Richard Maxwell in BOMB Magazine Feb 11, 2015

by Erin

Instead of a direct interview, BOMB Magazine's John Kelsey learned a monologue (written by Maxwell) and received direction from Maxwell. Their rehearsal process became the "interview" of Maxwell's aesthetic and directing style. A taste of the rehearsal process:

Rehearsal: Part 1

(John recites the monologue)

Richard Maxwell Okay. Nice job. It’s great that you memorized that, and that’ll come in handy later, but there’s some stuff I want to look at first. There are a lot of typos and crap in the text—it’s sloppy—and you corrected that when you read in a lot of places. I’m curious to hear what it sounds like in its pure form.

John Kelsey You mean if I articulate your typos?

RM Yes.

JK For example, these two m’s could be pronounced EM EM or MMMM?

RM Well, that’s up to you. You’ll have to grapple with these peculiarities.

JK Your punctuation marks are also particular.

RM My intention, lack of intention, or whatever when I was writing this is pretty immaterial at this point, so right now, my curiosity is only in what this yields rhythmically. How are we going to know what this can yield rhythmically unless you’re being accurate?

JK Regardless of your intentions?

RM Yeah. This is the text we have to deal with; this is all we have right now, it’s in black and white.

JK There are some exclamation points before “really bad.”

RM Yeah, I’m glad that you noticed that, but I don’t know what that means. I don’t know how to deal with that. Here’s a little window of opportunity where you decide what to say. It doesn’t have to be the same every time, you know what I’m saying? So, just to finish the rhythmic thing, there’s this thing, there’s this pause, there’s this piece here, and then there’s this, which is kind of “cheap verse,” I guess you could say. I’ll be listening to what might need to change in terms of the text, too, its rhythm and how it comes off the page. So the closer you can come to executing it helps me to decide whether it needs to be changed or not.

(John recites the monologue again)

RM Good.

JK I didn’t handle the exclamations very well. (coughs) It’s partly because I’m sick and I’m having trouble with my voice.

RM Well, appropriate it to your state, so you can at least experience the—

JK —The differences.

RM Yeah. It’s important that you find a way to commit to the punctuation aspect of it.

JK Okay. And it says, “He’s been drinking.” Does that mean I have to wobble around and slur my words?

RM No, that’s jumping ahead. Stick to the text. You can hold onto that piece of paper, too, if you want.

(They stand up)

RM Take advantage of the fact that we have people here watching.

JK How do I do that? Read it to them?

RM Yeah.

JK Okay. I really don’t know what that means.

RM Yeah . . . I’m not sure either, really.

Read the rest of the "interview" in BOMB Magazine.