Intervju med Zachary Oberzan

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Hangö Teaterträffs styrelsemedlem Rasmus Slätis intervjuade Zachary Oberzan i Berlin i maj.

Zachary Oberzan, grundande medlem av Nature Theatre of Oklahoma från New York, gästar Hangö Teaterträff med föreställningen The Great Pretender. Oberzan har etablerat sig som en multikonstnär som foglöst för samman film, musik och performance i sina monologföreställningar. Oberzans föreställningar blandar popkulturella referenser med självbiografiska händelser på ett intimt och skört sätt.

– Jag är egentligen inte tillräckligt hårdhudad för att göra det jobb jag gör. Mina föreställningar är väldigt viktiga för mig personligen och jag har inte verktyg att bearbeta negativ kritik och feedback. Det är väldigt ansträngande. En negativ recension eller feedback vägs upp av kanske tusen positiva dito, berättar Oberzan.

Sorgen och melankolin i Oberzans föreställningar är en följd av denna känslighet, det går inte att fejka sårbarhet på scen.

– På scen känner jag mig som om min hud är vänd ut och in. Jag lämnar mycket rum för improvisation i mina föreställningar. För det mesta vet jag hurdan relationen mellan skådespelare och publik är. Givetvis fuskar jag ibland och använder mig av knep för att få publiken med mig, men som skådespelare strävar jag att bli allt mer modig, ärlig. Jag behöver inte öva mig på att upplevas sårbar. Man kan rent av säga att sårbarheten ibland förvirrar publiken ofrivilligt.

Trots att Oberzans föreställningar bottnar i allvar och existentiella frågor är han nogrann med att inte vara nihilistisk i sin konst.

Jag vill avsluta mina föreställningar och filmer på en positiv ton och ser ingen poäng i att lämna publiken med en känsla av meningslöshet och hopplöshet. Överlag har jag inget intresse av konst med ett förenklat, svartvitt budskap. Därför brukar jag känna aversion mot politisk konst. Och politik i det verkliga livet likaså. Jag förlorar intresset om jag kan förutspå vad som kommer att hända härnäst. För mig är det oväntade och oförklarliga viktigt och håller mig intresserad. Detta jobbar jag med i mina föreställningar och det håller mig engagerad. Abbas Kiarostamis film Close-up var avgörande för mig då jag som 22-åring såg den första gången. Gränslandet mellan fakta och fiktion, privat och offentligt är kärnan i mitt arbete, säger Oberzan.

Zachary Oberzan (f. 1974) är filmskapare, skådespelare, regissör och singer-songwriter. Hans föreställningar och filmer har visats i över 75 länder över hela världen.

“Watching Oberzan (on screen and in person) express his thoughts and damned-up feelings is funny as hell. And sadder than mere words can express.”
Variety / Marilyn Stasio

 Zachary Oberzans föreställning “The Great Pretender” spelas 9.6 & 10.6 kl 19 på Brankis.


Rasmus Slätis, member of Hangö Teaterträffs board, interviewed Zachary in Berlin in May.

Zachary Oberzan, founding member of the New York based theatre collective Nature Theatre of Oklahoma, visits Hangö Teaterträff with the performance The Great Pretender. Oberzan has established himself as a multitalent, seamlessly combining music, film and performance in his one-man shows. Oberzan’s performances are a mixture of popular cultural references and autobiographical stories, performed with great sincerity and vulnerability.

– I quite honestly am not thick-skinned enough for this job. My performances are very important for me on a personal level, and I still have not learned how to deal with negative critique and feedback.  One bad comment might need one thousand compiments to out weigh it, Oberzan tells.

The melancholy and sadness of Oberzan’s work spring from this sensibility, one cannot fake this kind of vulnerability on stage.

– On stage I feel as if my skin were turned inside out. I leave a lot of room for improvisation in my shows. I usually know the relationship between the actor and the audience by heart. Sometimes I cheat and do “cheap tricks” in order to get the audience on the hook, but as an actor I strive to be a braver, more honest performer. I don’t really have to work to be vulnerable.  Arguably I’m vulnerable to the point of unnecessarily confusing the audience.

Although Oberzan’s work springs from profound and existential questions, he is careful not to turn nihilistic in his art.

– I always want to end my performances and movies on a positive note. I see no reason to leave the audience with a feeling of meaninglessness and hopelessness. I generally have no interest in art with a simplified black or white message or statement.  That’s why I generally abhor politics in art, or in real life, too.   I loose interest in what I’m shown as soon as I can predict whats going to happen next. It’s the unpredictable and inexplicable that keeps me interested. This is what I work with in my shows and what keeps me engaged. Seeing Abbas Kiarostami’s film Close-up the first time as twenty-two years old was crucial for me as an artist. It’s on the borderline between fact and fiction, private and personal, and that’s where the core of my work lies.          

Zachary Oberzan (f. 1974) is a filmmaker, actor, director and singer-songwriter. His films and performances have been presented in over seventy five cities worldwide.

“Watching Oberzan (on screen and in person) express his thoughts and damned-up feelings is funny as hell. And sadder than mere words can express.”
Variety / Marilyn Stasio

The Great Pretender by Zachary Oberzan is performed at Brankis, 9.6 & 10.6 at 7pm.

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