BWW Interviews: BCT Series - Actress Miatta Lebile Talks TRIASSIC PARQ
Very recently, I saw Bayou City Theatrics' production of TARZAN. I enjoyed the look of the production so much that I decided to look into the newly established theatre company. What I found intrigued me. A part of the company's vision and mission is to provide "high-art, conceptualized pieces of theatre" to the Houston audience. I had to find out just what the hell that meant.
In part three of the BCT series, I talk to actress and frequent company member, Miatta Lebille. Currently, she is in BCT's production of TRIASSIC PARQ where she appears as T-Rex 2, the unfortunate soul whose penis-sprouting ways wreak havoc on her community.
BWW: Tell me about TRIASSIC PARQ.
Miatta Lebile: It's a crazy, raunchy, X-rated, over the top, ridiculously funny show. It's so crazy. One of my songs for instance is called "Dick Fix" [I Laugh]. Yeah, so, my mom's not coming. But the whole show is so funny and it's going to be a lot of fun to act out. Hopefully, we will only have half the audience leave because they're so offended, not everyone.
BWW: Director Colton Berry says TRIASSIC PARQ is offensive in the best way possible. What do you think?
Miatta Lebile: [Laughs] "Offensive in the best way!" I think it's offensive in the same kind of way that AVENUE Q is offensive. There are people who are going to think it's just crude and crass. I think that's the best way for a lot of us. A lot of us like being offended that way. It kind of depends on how offended you're willing to get. There's lots of penis jokes. There's lots of gender roles, lots of gender swapping. All of us are female dinosaurs but some of the dinosaurs are played by male actors. Right off the top, I think there's going to be people who go, "What?! I don't understand that." Then it's just gonna go downhill from there. [Laughs] So, I would agree that it's offensive in the best way possible. But everyone's best possible way may not be my way!
BWW: How does the play deal with gender?
Miatta Lebile: One of the big things in the notes that the playwright actually wrote was to the men who are playing female dinosaurs. They said, please do not play the female dinosaurs like over the top characters. You just happen to be a man playing a female dinosaur. We don't want to see you flicking your wrists. But, the play doesn't try to get political about anything. The dinosaurs are who they are. They don't make any kind of apologies for it. You just go with it. I think that's the really cool thing about it.
BWW: Sometimes there's something radical about not making a political statement and letting the characters just be.
Miatta Lebile: Exactly. We're saying, "This is normal." We're not making a big deal out of this because we shouldn't have to make a big deal out of this. I think that is a great part of the show. I hope people are open to it and willing to laugh at these things.
BWW: I have trust that Houston will have an open mind. How did you prepare for the role of a dinosaur who grows a penis?
Miatta Lebile: Oh, Lord! The first time Colton told me about the role he said "You're going to be growing a penis." I said, "Of course I am." [Laughs] I usually play over the top, crazy characters. But, I think the main thing about this show that you have to be careful of, and the playwrights have written this down, is to never wink at the audience. Treat it as real as you can. Obviously it's over the top comedy but never make it slapstick. Take it seriously. For this character, this is the worst thing to happen in her entire life. This situation ruins her life. So, you have to take it as seriously as possible while keeping the show funny because it is a funny show. I'm growing a plastic penis! Trying to find that balance between keeping it real for the character but also making sure to keep the comedy in there for the audience. That's how I've been looking at it.
BWW: So, where does the comedy come from?
Miatta Lebile: The comedy is already in the music and the script. You're obviously going to embellish what you're doing, maybe motionwise. But if you try to stay as true as possible to what's on the page, I don't think you need to try for comedy, which is awesome.
BWW: How did the director and music director help you approach this role?
Miatta Lebile: Jane is so great at being patient with people. She really works with you. And Colton is really positive and uplifting, even when you suck! Both of them work together to bring the best out of their actors. It's exciting to work with them. I've worked with them through several shows now.
BWW: If you had to boil it down, and you do because I'm asking you to, why do you think Houston audiences should come to this show?
Miatta Lebile: This is the type of show that's done in New York or LA. Bayou City Theatrics tries to do a lot of out-of-the-box, off-kilter shows that you don't usually get a chance to see in Houston. I think it's so important to bring in shows like that. As an actor, when you're a part of shows like that, you grow in a different way. And, as an audience, you learn that there's different theatre out there. A lot of people, when they think of musical theatre, think of THE MUSIC MAN or MARY POPPINS. Not that there's anything wrong with this kind of musical theatre, but there's a different side of musical theatre out there. There's a side that's crazy and raunchy, and a lot of fun to bring your friends to, maybe not your parents [I Laugh], but just something you can go out to on a Friday night and have a really good time.
BWW: Any advice for aspiring actors?
Miatta Lebile: Get out there and do it. It is a hustle. Support other people's shows. Go out and meet your fellow actors. Go to every audition that you can. Good things are going to happen.
BWW: Any encouragement for the super thirsty (for success)?
Miatta Lebile: Don't ever compare your journey to someone else's. Everyone's journey is going to be different. Do what you need to do for you. Keep trying to achieve your dreams.
BWW: The most important question of the day: Who is your favorite Kardashian and why?
Miatta Lebile: OK, let's be real. We all feel for Khloe, right? Because if Khloe were not famous, she would be gorgeous and perfect. But, apparently, compared to her sister, she's Chewbacca? [I Laugh] You look at her and wonder, "Why do people think she's a Wookie?" There's nothing wrong with Khloe Kardashian. She has my vote as the favorite Kardashian. Just because she needs the most love.
Show some love to TRIASSIC PARQ. It closes this weekend! The musical runs July 31 - August 9, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 8:00 pm at The Kaleidoscope, 705 Main, Suite B (entrance on Capitol St.), Houston, TX 77002*. General Admission: $30 Senior/Student: $25. Tickets are available in advance at www.BayouCityTheatrics.com. Contact BCT@bayoucitytheatrics.com for any questions!
*$5 cash parking is available less than one block from the theater in the Saks Parking Garage located at the corner of Capitol and Fannin.