Five questions for Alexandra Bassett
Name: Alexandra Bassett
Title/Occupation: Theater Artist and Singer-Songwriter
1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?
I grew up in a suburb of Boston and in Greece. I learned English and Greek simultaneously as a baby but my education was in America so English got the benefit of academia. As a result, my Greek was shoddy for a while. But the lack of grammar and vocabulary became extremely energizing, since I’d be compelled to catch every context clue available in order to comprehend the stories my Greek friends and family would tell.
I was weaned into vigilance, fascinated. I got really attuned to resgisters and vowels, facial twists and consonant kicks, the vicissitudes of gestures, the punch and the pick-up lines, the music of intentions. These things resonate; expert timing transcends language and culture. It’s charisma and chemistry. And it’s volatile. Yes. Volatility and charisma, baby. That’s what I want to see on stage, no matter what the genre or medium.
2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?
Lysistrata in Epidavros. I’m a kid sitting in the ancient amphitheater under the constellations. This is the birthplace of classical theater! Then the production starts and they have these huge dildo pulley-system puppet penises! In this ancient political play! That instant, boom, everything was sacred and everything was game. Woah.
3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?
The skill to be one hell of a physicist-astronaut-surgeon. So that I could be one hell of a physicist-astronaut-surgeon.
4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.
I work part-time at a boutique and I also put on puppet shows for kids.
Yesterday: I woke up around 5am with a solution to my design ruminations for a short play I’m directing: we’ll use roller skates! I close my eyes again with that gushy glee and oh-so-aptly sleep through my alarm. Thus rush rush to the train to put on two puppet shows about the race-car-driving princess who saves the knight with halitosis from the sleeping dragon’s tower.
Now it’s noonish and I head over to Williamsburg for a preliminary design meeting. I’m directing a darling and dark short play “Lint” by Sarah Todes for Theater In A Van. Coffee-shop-style, Sarah and I expound on the merits of rollerblades in a van….well we’ll see in rehearsal!… and then a night of team-writing “art:i:fact,” a short film I’m directing in the Fall. We rolled out the butcher paper and cracked open three laptops: massaging the climax from all angles! Back to Crown Heights, where my boyfriend comes over, and hell, we watch 15 minutes of “Aliens” before being overwhelmed by how much Ridley Scott’s original kicks its ass. And so we make out. Goodnight.
5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?
That’s a notorious proverbial choice. I have not yet encountered this in a finite decisive way. I think it’s a weird proposal. What can I say? I work to make art. To choose art is to work. Art is not a verb. Make and do! What I do during the day seeps into what I make at night. If I care and I’m attending, then it’s not a choice, it’s a continuum.