Tabula Rasa Artist Interview: Geoff Pictor

Actor, teacher, and tenor Geoff Pictor is creating the role of Hans Arp in the world premiere of TABULA RASA, a new jazz opera by Felix Jarrar & Bea Goodwin that tells the story of model/muse Kiki de Montparnasse who decides to take her identity and her fate into her own hands.

May 4, 5, 11, and 12th @ 8pm

Blue Building

222 E 46th St., NYC

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I'm currently in my senior year of living in NYC. I moved on New Year's eve 2014! This is my first ever Opera, and a new one at that, which is super exciting. Most of my time is taken up by teaching, so working on these kinds of new and exciting projects is a BIG DEAL for me.

What led you to move to NYC? And what kind of teaching do you do? 

I came to NYC to better myself as a performer, and to live in one of the most exciting cities in the world. I am a 5th grade classroom teacher, which means between myself, and my co teacher, we teach just about everything. 

 Photo credit: Joyce Yin

Photo credit: Joyce Yin

All of the characters in Tabula Rasa are based on actual historical figures. What did you know about your character prior to working on Tabula Rasa, and how did you go about preparing the role?

I'm sad to say, I never heard of Hans Arp before this show, or many of the other Dadaists. Since being cast though, I've had a lot of fun looking up their works, and exploring a different side of visual art and film.

What do you find most interesting about Arp's work (or that of the Dadaists in general)?

Arp's work doesn't necessarily appeal to me aesthetically, although the Dadaist movement in general I find very interesting, and visually diverse. The embrace of existentialism after the first Great War permeated nearly all of society, and seeing visually the human spirit diverge from a pursuit of external -or given- meaning to a pursuit of individualism and self searching on nearly a global scale is very fascinating to me. 

 Photo credit: Joyce Yin

Photo credit: Joyce Yin

What are some of the rewards of working on a new work? What are the challenges?

This is not my first new work, and creating roles and shows, especially with teams this open and excited about collaboration, is one of my favorite aspects of theater. I love coming into a rehearsal schedule knowing we are not constrained by previous productions, earlier renditions, or copyright. Also, the feeling that I put my stamp on a work, and that the entire ensemble came together with ideas to make what we are performing is extremely rewarding.

What has been your favorite moment in the rehearsal process so far? 

My favorite moment of the rehearsal process has been rehearsing the Dada Meeting number. Everyone involved in performing and staging that scene is a total hoot to work with, and it is the number, to me at least, with the most "musical theater" feel to it, which is more my wheelhouse. 

What is your greatest non-artistic achievement?

I have my Eagle Scout Award!

 Photo credit: Joyce Yin

Photo credit: Joyce Yin

Name a trashy TV show you secretly love.

I have been seriously enjoying Altered Carbon in all it's gratuitous sexual sci-fi pulp violence. I'm also a big sucker for anything in the Marvel Universe.

If you could have any one super power, what would it be and why?

I have a hard time deciding between being able to speak every language (both past and present) known to man fluently, or being able to stop time. I won't be able to dramatically save the world with the first one, but on the other hand, being able to manipulate the passage of time would inevitably warp my character as absolute power corrupts absolutely. 

In one sentence, why do you hope people come to see Tabula Rasa?

I want people to see that young people can create exciting new works in a medium usually popularly perceived as stagnant.

 Photo credit: Joyce Yin

Photo credit: Joyce Yin