Introduce Your Self(ie): 10 Questions with The Woodsman Creator & Star James Ortiz
February 9th, 2015
by James Ortiz
Every fan of L. Frank Baum’s Oz series should be thankful to James Ortiz for giving us The Woodsman, a stunning theatrical experience which tells the backstory of the Tin Man. Ortiz is co-artistic director of Strangemen & Company and wears so many different hats as the play’s creator, co-director, set & puppet designer and star. BroadwayBox caught up with the young talent to hear about his Oz-inspiration, his love of lasagna and why witches make the best entrances.
1. What was the biggest rule for yourself when creating this world of Oz?
A couple of things. To root it in the things that we know inspired L. Frank Baum to create Oz. In rereading his stories, Oz is a world populated by Baum' s own ancestors...the American people circa 1840-1890...and the frontiersmen who traveled West hoping they would find a utopian land of plenty that they never quite found...in creating Oz, he created the utopian countryside that all of his contemporaries could recognize as the America that we were all promised. So keeping in mind that this is an American fairy tale was probably the biggest rule...and also since Baum always said that Oz is a real place that could be found on a map.... and not a dream world like Wonderland, so making the stakes real (the way they are in the book) was very important for us too.
2. What other forbidden love story really affects you?
Oh, so many to choose from. The Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice is also truly heart wrenching. Edgar Allen Poe's Annabelle Lee comes to mind for some reason too.
3. Who is your favorite all-time Muppet?
That's just not fair. Pleading the fifth.
4. In a tweet (140 characters), who is Strangemen & Company and what sets them apart:
Strangemen & Co. is a theatre company that’s filled with passionate young people that love good stories. 'We look to simply honor what is truthful, one story at a time.'
5. What’s a piece of theatre that really inspired you the first time you saw it?
One of the first plays I ever saw was a kabuki retelling of Sleeping Beauty at the Dallas Children's Theatre. I had to have been about 5. I just thought it was the coolest thing ever. It was very theatrical and all the action was suggestive and not realistic. And they're we're no spoken words. I guess it left a mark.
6. What character from literature do you most relate to?
Garfield? I'm not sure. I do love lasagna.
7. What’s a piece of technology or machinery you wouldn’t be able to live without?
My headphones. Without a doubt.
8. Song you would use as your personal theme song in the reality show called Life?
It's gonna have to be a tossup between S.O.S. bands "Take Your Time, Do It Right" and the ending credits theme from Robocop. :)
9. The most embarrassing thing on my DVR or Netflix queue:
Batman Forever. Maybe one of my favorite movies. I wish I could say I was embarrassed.
10. Favorite scene from the 1939 The Wizard of Oz?
The scene in Munchkinland when the Witch appears and ruins everything. I wish I could enter a room like that.
Lose yourself in the world of Oz at James Ortiz’s ‘The Woodsman’ at 59E59 through February 22.