Interview: The Blueman Group's Scott Bishop

The Blue Man Group is a terrific show to check out at the Panasonic Theatre. It was an absolute pleasure viewing the show for the first time over the weekend and it's definitely one of the most fun-filled and entertaining stage performances I've witnessed. One of the 3 Blue Men is Scott Bishop, born in Kentville, NS and lived in Vancouver, but now resides in Toronto. Bishop has about 25 years of experience in various aspects of stage performance and loves every minute of his stint as a Blue Man.

So how long have you been performing as a Blue Man?
I'm pretty new at it actually--I started in March of this year.

How did you get started with the show?
I auditioned, I was touring with a theatre drum show called Scrap Arts Music and I found out about the audition through a friend through email, it was a very spontaneously thing actually. I just went to Toronto, did the audition and then from there they took a few of us to New York and started train there, and used that training and brought it back to Toronto and started working here in June. I was able to do some shows in New York at the Astor Theatre, which was an amazing experience. The whole thing has been really exciting, it's been a blast, it's been so much fun. It's an amazing amount of work and it's definitely a bit scary at times, but it's tons of fun.

You mentioned the amount of work, there's so much involved the performances right?
Yes there is. There's an incredible amount of technical support and just lots of working on character and developing the character, and the music, and the interaction with the music and the drumming.

How would you compare Toronto versus New York audiences?
They seem to be a little more reserved at the top but by the end of it they're as boisterous as any audience. But at the top I think they're just a little bit more reserved.

When was the first time you witnessed a Blue Man Group performance and what were your impressions?
I was touring with the group that I was in--Scrap Arts Music, and we were in New York performing and one night we went "We've got to see this show". this was actually back in I think '97. And I saw the show in New York and I just had a blast, I thought it was so much fun and I liked the thought that went into and some of the sociological statements and some of the philosophical statements that were kind of underlying in some of the stuff that goes on in the show. I liked the fact that there's intelligence and a real background to the humor and to the activities that were going on on the stage. And I liked the music and the whole environment that they were creating. I just thought it was a really brilliant show.

The philosophical and sociological statements, is there some sort of underlying message behind a Blue Man Group show?
It definitely examines certain things and examines maybe the way we view different things, maybe the way we view art, the way we view interaction with people. We like to sort of push the limits a little bit and sort of push how audiences react to certain things, and how you can approach an audience and what you can do to make them think a bit and allow them to make decisions on things that are going on. There's a real innocent quality to the character that will present things and allow the audience to make their own assessment of the situation, and oftentimes it's done in a very humorous way. But it's just interesting to see how people react to different situations and the fun that you can have with that sort of thing.

Can you explain the Boycott controversy that has been going on with regards to your show, and what's your opinion on that?

Well, my opinion on it is simply my own experience, and that's the only thing I can comment on. I came from a musical background, so I actually didn't have participation in the union. But my experience in working with this group is that it chooses people to work with very very carefully and everybody that works in the group is very talented and very skilled at what they do. And my experience is a very positive one and I've been treated incredibly well and everybody that I've worked with has been treated very very well. It's been very positive and lots of fun, I've learned an incredible amount, and it's one of the most supportive institutions I've worked with - you can talk to anybody pretty much about issues. It's a very supportive group of people, everybody I've met, everybody I've run into, different cities and the administration, everybody has a very positive vibe and positive outlook on what they're trying to create and the integrity of what they're trying to create and maintain; that's very important to the original creators.

Is it also financially rewarding, is it good it that way as well?
Oh it's a steady job, it's great. (laughs) For a performer that's a great thing.

There is a lot of improv that goes on, does that make it a lot more fun to perform this show?
Oh definitely, because there are some points where you really have no idea what's going to happen, and that's a lot of fun-that's a great place to be in when you're on stage. It can somewhat unpredictable and chaotic, and that's a really fun place to be.

I find it hard to describe this show to my friends, how would you describe this show?
Yeah it is hard to describe. (laughs) It's kind of an event. It's sort of a bit of a musical and comic, audience interaction participation event. Yeah I don't know, it's definitely hard to describe. There's music involved, and everything is presented in a way of how the audience is going to react to it, and helping the audience go for a bit of a ride. It's kind of like going to the fair. (laughs) Going to Six Flags except you're in a theatre. (laughs)

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