Interview with Max Leavitt

(L to R): Karen Jean Olds (Sophie) and Max Leavitt (J.T. Blackwell) in the world premiere of “Dead, Therefore I Am.”

(L to R): Karen Jean Olds (Sophie) and Max Leavitt (J.T. Blackwell) in the world premiere of “Dead, Therefore I Am.”

A Goth-Punk comedy, Dead, Therefore I Am, is starring the playwright and director, Max Leavitt, playing at the East Theatre at the Complex.

CKS:  What gave you the idea for this play?
ML:   When I was at Oxford, I had the great fortune to be chosen to participate in a Master Class with Sir Ben Kingsley. He directed me in a scene from Hamlet. The “To be or not to be” speech, the idea of maintaining the choice, was the initial spark.
CLK:  Is being the writer, director and actor a challenge?
ML:  It is very difficult, but it is fun stress. When you have an allegiance to a story, when it is your vision, I say, “Let me just do it!” because I know what I want. When I started working on this play, I almost, insanely, put it together out of thin air; it is so uniquely my vision. Then I looked around and thought, “Where did everybody go? Why is no one helping?” But I’m lucky to have people that I have worked with. We’re all really good friends; we trust and respect each other’s art. The rehearsals are very intimate, and everybody is so dedicated to telling this story and to the unique power of this particular play. I’m lucky to have these people on board.
CLK:  You are also a musician. How do you find time to excel in so many artistic endeavors?
ML:  Art is not a stepladder; you dig a tunnel. People say “there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” When you dedicate yourself to listening to your heart to make art that you believe in, there is no light at the end of the tunnel. You have to love digging the tunnel, and now and again a light comes on.
“Dead, Therefore I Am” plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 3pm from April 17-May 24, 2009 at the East Theatre at the Complex (6476 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA). Tickets are available online at, or by calling (323) 960-7714.

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