Current artistic director of the LOf/T at Load of Fun (voted Baltimore's Best Theatre Space by the Citypaper in this year of our lord 2009), Ric Royer is perhaps best known as part of the Performance Thanatological Society with longtime collaborators Jackie Milad, G. Lucas Crane (nonhorse), Bonnie Jones and Lauren Bender. His chimeric monologues are a springboard for his rampant and hungry imagination; often, the effect of time and place transports Royer in his work to places he may have never intended, to places that are as surprising to him as they are to the audience. It is often difficult to identify whether the source of Royer's verbage is composed and deliberate or from a strange and boundless place only freshly emerging right there onstage, and that's one of the great things about seeing him live. Photos accompanying this interview are from his most recent work with the Performance Thanatological Society, 50 Greatest Ladies and Gentlemen, taken by the lighting director Yi Zhao at the Ontological-Hysteric Theatre in NYC.
What do you do?
Talk. Talk on stage. Teach. Organize. I am also a terrible person. I’m sorry if I have hurt you. You too have hurt me whether you know it or not. And this is what makes me hurt others. When people ask "what do you do?" I will be forced to answer, "I can't make love- at least not successfully- without the cold, sharp feeling of a straight razor being held to my throat". This is how advanced I really am.
How long have you done these things?
Talk: Since 2. Talk on stage: since 6. Teach: since 28. Organize: since 20.
Why do you do them? How does it make you feel?
No, I will not answer this question, I cannot even think about this question. The last time I sat down to think about "why I do blah", I kept myself awake for 72 continuous hours. The only way to even approach an answer to such a question (which is not to answer it, but to at least create a reasonable perspective devoid of ego-centrism and self-delusion) is to consider why the maggot lives for the rotting slab of meat, which, to the maggot, is only the entire universe. This is "life": a rancid hunk of pork. To each their own they say. So why life at all? There is so much in the cosmos, and so little of it is alive and aware. But "life" continues to strives to be alive. If the conditions are right, the cell will stretch itself to an amoeba, the amoeba to the sea creature, the sea creature to the land animal, the land animal to man. Darwin hesitated to call this progress, and I can understand why. Too often, life is no consolation for the fact that we die. Lexie, I know, there are days when you are alone in your room and you jump up from your beanbag and shout "Why am I so Hungry, Horny, and Obsessed With Terror?!" Although the answer to this question can hardly be answered in any satisfactorily accurate way, it should come as lukewarm comfort to know that YOU. ARE. NOT. ALONE. If you can tell me why I am so hungry, I will tell you why I make art. If I can tell you why you are so horny, you can tell me how my work makes me feel. As I am writing this, a moth keeps bumping into my screen door trying to get to the light on the other side. Duh.
When was That Moment in your life that told you you would become what you are? What happened?
The seeds are different from the growth. I think the seed moments were many: Catholic School, child psychology, faces of death, my first video camera, ghostbusters, Emo Philips, gameshows (especially Gong Show), etc. But the growth moments are more formative, more easy (at least for me/at least I think) to identify. And those were the first times when I started doing the things I do today, ie the first show I organized, the first book I wrote in the manner that I write today, the first time teaching in front of a classroom. Without the execution, its just a bunch of seeds hidden underground.
How has your life changed or not changed to accommodate that moment's effect on you? Oh, I didnt really provide ONE moment. Was I suppose to? Did I do something wrong?
How has your work affected your life in return?
I could have been the type of person that I would not accept as a friend on facebook because, although we had the same upbringing, I consider the person to be a foreign entity, not a thing, not a person, but a thing that used to be a person but was turned into a thing by a process by which people are turned into things. This situation that I'm describing is a nightmare; what if I meet the person I could have been and we hate each other? Same face, same insides, same brain matter, but nothing but intolerance and disgust for the way we live our lives? We often have a difficult time relating to our past selves, but only the most fractured of us can not relate to ourselves in real-time. Weeee, Im freaking myself out!
How does David Lee Roth make you feel?
Do you have anything you'd like to ask me?
Did you see that guy just get punched in the stomach?
What about that time we visited your cat? How did your cat feel afterward?
Good times, eh? Yeah, that was what you called, "controlled". I’m trying to use the word "controlled" as a substitute for the word "cool". try it: "whoa, that band totally controlled." or "Nah, Thurman is controlled, he's just rolled some bad dice in his life." or "I really had a controlled time at the County Fair. Zeus." Oh, and to answer your second question, he felt cool.
What is your policy on?
I seriously believe that the popular platforms for creating political identity (abortion, gay marriage, immigration) are hollow shibboleths that stand to recklessly impact the lives of everybody EXCEPT the politicians that use them for their own political purposes. Yet, I still firmly believe that such issues as gay marriage, abortion, immigration and gay abortigration (the forced abortion of fetuses of gay immigrants to be used to meat up the spaghetti carbonara of the rich) are only overshadowing the only true issue about which to be concerned: LOCUSTS!
Did you see that guy just get punched in the stomach?
Actually, I did. Got 'em right in the nose.
What are some horror movies that you like?
Alien. Don’t Look Now. Night of the Living Dead. The Hunger. Lost Highway. Suspiria. Anything by Nora Ephron.
When will we be too old?
Very soon, my friend. Very very soon.
Am I a person or a thing of a person?
For more more more Ric Royer:
For Yi Zhao's photos of 50 Greatest Ladies and Gentlemen: