PERRI YANIV: an actor prepares … for a chat

After a powerful run at Planet Connections 2018 Theatre Festivity, spit&vigor – helmed by a genuine theatre professional, Adam Belvo, revives THE BRUTES, a gripping piece of history and drama written by Casey Wimpee. The new production will be at the New Ohio Theatre, 154 Christopher Street. If that address rings a bell, it is the old haunt of the legendary Wings Theatre, now in another pair of capable hands.

Sara Fellini stages THE BRUTES in-the-round with a minimalist set pieces that transforms into a theatre, a dinner table, and a nation on the brink of sweeping change. Civil strife, family devolution, and a country sharply divided – 150 years ago or right now – the parable of this drama remains strong. We get a tour of the backstage (literally) goings-on of an historic performance of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar featuring the renowned Booth theatrical family – brothers, Edwin, Junius Jr. and John Wilkes, Booth. There’s another familiar name. Performances are November 23 — December 9 (Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm). Tickets are $30. For reservations, please visit

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Perri Yaniv is a celebrity this season. He wow’d the crowds in Raft of the Medusa, before handing-over a definitive performance in Caligula, and now ending the year here at The Brutes. We’re thrilled to get a few words with this versatile and compelling actor.

Tell us about yourself as an artist.
I just wanted to be a time traveler, but Dr. Who was already taken…I was always sociologically inclined, and obsessed with the idea of transforming myself.  Growing up in New York City allowed me to experience everything a person could want to experience, and so acting became how i processed and expressed the world around me, as it affected me. I wanted to be a downtown Daniel Day-Lewis. it always felt like the perfect thing to do to myself.
Tell us about your role in The Brutes (actors, please discuss your part and its relation to the lot; creatives, tell us your function to the project/company)
I’ve done over 40 plays and this is the first time I’m working on a play about the theatre. I play John Sleeper AKA “Sleepy” Clarke and he’s the actor-manager directing this one-night performance of Julius Caesar to benefit the building of a statue of its author, William Shakespeare. This performance featured the talents of the Booth siblings, the famous acting family. The play  deals with all the family and relationship issues that occur when you have a bunch of eccentric people who are related to each other. My character is married to the sister of the clan, and is definitely the straight man to all the alcoholic and theatrical fun that ensues. Oh yeah and then one of the siblings went and killed Lincoln…total bummer.
Share with us your thoughts on independent theater. What is its significance to the skyline of entertainment in NYC?
I love that you put it in the context of a skyline, because ultimately, I always feel like independent theater is very close to the ground. it’s a fact that theatre is financially driven, and those with money will be able to produce their work in skyscrapers in midtown. For independent theater, oftentimes no one knows about a production or a company unless they’re within the community. Every now and then (like when you win the lottery), something will explode into the commercial realm and get some attention, but we’re basically homesteading. A lot of the indie companies have lost their spaces or will lose their spaces in the coming years; it’s like the homeless- we are the survivors of a hostile urban environment and everyone’s afraid to give us their money. to those who are interested in things beyond skylines, I know that  independent theater has a very important cultural component. I’ve had opportunities to perform in subway stations, diners, moving cars, gardens, abandoned homes, asylums, and former mansions on governors island. I think we represent the density of the city, and that’s what still makes it an interesting place to interact with.
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