June is a white, cis, female theatermaker here in Philly.

Steele is an actor, producer, marketer, and creator in Philadelphia.

June

What was in your pockets at the start of the show?

Steele

I am connected to the Painted Bride, but I haven’t seen any of doug’s solo work, that’s about it. What was in your pockets?

June

I’m aware of the Secret Show process, and I’d seen the Tuesday Boys Experience. I didn’t really enjoy myself, so I was curious to see doug’s show. But I don’t actually know him.

Steele

I missed the Tuesday Boys but have seen other Secret Shows so I was excited for another one. As two people who don’t personally know doug greene, how did you feel that impacted how you enjoyed the show?

June

That’s a great question. I’ve been feeling really on the outside of Philadelphia Theatre lately, because so much of it is predicated on inside jokes. But doug’s show was a great example of a piece that is intimately connected to a singular subject, without alienating the people on the outside. At least, it didn’t alienate me. I think that’s probably because, while the piece was “about” him, it was actually about the process of celebration/grieving. Celebration as grieving, and vice versa.

Steele

I have similar feelings about the Philly theater community. I think the opening portion and the final auction portion were great looks into just living a better life in general. The middle portion I felt a little more left out of the inside jokes, but could relate to the things that most actors can relate to – passion projects, not being paid enough, etc. There were people all around me who were close to doug crying so I felt like I wasn’t as connected as others in the audience, but it was a great production overall.

June

Oh wow. I was sitting towards the back of the house without a lot of people around me, so I had no idea people were crying. When the actors gave their eulogies, I just continued to be struck by how mischievous this whole premise is. In that way I thought that doug’s reading of Tom Sawyer was very on the nose (maybe a little too on the nose)?: how sneaky it is to attend your own funeral, and watch the complexity of relationships be simplified for posterity! Mostly that’s where I was – watching people perform and wondering how much of it was what they would actually say and how much of it was hyper conscious of the fact that doug was sitting right there. I kept coming back to this frequent mention of doug being a Professional Mourner – that he had lost so many people in his life, so he knew how to mourn well. I started to get a very melancholic sense of who he was.

Steele

Yes! I got into that melancholic sense during the pre-show when someone told me that the people represented in the suitcases were actually people he lost.

June

And that two of his brothers died when he was young?

Steele

Yes. That was very hard to hear. How did you feel about the pre-show?

June

I really loved the pre show – I loved his artwork and the actors who helped us understand the premise – that we were attending his funeral. I had a friend ruin it for me, though, so I wonder how long it would have taken me to come to that organically.

Steele

I did know the premise ahead of time so that wasn’t shocking, but the execution of the premise was great. The ending in particular – the auction segment – was very impactful to me and not something you usually have at a funeral. I was encouraged to go out and live life and live life in a better way.

June

Ooh I loved that! Questioning the value of “things” after someone has died, whether we should discard them and invest in something else. I thought the whole construction of the evening was very smart. How different all of the actors’ tributes to him were? That was great.

Steele

Absolutely, from the pre-show to the “repast” it was very well thought out. Yes! The diversity in the tributes was really really good.

June

Did you bid on any of the auction items?

Steele

Yes, I bid on defriending 10 people from Facebook that aren’t really your friends. Did you bid on anything?

June

I bid on looking a homeless person in the eye for that $800 pashmena blanket. But I was outbid pretty quickly for that one.

Steele

Wow! That was a steep one. I really appreciated how people really invested and thought about the stakes and what they were willing to commit to.

June

Totally. The spookiest one for me was him auctioning off his deceased brother’s shirt. That was another moment when I thought about how smart his construction was – he had a lot of people say a lot of different things about him, and about the artist’s relationship with death, but there was still so much of his life that I don’t know about.

Steele

Yea that was very eerie. So well constructed. I feel like he made the audience feel how he intended. And I left feeling like I knew him more at the end.

June

Totally. I was consistently impressed by how I didn’t need to know him to enjoy the piece, how really it was about funerals and memorials, rather than about doug himself.

Steele

Yes, and about life.

June

Totally. The food was really good, by the way.

Steele

I had to run before the food! I’m sad I missed it.

June

Very tasteful vegan food. What about the design? Did you feel strongly about it one way or the other?

Steele

I thought the gallery was AWESOME. I feel like there was a little too much stuff on the stage.

June

Mmm yeah. I was waiting for all of it to be activated – I think that it was once he said that we could take anything that spoke to us, or anything whose value seemed important to us. Again, inviting us into the question of the value of things after death – but I can see how all of that business might have been distracting.

Steele

Yeah a little less would have been good. But what a thought to offer your personal items to the audience? Did you take anything?

June

I didn’t! Again, I was wondering how much of that invitation was genuine! And then, of course I just felt timid and reserved at the thought of calling his bluff – even though there were several things on the stage that I thought were beautiful and I would more than likely have put in my home.

Steele

Yeah I also wondered how much was show and how much was an actual invitation to take his items. But with the structure of the show I’m thinking it was probably genuine.

June

Same. I just got scared someone would find me out and be like, you didn’t know him, that’s rude. Like when you attend the funeral of someone you don’t really know!

Steele

True!

June

How are you feeling about the experience as a whole?

Steele

I really enjoyed it and I felt inspired to live life MORE and better. That stayed with me in the evening afterwards and is still with me today. How about you?

June

Oh that’s awesome! It made me think a lot about using your life as a vehicle to a larger exploration in theater. I’m often afraid in my own art that I’m going to get so lost introducing the audience to me that I’ll forget what I had originally wanted to say.

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