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POP QUIZ – Derek Ingram

1. Which would you rather drink for the rest of your natural born life, pop or water?

Water–that’s pretty much all I drink now.  I’m a real party animal.

2. Which television show could you watch over and over and never get bored?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  It just never gets old.  It’s clever, quick, and full of heart.

3. Team Marvel Comics or Team DC Comics?

I’m team DC all the way when it comes to actual comics.  When you’re talking about the movie universes, I have to go with Marvel.  DC just can’t seem to get its act together there.

4. If you could have any super hero save you, who would it be and why?

I’d have to go with Hellblazer (John Constantine).  He’s smart and sarcastic and I know he would have some amazing stories to tell if I bought him a drink to thank him.

5. Which quote is the one you live by: “To thine own self be true”, “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can.”, or “Draw me like one of your French girls.”

“To thine ownself be true”  I’ve actually had a framed version of this quote on my wall since high school.  In the arts, you can’t create anything of value if it doesn’t come from a place of truth and the first person that you need to speak truth to is yourself.

6. Which book best sums up your philosophies on life?
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.  Every time I read it, I find another level of meaning.  The themes of being who you are and being recognized as such (and the disconnects that happen) are questions that I love to wrestle with myself.  They logically extend to bigger questions about the nature of existence and “big T” Truth.  It’s a deceptively simple little book that can open open some really big dialogue.  I like that there are no easy answers, just questions that lead to bigger questions.
7. If you could bring any fictional person to life and ask him or her a question, who would it be and what would you ask?

I would have to ask Gandalf why he didn’t just ask the eagles to fly the ring to Mordor.

8. What is the most attractive quality in the opposite sex?

You’d have to ask my partner–he’s loving, kind, and intelligent.  He knows me best.

9. What is the least attractive quality in the opposite sex?

I find the least attractive quality in anyone, no matter the gender, to be willful ignorance.  Anyone who chooses to close his/her mind to new or different ideas or who chooses to reject fact is incredibly unattractive to me.

10. Which would you choose: being a billionaire at a job you hated or making $20,000 doing your life’s passion?

Do I get to keep the billion dollars if I quit?  I could do a lot of good with that!  If not, then I would choose the $20,000 and life’s passion.  Why be spiritually miserable for material comforts?  In many ways, we are defined by our actions and what we do in life.  Why would anyone want to be defined by something that they hate?

11. Define what the word “fear” means to you.

Fear is entropy.  It stops progress.  It can always be overcome by knowledge, but paradoxically, it is also the biggest obstacle in gaining the knowledge needed to overcome it.

12. Define what the word “happiness” means to you.

I don’t know.  To borrow from The Last Unicorn,  “Men don’t always know when they’re happy.”  I think that happiness, in my life, is a process, not a destination.  It’s better understanding myself and the world and learning how to better love both those close to me and my fellow human beings.  I think that happiness as a destination is a trap.  It forces you to reach for an end that is never really an end.  I can’t think of a better setup for unhappiness.

13. Which is more fulfilling: the moment of creating art, or the moment of sharing it with the world?

That’s a tough one!  I’m a process person.  I love to rehearse–you find so many nuances and new ideas in the process of working with other artists.  Overall, though, I think I have to go with the moment of sharing a piece of art with the world.  A piece of theatre is never complete until it has an audience.  Good theatre is a conversation and until you have that missing piece, you’re just talking to yourself.

14. Which is more difficult: the first rejection from an industry insider or the first negative review from your audience?

I don’t find either one to be particularly difficult.  If the quality of the piece is poor, nothing either group can say would be nearly as cutting as what I’ve said myself.  If the quality is good, then it is just a matter of opinion.  The fact that there is a reaction at all – positive or negative – means that the work has touched the audience and made them feel or think.  Sometimes that isn’t pleasant, but it is important.

15. Is there anyone in your life that you love but are afraid to tell how you feel?

No.  That would be a terrible disservice to us both.  Life’s too short to not tell the people who you love that you love them.

16. Who do you admire most in your professional life?

Ian McKellan.  He’s a tremendously talented artist, but still humble and full of humor.  He’s the kind of artist that I push myself to be.

17. Who do you admire most in your personal life?

My grandmother.  She didn’t lead an easy life.  I’ve seen people with many fewer curves thrown their way who become shriveled and bitter.  She never succumbed, though.  She was always loving an patient with time and energy for everyone, no matter how she was suffering herself.  She was a truly remarkable person.

18. To be successful in your field, what traits do you think a person needs to have?

You have to be patient, curious, and self aware.  Additionally, you have to be fluid and flexible enough to allow a production to grow in a different direction from your original vision while balancing that with a strong enough sense of purpose to not lose the soul of the show.  When in doubt, always trust the playwright.  That’s probably the most important piece of advice of all.  Remember that you serve the production and the playwright is the ultimate architect of the piece–everything that you do needs to support that vision.

19. What motivates you most?

I love a good challenge.  Nothing is more fun to me than cracking open some familiar text and finding a new way to understand it.

20. What will you be doing next?

I’m taking a bit of a breather, to be honest.  I’m putting together a reading of Shakespeare’s work for Prime Stage and getting ready for the 2014 Pittsburgh New Works Festival.  Beyond that, I’m settling into a new position at the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council where I work.  Once I get my bearings, I have a few projects that I’ve been itching to work on…

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