Epic Theatre is once again taking on a unique challenge with its November production, the world premiere of “James Franco and Me” by Epic Artistic Director Kevin Broccoli. The play will feature a different actor each night playing the role of James Franco opposite Broccoli playing…himself. The two actors will meet each night for the first time onstage in front of an audience with no previous rehearsal or conversation about the show. Anything could happen – and it probably will.
“The play was originally part of Out Loud Theatre’s New Work Series,” says Broccoli. “I really enjoyed it, but I wasn’t sure how to make a full run out of it. It felt like it needed a boost, in some way. At the same time, I’ve been trying to capture the spontaneity we experience every time we produce ‘White Rabbit, Red Rabbit.’ It’s this amazing energy that comes from a performer being totally in the moment with only an agreed-upon text as a foundation. On the train back and forth to New York Fringe this summer, I started thinking of this concept for ‘James Franco and Me’ and I was instantly terrified. That’s how I knew we had to do it.”
“James Franco and Me” is a two-person show about a writer named Kevin sitting in a hospital room waiting to see if his father will die. He’s joined by James Franco, and over the course of an evening the two dissect Franco’s career, the futility of life, “Freaks and Geeks” and everything in between.
Instead of auditions, Epic asked for actor submissions to see who might want to play the pivotal James Franco over the course of the run. Over 200 actors requested the opportunity to take part in the show, and 13 were chosen. Epic has been announcing the actors daily on its Facebook page.
“We’re hoping after this initial run the show can continue on with more actors at other theaters as well as our own,” says Broccoli. “This show is, surprisingly, very personal to me, but it’s also a lot of fun, and it’s the most difficult thing I think you can ask an actor to do. I’ve been calling it the Memorization Olympics. We have local actors as well as actors from out-of-stage. We’ve got veterans as well as newbies. People I’ve worked with before and people I’ve never even met. At Epic, we believe theater needs to be an event, and this is certainly going to be a show you don’t want to miss.”