A GoPride Interview

David Zak

David Zak interview with ChicagoPride.com

Wed. November 9, 2011  by Michael J. Roberts

David Zak

Michael J. Roberts interviews director David Zak before Chicago premiere of Beyond Brokeback

The Chicago premier of ‘Beyond Brokeback' will be held on Sunday, November 13, 2011 at 2pm at the Auditorium Theatre. The program will feature a viewing of the groundbreaking film, followed by a panel discussion and a staged reading of material compiled from the ‘Brokeback Forum' which has attracted hundreds of thousands of participants.

I spoke with my friend and director David Zak who discusses the importance of the film how this evolution to stage developed.

MJR: (Michael J. Roberts) Why do you think Brokeback Mountain continues to resonate with so many people years after the film opened?

DZ: (David Zak) It resonates because it connects with the human spirit. What I think is interesting about this piece is that after Brokeback Mountain was out for a while, they opened this website called the Brokeback Forum and over a hundred thousand people commented on the forum. These were people from all around the world; gay, straight, single, catholic, married, divorced. The range of comments was really interesting and the struggle between those two people in the film who were connected but not together really touched so many people who were in similar situations. Sometimes people who were married realized they were not really together; people who were single commented on missing out on the one they truly loved. The website really reflects human longing across the spectrum.

MJR: How did ‘Beyond Brokeback' take shape?

DZ: So, once they have gotten to this point where there was so much volume of material, Dave Cullen, the website editor narrowed it down to a book (Beyond Brokeback: The Impact of a Film) and Gregory Hinton, who is the playwright, took it in a direction similar to the Laramie Project. Gregory is an interesting guy. He has done a lot of interesting things including co-writing the film ‘Circuit'. Gregory has been working on this for a long time.

MJR: How has the production been received?

DZ: They have initially done ‘Beyond Brokeback' at a lot of smaller places in the West Coast. This is the first time it is being staged in a major city and we are very interested to see what the reaction will be with a city audience. They have these people who are "Brokies" who go see this production wherever it is playing. I think it is a very interesting way to build a community out of this movie which really is about loss. Out of loss we to build a community of togetherness.

MJR: I agree, bottom line is Brokeback Mountain is a universal love story that the masses relate to.

DZ: Absolutely. And I think all the elements are beautiful. The setting is spectacular; the sheep, every single one of them is cuter than any of the Von Trapp sisters; the music, you just need to hear two bars of that guitar score and it is just perfect. I also think the movie revels in its quietness.

MJR: What can the audience look forward to at ‘Beyond Brokeback'?

DZ: The first part of the day is showing Brokeback Mountain on the big screen at the Auditorium Theatre. They will have a beautiful projection quality version of the film. Then there is a talkback with a lot of people from the various film schools here in the city which I think is going to be very interesting to hear what professional film people think of the film at this point and why it still resonates. Then there is a quick dinner break and then there is a reading of Gregory Hinton's new play ‘Beyond Brokeback' which I am directing.

MJR: How did you get involved with this project?

DZ: I have heard about it from a guy named John Trudell and then Roosevelt University got hold of it and it became one of my unofficial school projects. All the pieces sort of fit together and then I talked to Gregory on the phone and really liked his concept and then we started putting the pieces together. We have people coming from around the country. Shawn Kirchner who composed a piece for the production called "Meet Me On The Mountain" will be coming in along with his boyfriend Ryan and performing. Darrell Stephens from "Noah's Ark" will be here; Mary Gearen who is an actress and guitar player from Minnesota will be among the musical ensemble of six. Then with the staged reading, each actor will be playing 15-20 characters who are writing into this forum who start out separated from life and circumstance and through the course of the piece you see this community developing through the music that Shaun has composed and through the shared experiences of the writers. I think it is going to be very powerful.

MJR: Who are some of the actors in the piece?

DZ: Mary Gearen from Minneapolis, CCPA alum Amanda Batterson, Liz Pazik from Chicago who is going to be taking the day off from Drury Lane's ‘The Sound of Music' to be in this and of course Darryl Stephens. It's a combination of equity and non-equity. There is going to be beautiful music, beautiful words and a great companion piece to the film.

Beyond Brokeback, November 13, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $15-$25 and can be purchased by calling 800.982.ARTS (2787); visiting the Box Office: 50 E. Congress Pkwy or www.ticketmaster.com To visit the Beyond Brokeback blog, visit http://beyond-brokeback.blogspot.com .

Interviewed by Michael J. Roberts. Michael J. Roberts is theatre editor for the ChicagoPride.com covering Chicago's diverse arts and entertainment scene.