Between the worlds of theatre and fitness, I have known Antonio Minino for several years, so it's with great pleasure that we finally get the chance to sit down and talk about his work! Antonio is currently directing the new play Anaïs Nin Goes to Hell, an existential comedy centered around some of the most powerful and memorable women of history (Queen Victoria, Cleopatra, Andromeda, Heloise, Joan of Arc) as they wait on an island in the river Styx for the final leg of their soul’s journey to eternal peace or damnation. Their monotonous afterlife is shaken up when women’s lib icon and erotica writer "Anaïs Nin" arrives to the island planting seeds of change.
Antonio and I discuss the many themes of this show from death to sex to power, we go to the far depths of the earth to get all the answers.
Anaïs Nin Goes to Hell plays at the 14th Street Y, in collaboration with Manhattan Theatre Works and Goode Productions through October 29! Click here for tickets!
1. You are directing Anaïs Nin Goes to Hell, an existential comedy centered around some of the most powerful and memorable women of history (Queen Victoria, Cleopatra, Andromeda, Heloise, Joan of Arc) as they wait on an island in the river Styx for the final leg of their soul’s journey to eternal peace or damnation. Their monotonous afterlife is shaken up when women’s lib icon and erotica writer Anaïs Nin arrives to the island planting seeds of change. What made you want to direct this show? Back in maybe 2007 playwright David Stallings had me read the first scene of what is now Anaïs Nin Goes to Hell, and I encouraged him to keep writing the play. It has been one of my favorite plays of his since, and I've had the privilege of reading every draft, attending almost every reading, and of course there was the wonderful 2008 FringeNYC production. I always thought everyone did a great job at capturing the humor and wit of the play, but I wanted to see what would happen if we changed the focus from the farce to that of the heart and soul of it. What does it really mean to feel eternally incomplete? My biggest goal was also to empower, and to exercise my voice as a male feminist through this play.
2. What do you love about directing as opposed to acting? What challenges do you face when directing? As an actor, I only get to create a very controlled vision based on someone else's reality of what a script or character is. The creative reach is just wider as a director, and I get to collaborate with playwrights, designers and actors in creating a world and bringing my personal perspective to it, while still being open to what everyone else has to bring to the table. Once performances start I also get to let go and see the actors make it their own and hopefully better.
The biggest challenge as an indie theater director is time. You have three weeks to rehearse something and then you usually move into the theater the same week performance start. Which is why I like a lot of pre-production time and coming on board way in advance.
3. What do you like most about directing a comedy over a drama? A truly good comedy needs to have drama in it and vice versa. They cannot be mutually exclusive on stage because they are not mutually exclusive in life. Therefore I always bring comedy to drama and drama to comedy. If I would have to pick what I like most in either it is magic, and I believe there is magic in everything.
4. How do you feel being an actor helps influence your decisions as a director? Stallings always tells me I'm like a conductor when I direct. I also can't stand still. If you walk into one of my rehearsals you'll see me standing in one corner one minute and in the other the next, usually barefoot. I'm very organic and need to feel connected to the ground. I think that comes from being an actor. Also I'm very good at knowing when an actor needs time to figure a moment out or when he needs my guidance. There's a great synergy and respect to the actor's process that I believe comes from me being an actor. Dramaturgically it also brings some advantages, specially when it comes to figuring out rhythms in the text.
5. Out of the powerful women being featured in this show, which one or ones do you relate to the most? What is it about them you relate to? Oh my! Each and every one of them. I'd like to think I'm a total bubbly Andromeda who secretly wishes was a fierce Cleopatra. As a young boy growing up I was definitely Joan of Arc splashed with Heloise, there was a time in my life when I wanted to be a priest but never got the call...No joke. As an orphan I understand Queen Victoria's loss and mourning...
6. Like in Anaïs Nin Goes to Hell, if you were waiting on an island in the river Styx for your final leg of your soul's journey to either go to eternal peace or damnation, what would be some your last thoughts? I would wonder why I spent all my life searching for acceptance and validation when I knew I had it all along.
7. What are some things you have done that you feel would grant you eternal peace? What are some things you've done that you feel would send you to damnation? When I'm allowed to create I'm already granted eternal peace. Running a theatre company for 10 years that helped flourish the career of many creatives I think would grant me some eternal peace. At least a week? Don't know about damnation...
8. In Anaïs Nin Goes to Hell, the monotonous afterlife is shaken up when women's lib and erotica writer "Anaïs Nin" arrives to the island planting seeds of change. When has there been a time in your life when erotica got in the way of what you were working on? I'll tell you this much. Erotica definitely stole some of our rehearsal time.
9. If you were to send someone to Hell, who would your top 3 choices be? Depends if this is a fun hell or a biblical hell... I'll go with fun hell. My husband, my dog, and myself.
10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I want to get back to the gym! Every time I start a rehearsal process it consumes all my time and thought. Now that the show is up and running I need to get back on track. Also meditation. Meditating every day brings out the best in me and I've been slacking on that as well.
An award-winning performing artist, Antonio is a proud native of the Dominican Republic where he studied theatre at the School of Dramatic Arts, co-hosted/produced and directed for the award-winning television show FashionTV, was a contributing writer for M.S. Magazine, an art director for various fashion campaigns, and a director/performer for various national productions.
Favorite NYC acting credits include: Suddenly a Knock at the Door at Theater for the New City, The Colonel's Wife (Outstanding Actor - PCTF Awards), Macbeth with Fab Marquee Productions, A Midsummer Night's Dream with Original Binding Productions; Dark Water with Manhattan Theatre Works; Men in Towels, Adrift, Andy@62, Confessions of a Cuban Sex Addict, Triptych and All About Meat at the Duo Multicultural Arts Center; Limelight (Access Theater), The Other Day (Wild Project), Parts of Parts & Stitches (Theatre at the 14th St Y), The Stranger to Kindness (Robert Moss Theater; Winner Congeniality Award, Nominated Best Actor), The Empress of Sex (Audience Favorite National NewBorn Festival), Arpeggio (45th St Theatre), Intermission (HERE), Trojan Women (MHS), Elevation (Payan Theatre), OOPS! (Manhattan Theatre Source), 4 Variations of Mee (Manhattan Children's Theatre), Ilka's Dream (Payan Theatre).
Film and TV credits include Snuff the Movie, Open Mike, Destiny, The Amazing Spiderman 2, The Get Down, The Interestings, Madam Secretary, Person of Interest, and The Americans. As a singer he has performed at The Town Hall of NY, Symphony Space NY, The Time Out Lounge, The Triad NYC and The Nuyorican Poets Cafe. His photography has been featured in the NY Times, the NY Post, Backstage, Show Business Weekly, among others.
He is the owner of Fab Marquee Productions, and a founding member and company actor at Manhattan Theatre Works. He is a proud member of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA).