfishness. I was better at writing dialogue than I was at anything else, including performing, which I absolutely loved until my voice changed during an ill-timed community theater presentation of Bye Bye Birdie.
6. Who do you hope to get to work with in your career? Scott Rudin.
7. What have you learned about yourself from being a playwright? That I'm pretty good at leading people someplace meaningful, but terrible at letting them stay there without undercutting it immediately with a laugh.
8. Favorite way to stay in shape? I love running, but always with music and never with company. And I can't say I've ever done it enough to make it calisthenic, but I love me a kayak. Even after falling into the Hudson on my very first try.
9. Boxers or Briefs? True to my completely ambivalent, Libra spirit, I can truthfully answer: boxer-briefs.
10. If you could have any super power, which one would you choose? Teleportation. It's close with flying, but I figure teleportation gets me most of flying's benefits, with less work and time.
11. If you could be an original Life Saver flavor, which one would you be? I don't know if this would make a good Life Saver, but I have always believed if someone could successfully combine chocolate, peanut butter, mint and coffee into one flavor experience, the world might end from collective gluttony. I've come close to creating this dessert perfection, with a chilled mini peppermint patty coated in peanut butter, but I failed to involve the coffee. Maybe I should have sprinkled grounds on the top? Anyway, it's too late now; I went vegan since that first attempt, and peppermint patties are out.
12. How do you want to be remembered? As a nice guy. A writer's writer. Giver of a pretty good wedding toast.
Barry’s New York productions include HOAXOCAUST! at Theater for the New City and Prospect Theater Company; CRITICAL DARLING at the New Group; ALL THE WAY FROM CHINA at the Gene Frankel; and the short plays YALE LAW SCHOOL (Heideman Award Finalist, Actors Theatre of Louisville) and DOWNEASTER ALEXA at Ars Nova. He is a two-time O’Neill finalist, for CITIZENS OF ROME and WOMAN OF TROY. His work has been developed by the Lark, Arena Stage, Rattlestick, and Williamstown, among others. He is a graduate of Yale College and the MFA program at UC San Diego.