Interview: Sideeq Heard's Ever Excited to Direct FAT HAM Again

The west coast premiere of James Ijames’ 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama-winning Fat Ham opened April 4th at the Geffen Playhouse.

By: Apr. 09, 2024
Interview: Sideeq Heard's Ever Excited to Direct FAT HAM Again
Get Access To Every Broadway Story

Unlock access to every one of the hundreds of articles published daily on BroadwayWorld by logging in with one click.




Existing user? Just click login.

Interview: Sideeq Heard's Ever Excited to Direct FAT HAM Again

The west coast premiere of James Ijames’ 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama-winning Fat Ham opened April 4, 2024, at The Geffen Playhouse. Sideeq Heard directs the talented cast of Nikki Crawford, Chris Herbie Holland, Billy Eugene Jones, Adrianna Mitchell, Marcel Spears, Benja Kay Thomas and Matthew Elijah Webb. Sideeq found time after his successful opening weekend to answer a few of my queries.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, Sideeq!

What cosmic forces initially brought you into the 2022 Off-Broadway Fat Ham universe?

Initially, I directed a play during my last year of graduate school at NYU Grad Acting. A casting director loved it so much they thought it would be a great idea for me to chat with Saheem Ali (Fat Ham’s original director), and the rest is history. 

Aside from blocking to fit the Geffen stage, have you made any tweaks to this Geffen production?

Interview: Sideeq Heard's Ever Excited to Direct FAT HAM Again When we transferred Off-Broadway to Broadway often times we’d use the phrase “if it ain't broke, don’t fix it” in the rehearsal room, and I really upheld this truth. Now, I did add a breakdown at during Kill the Lights to encourage the audience to dance with us. Everything else holds. 

The Broadway cast of Fat Ham will be reprising their roles at the Geffen. Do you have a shorthand in directing communications with them after so many shows?

Definitely! Intuition is our shorthand. We are all very aware of what the show feels like, sounds like, looks like at its best. Our history of working on the show shapes how deeply and quickly we can communicate. Before I complete a sentence they already understand; we have a knowing. I’m simply reminding and guiding them back to the show they know so well. 

Interview: Sideeq Heard's Ever Excited to Direct FAT HAM Again What would your three-line pitch for Fat Ham be?

A “Queer Hamlet Barbecue.”

What character in Fat Ham would you most identify with? Juicy? Tio? Larry?

Larry for sure. I was raised in the army. I went to high school and middle school in the south. I know what it’s like to feel trapped, afraid, and to find the courage to break free of expectation.  I love Larry’s fearless “awakening” at the end of the play! I am living my own awakening right now! 

Did your family have backyard BBQ’s? And if they did, what was served on the picnic table?

Oh absolutely! I was born in Newark, New Jersey. We eat good! 

Collard Greens

YInterview: Sideeq Heard's Ever Excited to Direct FAT HAM Again ams

Macaroni n’ cheese (my grandfather had passed down secret recipe) 

BBQ Chicken (every part of the bird) 

Potato Salad 

Deviled Eggs 

Corn 

And sometimes we’d have crabs and crab legs! (I can taste the ol’ bay seasoning as I type)

In the Off-Broadway, Broadway and Arts in the Armed Forces productions, was there any audience response that took you by surprise?

Yes, I remember doing the Arts in the Armed Forces reading and I was so surprised at the amount of laughter! I remember saying to myself “I’ve never heard this much laughter in a Broadway house. Ever.” During our talk back, a few men in uniform shared touching stories about how they connected to Larry’s arc. Also, I remember a young woman enthralled at the end of the reading. The play motivated her to have a conversation with her grandparents about her identity. 

Interview: Sideeq Heard's Ever Excited to Direct FAT HAM Again What was your reaction when you found out James Ijames won the 2022 Pulitzer Prize for Drama with Fat Ham?

I was shocked. James won the award before the play opened Off Broadway! All of us had just met. Maybe we were in rehearsal for two weeks at this time. I didn’t fully understand what that meant, but I knew that this was special from that moment on. Oh, and there was cake! 

You’re having a successful career as a director, actor, writer and rapper. What did you want to be in your formative years?

In my formative years, I wanted to be an actor. I grew up doing church plays in a town called Hinesville, Georgia. What’s fascinating to me is how I can use my gift of acting to spread my wings in other areas such as directing, writing, and rapping. For me, moment to moment, they are all quite the same. Storytelling is the common denominator. 

Who were your idols growing up?

I can’t quite remember, but…

My idols in 2024 are all multi-hyphenates.  I love Issa Rae, Donald Glover, Joe Mantello, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson to name a few. I’m inspired by so many people!

What accomplishments are you most proud of as the inaugural Associate Artistic Director of JAG Productions?

Interview: Sideeq Heard's Ever Excited to Direct FAT HAM Again I am most proud of creating a digital series called Men like Us, which follows the lives of three queer black men on their journey to self-actualization. I started with a group of four writers and together we created four episodes. Then, I assembled a production team of over 60 cast, crew, etc. We finished the entire project in October 2023 over the course of 12 consecutive days of shooting. I did all of this in the time span of one year. 

What’s in the future for Sideeq Heard?

I’m gearing up to direct another Fat Ham with a new cast next month, which will be exciting to explore! I am releasing new music later this month, and I am in post-production for Men Like Us, which will be released later this summer! I am in my own land, and I plan to continue charting this multi-hyphenate path. 

Thank you again, Sideeq! I thoroughly enjoyed attending your Fat Ham BBQ.

For tickets for the live performances of Fat Ham through May 5, 2024; click on the button below:




Comments

To post a comment, you must register and login.

Vote Sponsor


Videos