Marissa Skudlarek, BOA 2013′s Anthology Editor, is conducting interviews with the festival’s playwrights, directors, and actors. Next up are actors Melvign Badiola and Shaun Plander, who star as the Pigeons in “Two Pigeons Talk Politics.”
Melvign Badiola and Shaun Plander are both making their BOA debuts. The play they’re performing in, “Two Pigeons Talk Politics,” by Lauren Gunderson, concerns two savvy New York City pigeons struggling with ethics, morality, and existential angst… you know, typical bird stuff.
Marissa: First things first: what is it like to wear those amazing pigeon costumes? Are they comfortable? Itchy? Hot? What was your first reaction when you saw the costumes?
Melvign: It’s amazing what not having control over your arms can do for your performance! It’s semi-comfortable, hot, and itchy! My first reaction was, “Uhhh, y’all for real?”
Shaun: The pigeon costumes are definitely little heat boxes, but at this point it’s more like a warm down comforter. I could probably sleep in it.
Marissa: How do you get into character to play a bird? Did you observe pigeons in the wild? Was there a lot of physical/vocal work involved in creating that pigeon physique and squawk?
Shaun: I used to work as a tour salesman at Fisherman’s Wharf, and I got a lot of quality alone time hanging with the pigeons down there. I didn’t know how much of their behavior had seeped into my subconscious until doing this play though!
Melvign: I watched birds while trying to memorize lines in the park. I do the “croooing” before any performance. It has become a part of my pre-show warmup. The louder the better, but you must learn control. Damn, those pigeons are good!
Marissa: Have you ever played an animal (or an inanimate object) before, or is this your first time performing as a non-human?
Melvign: I must say this is the first time I am playing an animal.
Shaun: This is my first time playing an animal in a play, though I used to play some weird inanimate objects and animals in scenes for my college directing classes.
Marissa: What has been the most wonderful discovery and most frustrating challenge in performing in “Two Pigeons Talk Politics”?
Shaun: The biggest discovery for me came when I found my character’s balance between “philosopher” and “stoner”. The most frustrating challenge? Probably that I can’t use my hands to gesticulate. Or how itchy my nose gets when I get in costume.
Melvign: What’s wonderful about this particular piece is that the cast came together to make it work. It’s an awesome idea, but executing it was the real challenge. But we did it!
Marissa: What do you hope the audience will get out of “Two Pigeons Talk Politics”?
Melvign: I want them to start thinking about life and how we can leave things better for our families. If these pigeons care that much, we must look dumb as hell in their eyes, what with the things we are doing to the world and each other.
Shaun: I hope the audience will take a little more time to connect and really hear each other. It’s easy to get caught up in the gloom and doom of politics, and even easier to be crippled by fear of your own future. So yeah, chill out. Sign some petitions. Listen to people and get out of your head.
Marissa: It feels very appropriate that BOA is producing this play at a time when the federal government has shut down for the first time in nearly 2 decades and there’s a lot of frustration with politicians. How does it feel for you?
Shaun: There’s a very easy connection–I’m frustrated with the status, I’m frustrated with the quo, I’m frustrated every day with our political-corporate machine, but we’re all kind of pigeons. We’re small and we can’t affect much by ourselves. But we can fly in a big pack and shit all over the corporations that run our country, if we all decide we really want to.
Melvign: I am frustrated! Wish I could take a wet slimy dump on these politicians! Bwahahaha!!! And we say we are more evolved?! C’mon!!! These politicians need to get FIRED! They are in a position to look out for the people, not themselves. And what’s more infuriating is the fact they are still getting paid! FOR DOING ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! How much more broken can a system get?! I say fire their asses! And put in people that are actually affected by their actions and decisions. After all, the government is for the people! NOT FUCKIN’ POLITICIANS!
Marissa: What’s up next for you?
Shaun: My comedy group, Narcissists Anonymous, is developing two shows right now—a super fast paced and boozy bar-prov show at the 50 Mason Social House, and an hour-long improvisational show, played out in a single location, which will perform at the Actors’ Center in the Mission. And you can see me pretty much every week at Endgames Improv!
Melvign: I am currently under the mercy of the EDD. But fortunately I have the opportunity to be a part of NCTC’s YouthAware Program, which tours middle and high schools, educating youngsters about respect, acceptance, tolerance, love, and how it is to be human. That last part is mine. I am also part of a short film titled Prinsesa, which will premiere in July 2014. Also, check out Bindlestiff Studio, where I first started out and currently serve on their board of directors and production team. It’s the only Filipino-American theater space in the whole U.S.!
Marissa: Melvign and Shaun, thanks for taking the time to talk to me about “Two Pigeons Talk Politics.” Your performances in this show prove that politics is definitely not just for the birds.
“Two Pigeons Talk Politics” appears in Program 2 of BOA 2013, with its final performances on October 3 and 5, at Tides Theatre.