With ‘Caligula,’ Alfred Preisser Offers a ‘Pleasureable Mess’
By Tom Penketh
March 19, 2010
Halfway through our interview, a lithe young woman approaches. “She’s a juggler,” Alfred Preisser tells me as she gets closer.
“I just wanted to run this by you,” she starts anxiously. She wants to know whether she can do a fire-eating bit in the show. “We probably won’t get fire permission,” she adds, “but… I haven’t gotten to eat fire in New York yet.”
“We’ll talk about it,” he reassures her, then looks sparks a satisfied smile. “See what I get to deal with!”
Preisser (pronounced “Pricer”) clearly relishes his work. The award-winning director first made a name for himself during nearly ten years at the Classical Theatre of Harlem, at which he served as co-founding artistic director (with Christopher McElroen).
With productions like “King Lear,” “The Trojan Women,” “Dream on Monkey Mountain,” ” Archbishop Supreme Tartuffe,” and the musical “Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death” (which won seven Audelco Awards, including Best Director), Preisser carved out a reputation for vibrant theatrical storytelling, which, he recently told an interviewer, is “a mix of rhetoric, dance and music, physicality and violence… It is about creating a direct connection between the actor, the story, and the audience all the time.”
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