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Interview with Meg Kruszewska

I was curious to hear from people who were not as adoring of Reza, to try to get as full a sense of him as possible. In many ways, the ideal interviewee would have been Mira-Lani Oglesby, with whom Reza collaborated on Peep Show, Minamata, and Father Was a Peculiar Man. The two broke on hostile terms, and in 1990 Oglesby filed a lawsuit against Abdoh, claiming that she had not been properly credited (she wasn’t credited at all) for her work on Bogeyman. Unfortunately, Oglesby did not return my calls or respond to any of my attempts at getting in touch with her.

Reza’s split with Meg Kruszewska began earlier, as she was a member of Abdoh’s de facto theater company, a group of actors that worked with Abdoh until he decided to stop using most of them for his LATC mainstage production, Minamata. Kruszewska actually worked once more with Abdoh, coming to New York for Father Was a Peculiar Man, but their collaboration on that show left both of them feeling antagonistic towards the other. I spoke to Meg in my apartment on February 28, 1999.


mufson: Why don’t we start out at the beginning: tell me a little bit about when and how you first met Reza.

kruszewska: You know as I mentioned to you over the telephone it was at Déjà Vu Coffeehouse which was a [inaudible] over the Collier Boulevard run by a guy named Smitty. He’s a character.

It’s very sparse, but every couple of years there’s kind of an outbreak interesting theater company or somebody doing an interesting work, and sooner or later everybody went to Smitty’s. He was there for about 20 years. He had a little dive and he sold coffee. He was willing to put up everything, you know.

Faster, louder, funnier was kind of his motto, and everybody in the crew there. I mean it was like the first step after you did college, Tim Robbins, Richard Olivier [phonetic].

Everybody launched a kind of [unintelligible – 009] at one point or another. The shows were usually crappy but the best thing about it is that Smitty threw parties where we all ran into each other. That’s how I got to know Reza.

I was understudy, no, I was in a play there at Smitty’s, some awful play. It was called, What. He was there at a party along with Ron Frank. I don’t know if you’ve run across his name. He was really instrumental in giving Reza a place to do his plays cause he was just starting in a theater on Hollywood.

mufson: Ron Frank?

kruszewska: Ron Frank, yes. He had the quiet space, and you know turning it around it was actually an old porno house. We were cleaning it out and preparing it. I met both of them at a party, and they were going to open the theater and stage a play called “Hotel” something. I’m blanking out on the name right now. It was a really awful script, but Ron said, “Well, do you want to direct something.

mufson: Who read the script?

kruszewska: This guy named Jack… It was a very mundane script about a bunch of whores trapped in a hotel in [unintelligible – 024] and Reza directed it. You know they wanted to get the place open. It was probably the only straight play that Reza had ever done.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: Meaning that it was a script right there. Well, actually he did a piece at [unintelligible – 027]. So anyway, they needed someone to take over one of the roles there, and they asked me to come in and step in after seeing [unintelligible – 029]. They ended up closing the play earlier. So I never did perform for them, but we got to be very good friends and really concentrated on having to [unintelligible – 34] Hollywood Boulevard. From then on it was really Ron and I who produced actually many plays there. Actually Forest Whittaker directed like one of the first plays he ever directed at USC. He was a friend of Reza’s at USC.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: I remember people like [unintelligible – 033]. So we had this theater company going for awhile in the states and you know we started talking to Reza about doing something and he came up with this conception of King Lear. This was right around the time Wilson was around and [unintelligible – 036] the Wintergard Festival. Everybody was there. So that would have been [unintelligible – 037].

mufson: Yes, you were in King Lear?

kruszewska: I actually produced it and I did all the choreography on it. I didn’t perform it. It was a huge cast. We double casted. There were probably about 30 people involved in it. In a space no larger than the apartment here. It was… he stole a lot of stuff in [unintelligible 040]. He would go to stuff and the next thing you would see—

mufson: Yes, one of the reviews actually comments about that.

kruszewska: In the one about King Lear?

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: Yes, yes; and he was a master thief. I think that was one of his tricks, being a thief. Which we all are to a certain extent but he had no qualms about it. We would hang out so much and go to a lot of stuff. I would see the director’s influence because we would go see something and we would always be going to check things out whenever he was in town. Ron and I always used to laugh because he would get that look in his face and all of a sudden he would say, “I must have that in my play.” Sure enough you’d see it there. He was just a grand thief. He was very clever at it, but anyway the show was intense. I mean, we did it in this tiny space with hardly any money. I remember going to Alan Mandel at a certain point and begging him for some money to continue with costumes.

mufson: How did you know Alan?

kruszewska: At that point Reza had befriended Alan and the LATC pool when they were still in the old space, before they launched the theater downtown. Alan had kind of kept an eye on him, and he was impressed by Reza.

mufson: He was what, like 21 at this point?

kruszewska: Well you know his age fluctuated depending on how he wanted to work [unintelligible 055].

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: Let me see. I remember celebrating his birthday. Yes, that was probably about right. I think he was. In ’84 I was, in ’84 I was 24, and yes, that was about right. So, Alan, I remember Alan would come to see the show, and I remember he helped us out in the last minute financially. But for the most part the reviews hated it. Nobody paid much attention to him and it was just us doing this huge play in this tiny space.

mufson: You said it was double cast.

kruszewska: Right.

mufson: I thought I remembered hearing that the actor who was playing Edmund backed out and Reza actually ended up playing Edmund himself.

kruszewska: Oh, we all took turns jumping in. But that actor didn’t back out. I think there was one weekend where he couldn’t make it. And even with double casting that’s the nature of doing theater in LA. People will split on you like that. Acting as producer, I think I was the one who suggested double casting and said we’ve got all these great actors because we had done this very long workshop period. When it came time to making decisions, he wanted everybody in there because he was part of a group that performed. Still you use people, you know? People get another job living in… and you know lose interest because nobody is attending. Most of the time we had maybe two people in the audience and 25 people on the stage. I remember one show where I had a huge fight with one of the actors because he didn’t want to go on because there was only like one person in the audience.

That was the nature of it. But it was actually a pretty grand play. One of the cool things we did was had an artist do this huge mural across one of the walls of his flat. There was only room with two rows of chairs. Against one whole wall he did a huge free style mural, just any images that would come to him while he had worked on this. This was Paul who was Mira-Lani’s ex-husband. I’m sure you’ve come across her name.

mufson: Yes. What was his last name?

kruszewska: Hall. [Kruszewska’s memory here is incorrect. The artist who painted the mural was Paul Carpenter. See below for comments sent to me from Carpenter.]

mufson: Not Oglesby

kruszewska: No, no, no that’s Steve Oglesby. She got married a second time. Paul was her first husband. I’m sure it’s in one of the reviews.

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: He’s a real [unintelligible 079]. That was concealed by a huge piece of gauze curtain in most of the shows. You could see parts of the colors and stuff and then on the final scene I think it’s the full colors and the curtain. So it was really quite impressive, and we had the whole place filled with sand. We had created this kind of play thing which… we didn’t steal that from a [unintelligible 083].

mufson: That sounds [unintelligible 084].

kruszewska: Yes, then [unintelligible 085] her shoes. You know her stuff was really impressive and all of this [unintelligible -086] which eventually was a horrible pain in the ass because we had no ventilation in there.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: So we had like these sand storms and you know people coughing. They were coming down with bronchitis. But we did make a six-week run which is standard in LA. We didn’t make a penny. Hardly anybody came but our friends, you know.

mufson: Did the actors get paid?

kruszewska: Oh no! No. Nobody got paid in LA in [unintelligible 091].

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: But it was an exciting process. I think the workshop part of it was crazy. I mean I remember just hours of drumming and chanting, and you never knew what was going to end up in the play. He would just throw shit in, whatever came off the top of his head. There was no systematic structure behind it¾once again being influenced by whatever he saw and whatever was around him.

mufson: You would do scenic improvisations based on the situations of King Lear?

kruszewska: No, not at all. I think one of the most interesting workshop sessions we did was this drumming for hours, and I think it was totally from the idea that… well, we were creating this group. It was a very intense group, and it had nothing to do with any of the scenes. We would never play around with any of the scenes.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: It would just be the spirit moving us or some crazy stuff from the ‘60s or something. But good stuff came out of it. I think there was the solidity that came out of it with the actors being very excited. Mind you, nobody does this in LA, and I think that’s part of why Reza was so honored in LA, because nobody was doing shit in LA. I mean in New York it’s like downtown and there’s ten companies doing this stuff.

Nobody is doing this in LA. No, he would never be offered that scene. We would do something totally different and then some parts of it would come into the play. For the most part he was very controlling of the staging; and most of it was very presentational and [unintelligible 110]. You know because I ended up doing a lot of the choreography. It was very specific moves. You could only move this way and that way, and that’s his Wilson influence. I mean he worked with Wilson. He did the workshop production of it at UCLA.

mufson: What?

kruszewska: He was in the cast. Oh, you didn’t know that?

mufson: No.

kruszewska: Oh yes. Yes, Wilson came into town and he, through UCLA, he was doing this kind of workshop performance of Lear.

mufson: Wilson was doing the workshop?

kruszewska: Wilson was doing it. People had to apply and pay money to be a part of it, and Reza did that.

mufson: When was that?

kruszewska: This would have been right around the same time.

mufson: ‘Eighty-three?

kruszewska: Well I’m trying to remember if it was before King Lear or after. I think it was before. I’m pretty sure it was before because I was still at UCLA. So, yes, Reza’s great moment. There’s probably a videotape of it, you know. It’s that he had like several things where he walked cross the stage very slowly, Wilsoness. It looked like a sword on his head or something like that.

mufson: Did you actually see that?

kruszewska: Yes, oh yes. Yes. I went to UCLA, and I had several friends—

mufson: And you saw Reza perform in this?

kruszewska: Yes, yes. Why?

mufson: Why? Because he never mentioned it later.

kruszewska: Oh no! Reza, Reza you know. He’s a master liar, too. That’s why—

mufson: The thing was he mentions, he said he did work with Wilson when he was like four years old when Wilson did that come out [unintelligible 126] in Iran.

kruszewska: No, no that wasn’t Reza.

mufson: Actually—

kruszewska: That wasn’t Reza.

mufson: It wasn’t true.

kruszewska: Oh, no. No, no, no. He did work with, I think when Peter Brooks was in town in Iran. At least that’s the story he gave me.

mufson: Oh no.

kruszewska: See, he’s a fucking liar! Reza is a total fucking liar!

mufson: I know but then he neglected to mention the experience that actually happened. You said you saw him.

kruszewska: Oh yes! He’s a total… he makes things up you know. He’s [unintelligible 131]. That was funny. Every time I see a headline he will be a younger age. I would say, “Oh, that’s interesting. Three year’s difference with him. That’s interesting. He keeps getting younger.”

mufson: Were you three years older or three years younger?

kruszewska: Three years older. But that’s just Reza. That’s why I say I have a much more grounded take on him, because I know where he comes from. I mean I used to [unintelligible 135] his face when he would come up with the brilliant shit and I’d look at him, thinking, “I know where I came from.” But he got away with it, and I think his brilliance was in gathering really good people around him¾interesting people¾because that’s what he created the show from. He loved interesting people, and he had a very magnetic way of pooling those people around him and then stealing like hell. You know he would steal from your personal life, he would steal from movies he went to see. No hesitation about lying, whatever it was.

I think that was his brilliance. I don’t think he was brilliant [unintelligible 142], not at all. He had an amazing act of pulling things together which maybe that’s our modern day derivatives you know. Being able to steal in a creative way you know.

And he was not a writer. I mean he was lucky to have had Mira-Lani. You know she was one of the people who he treated horribly you know.

He was not a writer. I mean he used to plagiarize, lift things literally. Rusty… I’ll tell you an interesting story about Rusty.

He had huge passages from Margaret Duras’ [unintelligible], I forget which book is it, if it’s “The Lover” or one of the real prominent ones. He gave it to us as like a script. So we started working on it. It was like people was in the scene in one of the galleries. I thought God this is really beautiful, I wonder where he got it from. The guy who ran the place stages, Paul Verdier [phonetic], comes to watch one of the rehearsals. Next thing I know the whole scene is changed because apparently Verdier is very good friends with Margaret Duras and he recognized the whole section that he had just like lifted and put into the script.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: He said you can’t do that. I mean, this is somebody’s work. So then he basically rearranged it so that it seemed like the essence of it but not the words. That was the scene. Typical of Reza. That was exactly what he did. He’s shameless about it, really shameless. I think even in his later plays he¾well, I know what happened with Hip-Hop, and Mira-Lani ended up suing him over that because he claimed authorship for that and he absolutely shouldn’t have.

mufson: Right.

mufson: You’re still friends with Myra Lami?

kruszewska: Yes! She’s in LA.

mufson: Have you tried to get her to return my calls, or do you think she—

kruszewska: She probably doesn’t want to deal with… I mean I tell you Reza mistreated people. I had a hesitancy in calling —

mufson: I understand, but you know, the only thing that comes from not talking is that I have to rely on—

kruszewska: I know, but you know what the feeling is for a lot of us who went through that? First of all, it was horrible going through it and really realizing that—

mufson: What do you mean by “it”?

kruszewska: Oh, well, I mean I’ll tell you some of the circumstances that finally drove me away from ever wanting to work with Reza again, but the main thing was that I realized that he’s not a good human being. And it’s horrible because on the one hand you have very exciting creative stuff going on. On the other hand you have the most horrific kind of behavior, and this is after years of friendship you’ve been developing and working together. I ended up working with him from ’83 or ’84 till I moved to New York which was like ’89.

mufson: Right.

kruszewska: Then I ended up reuniting with him. Then I reunited with him for one last attempt because we both recognized that we worked amazingly well together. But I’ve been asked to do things before like submit photos and videotapes and things [and refused to do so]. My decision at that point was I don’t want to contribute to the Reza legacy. Because first of all, it’s bullshit. There’s a tremendous homage built up to him which… I can see some of it, because he was kind of different and refreshing at the time. But I also knew he was a human being and he’s horrible. The ending was really horrible. I mean this is after years of friendship that I did have with him. I totally understand him. I mean I didn’t agree with it, you know? I know it’s sad because Mira-Lani, they… I mean there’s a similar situation. They were very, very good friends; and then Reza, Reza made a pact with the devil that he was going to be famous at any cost. That included his friends. That included any kind of honesty in his work. That included anything. Along the way there’s a body count with Reza, what happened to people along the way. Mira-Lani was very brutally fucked over. He stole her stuff! She was a writer.

mufson: Well I’d be interested in hearing her side of it.

kruszewska: I’ll give her a call, but you’ve got to understand her point of view, too.

mufson: Because I’m not approaching this in terms of [unintelligible 194] workshop where you guys work. I’m simply hearing what everybody had to say about it.

kruszewska: Yes, I think that’s why I decided to do this, because there is something that I can recognize. Yes it was… there is a streak of genius in there. I think that my work with him was very exciting, and that’s why I continued for all of those years. But I’m tired of allowing these pseudo-geniuses let everything else be forgotten. On a human level, it just wasn’t worth it in the end. It was incredible betrayal and his streak of ambition was such that it blinded everything else out.

And he did make a pact with the devil. I tell you it’s the only real life Faust story that I know in my life. He did! I remember the moment. It was right after Lear where I could see he was after it. It was going to be a Reza Abdoh production from here on.

mufson: How did that manifest itself in concrete terms?

kruszewska: Well one of the things was, I continued doing I don’t know how many plays, eight or ten plays after that as an actress.

mufson: You were in Farmyard?

kruszewska: I was in Farmyard. I was in Medea, Oedipus, Peron.

mufson: Were you in the Hwang plays that he did?

kruszewska: No, no. This is where the break happened. When LATC claimed to have discovered him, and this is what’s funny to me. We had been working for five years in a little hole in the wall on Hollywood Boulevard, and mama moneybanks, Diane White, comes over and starts—

mufson: ¾Diane White.

kruszewska: Yes, what’s her name. It’s a name that I blank out too. But I told you I’m not nostalgic [unintelligible 217]. She basically told him that, and there’s like an ensemble group of about five or six of us that had worked all of those plays.

mufson: Okay, that would be—

mufson: That was Ron.

mufson: —Carla Maria from [unintelligible 220]?

kruszewska: Carla, Jessica Peterson, Edward and Jerrard, Tom Fitzpatrick was the only one left although he came in on Farmyard. He wasn’t there for King Lear. Artson Hardison, you know these are all people starting from Lear.

mufson: Souia Nabelle [phonetic]. And Irene—

kruszewska: Irene Oswegan [phonetic], yes. I brought her in for King Lear. She’s our [unintelligible 227]. She ended up working here. So there was like this core that continued working. Once we got to LATC, it was good-bye. That was just a chance.

It was an equity house. It was very exciting for us, , because we thought, “Oh, great. We’re finally being recognized as a company.” From there on there was no company.

mufson: SO did most everybody get jettisoned from Minamata or—

kruszewska: Completely. I think the only person who carried over from that time was Tom and Tasha. I don’t even remember if there [unintelligible 234].

mufson: Artson wasn’t in the [unintelligible 234]?

kruszewska: Nobody, nobody, nobody. They even made us go through auditions. This was the humiliating part. They were like, “Yes. You know you’re going to be in it but you have to go through auditions.” “Oh, okay, fine.” You know, we’ve been working with Reza for all these years. We’ll go for the audition.

I think for the other actors it wasn’t even as hard, but for me Reza actually said, yes we start rehearsal on so-and-so. Be ready to work. I think I quite my job at that point because it was going to be a day rehearsal and it was equity contract. I remember I quit this day job that I had; and then the date for the start of rehearsal comes and goes, and I don’t get any instructions. So finally I called him and I said, “What’s going on?” He said, “Oh, I’m still trying to get you in the back way.” What?! You’re trying to get me in the back way? What, what is that all about? Apparently he didn’t stand up for us.

There was no discussion cause Mira-Lani was in it at that time, and I remember having a discussion with her. I was so devastated. You hear the story all the time about such things happening when people get a break. But I never thought it would happen to us you know. I thought on the feeder level there was some [unintelligible 248] all the time. No, it was good-bye. There was no explanation.

mufson: Where did you see that though immediately after Lear?

kruszewska: Where did I see the change?

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: Oh, no. I think I recognized that he was just damn determined to pay any price. I guess it’s different incidences. I think the thing that really stands out in my mind, and I hate to mention this, but Ron and I knew that he was probably like working Santa Monica Boulevard to bring in some money. I mean it was shocking and at the same time we knew: Reza is willing to pay any price. I guess you could say, well, that’s kind of noble. He’s like whoring himself to pay for the production. But on the other hand it’s… well it was… I think that was his choice, you know. That was one thing that I remember just stood out in my mind, realizing that. Reza is going to do whatever he can. I think it was part of the appeal. I mean not many people are that committed.

mufson: Well, I suppose he probably ended up dying because of it.

kruszewska: Yes, probably. It was probably during that time that he became infected.

mufson: Let’s talk about some of the individual productions.

kruszewska: Sure.

mufson: So you also worked on Farmyard. It was interesting to hear your description of Lear; not to do it in agonizing detail, but maybe just go through some of the productions and tell me what you remember about each show that makes it distinct?

kruszewska: I felt Farmyard was the best of Reza. There was a cleanness to it, and I think part of it was that it was an actual script. It was brilliant.

mufson: Did he alter the text?

kruszewska: No, not one word. Not one word! I think that Reza was best when he had a very tight framework around him. In this case it was the script, and he was fucking brilliant.

mufson: How so?

kruszewska: What he did well was that controlled, very sparse choice of movement and sound and lighting choices. He was able to manifest this in Farmyard in a startling way. It was because it was so stripped down; we did it at the upstairs loft above the theater. It was a photographer’s studio with curved white walls. We used that and a loft space up above, and he… at one point he wanted to bring… Well, we were talking about how barns smelled with hay. So he brought in these haystacks, and it was a tiny place. We walked in and right away you got this sensual experience of hay. Very strange because it was very modern¾a photographer’s studio and yet there was one light bulb in the middle of the stage where a lot of the crucial scenes took place. Also, because we didn’t get lighting instruments in there, there were these wonderful plated shadows on white walls. So it was very sparse and—

mufson: That one bulb was the only lighting in the play?

kruszewska: It was the only… well we would have light bulbs. I think there was one up in the loft. There was one downstage and there was one in an upstage area. And there were a couple of floor lights, I remember, because we were always scared of walking into them. No, there was no natural light. As a matter of fact, the loft had a window and we always had to block it out. A guy lived there.

Anyway it was brilliant. There was a real focus within certain parameters. The script lent itself to his stuff, and it was directed down to the minuscule movement. I think we just blew people away with it because it was beautiful. I mean it’s an awful story—

mufson: You played the farm girl?

kruszewska: Yes. It was very beautiful, and people were just amazed by it, you know. I really do think that was the best of Reza. I think after that he just got all over the place… and it’s interesting because I’ve remained friends with some of the actors who continued working with him. We often talked about how it’s too bad he didn’t get a chance to come back to that, which some of them felt like he might, because he was incredible in that kind of visual choreography. I remember one choice, I had strawberries on a skirt, and it was just like this split second of lights on, strawberries falling all over this white floor, lights off. That kind of stuff was just haunting. A lot of these very quick lights on/light off, which I don’t remember if it’s written into the script or not. It probably isn’t. It’s straight scenes.

mufson: Was that similar to how he ended up doing the Oedipus?

kruszewska: No, Oedipus was different. It was in the same space. We then continued to use that space for Oedipus and Peron.

mufson: He stuck pretty close to the scripts with those.

kruszewska: Yes. But that was a different feeling. I think part of it was was that we did them in rep, as I recall. That was a bit much. But Peron was very languid and it wasn’t as focused. It was an interesting production because the story of the Peron and the nurse, you realize that they get switched in the end. I played the nurse. For me it was a lot of fun because I played her as a real gawky, comedic kind of nurse. But it didn’t have that kind of beauty that Farmyard had. We did it in the same space.

Peron was messier and it wasn’t perhaps focused. Oedipus had some cool things, such as the strange costumes. I remember I ended up wearing an old folkloric Persian dress—a servant girl. So there was this really interesting choice once again, that white background with the very rich folkloric choices of costumes.

Strange. We had this beautiful [unintelligible 353] made out of wire this woman made. You know so there was almost like a fantasy type of floating in space that was very interesting. But there are all different productions, you know?

mufson: Why don’t you tell me a little bit about Medea.

kruszewska: Yes, Medea we did in this basketball gym court in Hollywood Park.

mufson: Some people say that that was the beginning of how his later style developed in terms of lots of different things going on simultaneously on the stage and constantly having to switch focus, not exactly knowing where you were supposed to focus.

kruszewska: Right. Well, he did some of that in Lear actually too.

mufson: Right.

kruszewska: So I guess that was happening all over, but a lot of people were doing that. I mean I remember Medea being heavily influenced by Pina Bausch. She had been in town and I know that there were several scenes when he had two women dancing [in a similar style]. We all were very elegant in our clothes, and we all talked up front, right to the audience, very Pina Bausch.

It was similar to the workshop we had actually did in King Lear. We did several weeks of all kinds of crazy dance and performance. We originally started with one script, the Robinson Jeffries translation; and of course he never secured rights for anything. So then Marta Holen, who was this angel of a woman who also financed him basically said, “You know, you can’t get rights to this. You better stop using the text.” So then he kind of fudged it. Mira-Lani wrote some stuff. He would pull some stuff from the text and then used bits of it and… I mean anything. I would come in and say, “Oh, Reza look at this cool poem that I found.” [Reza:] “I must use that in the text.” So it would end up in the text you know. I don’t know how he continued to work in his later pieces, but I was used to working with him that way, because any conversation that you would have with him might end up in the play. So to me it was no big revelation. Yes, for Medea he didn’t have a text the way we did with “Perrone” and “Oedipus.” King Lear we worked that way.

mufson: Okay. What else did he throw into Medea? He obviously put a hell of a lot more in there than the actual text.

kruszewska: Oh yes. It was a real interesting piece. A lot of images of women as mothers and I remember singing Polish lullaby songs.

mufson: You speak Polish?

kruszewska: Yes. I’m from Poland. So he always asked me to do something, or I would sing something during rehearsal and he would love it and ask me to do it.

mufson: You were born in Poland?

kruszewska: Yes. Yes, we had a lot of poetry, little snippets of poetry. I would come in with some book on how women are going to be replaced as the means of reproduction. He would say, “Oh, I want that quote.”

We were pals; we would eat together. We would spend all our time together. It was always this dialogue and then he would just pull from that and it was exciting. I remember some Japanese poetry that I was reading at the time, Polish lullabies, other people coming in with lot of repeated stuff. He would pick up one phrase or something and repeat it.

He appeared in Medea also. He wore a big Fedora hat and had a gun that he was supposed to kill himself with. It’s really funny, because Reza as a performer was in absolute coward. He made his actors do atrocious, unsafe things; but he was a little shit when it came to it. I remember we were teasing him when he had to substitute that night or two for King Lear and the costuming was basically a loin cloth and Reza didn’t want to wear it. Even though he had his actors strip down to nothing and walk around with their dicks hanging out, Reza was a little chicken shit. He wouldn’t do three-fourths of what he had his actors do. Yes, he did appear in Medea. He wore this big overcoat and hat, his gun to go with it. I don’t even remember if that was a character. It didn’t matter. You know it was kind o an interesting [unintelligible 435].

Then there was tango.There was ballroom dancing. There was a scene between Tom Fitzpatrick and Irene Rita doing ballroom dancing. Tom played the daddy, the big daddy—

mufson: Jason.

kruszewska: Jason, yes; and he was absolutely astounding. He was this big, Texan daddy-o. He was chilling. Then he and Irene did this whole ballroom dancing scene while we hold out this [unintelligible 447] that encircled them, and that was kind of like the circle of fire at the end you know.

mufson: Yes, Irene was the princess?

kruszewska: Right, right, you know. Then we would have a lot of these scenes of… yes like people coming up and while Pina Bausch talking in straight line—

mufson: Right.

kruszewska: —talking about this and that and while there was some other [unintelligible 453] and because there was such a great depth of music in this gymnasium you know he couldn’t stage most of the scenes. He was very good about walking into a space and making the most of it. I greatly admired that about him. So as soon as we walked into this place, it was obvious that there was going to be stuff all over because it actually had a stage area like in a traditional kind of high school auditorium that he placed characters with these huge beautiful Greek masks which was kind of back there at certain points. Then we used the whole gymnasium. Of course, Reza is usually like fuck you to the audience, it’s squashed against one side or maybe two rows of chairs.

We have a full play in there. So it was a lot of moving and running around and different configurations of people. I remember coming downstage through a bathtub that I was in naked and coming out of. I used to do the naked girl scene for him. He always had at least one somewhere. Then that would be like rolled out and we would go do some other configuration. We would be sitting on the sidelines and between this there was no [unintelligible 476] or curtain, sweating up a storm because we would be running around like crazy. I just remembered we would always have big water jugs on the sidelines.

So we had these white skirts and we would go and jump around and do our stuff and come back to the sidelines, which was kind of cool because we were watching the whole thing from the sidelines and the audience was watching us in between scenes. It was a huge cast once again, probably about 20 or 25 people. He would pull in people¾”Hey, you want to be in my play?” He did that a lot for Rusty.

mufson: What about Rusty?

kruszewska: Rusty is funny because I know the genesis of all these things. Paul Verdier from stages had this real cool space. He’s still there, actually. He had this space and I guess somehow they had met and started talking about him working there. He does mostly Ionesco plays. He’s an Ionesco aficionado in LA. So Reza comes up with this idea one night. We were reading an article about an Appalachian girl. “Okay, we’re going to do that. We’re going to do an Appalachian play. You’re going to be an Appalachian girl.” We’re going to have Appalachian folk songs. He proposes this to Verdier. Verdier loves it. He starts putting out the press about an Appalachian story. Meanwhile Reza has to make it up as he goes along. We start rehearsal and actually at the time I wasn’t going to do it because I was performing somewhere else and it would have been too much of a conflict, but then somehow we worked it out between the two directors so I could do both shows.

We show up for rehearsal and of course there’s no script, there’s no light. It’s just this idea about an Appalachian thing. Somehow it had evolved to the story of Dracula in Appalachia. So he’s fumbling and bumbling there the first day of rehearsal; and one of the cool things was, as he was real Reza, he sizes up this space and realizes that he’s got all of these strange performing areas—not just in the little theater, the tiny little black box theater—but outside there is an incredible area. He’s got a gallery out there. There s another small space next to it. So—

mufson: The small space, is that the scene for Camilla’s Dream?

kruszewska: Camille’s Dream, yes is the tiny little act where it has theater seating, an actual performance space. The way the stage is set up is that there is a kind of a traditional theater downstairs but only seats about 60 people and then upstairs is a tiny theater that uses mainly for [unintelligible 535].

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: It seats even fewer people. Then next to it is a gallery space where he used to have paintings and stuff that was all sort of stage… the scenes with certain persimmons that hold [unintelligible 539] associate. I bite into this persimmons. Tom is next to me. That was in the gallery space, and then this incredible backyard with like a platform and avocado trees, and it was quite beautiful. So you now Reza kind of seizes on that and starts his little workshop thing, you know. We’re usually the first two weeks we’re just running around saying crazy things you know and he gets inspired from that.

So we start the workshop and he starts fixating more and more on this Dracula idea. So now it’s turning into a Dracula play. Tom loves it because he has always wanted to play Dracula. So Tom is starting to do his research, how he’s going to stay down there during the whole opening scene in a coffin.

So you know we start staging like the outdoor thing, They didn’t have a clue. So one of the people who joined was this [unintelligible 001] for hire, but he had a real cool red jeep, so, you know [imitating Reza], “I must have that in my show.” Okay, the jeep pulls up.

mufson: Yes, it was you jumping out and doing a little jig in front of the [unintelligible 004].

kruszewska: “Mama Told Me,” you remember that song. It just developed from that. Then he would say, let’s all go inside now, and he would get this idea for the family dinner scene.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: You know, with the head, he’s the head. I don’t know if you saw that. He’ actually—

mufson: Reza?

kruszewska: Yes, on the platter.

mufson: I thought he was one of the… see I’m having a little trouble getting [unintelligible 009]. I thought he was… my sense of it was you were a daughter and then he played Andros [phonetic] and there was another—

kruszewska: Boy you’re really trying to nail down and associate it with the story?

mufson: Well usually there would be some basic thread that you can go through.

kruszewska: Yes, but he would never approach it that literally. It would be much more random than that.

mufson: He wasn’t, yes. I just never got the sense that he was a father figure in any of the scenes. I thought that father figures were always getting killed.

kruszewska: Right.

mufson: And I thought he generally played the son, more the figure of the son. In the beginning he would hear his father’s dead and then in that dinner scene there’s a woman there who he addresses as his mother.

kruszewska: Right, that’s his cousin Buffy. Buffy was in that.

mufson: So that’s why—

kruszewska: You thought that was the brother?

mufson: I thought he was playing the son/brother—

kruszewska: Could be, could be.

mufson: It wasn’t clear to you either?

kruszewska: It didn’t matter. He would just stage things that looked good to him, and that did look good. I remember people coming up to me. I remember Peter Sellers came to that show, and he described that [dinner] scene in such a way that I was proud to be associated with it because I knew it was such a tiny space, and once again he really stripped down his choices. There was hardly anything going on and yet there was this tone set that was very beautiful.

mufson: Yes, and then there were the lights and the table.

kruszewska: Right, the lights and Brendan with his wings, playing the accordion. But believe me it was all by chance. There was nothing premeditated. He did not go home and do his homework at night about what he was going to stage the following morning you know. But he was brilliant in rehearsal. You could see that the more shit we would throw out there, the more he would get excited. As I said, I feel I did some of my best work with him because there was that kind of feeling that anything you would throw out there might be in a performance. If you trust that director you work with, you’re going to throw your strongest stuff, and I did. I think that’s why we produced some cold stuff. But that’s how he worked. It was all about what was happening at that moment and the crazier the better.

mufson: So what was… you said you thought that the Camilla/vampire relationship was clear.

kruszewska: To me what I was working off of was this idea of a young woman who has all these odd circumstances around her and the Tom character reaching out from another world and definitely connected to another world. That’s what I worked on as an actress, the idea of being connected to another world. You know at the time, that was in ’80… what year was that?

mufson: End of ’86, the beginning of ’87.

kruszewska: Yes, my mother passed away in ’86.

kruszewska: Right. My mother passed away in the beginning of ’86. I had to come back here to take care of her, and Reza knew I was going through that. I think that in our development he found that moving. So for me I used a lot of that. Just the idea of the young woman going through things happening around her. But we never had such discussions ever.

mufson: How about narrative?

kruszewska: Never! I liked working that way. I didn’t have to know. I think people like Tom who like really sunk his teeth into the idea of playing the Dracula character, he took his research very seriously. I’m sure he had much more of a story line, but to me I was always amazed at what Reza came up with. So I would go on with it. I didn’t know what the real story was. A lot of it would be made up after the fact.

mufson: You would put together a bunch of random things that he liked and then he imposed a thread on it at that point?

kruszewska: Even after the performance. I’m trying to remember when that name Camille came in. It certainly wasn’t there from the beginning. As I said, I started off as an Appalachian girl.

mufson: Right. The Appalachian thing didn’t work.

kruszewska: No, no. It faded very quickly. But that is how it would work, and you just never knew. I was fine with that. I loved it. There were some actors who dropped like flies because they couldn’t deal with it. I think that did come from the fact that I was very good friends with him and I got a kick out of it. I didn’t take it very seriously.

mufson: Okay. At what point did you start to feel yourself part of the regular group with people like Artson, Ron and Frank?

kruszewska: I felt like we were forming the group after King Lear.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: Even though I continued to produce with Ron in that space of the plays, we were so tight that we always talked about continuing to work on other stuff.

mufson: What can you tell me about some of those other people who were most important?

kruszewska: Well, Tom came in on Farmyard, and I mean I ended up playing… we were usually the leads most of the time.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: You know he was extraordinary. He gave to Reza, I think probably one of the reasons why he stuck it out his absolute adulation; and it remained so and he remained very loyal the Reza in memory you know. But he contributed in the sense that I mean he was an older actor and he was very well trained which is different from a lot of the people who kind of came in and out—

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: —from different walks of life. Yet he had this freaky streak that appealed to Reza which is true of all of us.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: I know it’s true of me because you know I had a freaky streak that he draws those kind of actors. You know it was exciting for that reason cause I think we all kind of considered each freaks that we were doing this stuff. It doesn’t make sense to be in LA and do avant-garde theater. I mean there was no logical reason why you would put yourself through this except that you were crazy you know and we loved it, you know.

So Tom was really kind of like one of the cornerstones. Artson had this freaky quality too. He was… he like didn’t talk. He was very, very almost kind of removed from reality, but he had this real strange stage presence that was mesmerizing. I actually knew him from UCLA and I brought him in from UCLA, and he also played music. So I remember he played guitar in “Perrone.” He had a frightening quality. You would not want to meet him in a dark alley on Hollywood Boulevard.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: So you know Reza would use him in the sense of like that weird out crazy, crazy character who you know there’s something… he was a total sweetheart you know. He was devastated that he didn’t make that… I don’t think he’s forgiven him. I see him in LA all the time. He’s a jazz musician now.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: That was very painful for him. He actually became involved with Reza’s cousin [unintelligible 095] so it was triply painful for him to like hear the plays and never be never work with him. He was a phenomenal actor. He was at UCLA and continued to be [unintelligible 097]. He didn’t didn’t get into that—

mufson: Why do you think he didn’t continue?

kruszewska: Because of Reza. He didn’t stand up for any of his actors.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: Cause he had LATC! There is nothing, I mean in terms of talent or experience, it’s obvious that we’ve gone through it with him.

mufson: Right.

kruszewska: It was purely a decision of who is paying the bills now and what is their agenda.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: Diane White had her own agenda and it had to do with the politics of LATC; it had to do with her actors and the control that she was… she was a major decision maker in casting. Reza would never fess up to that, but you know she was paying all his bills.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: Which is very different from like Marda, Marda Holden [phonetic]. I don’t know if you’ve run across her name.

mufson: I actually spoke with her but—

kruszewska: She’s one of his guardian angels.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: But she was in such a way that she allowed him to do his stuff and did not really have a creative say.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: Yes, Diane [unintelligible 106-107] agenda for, to bring Reza out you know and back him up. He apologized to me about that years later. I mean he fessed up to that, and that’s why I I agreed to work here in New York cause I knew we had to like get through all of that bullshit; but that was a fact, you know.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: And I told him you didn’t stand up for your actors.

mufson: What was it like working with him again [unintelligible 112]? It seems like there would be a large contrast cause the last show you did with him was what, Peep Show? Were you in Peep Show?

kruszewska: Yes I was. I had forgotten about Peep Show. Yes Peep Show was even before Evita.

mufson: No.

kruszewska: No?

mufson: I have Peep Show as being ’88.

kruszewska: Peep Show was ’88?

mufson: I think so.

kruszewska: Yes, you could be right. There’s so many.

mufson: I have Peep Show as being one of the last shows he did before Minimana.

kruszewska: Is that right?

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: That could be.

mufson: I could be wrong, but—

kruszewska: No I’m sure that’s… it was very different.

mufson: Because even though he did not know he was infected with HIV—

kruszewska: Right.

mufson: —and finally he did.

kruszewska: Right.

mufson: Then also—

kruszewska: Well we had already suspected it though. Ron and I suspected that he wasn’t well.

mufson: Had he suspected it?

kruszewska: No he wouldn’t get tested.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: He refused to get tested.

mufson: Well there must… there was probably… he must have had some element of fear that he was—

kruszewska: Oh absolutely, absolutely. I remember having discussions with him because we had actually lost one of our actors in King Lear to AIDS.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: A phenomenal actor, Carl, I forgot his last name, but he was extraordinary. I remember having a discussion with him about because that’s when you started hearing people dropping.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: He didn’t want to know, but I do remember talking to him before we entered into Peculiar Man; and I had already kind of heard through the grapevine. I remember we went to a restaurant here in New York and I was talking about him and he seemed to be handling it well.

He was always very he tried to at a certain point he really tried to take care of his health. I turned him onto Yoga. He ended up going to Shigananda Yoga Center where I was a teacher for a long time you know. He tried to do the macrobiotic diet and everything and he was really looking after his health. So he seemed to be in pretty good form. Certainly during Peculiar Man he was doing really well. His energy was really good, and you know he was… but I think the main difference was on a personal level.

You know I had moved to New York and was working out here and I also had started directing like in ’86 and doing my own stuff.

mufson: Here in New York or LA?

kruszewska: Actually I was doing it in LA.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: I directed about three or four shows in LA, and I wrote a show in LA, and I think I just saw what he was in my life in a different way. You know I wasn’t like the actress so eager to do everything.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: In some ways I was a senior member of the troupe, and I did know a lot of his tricks you know.

mufson: Right.

kruszewska: Yet I had a deep love for him. I mean no doubt about it, no doubt about it. I continued to.

mufson: Continued to?

kruszewska: Oh yes.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: Yes. I think even when all of that horrible stuff was going on with LATC and I knew that he wasn’t going to change in that sense, oh I’m not going to deny you know. I worked with this man for five years, and I had incredible devotion to him on some level; but I think it was for that reason that I wanted to work with him again and he with me. I think he finally called me…I think probably you know at the nudging of Tom who always had like this fantasy idea of us being able to work again.

So you know he told me, and you know I was excited about it. I mean I loved working with him and I thought this would be kind of a good healing thing for us too and it was. It was a great experience. It was a great experience, but I think part of it is that I had enough perspective not to jump at his command.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: Also, I mean, I lead a lot of sections because I knew what he was about and here he arrives in New York, you know. Nobody knew who he was. In New York nobody gave a shit that he was doing this crazy play.

mufson: Was there tension between you and the new cast members or is that not the issue?

kruszewska: No, no, no, no. I mean at that point he… the new cast members? No, no not at all. I don’t think, no… he hadn’t formed his Darla loops or whatever.

mufson: Darlas, yes.

kruszewska: So everybody was green. The people that are in Darla loops—

mufson: Except you and Tom.

kruszewska: Except me and Tom. Yes, that was it. That was—

mufson: I guess Tony Torn was in Peep Show?

kruszewska: Tony Torn, yes, yes you’re right. He had been in that one show with us; but no there was nobody. I mean everybody was new you know, and no there was actually a lot of respect because people were like… actors were like what, what? You know? Because me and Tom already knew we would jump in and start doing stuff and—

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: —it was a very good rehearsal period. There was no, there was hardly any tension. I mean I think I did temper him a lot of times because I knew that he had this ability to push actors to a place that he shouldn’t be, you know.

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: Physical exhaustion, safety issues. People were like collapsing on the rooftop and they were. I remember Julian Francis passing out one day because he would press, press, press you thinking that you would come up with something even more brilliant, and that was the inhuman part of it you know. I remember he did that to me even in LA and I remember walking out and just saying fuck you you know. I’ve got to get some sleep you know, but that was like his thing. He thought that the more he would press you know the more intense it was.

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: It was a very inhuman streak in him.

mufson: Was that not true to some extent or—

kruszewska: No, absolutely not! That’s like one school of thought that’s been romanticized.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: I don’t believe that for a minute. No, absolutely not; and certainly not at the cost —

mufson: But the performances did have an intensity that’s not—

kruszewska: Yes, yes.

mufson: —typical. Where do you think that came from?

kruszewska: Because it was in a New York street in the middle of summer; and it was, it was weird! It was unusual even for New York.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: I mean for him to get that kind of press in New York was phenomenal. Part of that I accredit to Annie Hamburger [phonetic]—

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: —because she’s brilliant in what she does. The intensity I think came from the story. I mean the brothers Karamotsoff [phonetic] was an amazing starting point.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: Setting it in the butcher center of New York which had its own intensity and vileness—

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: —you know; and the fact that we were being recognized for presenting the circus of the summer you know. I think that was for a large cast once again. Whenever he had like numbers, he would stage this stuff like a parade. You know the parade scene.

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: Did you see [unintelligible 186]?

mufson: I didn’t unfortunately.

kruszewska: Yes, the parade scene you know. I mean whenever he had like tons of people, he would fly you know.

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: Yes there was an intensity. I mean it was Myra Lami wrote the stuff which was absolutely phenomenal; and some of the stuff that I had to memorize was some of the most difficult stuff I’ve ever had in my life—

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: —because it was repetitive and yet there was a monologue going on and it was no punctuation and you figure out where to take a breath or otherwise you keep talking and there was manicness to it. There was definitely… but that was just as much Myra Lami’s doing and producing and [unintelligible 194] as Reza.

He was on too. He was in good form.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: You know what? He was going to make the most of the New York experience and he did.

mufson: Did the rehearsal process, had it changed [unintelligible 196] or had it become different though it seemed pretty much to be consistent?

kruszewska: No it was the same thing. The first two weeks we’d run around doing crazy ass stuff. We’d start off by rehearsing at that Perry Street space at [unintelligible 199] a space up there or something.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: It was all kind of nonsense, maniacal verbiage and manic gestures and whatever he wanted to; and then he would start. I think with Myra Lami there it’s like the real structure. It was actually quite organized.

mufson: Okay, although that was the last show?

kruszewska: Yes.

mufson: That was when Myra Lami and he had the blowout, right?

kruszewska: Yes. Cause they were cool during the show.

mufson: I thought she left actually?

kruszewska: No not during. Not during.

mufson: See it would be good

kruszewska: To get her story.

mufson: —to get her story.

kruszewska: When did that happen?

mufson: Because he’s dead and other people aren’t, but—

kruszewska: [Unintelligible 209], yes. I’ll call. I don’t remember when it happened. I do remember that [unintelligible 210] show. They were working hand in hand. Like we the way we used to when we all started as a bunch of friends. I felt that way too. I felt like great you know. We had like matured as artists and we had grown up emotionally, an we can create phenomenal stuff.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: That’s when he had a discussion with him afterwards and he said oh I’m forming this theater company here [unintelligible 215], and I said okay you know. Knowing Reza basically what he asks for is I want your whole life for this next six months, and you’re going to be doing all kinds of shit work too. I wasn’t about that. I mean I’m thank you very much.

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: But I’ve got my own stuff going on. So I said well when you get it together for the next show I would love to continue acting with you. So I never heard from him again.

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: Because that’s not what you say to Reza you know.

mufson: What did he want to hear?

kruszewska: Oh he wanted to hear okay, I’ll do anything. Yes I’ll give you a call. I’m ready to go. I’ll quit my job you know.

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: He wanted absolute utter devotion to his play, and he didn’t want to know of anything else going on in your life. Forget the fact that I was directing at the time, you know writing my own stuff. It really threw him for a loop, you know.

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: But there was also a number of other issues. Like I would always chide him about the fact, and I remember telling him this during Peculiar Man, you know I played Katarina. I played her pretty strong and yet there were scenes where she was obviously like the victim you know—always a very beautiful victim but still the victim.

So I said to him Reza I’m not doing this victim stuff anymore you know. That may have been me when you met me you know coming out of my own stuff.

mufson: Right.

kruszewska: I just don’t believe in that anymore you know. He says oh but I think victims are very beautiful. Oh, forget that you know. So I started really chiding him about how he was portraying women.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: They were either hideous monstrous squawking nightmares or these beautiful victims very Victorian.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: We started clashing on that because I was also… you know my plays have to do a lot with feminism and being a woman and the way it’s portrayed on stage.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: I was calling him on it and it was out of his control you know. Even though I took it and ran with it and I think I you know did give a real dynamic portrayal of Katarina, there was still that thing that Reza wanted, you know—

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: —to keep them either very beautiful and suffering and tortured or monsters—

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: —with nothing in between. I just think the focus changed more and more for him of also portraying like the gay world and you know the cruelty of that and less stuff that I wanted to, you know—

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: —present. You know I’m like —

mufson: It seems like homosexuality didn’t really enter into the picture until after he got his diagnosis, no?

kruszewska: Well it was always there. I mean Peculiar Man, the three Charamotsoff brothers were done in a very gay way.

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: First of all they were all gay men who portrayed them.

mufson: Okay. Well that was post.

kruszewska: Right, that was after. You’re right. No, thee was always gay stuff going on because that’s you know everybody knew Reza was gay—

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: —and that’s what he was exploring.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: But there was… I think he used—

mufson: How so in the earlier stuff?

kruszewska: Oh like Media had scenes with men together. Well Perrone and this was scripted, but even King Lear. I remember scenes with like is it Edward character or Edmund character who were in a very beautiful way but there was definitely like an insinuation of male attractiveness to each other.

mufson: Okay, and Rusty?

kruszewska: Yes, oh yes of course! Of course! There’s this scene, I never figured out what it was about, but there was this whole scene with like a sailor boy who was one of these people who like literally walks in off the street one day and Reza said okay you’re in my play who ended up like not showing up for a lot of the performances.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: But he was like this sailor boy. He gets picked up by another character and I like vaguely remember the staging. One of them is standing by this piece of set; and another sailor boy comes in. There is always something there, you know.

mufson: Right.

kruszewska: It wasn’t like and it shouldn’t be, but I think that he became obsessed with kind of the tortuous side of gayness more and more. You know I never saw any of his later plays, but from what I saw of the pictures and things that people described—

mufson: Right.

kruszewska: —it was much more about all this kind of S&M exploration. You know—

mufson: Okay, well what was the last play you saw?

kruszewska: It was Peculiar Man.

mufson: Oh.

kruszewska: I never saw any of his plays. I mean I was always in them. Oh no—

mufson: Did you see Minimana?

kruszewska: —I saw the play that my friend wrote for him that he took credit, the one about the Hispanic—

mufson: El Paso and—

kruszewska: Yes. My friend Fran Cambries [phonetic] wrote that.

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: That was the only play I ever saw. I didn’t see Minimana. No! That’s when all the shit came down.

mufson: I know, I know.

kruszewska: Yes. No, no I wasn’t even… see but that’s where you have to understand Myra Lami. You just don’t want to pay homage to somebody—

mufson: Okay.

kruszewska: —who is who didn’t have decency for humans in many ways.

mufson: Right.

kruszewska: No and I wasn’t curious. I mean anybody who asked me about it, I would say go see it. It’s an interesting event. My boyfriend at the time was curious about it cause we cut a new [unintelligible 283] with it and I got him tickets you know.

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: I mean yes, you should go see it. I didn’t want to go through Reza’s world again. But I think that was part of what did pull us apart was that I felt like it wasn’t my world anymore. I loved working on Peculiar Man. It was good. It was like the best of what you could do but also I wasn’t going to I’m not a 21 year old out of college you know—

mufson: Yes.

kruszewska: —starry-eyed and dropping everything and you know touring in shit holes in Europe somewhere with him. That’s who he got for Darla loops.

mufson: Right.

kruszewska: He got very young, eager people who were ready to be exploited and who probably supported it some way financially; and that was a big consideration in my life you know, that I can’t afford to do this thing—

mufson: right.

kruszewska: —while actually living in New York. So you know I think all of those things kind of separated us. The truth is that he never called me after I told him. Yes, give me a call when you get it together. [Unintelligible 298].

mufson: Okay, well that’s basically—

kruszewska: That’s an earful right?

mufson: That’s an earful. Do you have any of the scripts still?

kruszewska: Yes I probably do. You know most of my stuff now is in LA, and I would have to look through… I did keep, I may even go back to King Lear and have that, have that to look through that. I mean I know I probably have Rusty. Do you have that?

mufson: I don’t have… the scripts that would be of great use to me are Rusty and Media.

kruszewska: Now Media, Media. I think I worked out of little index cards. I don’t think there ever was a script. So I doubt that you would find anything on that.

mufson: Okay. There wasn’t a stage manager who would—

kruszewska: There was but I think we all kind of made our own notes. Seriously, seriously. Rusty, the only reason why we have a script is that we had this very devoted stage manager Susan who literally sat there with her laptop and typed scenes.

[1] Paul Carpenter contacted me in 2012 via email and commented: “I probably should put that mural on my resume. There was a woman who took pictures of it, but sadly the negatives were exposed. By the time this was discovered, the mural had been painted over. I have no idea why I did not take pictures of it myself. It was a chaotic time. To my knowledge there is no record of it. The mural was exposed only at the end of the play. I did not ‘paint any images that would come to [me]’ as is alleged in the interview but based the subject matter of the mural on my reading of King Lear. However, Mr. Abdoh did not in any way whatsoever tell me what or what not to paint, but….in a way that seemed akin to some royal mandate… allowed me the absolute freedom to do exactly as I wished, which was very exciting for me and led to an effective work of art. Despite later controversies and human frailties, I can say that these were all very sincere, committed people and I am lucky to have been a part of that group in whatever small way.” Carpenter was Oglesby’s first husband; the marriage lasted two years. Other works by Carpenter can be found at here.

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