Emé Esquivel Interview by Jen Bush
Obsessed is a twisted thriller about love, murder and money gone terribly wrong in a Film Noir style. You can see this riveting production at the Theater for the New City beginning on March 30th and running for 16 performances. Eme Esquivel is a cast member of this intriguing show.
Eme Esquivel is an interdisciplinary artist with performance and art being his primary medium. He views the world through the eyes of an artist and skillfully captures magnificent moments in time using his camera. He creates dazzling graphic designs with his clever juxtapositions of text and images. He is director of design and development for Virthe productions. As an actor he’s played roles in The Laramie Project, Dracula and Mosaic. Now he’s ready for you to become obsessed with him in Obsessed! There was a lot of creative energy flowing during this interview.
“I was always creative, I mean, we’re all innately creative, but I was always aware of my creativity :: that said, I didn’t identify as an “artist” until my college years. I was 21 when I did my first play (Billy Claven in The Cripple of Inishmaan). I still think about that role a lot. I was green, but I knew I had something. So, I caught the bug and developed an insatiable appetite for all things theatre. “
“I like to experience new things — exploration (!) That’s how I like to lead my life and my life informs the work. It’s important for me to have a good relationship with it. Like any relationship, there are ups and downs, but I’m a loyal heart, so despite some of these heated tiffs I have with my artist self, we always make up and learn something useful.”
Every artist has a creative process to aid them in interacting with their work. Mr. Esquivel uses repetition to absorb the script on his journey to embody the character. “Once I have the script in my hands, it’s my utmost priority to become as familiar with the script as possible. Reading it again and again until the lines are something I don’t need to worry about. I can live in the world of the play freely and focus on telling a story that feels urgent and vital.”
For a style like noir, Mr. Esquivel uses intuition as part of his creative process. “Because noir is a style that has certain nuanced sensibilities, it’s really more of a feeling. It doesn’t have sort of hard and fast rules like a genre play might. You know, it’s not melodrama, it’s not verse. It’s been a lot of me asking myself, “Hmm, does this feel right? What’s the tone here? What might the audience think of this?” — David likes to remind me that that’s his job; all I can say is thank God for his stewardship.”
Obsession is not The Sound of Music. The audience can expect to be challenged which will lead to inquisitiveness. “Truly, I’d like for them to feel conflicted. It’s a challenging piece. For us, in it, of course, but most importantly, for the people watching it. It’s not exactly black and white. More greyscale. No easy answers. Some ambiguity and an uneasy uncertainty that we just have to reconcile on our own. I want them to ask questions (!)”
Being in this show, Mr. Esquivel was left in the dark a bit and he’s just fine with that. “That there’s no way to have all the answers and that’s part of the fun (!). In fact, it’s a prerequisite. A kind of unknowing. There’s a freedom in that.”
Being in Obsessed has been a positive experience for Mr. Esquivel and may lead to the pursuit of other works in the same vein. “Well, as an artist-person, it’s piqued my appetite for more work that demands a subtle, maybe cunning approach. A delicate manipulation. Nothing too seen. That’s something I’d like to explore more in my work, generally.”
Mr. Esquivel is not obsessing over his future. He’s got plenty of interesting projects to feed his artistic soul. “Next is more work! I’ve got a little salón a la Gertrude Stein that I’m putting together with some contemporaries of mine; in addition to that, I’ll be further cultivating my independent performance art pieces. Maybe throwing some dialogue together and having my actor pals help me find what is useful and true about the words. You can stay tuned through my Instagram: @icarus_landed.”