Jasper noticed a new face on the performance art scene and thought we should remember our manners and give him a proper welcome and introduction. Here's a peek at a conversation we just had with this lovely older gentleman, Heathcliff.
Hi Heathcliff! We understand that you’re having a show this weekend at Trustus Theatre and we thought you might want to introduce yourself to the Jasper readers. Would that be OK?
JASPER: Can you tell us how old you are, where you’re from, and how you ended up in Columbia, SC?
HEATHCLIFF: Absolutely. Now, Cindi, most of my pictures make me seem younger, but I am actually 78 years old and have the wig to prove it. I don’t want to give away the particulars of my birth as my show will elaborate on that topic via shadow puppetry. I try to explain everything with shadow puppetry if I can help it - you should see the first draft of my answers to these questions! As for how I ended up in Columbia, my accompanist Wanda has spoken of its smiling faces and beautiful places for quite some time. I had to come see what all the fuss is about!
JASPER: What line of work are you in and what do you like most about it?
HEATHCLIFF: I suppose it could be considered more of a square and less of a line, but I am in the storytelling and empathy business. I think we are all young at heart, and I love giving people permission to exist in a ridiculous world for a time. Right now more than ever, we need to be reminded of our unique capacity to enjoy each other’s company.
JASPER: As a gentleman of advanced age you must have some great memories. Will you share a little something special with our readers?
HEATHCLIFF: Yes, there was this one time…(falls asleep)
JASPER: You also must have met lots of famous people – do you know Diane Keaton perchance? What do you think about her?
HEATHCLIFF: Oh my goodness, yes. Diane is an old friend - we share a mutual love of clown paintings, and she is directly responsible for my leaving the business for a decade. I don’t hold it against her because she was trying to help - I will go into more direct detail in my show. Diane, if you’re reading this, no hard feelings.
JASPER: Now, who is Wanda and why is she horning in on your show?
HEATHCLIFF: I actually play the horn in the show! Wanda is the lovable green squeak toy with a smile in the picture. She is my accompanist and soul mate, and she can play any instrument in the world. She is shy so she normally pre-records everything for our shows. She also was rumored to have had a secret affair with Tom Jones in the 70s, but I’ll let her tell you about that.
JASPER: On a scale of 1 – 17, with 1 being boring and 17 being whoopee, how naughty will your show be this weekend?
HEATHCLIFF: I leave the math to my team of accountants, but I will say that I believe humor is the best medicine. If you weaponize humor or constantly go for the low hanging fruit, it turns into something that can actually make you unhealthy. But since I’m old, I have to occasionally reach for the apple that’s in front of me. Now I’m hungry. The short answer is, there are no swear words or “blue humor” as we used to call it. I’d rate it PG: Probably Good.
JASPER: I think we may have some mutual acquaintances. Have you ever heard of a fellow who goes by the name of Jonathan Monk and a lady named Krista Forster? What do you know about these folks?
HEATHCLIFF: Oh my goodness! Jonathan Monk is my manager, though we never seem to be in the same place at the same time. Krista Forster looks shockingly similar to my distant relative Sheila Murphy of Janitorial Services. These two, I’m told, have been working to devise a new comedic piece in town - I can’t wait to see it.
JASPER: Anything else you’d like to tell our readers about your upcoming show?
HEATHCLIFF/JONATHAN MONK: Hi Cindi, this is Jonathan Monk. Heathcliff had to make an emergency trip to Zesto’s. Regarding the show, I’d like to say this is a fantastic opportunity for me to continue to explore a character I created in 2003 during my time as a Musical Theatre major at Carnegie Mellon. While Heathcliff the character is known for his embellishments regarding the truth, I have been fortunate enough to perform as Heathcliff in Pittsburgh at The Andy Warhol Museum, in NYC at Emerging Artists Theatre, Don’t Tell Mama and 54 Below, and in Martha’s Vineyard at the Grange Hall Theatre. What’s exciting to me about this new show is this is the first time Heathcliff has incorporated other human characters. Wanda (his accompanist) is a puppet, so it’s refreshing to be able to discover and interact with other characters in Heathcliff’s world: a mix of Mister Rogers, Pee Wee’s Playhouse and Andy Kaufman, with a dash of Red Skelton. I am thankful and excited to be able to premiere a new Heathcliff show here in my hometown!
Shows are this Friday at 11:15pm, Saturday at 3pm, and Saturday at 8pm. Tickets are $10 / each and will be sold at the door.
Cindi Boiter is the executive director of the Jasper Project and a big fan of new performing arts. Reach her at Cindi@JasperColumbia.com