We had the good fortune of connecting with Peter Michael Marino and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Peter Michael, can you share the most important lesson you’ve learned over the course of your career?
Collaborate as much as you can. Ask for advice. Ask for feedback. Listen.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’m one of those artists who wears many hats. I can’t pick one – and I’m pretty comfortable donning a new hat from day to day, or year to year. I started out wanting to be an actor, and then a designer for theater – and then I became interested in directing which led to an interest in producing which led to an interest in writing. Oh, and still acting all the time from stage to screen to radio along the way.
Then from of all of that, I became a teacher of comedy and storytelling both in the university and private sectors. None of these things were expected! One thing just led to another. I’m not the kind of person who can do one thing for too long. I get bored easily and that’s a challenge as I often worry about what my next project will be.
I started creating my own solo shows back in the 90s, and then used the skills I gained from those experiences to teach, develop, and direct solo work with others. As a writer/performer, I’ve embraced many forms of solo work from cabaret parodies (“All About Me” and “More About Me”) to biographical storytelling (“Desperately Seeking the Exit”), to fictional characters doing improvised talk shows (“Late with Lance”), to spoofing solo shows (“Show Up’), to creating a long running family-friendly show (“Show Up, Kids!”), to my current show (“Planet of the Grapes Live”) which is an homage to the Victorian era’s toy theater movement. I am super proud of this show which emerged as a response to (and in the middle of) a global pandemic. I’m not sure it would even exist if there was no lockdown, so thanks, Covid for getting something right.
Many of my shows have played at fringe festivals around the USA and the world from Hollywood to Scotland to Australia. A musical I wrote, “Desperately Seeking Susan” played on London’s West End (where it was a flop) and in Tokyo (where it was a hit). I was one of the first performers in the United States to present live, interactive, digital theater and performed over 100 shows during the time of Covid. And I was on tour and off-Broadway in STOMP for five years.
Looking at what I just said, I have no idea how all of it happened! Perhaps my need to try new things paired with my short attention span led me to this place. Perhaps it was the encouragement and support I got from friends, family, and industry. Or perhaps it was just what I was meant to do. None of it was easy. Most of it was fun. Along the way, I’ve learned to be easier on myself and to trust the process – which is a challenge for a “results” guy like me. But none of my work would have happened or been successful if it weren’t for collaboration. Theater is a collaborative art form, even when one is creating solo work. Collaborate, people!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in New York City. Yeah. THAT New York City. And of course, a best friend visiting would want to see every typical thing that New York City has to offer. But as someone who’s lived here nearly my entire life, I’m more into showing things that people don’t know about. Weird off-off-Broadway venues and shows, public art installations, secret eateries, tiny museums. Anything to stay away from the masses that descend on our little island. What I enjoy most is taking people to parks and water fronts that are not normally associated with New York City the hustle and bustle of New York City’s tourism. Going to a park to see a tiny pond full of turtles, or visiting a fishing pier that also offers free kayak rides and houses a family of geese, or biking through the different boroughs, or just taking a stroll on one of our many beaches no matter the season. I’d always stay away from what’s popular in favor of what’s new and unique. I think my career is very much the same.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’ve been fortunate to have many folks providing support along this artists’ wild journey: Freestyle Repertory Theatre for teaching me to say “Yes, and…”
Erez Ziv and Frigid NYC for providing support and an artistic home for my productions.
Michole Biancosino for collaborating as director and voice of reason on my last three shows.
Austin Kleon’s book “Show Your Work” which empowers me to share my process.
Elaine Liner for teaching me how to do my own press.
And my family and friends who are always there when I need them.
Other: CURRENT SHOW: https://www.planetgrapeshow.com/
Mikiodo, Alicia Levy, David Rodgers