Born in England, Phillip M. Church is a staple of FIU Theatre, having been here since the early days of the department. Church, a man on a mission to change the world through social activism, is currently directing Boeing Boeing, the fourth show of the 2018-2019 season. We were able to sit down with him in between production meetings and rehearsals to get to know him better and find out what he’s most excited about for the upcoming show.
1. What makes you laugh?
My students. Mostly the things they say and perceptions that they have. Like your own children, they teach you to not take yourself too seriously. My students in Boeing also make me laugh a lot during rehearsals. In general, I love the pie in the face stuff, that slapstick comedy, because it’s innocent but fun at the same time.
2. If your creative process was a song, what would it be?
Anything by Fiona Apple. Her lyrics and music are so unpredictable. She’s like a director when she sings. You hear all these levels and elements come in. She is not always melodic; there’s a little chaos.
3. If you weren’t in theatre, what would you be doing?
I would mostly focus on social activism and social work. Be on the streets, reaching out to people. I would be doing more to address social issues, confronting them in real life. Especially gun violence.
4. What is your most memorable experience ever as an audience member?
You know, it’s very difficult to choose because we go to so many shows and are affected by so much. It would probably be watching my own father onstage. Because he was an actor back then. I suppose that was the most impactful performance because when you watch your dad doing it…you think, “yeah that’s what I want to do.” And you don’t think about anything else.
5. What’s your favorite memory from the early days of FIU Theatre?
We were in the DM building on the fourth floor. Our offices were mixed with Math, English, and History. All these different faculty and students all bumping into each other and interacting. That was an unbelievably special time, because the theatre department was small and intimate. And we were all talking through the development of the department. I love small, intimate environments like that. I really like community stuff. And you know, it’s interesting because we did mega productions like Jesus Christ Superstar in VH 100 with casts made up of music students, theatre students, and the rest of the FIU community because we only had 35 majors at the time. And that was fantastic.
6. What do you like about farces?
I like that you don’t have to think about them. Sure, there’s a lot of work and discipline that goes into them. They’re physically exhausting. But it’s wonderful to not have to work out what the subtext is. The characters are all saying what they feel and what they mean. You’re given a break to just laugh.
7. What can the audience expect from Boeing Boeing?
Hopefully, a lot of laughter. To be entertained. Expect to just be hit with energy and for it to only increase as the play goes on.
Boeing Boeing opens tonight, Friday, February 22nd at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center and runs through March 3rd. Tickets are now on sale. For more information and to reserve your tickets, visit go.fiu.edu/theatre.