We're not sure what to make of this past Saturday's "Battle of the Bards" at Studio Mezmor, formerly known as Crobar. Ten fledgling theater companies performed ten-minute plays written around a prop — an orange life vest — for a celebrity judge panel: Sigourney "no interviews" Weaver, actor Josh Lucas, and playwright Adam Rapp. What a novel way to discover starving artists! Way more vibrant than, say, an evening with The Pirate Queen. Alas, despite the flowing booze, the night of renegade theater drooped like a high-school talent show: one involved a ripped, shirtless Shakespeare in a WWE-style wrestling match with Tennessee Williams. "This is like Showtime at the Apollo, but no one's any good," an anonymous seat neighbor noted. He left three skits in.
We chatted with Lucas and Rapp (why wouldn't you talk to us, Sig?) to ask if they knew what they were getting into.
What's the wackiest, most fly-by-night theater you've ever done?
I did Shakespeare in the Parking Lot on the Lower East Side in an abandoned parking lot. We'd be harassed by homeless people throwing beer cans at us saying, "You guys suck! Shakespeare sucks!"
Were you ever part of a crazy competition growing up — a talent show, pie-eating, something like that?
A hula-hoop contest in my hometown in South Carolina. I have no idea why. It was all mixed with a pie-eating contest and a baking contest. Hula hoop, baking, and eating. I just did the hula hoop and failed miserably. And I practiced beforehand!
Speaking of ridiculous competitions, if you ever become a has-been, would you do Dancing With the Stars?
Absolutely not. Celebrities-for-celebrities' sake is the thing that I'm least interested in. People have to pay their rent though. One thing that's confusing to people is that [Dancing With Stars] is where you make money. I did Spalding Gray Off Broadway and didn't make a dime. But actually a great friend of a friend of mine, Matt Lawrence, had one of the great times of his life doing [Dancing With the Stars]. And that's beautiful.
Since you're a judge tonight, what's the best way to bribe you?
I guess if you get me drunk enough, I'm pretty bribable. [Laughs.] Shoot, what do I really want in my life right now? I'm thinking of solemn, mystical stuff. [Thinks carefully for at least 60 seconds, consults with a friend.] The gift of time travel. You could bribe me with that.
How did you get talked into doing this?
I'm always drawn to stuff that has supreme commitment. We're in a big club, it feels like we're in some chapter from Bright Lights, Big City. It's gonna be interesting to see the companies that know how to handle the space, how to get to the back wall here. I'm always interested in how the person that's furthest from the stage can be affected by something.
Were you ever part of a crazy talent-show competition?
I was in a weird talent show in junior high where my friend and I sang "Barbara Ann" by the Beach Boys. There was a section where we had to walk on our hands. He walked on his hands. I walked on my hands, fell over, and embarrassed myself.
Did you win?
We totally didn't win. It was humiliating. We almost had the audience, and then we lost them.
We're in the space formerly known as Crobar, a mega-mega-club. When was the last time you stayed up all night?
Besides the random strip club here and there — honestly research for my last film! — the last time I was in a club like this was when the Palladium was still open. I don't even know when they closed, a long time ago. I saw Lenny Kravitz playing guitar for Prince. One of the greatest things I've ever seen.
You're a judge. What could we bribe you with?
Laundry service. My laundry's crawling up the corner of my room. I always forget to do my laundry and then have no underwear. — Justin Ravitz