Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Personal Log: Aaron J. Shay (Chief Musial Officer)

by Lou D'Aprile

Aaron J. Shay is excited to be returning to perform with the Red Shirts in this year's production of Outdoor Trek, having previously played banjo in 2011's "This Side of Paradise." He is also a member of the folk punk trio The Mongrel Jews, he writes and performs his own work as a solo project, and Aaron is also collaborating with the circus accordionist Strangely, with plans to tour together this fall. To find out more, check out aaronjshay.net!


What do you think of Outdoor Trek so far, and what are you looking forward to about the upcoming production?
I'm just going to embrace my own pretentiousness here and say that Outdoor Trek is a wonderful intersection of pop culture and folk culture. Once upon a time, there were a lot more folks involved in popular culture. The famous new stories were performed by community theaters. The big musical hits were played by local bands, otherwise nobody would hear it. That's all folk culture is: the music and stories and artwork enjoyed by most folks. All of that changed when someone started recording our songs and our stories, turning them into albums and movies and TV shows. The stories are just as influential as they've ever been, but the community has been cut out of the process. Projects like Outdoor Trek bring us back into it.

What cool things do you do in your life outside of Outdoor Trek?
I play in a band called The Mongrel Jews with my sister, Sarah, and our best friend Annie, both of whom are a part of the Red Shirts this year. When not working with the band, I also perform solo, and have recorded several solo EPs in my little house studio. This year, I've started performing and recording with my friend Strangely, who is a cabaret and circus performer from Bellingham. We're planning on traveling to Iceland together later this year to perform at the Airwaves music festival. When not doing any of these things, I hang out with my girlfriend Kelsi, and her pomeranian, Bruno.

What history do you have with theatrical productions?
Theater has been a part of my life since junior high, and I've mostly been involved as an actor and writer, which is exactly what I studied in college. Though in recent years I've been primarily focused on music, all of the theater training I have absorbed over the years strongly influences my current work. "A Director Prepares" by Anne Bogart is a book that has stayed with me beyond my acting classes because of its far-reaching ideas about creativity and art in general.

What history do you have with Star Trek?
My family would often gather around the TV in the evening and watch Star Trek, primarily The Next Generation series, Deep Space Nine, and some of Voyager. Those series taught me a lot about character development and plot structure, which would serve me in my brief stint as a playwright, while also giving me a firm foundation in the genre of science fiction. 

What excites you about the future of mankind?
Our adaptability to many different environments and situations, and hopefully our ability to survive the disasters of our own making.

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