Tell us a little bit about yourself, David, and where you’re from!\
I was born in this town called Luton in England. It’s
about 35 miles north of London. It’s a very tough, industrial town. And I moved
to London when I was 18. I tried to move to America when I was 16 and I got a
letter from the American Embassy that said, you’re too young. I tried to just
get on a plane and come out.
And they said no.
Yeah, they said no, forget it. But then I lived in London for a couple of years. I wanted to be a singer, and I was singing in my hometown. I was singing with different bands, just original songs, but I didn’t write any of them. And then I moved to London and singing in bars, other peoples’ songs. And then I got on a plane when I was 20 and moved to America. And I sang in New York City, but always other peoples’ songs. A lot of Tom White. It’s funny because this morning, Brendan (SPACE’s resident chef) was playing Muriel, this Tom White song, in the kitchen…
And you’d sung it?
Yeah. I was like, wow! That song, actually. I changed the lyric and I remember singing it. There was this club in New York called the Colby 56, in the early 80s, I was doing an open mic and I changed the lyric to suit me on just one line. And the audience was kind of ignoring me but this line got peoples’ attention. It wasn’t meant that way, but I noticed it. But then I decided that it wasn’t working…that I should try and write my own songs. There was this folk club called folk city, which was a pretty legendary club. Every Monday they had an open mic and you could get up and do three songs or some people were also doing monologues. Steve Buscemi, do you know him?
The name isn’t ringing any bells.
Steve Buscemi! He’s in a popular HBO show…why am I blanking on the name of it…Oh! Boardwalk Empire! He’s the lead in Boardwalk Empire.
Oh! Yes! I remember.
He’s fantastic. Anyway, he was doing comedy there. It was a crazy scene. But anyway, I bought a guitar and I didn’t know how to play it, and I thought to myself, I have a deadline of a month to get up and play original songs. And I did it. And then a friend of mine there said, “Take the words to a poetry reading and read them.” The words were better than the melodies. And I read them. And I was so frustrated that I kind of performed them quite dramatically…and the audience applauded, which they didn’t do for this kind of reading. And then somebody there said take them to this little theatre and there I was doing these sort of, spoken songs. Little theatrical songs, but spoken. They got more and more theatrical and I started stringing them together and before I knew it, I was doing one person shows.
The first show I did moved from a performance space, PS 122 in New York, to an Off-Broadway house, Second Stage. I started touring around, and then I started acting in things from there and writing for other people. I went back to music stuff. I started writing lyrics with a beat. And then the last few years, people have asked why I’ve been doing a lot of singing. I wrote a musical that I was also in. And I’m also doing a musical a year from now and I sing quite a bit in that. And I’m doing so many of these things with singing. After all these years, the singing is coming back into things, which I’m very happy about.
What are you working on here
I’m exploring three different ideas. I always wanted to write this very autobiographical show. I didn’t know if it was going to be with a cast of four or five or with just me, so I’m just kind of exploring it here. And I’ve got another monologue that’s part of another show, a new show that hasn’t been done yet, but I was wondering if that monologue could be a whole show. Where it ends in the show is in upstate New York, in a situation very similar to this.I thought, it’s perfect to be here for that. And then I had this idea for a play about a woman who lives upstate near here, actually. But right now, I’m just doing this autobiographical sort of sketches from childhood stuff.
you spend most of your time here at SPACE?
Probably in the house.
Yes! Downstairs and also on the balcony.
What do you like about it?
You know, I don’t know. I’m very comfortable there. It’s
such a great group of people, too. And I’ve done so much stuff alone and
oftentimes, there’s no director on my show. I often just do the whole thing
except for the design. So I’m used to being alone. If I’m around people,
it’s usually distracting, in terms of writing. But I love these guys so much
it’s very easy to work around them. I’ve never experienced that. We’re all on
the same kind of level. Like, today, Heidi was writing like six feet away from
me and I just thought, I’m writing with Heidi and it’s just…that just doesn’t
happen. The way everyone’s been chosen and the whole interview process to get a
sense of peoples’ personalities, aside from what they do, but how they can
contribute personality-wise. Because it’s important that people coexist in a
productive and good way that will enhance the whole thing. And I mean, I don’t want to hex anything or
jinx it. Just wait, at the lake tonight there’s going to be a horrible spat or
Let’s hope not!
But there’s something deeply comfortable here. And everyone is so smart and the dining table stuff is so funny. The wit flying around from these guys and the language that they’re using to do it. Oh my god. These are really incredible minds. And I know some of their writing quite well and it is just a real honor to be here with these guys.
Well, I have one more question and it might be my favorite. If you had to be reincarnated as a farm animal–
–As a farm animal?
Yes, as a farm animal! What farm animal would you be reincarnated as?
Well…I do like goats.
Goats are great, but why would you choose a goat?
I don’t know. I’ve just always liked them. I always felt kind of drawn to them. I don’t know why exactly. Oh I do love the chicken, though! I forgot about the chicken! That one chicken is always around the sheep. And I don’t know why there’s that one bird that’s always by the sheep, but there’s a whole thing going on because when I go down there sometimes, the sheep will make a noise and so will the bird. They’ll all kind of signal to each other. I had a chicken when I was younger. I lived on the edge of town and from the front of the house it was all very industrial. And then from the back, it was all fields. And there was this one day, there was this lane up to these hills and there were these two chickens tied to posts and the farmers had plucked them and covered them with poison. And one of them was alive and I took the bird home and this guy was like, you’ve got to put this bird out of its misery. And I was like, no, I’ve got to keep the bird. And everyone was like, it’s cruel, the bird’s dying. But anyway, the bird came back to life. And the bird would follow me around. It was really cute. I was just a kid! But I would go around with this bird. But here, it’s very similar.
Are you excited for anything else here?
Here? I just love being here!
Interviewed by Jill Carrera