Good afternoon, YouthMundees!
At YouthMundus, we aim to not only be a platform for music, film and global change, but for the artists and global changemakers who create them.
Our Artist Spotlight series aims to create a space for discovery of new, budding global talent, while simultaneously offering you an exclusive glimpse into their creative process.
In this week’s edition, we’re extremely excited to feature not only one emerging artist, but two: ambitious, emerging NYC-based directors, Meghan Mulcahy and Reilly Johnson!
Originally from the Seattle area, Meghan Mulcahy spent her childhood involved in music and theater. Her fascination with art and the stories told through it landed her in a theater program that was as inspiring as it was rigorous: “As an overzealous kid, I loved the responsibility and intensity of it, as well as feeling like I was apart of another family.”
Reilly Johnson’s passion for theatre, acting, and art affected her as similarly as it has her co-director. She grew up in Chicago, equally starstruck by the magic of theatre, and moved to New York in 2014 to attend NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
It was at NYU that Meghan and Reilly met, expanding upon their joint passion project, Really Really, for over a year. And after a year of collaboration, not only from each other but “from other like-minded actors and artists”, Meghan and Reilly are proud to debut their show this weekend!
What inspires you and your creative process?
M: Other actors! I have always loved watching other people work, following along with their process and trying to suss out where the magic comes from. There is nothing more exciting than watching an actor onstage or on film who is excellent at what they do; this is particularly true for me in watching great female who are changing the game with the kinds of stories they tell and the way they tell them. These women – Reilly has been one of them! – help me shed that notion that you need permission to work, to create. If you want to make something, you should make it!
R: My peers are such a massive source of inspiration to me! I know so many young people creating such exciting and courageous theater and art, and I am constantly pushed by them to be a better artist myself. So many of the people that inspire me are a part of the cast and creative team of Really Really, and I feel so lucky to get to know them and work with them on this incredible project.
What is the connection between your work and social justice?
M: I think that storytelling has an enormous power to teach empathy; it takes issues that we see playing out on the news or in politics that are so polarized and gives them dimension. Art is one of the only places nowadays where we tolerate gray areas, imperfections in people, and complex points of view. From a social justice lens, I think making space for those things is the most effective way of opening people’s minds and creating a more empathetic dialogue.
What inspired you to pursue this play? What were the challenges you overcame in this?
M&R: Reading Really Really for the first time, we could already feel the suspense and magnetism of the story; the writing is so intricate and tight. The “he said/she said” dynamic was being played out on a national level with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and we were fascinated by the question of evidence and bias: when no one can provide substantive evidence to prove what really happened, what do people latch onto instead to support their claims? Both Kavanaugh’s and Blasey Ford’s testimonies were evaluated as “performances.”
We found Really Really so intriguing because it took that conflict out of the courtroom setting and told it as a story between people whose motivations and actions never fit neatly into the predator/victim categories. Whatever bias you may walk in with, whoever you believe, the play will make you uncomfortable holding to that. The most challenging part has been fielding people’s reactions – who they love, who they hate, who they believe and why – and taking that into account as we try to shape the story in the most human and truthful way possible.
What’s been the most rewarding part of being an artist for you? Do you have any advice for future artists, directors, and theater-makers?
M&R: The most rewarding part has been the collaboration – finding like-minded people who have a real hunger to work, care about the stories they’re telling, and help each other grow as artists. Working in theater is the most thrilling and terrifying job because it forces you to take risks and be courageous; it’s the people you collaborate with that hold you accountable to working outside your comfort zone and make you feel supported in doing so. Our advice to future artists would be to go after what stretches and scares you.
Thank you for your continuous support and kindness.
Lots of love,
Interview conducted and written by Veronica Velez