This September, Melanie Stewart’s 2009 dance theater parody of reality television dance wars, Kill Me Now, is revived with co-collaborator John Clancy and a cast of students from Rowan University’s dance department.
Kill Me Now: Rowan Edition features cast member and Dane Eissler, an accomplished young actor and buoyant personality with credentials rare for a college junior. The New Jersey native found himself engrossed in many artistic interests throughout his childhood and teenage years before a Monty Python show inspired him to dive into theater. He generously shares his thoughts on his education and his passion for all things animating.
FringeArts: Were you always interested in acting?
Dane Eissler: I actually had terrible stage fright when I was younger. The most acting I wanted to do was voice acting for cartoons, which was what my first passion was. I almost went to school for animation, but then I got “bit by the bug” when I saw Monty Python’s SPAMALOT. Then instead of pursuing acting, I actually started writing, but one thing led to another. Cartoons and animation still play a huge role in my work though–the aesthetic and the quality . . . a lot of the stuff that I write has a kind of fantastical air about it that definitely feels cartoonish.
FringeArts: Was acting school among your first thoughts after the show?
Dane Eissler: I don’t think I realized it at first, but subconsciously, I knew that I wanted to be doing what that cast was doing. It took me until high school to make the decision to go study theater at university.
FringeArts: How did your idea of Rowan, of acting school in general, compare to your actual experience of it?
Dane Eissler: I very much believed in the “hoity-toity beatniks with egos” stereotype that most people place on university thespians, but beyond that, I really had NO idea what I was getting myself into . . . maybe it will be like Fame? When I came to Rowan, I knew I made the right choice. Rowan really focuses on the artistry of theater and performance, as well as a great sense of ensemble and teamwork, which really provides a loving and nurturing environment to create work. It’s kind of a great place to be.
FringeArts: What are some of the key moments that have inspired your acting at Rowan?
Dane Eissler: There were actually two huge breakthroughs in my Rowan career: in freshmen year in Melanie Stewart’s “Intro to Performance” course, we were introduced to presence, being simple and big, neutral mask, clown exercises, and ensemble building games among others. I had never experienced this kind of performance method and I was instantly drawn to it. It just made sense to me, and with a little help from a guest teacher, Makoto Hirano, I was introduced to Pig Iron Theatre Company, where I got to further my experience and education in multidisciplinary performance and theater creation. The second breakthrough was actually just one tiny little quote. I was in a dance-theater piece called Will You Marry Me Pina Bausch? choreographed by Paule Turner, and one day at rehearsal, Paule said a phrase that I will never forget, “Theater by any means necessary.” Since then, I’ve been fascinated with questioning theater and dance and their definitions, and trying to really stretch the boundaries of what theater can be.
FringeArts: Besides Kill Me Now, what’s on the horizon as you approach your senior year?
Dane Eissler: I’m currently in rehearsal for an original show with BRAT productions called The Last Plot in Revenge, written by Brian Grace-Duff and directed by John Clancy, with original music by Peter Gaffney. I also have a show that I wrote going up at Rowan with Lab Theatre that I will also direct. It’s called I Love You, Jane Doe and it’s about a young imaginative funeral worker who falls in love with a corpse, and it explores the idea of first love, infatuation, and letting go. And it’s got puppets! So that’s exciting!
Thanks Dane, enjoy the summer!