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Spotlight on VpStart Crow’s Six Degrees of Separation

By • May 11th, 2012 • Category: Interviews

For the past few months, ShowBizRadio reviewer Rachael Murray has worked as the assistant director to Rob Batarla, Artistic Director of VpStart Crow Productions and director of Six Degrees of Separation. In the anxious twilight before dress rehearsal, she was able to sit down with Rob and ask a few questions. She hopes to provide a little insight for those who might be curious about the show or the rehearsal process.

SBR: Why did you want to do this show?

Rob: I wanted to do this show for a long time, ever since I first read it–probably about 10 or 15 years ago. Mainly, it’s because it is an incredible story. Theatre tells a story. That’s the whole point of it. But the way that John Guare does Six Degrees of Separation, the way he tells the story is very appealing. We fast forward; we go to the past. So the story-telling element of this show is fantastic, to me. Also, it’s based on a true story, so that’s interesting, and it’s somewhat edgy, which I like.

SBR: How do you think this show might resonate with your audience?

Rob: I’m hopeful that the audience will enjoy the story as much as I do, and they’ll be captivated by what’s going on with Paul and Flan and Ouisa, and the people around them.

SBR: You’re staging this production in-the-round. Talk about some of the challenges with that.

Rob: When you’re in-the-round, there’s audience on all four sides, so at every moment of the play, someone’s back is to someone–an actor’s back is to an audience member. So, that can be a little challenging for the audience, because they obviously want to see what’s going on, but the benefit of it is that audience members will get to see things from a different perspective. Everyone will see a slightly different show based on what they’re able to see. The challenge for us was to make sure that every person gets a valid show. You can’t favor one side. During the rehearsal process, my comment was, “Every person who sits somewhere in the theater paid the same price.” The show that we give to the west side has to be the same as the show we give to the north side. So, there were definitely challenges with blocking and making sure that the show was fair to the audience. I think this type of show lends itself very well to theatre-in-the-round. It’s about telling a story. The actors do talk directly to the audience, so putting it in-the-round and putting the audience so close to the actors actually works very well for this production.

SBR: Why do you think Six Degrees of Separation is an “instant classic” in VpStart’s season?

Rob: VpStart Crow focuses on classic theatre. We do a Shakespeare show each year, things like that. Last year, we implemented something called an “instant classic,” which was a show that, fifty years from now, theatres that do classic theatre would be doing shows like this. Last year we did a Neil Simon play; next year we’re doing Doubt; this year we chose Six Degrees. Why do I think it’s an instant classic? Because I think it’s just a really damn good show, and I think fifty years from now companies that look back and do “classic” theatre–theatre that is good and stands the test of time–I believe this show is one of them.

SBR: There is partial nudity in this show. Do you think it may offend some?

Rob: I think you always run the risk that any theatre will offend anyone. The original Broadway production of this show had full nudity in it. We sort of scaled back. We do have some nudity; it’s partial. I’m hoping that it doesn’t offend people. I think the person who would come see this show would hopefully not be the type of person that would be offended by that. I believe we’ve done it tastefully. It’s not excessive; it’s not overtly sexual; it’s not superfluous. It’s not like we just decided to throw some naked people on the stage just to do it. I have seen shows where that happens. I think it’s appropriate. It’s not long in the scene. It doesn’t go on for a long period of time. But it is important to the plot, and it was in the script, and we decided to go forward with that.

SBR: Some people may be skittish when they see it has partial nudity and adult language. Should they have a little faith and see it anyway?

Rob: It’s not a David Mamet play: The F word isn’t every other word of the show. There is some adult language in it. At the heart of the matter, it is a production telling a story about human connection, and the way the characters go through and experience these connections and tell this story–that’s what it’s about. It’s not a salacious sex show with foul language throughout it. It is an adult show. It does have some adult themes, and it does have a little nudity and some language. But that’s not the crux of the show.

Vpstart Crow’s Six Degrees of Separation opens this weekend. The show runs May 11-13 and May 18-20. Show times are 8pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 2pm on Sundays. For more information, visit

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is an actor, director, and teaching artist. She is a Virginia Tech alumnus with a Bachelor's of Arts in English and Theatre Arts. A relative newcomer to the DC Metro area, Rachael has participated as both an actor and director in a variety of projects at Virginia Tech and has worked as a teaching artist with Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, New York.

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