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BWW Interview: THE COMPLEXing Anna LaMadrid Adapting Online Shows & Lessons With Ease

Anna LaMadrid's THE OXY COMPLEX premieres virtually March 21, 2021

BWW Interview: THE COMPLEXing Anna LaMadrid Adapting Online Shows & Lessons With Ease

THE OXY COMPLEX, IAMA Theatre Company's fourth offering of their 2020-21 season of new solo work exploring identity, isolation, race and connection, premieres virtually March 21, 2021. Playwright/performer Anna LaMadrid teams up with director Michelle Bossy, as she performs as the fictional character Viviana she wrote.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Anna!
You just finished the filming of THE OXY COMPLEX. How did it all go? Safe and smoothly?

It went incredibly well. Michelle and I were definitely ambitious with the show. I was interested in creating a hybrid experience, and really leaning into blending the theatricality of theatre with the fact that people are going to watch this on a screen. So this wasn't just a lights-up, lights-down shoot. Michelle and I approached it like a film, and we had a shot list. Take Creative was incredible in getting it all done in two days. I felt completely safe. We tested at least three times during the week shoot.

THE OXY COMPLEX is set on the 500th day of quarantine. You wrote THE OXY COMPLEX while you were earning your MFA in Dramatic Arts from the University of Washington. What quarantine did you have then? Or is this a tweak for the current presentation?

BWW Interview: THE COMPLEXing Anna LaMadrid Adapting Online Shows & Lessons With Ease Well... you would be surprised! LOL! Our grad school experience was incredibly intense. 12-14 hour days, six days a week. So, in some ways, it felt a bit isolating and like you were quarantined from your regular life - definitely can't be compared to this current situation though. When I initially wrote this piece, it was a 15-minute exploration about how technology was disrupting our biology when it came to online dating. And our addiction to hormones that are released without our consent. What was interesting to me when IAMA asked me to expand this piece for 2020 was what was happening to us when the supply of Oxytocin gets cut off. So essentially we have a character going through withdrawal at the top of the show. On top of that, quarantine took away all of the distractions we have developed to cope with our unresolved traumas. It's a collective time reckoning and accepting ourselves. This was an interesting space for me to explore.

What's your three-line pitch for THE OXY COMPLEX?

On the 500th eve of a global pandemic... Viviana still can't sleep. Ruminating thoughts and hallucinations send her on a journey to look at her past in order to heal her future. THE OXY COMPLEX is a dark comedy about loneliness, love, sex, modern dating, trauma and oxytocin - the hormone that affects it all.

BWW Interview: THE COMPLEXing Anna LaMadrid Adapting Online Shows & Lessons With Ease Or... you can think of it like, if FLEABAG and the HIGH FIDELITY reboot, with Zoë Kravitz having an illegitimate Latina baby.

Had you worked with or known director Michelle Bossy before?

Yes, I have. Years ago, when I lived in NYC, we did a small reading together with EST. We reconnected a year and a half ago when she cast me as an updated version of the Virgin Mary in Raul Garza's THERE AND BACK. It was a show we took to a theatre in San Miguel Allende, Mexico, and also did here in L.A. at The Company of Angels. I found her directing so precise and thoughtful, and I knew this was going to be a long-term collaborator on my creative path.

What lucky stars first brought you and IAMA together?

Lucky stars indeed! I'm so incredibly happy to be an IAMA company member. The short version of the long story is that I had done a play YEARS ago in N.Y. with my friend Mika. She ended up marrying Eli Gonda - a company member and director. When I moved to L.A., we reconnected and she recommended me for a reading that Eli was directing. It was my first year here in L.A. I was excited to be so welcomed and appreciated by the community. And it quickly became one of my creative homes in L.A.

BWW Interview: THE COMPLEXing Anna LaMadrid Adapting Online Shows & Lessons With Ease What are the job functions of your IAMA positions of director of special programming and literary manager?

Well, currently I am in the process of transitioning from literary manager to director of special programming. It is a position that was created because of my interest in producing events that don't necessarily fit into the season programming. So, for example, last year I pitched doing the PASS THE MIC festival in order to raise money for Color of Change and BLD PWR, while amplifying Black voices. It went incredibly well, and we decided that we wanted this to be a yearly festival where we amplify under-represented voices in theatre.

Would the dual streaming of your THE OXY COMPLEX and Sheila Carrasco's ANYONE BUT ME be considered special programming?

I don't think that this pairing fits into the special programming realm. :-) I just think that (IAMA's co-artistic director) Stef (Black) felt really passionate about supporting both Sheila and me in creating our first solo shows. So she made space for both of us this season.

Are you bilingual or trilingual? You lived in Germany for a year.

I'm definitely bi-lingual. When I lived in Germany, I went to a military school. But... at some point in my life... I will learn French.

BWW Interview: THE COMPLEXing Anna LaMadrid Adapting Online Shows & Lessons With Ease I enjoyed you as Jaime in AMERICAN HERO at The Pasadena Playhouse in 2018. Thanks for including my review quote on your website! As frequently the new kid on the block in the five high schools you attended, is that when you began developing your comedic chops?

Awww... thank you. Jaime was a fun and challenging role for me, and I had a blast with the cast. It's funny, but I didn't consider myself funny for a long time. I think moving around so much made me a better actor. I observed so many different people, and I tried on so many personas to fit into different groups throughout my high school experience. I'm also the youngest of six - so trying to fight for attention in the household could have something to do it. My mom is SO FUNNY - without knowing it - so I definitely picked up some from her. For me, comedy is a way to disarm people though. If you could make them laugh, then you were cool. So especially as an immigrant who came to the U.S. when I was eight - I was always looking for ways fit in - and comedy gave me a path.

In all your high schools, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Washington, were you ever the only Latinx student in your classes?

BWW Interview: THE COMPLEXing Anna LaMadrid Adapting Online Shows & Lessons With Ease I was definitely the only Latinx person in my grad school class. Chapel Hill has a huge student population and it's been a while, but I am sure there were spaces where I was the only Latina in the room. I've always been aware of it. Not in a way that I let it hinder me... but I take note.

Who were your role models and movie idols growing up?

That's hard to say because I wasn't in tune with what acting really was until much later in my life. But looking back, one of my favorite movies growing up was Space Balls. I can recite entire scenes to this day. And now I can articulate why. Rick Moranis is brilliant in it. He cracks me up every time. There is such a need to be respected and seen in his performance. It makes his hubris endearing and heartbreaking at the same time. That's a tough thing to balance and he makes it effortless.

What inspired you to start up your Put Me On Self-Tape coaching program in 2016?

Frustration?! LOL! Well... yes and no. After grad school, I told myself I was going to quit theatre and focus on a TV/film career. Well, I got to L.A. and couldn't crack the TV nut. No callbacks. Nothing. Meanwhile, I was getting nominated for theatre awards and being embraced by the L.A. theatre community. So I was really confused. Then, I remembered how much I loved being a TA in grad school and coaching students on their monologues. I've always been kind of a tech nerd and was seeing an increase in self-tape auditions - so I thought that opening a self-tape studio would be a really good way to use the coaching skills I had developed in school, and stop being a personal assistant. That's when I decided to open Put Me On Self-Tape.

Was it easy for you to switch from in-person to virtual coaching?

BWW Interview: THE COMPLEXing Anna LaMadrid Adapting Online Shows & Lessons With Ease Yes! I was already experimenting with teaching classes to students not in L.A. So, if anything, the silver lining of COVID is that it made the process more accessible for everyone. People started getting comfortable using different platforms such as Zoom. Growing our community has been such a gift during this time. We have had classes where an actor in New Hampshire was doing a chemistry read with an actor in Ireland. That still blows my mind.

What's next on the plate of Anna LaMadrid?

Well... you know auditioning :-) Maybe Netflix or HBO will want to produce THE OXY COMPLEX into a limited series? But what I am excited about is expanding our virtual coaching by creating an education arm to Put Me On Self-Tape. We are opening enrollment for The New Triple Threat® on March 15th. I teamed up with Alyshia Ochse from That One Audition podcast to create a holistic approach to actor training. Especially with the new demands of having to make your self-tapes auditions. Today's actor is expected to be tech, craft and business savvy. With this membership, you will be able to gain access to all of our current and future courses for an affordable monthly fee and get way more value than just spending $350 a month for an audition class.

Thank you again, Anna! I look forward to checking out your THE OXY COMPLEX.

Thank YOU, Gil. I really appreciate the support. xo

For THE OXY COMPLEX viewing tickets March 21 through April 18, 2021; log www.iamatheatre.com


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From This Author Gil Kaan