At The Second City in Hollywood
Thursday, December 14, 2017, 8:00 PM
Xchel Hernández-Zendejas will make his directing debut at The Second City Hollywood on Thursday, December 14, 2017 with Tragical History Tour. For tickets CLICK HERE.
TheFutureIsHereProductions is happy to share a milestone in Xchel Hernández-Zendejas’s artistic career. He makes his directorial debut at Second City, where he has been member for several years. Xchel has performed Improv for over 12 years and has written two plays to date: Borderwatch: Trouble at El Paso Pier and Scott Walker.
Borderwatch: Trouble at El Paso Pier examines migration and deportations.Scott Walker features the life and times of a conservative Governor in Wisconsin. The Second City, says Hernandez-Zendejas, has played a role in developing both his Improv and director skills.
LH Editor: From being a seasoned improv performer, you have now ventured into directing. Can you tell us what inspired you to enter the field of directing?
Xchel Hernandez-Zendejas: I wanted to learn to communicate my ideas to an audience. As a performer you have a sense of energy on stage with your partner, but you don’t know how it’s translated to the audience. The form of the director is to create puzzle pieces using your cast’s greatest skills. The goal is to present your cast with problems needing to be solved while leading them into an overall vision.
LHE: What role does Hollywood’s The Second City play in your new artistic direction? We understand that Chicago’s The Second City played a decisive role in you getting into Improv.
XH-Z: The Second City Hollywood is a wonderful place to perform, learn, and grow as an artist. I am fortunate enough to jump on any opportunity that is presented to me through the school. Second City Hollywood thrives on their teaching program. It’s effective because many of the best players from Chicago / Toronto / Detroit move here to chase their dream. They are the best of their city, and we are fortunate that they are teaching. I feel fortunate to learn from the best of the best.
LHE: The title Tragical History Tour reminds people of the classic Beatles song “Magical Mystery Tour.” Are there any thematic or creative links between both works?
XH-Z: Yes. As an improvisor, my job is embrace the path. As soon as the show was named, I ran to itunes and purchased many Beatle’s songs. My next step was to listen and ingest them. I dug around to see if there was anything I could incorporate. The worse thing I can do as an improvisor/director is to ignore where the show is leaning.
LHE: What exactly is the plot of Tragical History Tour?
XH-Z: What would happen if God tried to fix his biggest mistake.
LHE: In what form do the actors show the plot to the audience?
XH-Z: The show follows a storyline which can be outside of the Second City Satirical Sketch Show Brand. I made the creative decision to connect all of the scenes while peppering in satirical looks at our society.
LHE: Why do you think such a plot is relevant to today’s young audience?
XH-Z: The story is drawn from my own personal story and what I believe. It’s relevant because I am relatively young and I’ve been through the same trials as those before me and that will continue after me. My job is to relate life’s journey so that others may not feel alone.
LHE: Are you familiar with the parody The Beatles: Tragical Mystery Tour with such songs as “All You Need is More Drugs”? How is Tragical History Tour different from that work in theme, world view, and message?
XH-Z: I am not familiar with the parody, so I am not sure how we relate in theme. I can speak to my own show and tell you that the message is the same as it’s always been for all aspects of my life. It is not something I can control, but rather a ride that I can react to and choose to enjoy. I may not like some of the cards that I’ve been dealt, but I can choose to take positive experiences from them and continue to grow as a human being.
LHE: You also have written a play entitled Borderwatch: Trouble at El Paso Pier. How did that play help you in getting into directing?
XH-Z: I wrote Borderwatch to challenge myself as an artist. It examines migration and deportations. I took the director’s course to challenge myself as an artist. As I continue to grow as an artist, I will continue to challenge myself with difficult tasks that are manageable within a specific time limit. I only wish my nervousness would fail and would go away.
LHE: Can you tell us about your experience in directing actors on stage?
XH-Z: Directing was everything I didn’t think it was. I learned through The Second City that it is our job, as directors, to make the actor shine by providing them enough guidance to use their own strengths to assist in the overall theatrical vision. During the process, an actor’s choice may surprise you the director. I can tell what I learned the hard way that it is not. It is not telling someone what to do so that they may do it as you envisioned, because it never works that way! You cannot use a hammer to screw in a board. You must realize what type of skills actors possess and set them up to succeed.
LHE: Have there been some humorous, or tense, moments in your relationship with the actors?
XH-Z: I am an easy going guy, so as I grow as a director I must learn to put all my expectations on the table. I have trouble with confronting people when I’ve laid out expectations and they did not meet them. That is something I can take and continue to work on. I enjoy directing because if you have the best intentions, the actors will follow you. Ultimately, it isn’t my show. It belongs to the actors and the audience and all you can do, as a director, is watch and pray that everyone has a great time.
LHE: Who are the great directors from whom you drew in order to direct ?
XH-Z: I watched shows from The Second City archive and found I best related to Joshua Funk, Adam McK ay, Marc Warzecha, Doug Morency, Katie Nahnsen, and Mick Napier.
LHE:: Which of their ideas or techniques work for you?
The best techniques to use, that work for me, is to present the actor with a problem and ask them to solve it. I know how I would solve a problem, but it would only mean something to me and become forgettable to others. If the line they came up with relates to them, their specific role in the play, then they’re more likely to remember and explore the possibilities.
LHE: Will you pursue future opportunities in directing plays?
XH-Z: I would like to continue working to increase my abilities as an artist. Directing is hard for a control freak like me because at one point you must let go. Yet, I like challenges and I rise to create art.
LHE: Do you have anything else to say about your experience as a director?
XH-Z: The Second City Hollywood’s Directing Program is a wonderful experience. I learned so much that I can use in other aspects of my life, I created friendships, and I have better developed my sense of comedy. If there is one thing I would do again, it would be to take the director’s program all over again. Work in The Second City brings great pleasure!
Entrance into The Second City in Hollywood.
Xchel Hernández-Zendejas is an ASU alumnus.
Cast: Cheska Bacaltos, Samuel Capaldi, Tierra Murphy, David Neale, Ric Rosario, Anne Winkles Class Directed by Xchel Hernandez
For Ticket information: 323-464-8542. Address: 6560 Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood, CA 90028
The Second City Studio Theater in Hollywood is not wheelchair accessible.