BWW Interview: DOG SEES GOD Director Jesse LeNoir Talks About The Production, Why Simplicity Shouldn't Be Discounted And Why Live Theater Is Still Important
If you are an active viewer of Project Runway, Jesse LeNoir's name probably sounds familiar. The former contestant from Season 7 now resides in Los Angeles where he's an active actor and director. I caught up with LeNoir to talk about his current directorial work, Snyder Street Presents' debut production of DOG SEES GOD at The Sherry Theater in North Hollywood.
So Jesse, tell me a little about yourself and how you got involved with this production.
I moved to LA just over two years ago from Hong Kong, but I lived in Orlando for a decade after I trained as an actor at the University of Central Florida. There I learned directing from some great directors both in class and on stage. Any success in this will be to their credit (and my theft). As far as directing this show, I met Frankie [Rodriguez, of Snyder Street Presents] through Universal Studios. I also directed him in a children's language learning pilot that unfortunately didn't get that series order. I was excited and terrified when he asked me to direct this, so I knew I had to do it!
What are you looking forward to the most with this production?
I've found, in my creative endeavors, that when you have difficult parameters it forces you to think more creatively to overcome the obstacles and the end result is better for it. In this case it's budget. I'm very excited to present something that doesn't lean too heavily on flashy effects, sets and props but instead embraces simplicity. I think it'll be equally engaging for the audience especially considering the stellar cast we have been fortunate enough to get.
What was the most challenging yet rewarding part of this process?
I think with a piece like this, it's so good I just don't want to mess it up. I think the message is so strong that I don't want to get in the way or muddy it up. I'm trying to do my version of it and make it unique, but clearly success is in the balance. I'm proud of what we have created and excited to see how folks react.
In an age of heavy technology and social media, why is it important for people to still see live theater?
Funny you should ask. That's something I've been thinking on lately and what I want to address in this piece, among other things. I think the cellphone/Instagram/"Let's make tentative plans and I'll cancel on you later" culture we live is not healthy in the end. And I think we don't really know how all this is playing out for kids now that we'll soon have adults who haven't known a world without an iPhone. Ultimately, I think the daily contact we avoid by using our phones is what gives us a sense of empathy and community. Hopefully the theater can keep that alive, and maybe make people want to put their phones away.
What do you hope the audience takes away from DOG SEES GOD?
I want them to walk away thinking and questioning what they just saw. I hope they are at home - or wherever - a couple hours later, or a day or two later just thinking about the piece. I don't think there's one singular idea that I'm trying to impart, but instead hopefully it'll stir a lot of feelings for the audience. I personally, as an audience member, base success of a piece on whether I'm thinking about it later on. That's the highest compliment to me.
DOG SEES GOD will be at The Sherry Theater (11052 Magnolia Blvd. in North Hollywood) June 28, 29 and 30 at 8 p.m. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $16 ($20 at the door) and can be bought by visiting www.DSGNoHo.com.
Photo Credits: Jesse LeNoir and Snyder Street Presents