Far from Zero
Brian Townes is not at zero. After listening to a description of this American actor’s activities in Curitiba, it would be more accurate to say he’s traveling at 200 km/hour. However, as fate would have it, he’s appearing in a play called Zero, starting next Tuesday.
Mr. Townes is an American actor who has been living in Curitiba since 2010, and he’s the star of the world premiere of Zero. The play will be performed Tuesday, April 2 – Saturday, April 6 as part of the exciting and unpredictable Curitiba Fringe Theater Festival.
Zero was written by Don Correa, a playwright originally from South Africa who now lives in Curitiba also. The play was written in English, and Mr. Correa will also direct the play.
For expats like myself still struggling with Portuguese, this is a rare opportunity to see live theater performed in English. For Brazilian students of English, it’s the perfect chance to practice your listening skills in an interesting and stimulating environment.
The Fringe Theater Festival offers a selection of plays that are part of the larger Festival de Teatro de Curitiba, a well-known annual event in Curitiba, which theater-goers look forward to every year. This year the Festival de Teatro opened on March 26 with a staging at the Wire Opera House. It continues at numerous locations in Curitiba through April 7, with offerings of dozens of plays, some familiar and others never seen before.
Zero, whose full title is Zero (A Postscript to the Anarchist’s Cookbook) is a monologue that will be performed as a one-man show by Brian Townes. In an interview with CIE, Brian spoke highly of the play, and his excitement at having the opportunity to appear in Curitiba in the debut of a one-man show written in English was evident in his voice.
Mr. Townes is a veteran American film and theater actor. He’s been appearing on stages in the US and Brazil for the past 25 years. Now 40, but looking more like 30, he’s appeared in plays in Brazil performing both in English and Portuguese. Additionally, he’s recently formed a new theater company, FALA, with his director from Zero, Don Correa.
Born and raised in New Orleans, one of three children from a teaching family, he’s the only member of his family to have caught the “acting bug”. Appearing on stage for the first time at age 15, acting has always been his focus. He has both a Bachelor’s Degree in Theater and a Master’s of Fine Arts Degree in Acting. He’s performed in plays everywhere from Austin, Texas; to Almagro, Spain; to New York City, where he lived for eleven years before moving to Curitiba. Along the way, his dedication to his craft has never wavered, and his acting resume is filled with numerous success; for example, appearances on such well-known American TV series as Law & Order and As The World Turns. He’s a member of all the major actors’ unions: Actors’ Equity, the Screen Actors’ Guild (SAG), and AFTRA (American Federal of Television and Radio Artists).
When he wasn’t supporting himself as an actor, Brian has held jobs in the film and television industry. He spent years as a full-time television producer, working for the famous comedy series, Saturday Night Live (SNL), which can be seen in Brazil. The American comedy series has been airing every week from New York for the past 35 years. While working for SNL from 2006-2010, he produced (with a team of other producers) over 40 of the SNL Digital Shorts, and he still marvels at the adrenaline rush from knowing “millions of people were seeing my work every Saturday night.”
Brian moved to Curitiba in 2010 and his actor’s ear has been instrumental in providing him with a facility for languages, which has allowed him to already perform in Portuguese. He’s recently appeared in two national TV commercials in Brazil, one for the yogurt brand, Yakult, and the other for Renault. Still, learning Portuguese and working for SNL are not his only accomplishments. While in New York, he performed in Sign Language with the Theater for the Deaf.
As if that wasn’t enough to keep one man busy, Brian is also currently on the faculty as a full-time English teacher at Phil Young’s in Curitiba, and he’s the proud father of two young girls: Sienna Lua, 2 years, 3 months; and Azzure Sky, 11 months.
Zero is not the first time Brian has worked with director/playwright Don Correa. Another collaboration, Parido, was presented twice in the SESI Mostrade Dramaturgia in 2012. Don Correa wrote and directed Parido and worked with the cast of Brian, Bruno Mancuso, Daniele Agapito, and Sávio Malheiros.
Ever ready for new challenges, Brian talks eagerly about the new theater company that he’s formed with Don Correa. FALA theater company also includes Bruno Mancuso and Daniele Agapito. Their goal in creating a theater company is to write/produce/act in plays that are not necessarily comprised of a typical linear story line. “We are more interested in facilitating a reaction from our audience,” says Brian. “Nobody looks at a Picasso painting or a dance by George Balanchine and asks, ‘What does that mean?’ The question of meaning or message or philosophy is personal and sometimes irrelevant. Our plays shouldn’t be called political or abstract. They don’t need to be analyzed or deconstructed to find their inner, hidden meanings. We’re simply interested in knowing from our audience, ‘What did you think of the play?’ ”
FALA has already scheduled a production of one of their plays for October 2013 at Teatro Guaira, in addition to their upcoming production of Zero.
When asked to describe the theme or message of Zero, Brian hesitates. “I have trouble giving labels to art. I guess you could say it revolves around the concept of ‘spontaneous human combustion’, which is the idea that a revolution, whether it’s political or personal, comes from within. What sparked the revolts of Arab Spring in December 2010? One simple Tunisian street vendor. Or that famous picture from China in Tiananmen Square with the guy standing alone to block a line of tanks. What inspired those personal actions? They were unexpected and spontaneous. This is what’s at the heart of our work, the motivation behind our plays. Don and I believe that every human being has the potential to do or make something new, independent of one’s background or environment. Our plays are about this moment of internal revolution. It’s about independence of thought and movement. It’s about feeling isolated within society. We want to explore this theme – the epiphany that suddenly sparks someone to action. It’s what you might call the “Where’d that come from?” moment.
Brian’s reply on why he loves the theater: “For me life is all about the imagination because this is how we create something that wasn’t there before. It’s how we make new things. And we all have imagination.”Zero Location: Curitiba Fringe Theater Festival Teatro Universitario de Curitiba (TUC) Galeria Julio Moreira, 30, Largo da Ordem, Curitiba Schedule of Performances: Tuesday, April 2 at 10 pm Wednesday, April 3 at 1 pm Thursday, April 4 at 4 pm Friday, April 5 at 7 pm Saturday, April 6 at 10 pm