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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Q&A with ‘Urinetown’ director Carrie Ann Quinn

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Carrie Ann Quinn

Edited to correct error mentioned in comments. 
In the world of Urinetown, a 20-year drought has made water an incredibly valuable resource. Private toilets have been outlawed, and people must pay to pee. Professor of Performing Arts Carrie Ann Quinn directed the university’s upcoming rendition of the popular musical production “Urinetown.” 
Quinn is a member of the Actor’s Equity Association and the Screen Actors Guild. She earned her MFA in Theater Education-Acting at Boston University and a BFA in Acting from New York University. The Mass Media interviewed her about her experience as an actor and director.
Q: Could you tell us a bit about your work outside of the university?
A: I have worked a lot in Boston and New York, lately I have been doing a lot of films, television and voice overs. My pet project has been “Possessions,” a play I wrote and performed in Boston with my new theater company, Escape Artists Theater Company, an international company. The company was founded by myself and a woman named Jane Bergeron, who lives in Australia. It is kind of an interesting collaboration. We are taking the play that we performed in Boston and re-working it for a performance in Australia.
Q: You have directed both plays and musicals. Do musicals offer any particular challenges?
A: Musicals have more elements, singing, dancing, musical accompaniment, but the trade off is you have more help. . Another thing about musicals, and especially in “Urinetown,” is much of the plot progresses in song. Things happen during the songs. It is important that the words are clear to the audience but also that the performers are acting through the song. It is more important that the acting is clear than that a note sung perfectly.
Q: What is your favorite part about theater productions?
A: Theater is very collaborative. There are many people involved: a playwright, a director, a stage designer, lighting designer, projection designer, to name a few. It is amazing how when you have seven or eight different creative minds working together you come up with a much better product then just what you have in your own imagination. 
The collaborative process is my favorite part of theater whether it is applied to re-inventing a classic, or creating something brand new, and, of course, sharing the work with a live audience. There is something life changing about performing in front of a room full of people who are all sitting, thinking, teach me something, show me something, entertain me. They are all waiting to see do something on stage that will affect their lives.
Q: Why “Urinetown”?
A: I think audiences will connect with the major themes in the play. It is 10-years-old so I knew I would have to update it so that the audience, and the cast would understand it. I was re-reading the script over this past summer, and I saw “The Hunger Games,” and as I was watching the movie I was like, oh my gosh this is “Urinetown.” This is class warfare. I also drew some inspiration from the visual effects of the movie.
Audiences won’t see the play and think, “Oh, this is “The Hunger Games” … but the plot is relevant to modern current experience. ”Urinetown” is a fictional story about big corporations and dirty politicians that take over a basic human health need, which is to go pee, and it is about wealth and power, and has elements of environmental degradation and is also uproariously funny.
The Department of Performing Arts presents the hit musical “Urinetown,” premiering Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. in the McCormack Theater. Tickets can be purchased online at www.umb.edu/urinetown.