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The Interview: Dimitri Moise Talks About Giving the Public As Much As I Can

The Interview: Dimitri Moise Talks About Giving the Public As Much As I Can

Dimitri Moise is George in As Much As I Can. Photo credit: Gioncarlo Valentine.

Downtown at the Public Theater‘s dynamic Joe’s Pub, you have just a few more chances to see the unique and powerful Sarah Hall’s As Much As I Can.  The compelling piece of activist, experiential theatre will play a total of 10 performances from September 12-16 (two shows nightly at 7:00 and 9:30 PM). James Andrew Walsh will direct.

One part moral obligation, one part story within a story, one part EXTRAVAGANZA: As Much As I Can asks all of us what part we are willing to play in ending the AIDS epidemic in the United States.

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Dimitri Moise is George in As Much As I Can. Photo credit: Gioncarlo Valentine.

It is equal parts —

Glitter. Love. Neon lights and electric guitars. Men loving men. Us loving them. Unexpected family. A mirror. Faith. Mothers and sons. Our collective memory.

As Much As I Can was created in collaboration with hundreds of gay and bisexual Black men from Jackson MS and Baltimore MD who shared their personal stories. Designed to mobilize communities to respond to the terrible fact that Black men have, and continue to be, disproportionally infected and affected by HIV, the show’s original staging was fully immersive; audience members moved from room to room with the actors. At Joe’s Pub, it will be staged to reflect the production’s intent to blur the lines between theatricality and reality. Playwright Sarah Hall said, “The show is designed so that you forget it is a fiction. We want you to feel so much a part of it that it becomes impossible to separate yourself in the way we do when we observe narratives. That could only work if it was a broadly resonant story and if we gave each audience member a role to play.” As Much As I Can was previously presented in Harlem, Baltimore, Jackson MS, San Diego and Raleigh NC.Frontmezzjunkies had the unique opportunity to have a bit of chat with one of its stars, Dimitri Joseph Moise as the clock ticks towards the end of the run at Joe’s Pub. Here’s what he had to say about As Much As I Can:

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Dimitri Moise (L) and Brandon Gill in As Much As I Can. Photo credit: Gioncarlo Valentine.

Ross: Tell me, Dimitri, how you came to be involved with this show, and what intrigued you about it?

Dimitri: This was a show that came to me through one of my agents. Any project I work on or audition for goes through my rockstar agency. I got the script during my final week on tour with Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. I didn’t actually read the script or character sides until my flight back to New York City, the day after Beautiful closed on tour and the day before my first audition for As Much As I Can. As I went through the script, I was shocked to read how vividly close this story was to my own life. When I initially went in for the show, I read for the character Delius. That quickly changed, and on the spot, the creative team asked if I would be interested in reading for the role of George. Two auditions later, the role of George was mine. It was an incredible whirlwind.

Ross: Tell me a bit about what it is like to bring all these characters to the stage and how it came to be?

Dimitri: It is quite cathartic to bring thee characters to the stage. Because this piece is immersive, the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred. My relation as Dimitri to my character George is almost identical. It’s kind of difficult separating myself from my character, which leaves me in a very emotional space, but at the same time, as an actor, this is a moment that you dream of — getting to work on something so close to your life’s story. It’s something I definitely do not take for granted. We worked on the piece for about 9 days at Middle Collegiate Church to set the community atmosphere, show blocking, and work on character development. Fun fact: Middle Collegiate was one of the only churches in NYC taking people in and caring for them during the AIDS crisis in the 80s and 90s. From there, we had tech in Joe’s Pub, and have been running the past few nights.

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Dimitri Moise is George in As Much As I Can. Photo credit: Gioncarlo Valentine.

Ross: Tell me a bit more about your first exposure to the piece? That first reading…

Dimitri: My first exposure to this piece was when I read it for the first time, the day before my audition. It was a dark read, to say the least — I was a puddle by the time I finished. Thankfully, I’ve been able to channel that intense pain and bring it out in the experience of George each night in the play.

Ross: What’s been the most challenging part of this process for you?

Dimitri: The most challenging part of this process for me has been trusting in myself in the work, and allowing myself to access deep places in my emotions and life experience. To lay it all out there is something really difficult to do for so many people, especially when you’re presenting a work that is almost parallel to your own life experiences.

Ross: The most rewarding?

Dimitri: The most rewarding has been finding the spirit of George, through this really painful work — and when I say painful, I don’t mean that in a bad way — I mean it in the cathartic sense. Now that I’ve started to discover who George is for me, I can begin to play in the world of George, how he ticks, his psyche, and his experience in the play.

Ross: What do you want the audience to get from this show and from your character?

Dimitri: I want audiences to first: feel empathy. Once they’ve felt that, I want them to do something about what’s going on. If we don’t fight the HIV epidemic together, we won’t ever see a hope of eradicating stigma or the virus. But once a person feels true empathy for a person or cause, their next step is to do something about it. That’s what I want people to do.

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Tickets for As Much As I Can are available here. They are $25, and there is a $12 food and drink minimum. The show plays at Joe’s Pub (425 Lafayette Street).

Photo Credit: Harley & Company

For more, go to frontmezzjunkies.com

Off Broadway
@#frontmezzjunkies

My love for theater started when I first got involved in high school plays and children's theatre in London, Ontario, which led me—much to my mother’s chagrin—to study set design, directing, and arts administration at York University in Toronto. But rather than pursuing theater as a career (I did produce and design a wee bit), I became a self-proclaimed theater junkie and life-long supporter. I am not a writer by trade, but I hope to share my views and feelings about this amazing experience we are so lucky to be able to see here in NYC, and in my many trips to London, Enlgand, Chicago, Toronto, Washington, and beyond. Living in London, England from 1985 to 1986, NYC since 1994, and on my numerous theatrical obsessive trips to England, I've seen as much theater as I can possibly afford. I love seeing plays. I love seeing musicals. If I had to choose between a song or a dance, I'd always pick the song. Dance—especially ballet—is pretty and all, but it doesn’t excite me as, say, Sondheim lyrics. But that being said, the dancing in West Side Story is incredible! As it seems you all love a good list, here's two. FAVORITE MUSICALS (in no particular order): Sweeney Todd with Patti Lupone and Michael Cerveris in 2005. By far, my most favorite theatrical experience to date. Sunday in the Park with George with Jenna Russell (who made me sob hysterically each and every one of the three times I saw that production in England and here in NYC) in 2008 Spring Awakening with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michele in 2007 Hedwig and the Angry Inch (both off-Boadway in 1998 and on Broadway in 2014, with Neal Patrick Harris, but also with Michael C. Hall and John Cameron Mitchell, my first Hedwig and my last...so far), Next To Normal with Alice Ripley (who I wish I had seen in Side Show) in 2009 FAVORITE PLAYS (that’s more difficult—there have been so many and they are all so different): Angels in American, both on Broadway and off Lettice and Lovage with Dame Maggie Smith and Margaret Tyzack in 1987 Who's Afraid of Virginai Woolf with Tracy Letts and Amy Morton in 2012 Almost everything by Alan Ayckbourn, but especially Woman in Mind with Julia McKenzie in 1986 And to round out the five, maybe Proof with Mary Louise Parker in 2000. But ask me on a different day, and I might give you a different list. These are only ten theatre moments that I will remember for years to come, until I don’t have a memory anymore. There are many more that I didn't or couldn't remember, and I hope a tremendous number more to come. Thanks for reading. And remember: read, like, share, retweet, enjoy. For more go to frontmezzjunkies.com

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