We’ve all thought about what might happen if an everyday relationship—with that of a colleague or acquaintance or a dear friend—were to suddenly shift from platonic to a romantic one. David Parker and Jeffrey Kazin of cabaret connoisseurs The Bang Group take that curiosity to a whole new level by playing it out in Misters and Sisters: A Love Story in Song and Dance, a work based in truth that reconfigures their working relationship in a very different way onstage.
You’ve referred to Misters and Sisters as “autobiographical fiction.” What do you mean by that exactly? Is it difficult performing a piece that is so close to you?
I call it an autobiographical fiction because it’s a love story between Jeff and me and a lot of it is drawn directly from life—but, we aren’t partners off stage. We’ve kind of created this romantic life for ourselves as a partnership, as a team, through all of these dances we’ve done together. I like to think of us as the first romantic comic male partnership in contemporary dance. So it’s about that, and drawn from our own lives, but it also has the elements of fantasy and fiction which brings it into the dimension of musical theater.
Is that ever difficult to navigate?
I think that the danger is also a part of the exhilaration.
We’ve been negotiating this for 21 years, and all this friction has become part of our work. It’s very interesting—even though we’re not together, our relationship resembles a lot of long-term relationships which have all of these things they have to negotiate.
What is your relationship like with your alter-ego? What aspects of your personal being are magnified in this particular cabaret?
I think that we magnify our youth. We both grew up in suburban Boston feeling out of place because we were gay, feeling like we didn’t have any choices of what kind of future we would have.
Finding each other and creating this company was actually kind of like redemption or salvation.
I think both sides of that are really exaggerated in the show. We also play many different roles to each other—we play romantically to each other, we play competitively to each other, we play like siblings. It has a certain Jerry Lewis/Dean Martin quality to a lot of the exchanges we have. We’ve given ourselves free reign to play with the form of cabaret and try to relate to the audience directly and not behind the veneer of formalism.
That was one of the most inspiring things about doing this show, that it didn’t have to be all in the design, in the steps and choreography, but it is also us being ourselves or being our alter-egos which I think of now as extensions of ourselves.
It really is an alter-ego, an alternate person, which I think I’ve come to depend on, because that’s the person I get to be on stage with Jeff. I think that when I’m on stage without Jeff, I just don’t find that same kind of energy.
MISTERS AND SISTERS
A LOVE STORY IN SONG AND DANCE
BY DAVID PARKER AND THE BANG GROUP
WED 1.11.11 AND WED 1.18.11
2 ARROW ST.