Interview: executive producer of Radical Love

February 14th will mark a special day for those at DramaTech, or rather for this entire institute. Georgia Tech has the privilege as the school of choice for a world premiere play: Radical Love. We got a chance to speak with Andjela Kessler, president of Incentive Travel & Meetings, owner of ITM International Art Brokers, proud parent of a Georgia Tech student and the Executive Producer of the play. We also had the chance to talk to the Artistic Director, Melissa Foulger, and play director Prodan Dimov.

Technique: “Could you give us a brief synopsis on the play?”

Kessler: “Inspired by a true story, Radical Love is an internationally relevant play, dealing with pressing Global issues – Muslims and Christians; military intervention or not; tolerance or intolerance; love or hate. The play originates during dictator Milosevic’s reign in former Yugoslavia where student resistance movement, OTPOR, is gaining stride by using humor as a weapon.  The NATO 1999 bombing of Belgrade, Serbia, delays their efforts and turns this story into a Global tale.”

“The truth behind the war and the history of the region is revealed as characters bring forth the emotion of their personal experiences.  Filled with suspense and romance, this localized conflict is turning into a global conversation and lesson that there is no such thing as ‘noncombatants,’ because war affects everyone and thus injustice cannot defeat injustice. “

“A dialogue between the two opposing forces of the 1999 war unfolds on stage in an exchange that can only happen to people in crisis, when they let their guard down. It is a dialogue never heard before: not in the media, not on any stage because, for the first time, both points of view are presented to the same audience.”

Technique: “As a playwright, what exactly are your duties and how do they differ from other roles like the director?”

Kessler: “It all begins with the Playwright, as the Playwright is the one that comes up with the story, develops the concept, the characters, and the dialogue and gives this all a form by writing the play. Then comes Executive Producer (in this case, I am also the Executive Producer) who “brands” the play (extrapolates the essence so its benefits can be communicated to prospective theaters and sponsors). Next, Executive Producer markets the play, placing it with a theater, continuing to promote it to the prospective audience and sponsors and overseeing the overall production. The Director puts this already written play on stage. He or she gives direction not only to actors but also to the visual, audio and emotional expression of the play.”

Technique: “This is a world premier for the play, is it not? Is it a world premiere in the college world, or the entire world of theatre?”

Kessler: “Yes, it is a world premiere in the entire world of theater.”

Technique: “Why was Georgia Tech chosen for such a premiere, what makes this theatre program so strong?”

Kessler: “As the Executive Producer of the play, I approached Georgia Tech because I knew of your Artistic Director Melissa Foulger’s expertise in international theater and the quality of her work with Georgia Tech students. And, because of the great reputation of the Ivan Allen College and the Sam Nun School of International Affairs. Also, my son Alex Kessler, is a Senior at Georgia Tech, so I am keenly aware of how great the school is.”

Technique: “What does this mean for the Drama Tech program in the long-run?”

Kessler: “With Radical Love play, DramaTech students are getting an international experience, not only because of the topic of the play and the playwright’s origin, but also the director, Prodan Dimov is internationally award winning”

Foulger: “DramaTech has produced several world premieres.  In addition to the recognition, this provides the opportunity for students to work with a living playwright and to see how a script changes as the play receives its first production.”

Technique: “What was it like preparing for the show?”

Kessler:  “It was a thrill to work with very bright young people.”

Foulger: “The students are very excited about the opportunity to work on the production.  We were able to do a reading about a year ago and they have been thinking about the production ever since. Working on this show had its own preparation since they had to learn so much about the culture and place. This was exciting for the students as well.”

Dimov: “I was familiar with the play during the process of its writing and I had started researching the historical and social aspects of the events depicted in the play relatively early. My Balkan origin, my close knowledge of the issues, and my international professional experience as a director helped in preparing the students for the creative process.”

Technique: “Were the students prepared, and how did they feel about having such a great opportunity?”

Kessler: “They are amazingly detail oriented and organized. They are very enthused, motivated and excited about the opportunity.”

Dimov: “The process of preparation started with reading of the play in the fall of 2012. After the reading, the Artistic Director Melissa Foulger and the students of Drama Tech made decisions regarding the rehearsals, the opening date, and the number of sows. During the actual rehearsals I was pleasantly surprised by the students’ technical and artistic readiness and I was very happy to work with them.

They felt intrigued by the controversial issues raised in the play and I hope they have become more aware of the need for human tolerance.”

Technique: “When is the premiere and where will it be located?”

Kessler: “February 14, 8pm, Friday at DramaTech (Ferst Performance Arts Center, DramaTech entrance). Five shows will follow (”

Technique: “What kind of experience should students expect going into the show, and what do you hope they get out of it?”

Kessler: “It will be an eye opening experience. The play is inspired by a true story. Just learning that kids your age succeeded in overthrowing a dictator by using humor as a weapon is thrilling. They will also find out how US politician’s mistakes traumatically affect the lives of ordinary people across the world.”