The Nymph With The Drawn Sword - A Few Words With Maya Klausner Of THE PENNYPAN CABARET

The Nymph With The Drawn Sword - A Few Words With Maya Klausner Of THE PENNYPAN CABARET

With acting gigs on both coasts and stand-up comedy sets at all points in between, Maya Klausner is a tough woman to pin down. Following a successful run at the North Carolina Comedy Festival and a long string of shows and shoots in LA, she will soon head back to NYC to tread the boards once again in the upcoming iteration of The PennyPan Cabaret at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in the east village. We snatched a few minutes of her time to talk about comedy, dramedy and swiping right on dating down.

PPC: First of all, thank you for shoe-horning us into your crazy schedule! Let's start with the ol' standard- What attracted you to this project?

MAYA: The goats. And the fact that I was told I would have access to a sword. Truly, Valdaniel's passion for the project was infectious (in a good way). When I got the call offering me the role and we chatted about his vision his enthusiasm for the story and the character made me feel passionate about it. I was intrigued from the start.

PPC: Is this your first time brandishing a sword or wearing a toga on stage?

MAYA: I have to say I was mildly surprised I would be allowed to handle an authentic Samurai sword considering I once almost died rollerblading as an adult on a perfectly flat country road. But I certainly wasn't going to miss out on the opportunity. And yes that was a first for me. The last time I wore a toga was in college and I'd like to not say more.

PPC: Are there any ways in which you personally relate to your character?

MAYA: Syrinx and I are kindred nymph spirits. When I told my mom about the character and script she said "Oh, so it's type casting." Gotta love mom. But to be fair, Syrinx's saltiness and sassiness are certainly right up my alley. As is not yielding to the highfalutin advances of a megalomaniacal, narcissist with goat legs. I also tend to date down so the whole moving to another realm for a deadbeat comic was spot on! She's a lot of fun, I'm a big fan of Syrinx.

PPC: Name one strong trait or skill in Max Wingert (Pan) that is a great asset on stage.

MAYA: Max is just a naturally super strong stage actor. He possesses that confidence and expansive presence that makes the whole cast feel like it's going to be okay. In many ways he carries the show. Don't tell him I said that though.

PPC: Tell us the hardest aspect of preparing for this role.

MAYA: I would say figuring out how to put on my toga. I would lie awake at night until dawn watching YouTube videos tying and re-tying knots until my fingers were numb. (That is only mildly a joke.) Originally the biggest challenge I encountered was trying to silence the untamable beast that is my instinct to adlib. As a comedian I suffer from joke turrets. I had to remind myself: "This is not my script, these are not my words. Stick to the lines." Valdaniel was pretty open to indulging occasional moments of improv and eventually I was able to quiet those knee jerk impulses and identify with Syrinx the character, not Maya the comedian playing the character.

PPC: Do you think your experience as a stand-up comic has helped or hindered your work as part of an ensemble dramatic cast?

MAYA: I wouldn't say it hindered anything as much as highlighted that we all have vastly different strengths and talents. I received a lot of admiration from my cast mates for choosing to get on stage alone with just my material, whereas I appreciate the skills of a strong dramatic actor being able to convincingly bring someone else's words to life.

PPC: Conversely, has theater work influenced your set at all?

MAYA: Well there's definitely a lot more goat jokes now. In all seriousness, I think maybe it has helped me to take my time a bit more? There is the vital ingredient of listening when acting with a scene partner. I tend to think quickly and react quickly. When I'm doing my set it is all about me, there is no one and nothing to react to, except at times the audience. Every time I do theater I really value the concept and exercise of listening. It's a useful skill on and offstage.

PPC: Yes, I've heard that too. Speaking of listening- what is the strangest feedback you have gotten from friends or family about the show?

MAYA: Maybe the most surprising feedback would be that people found the story much more true to life than we might have expected. But that is Valdaniel's talent and absurd intelligence shining through: He can take a fantastical world teeming with nymphs and the ability to pause the space-time continuum at the whim of a hand gesture and ground it with real human relationships and stories. This could have just been a fun show meant to entertain on a surface level, but it digs deeper than that. People would watch a scene and say, "Oh I know that guy" or "She reminds me of my friend."

PPC: Okay, give us some pearls here- WHY should people come see The PennyPan Cabaret?

MAYA: People should see this show because it is the single greatest contribution to theater that the world has or will ever know. I'm just sticking to the facts. Also, who doesn't want to see a half-goat demigod chase a girl to Bushwick and get cursed out in Spanish?

PPC: Wow, sounds compelling! Thank you so much for your time and break all of the legs.

The PennyPan Cabaret consists of original music, comedy and drama and continues its residency at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe on Weds 3/21 and Thurs 3/22. Tickets are general seating and available for $20 at the door or $18 online HERE.

www.PennyPanCabaret.com




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