Diplomatic Journal interview

from the Diplomatic Journal of The World Academy of Arts, Literature and Media's School of Cultural Diplomacy (this interview as PDF)

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6 Questions with David August, stage and screen actorInterview on the role of Dramatic Arts in Social Awareness and Cross-Culture - image of the cover of the Diplomatic Journal of The World Academy of Arts, Literature and Media's School of Cultural Diplomacy - July 2010

DJ: David, welcome to our Journal
DA: Thank you, it's a pleasure talk with you.
DJ: As you know the artistic communities around the world, US in particular often through various programmes outreach to facilitate dialogue and encourage social awareness.
Q1 - As a young, talented rising star, how do you view the role of arts, specially the dramatic arts in raising the bars of social awareness? For example, in areas such as bullying, abuse, poverty, etc.
DA: I think the arts can function as a sort of societal imagination, allowing us all to consider, examine and hopefully better understand possible ways of living our lives.
They also safely let us tap into emotions and desires that may be destructive in our own lives. A play or a movie lets us, both audience and actor, play make-believe.
As an audience we pretend what we are seeing is real, and can learn how we should react were it real, without any negative ramifications. An example: an actor pulls a gun in a crowded theatre or in a movie. Instead of calling the police or running away, the audience stays to watch. Without the life or death pressures of real life, the audience gets to experience what a gun in the script's context means, to us, and to the characters. Through art's imitation of life, audiences are not only entertained, but also witness and rationalize their own fears and angers.
DJ: From standup and theater, to television and films, you have been pretty active in all sorts of dramatic arts. In one of your theatrical acts as 'Frank' Kerry Reid of Chicago Tribune wrote this review: 'The best performances here were from David August as the pining ineffectual intellectual, Frank...'
Lucio Mauro of Chicagotheather.com wrote: 'David August, as the dilettante Frank, masters the frail superiority of a man who speaks six languages but can't do anything else. His monologue about their maid's obsession with soap and his belief in its uselessness comes very close to emerging from Chekhov's own hand.'
Q2 - Here our question has two parts: A) Could the character of 'Frank' (a linguist with no other abilities), be a portray of our today's global reality, where we can often see more talks and less actions, more theories and less execution on tackling issues related to the humanities in general? And B) Dramatic Arts has its own unique language, which could be very powerful in establishing dialogue and understanding. How do you view the role of dramatic arts in cross-culture or cultural diplomacy?

DA: 'Frank' was a character in an improvised parody of Anton Chekhov's works. A century after Chekhov, on the other side of the world, we still encounter some of the same themes he did. Sometimes we feel we have more information about things, than the ability to change them. It may be part of the human condition to sometimes feel powerless to change something and still be acutely aware of it. Hamlet spends most of his play talking about many things, and not doing anything about them. Chekhov's characters, like the ones Frank parodies, often bemoan their situation while doing nothing to change it. These characters suggest that while talk is good, action may be better. Drama can, without putting us on the defensive, help us see any number of things we are not doing but could.
I performed in one production, supported in part by the French consulate, of a Romanian playwright's script about immigrating to Switzerland. Despite the different language, culture, and historical politics, the audience could connect with the story about traveling to a new land. It is a very human story. All people's stories are human stories. I am not Hamlet, but his experiences are in some ways familiar to me in my own life. Dramatic Arts have the ability to bridge human experience across time and distance, both geographic and cultural. Dramatic works can help us make sense of a sometimes chaotic, random world. Bad things sometimes happen to good people, good things sometimes happen to people who do bad things. Dramatic Arts can help us make sense of things, share who we are with those around us, play at the reason things happen, and let us sleep better at night.
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Diplomatic Journal
DJ: You have been trained at Columbia College, Chicago and Lawrence University, Appleton among others.
Q3 - To what extent your schooling contributed attaining your artistic goals thus far? Some might say having talent and practice are enough to pursue acting career! But how do you see the role of formal education on that?
DA: Training as an actor gives useful tools. A formal education helps not just in interpreting text, but understanding the world. All my characters live in a world. It may be different than mine; it may be completely made up. But the education that helps me understand my world also helps me understand my characters' worlds.

Q4 - If you would be able to get one message across the world, what would that massage be?
DA: Be good to each other, and try to act out of love and goodness. By hurting others, we hurt ourselves. Violence is rarely a good choice, while words have tremendous power. It's far less costly to talk, than to arm oneself.
Q5 - Any particular experience that you wish to share with your peers and those who are reading this interview?
DA: Luck is preparation meeting opportunity.
Q6 - For those who wish to follow you, please tell us about your upcoming projects.
DA: I'm currently attached to a series in development, and recently co-wrote a short horror/thriller script a little reminiscent of Twilight Zone and Hitchcock. News about my upcoming projects is listed at www.davidaugust.com.
You can also follow me at: twitter.com/DavidAugust facebook.com/davidaugustactor
DJ: David August, thank you for your time and attending this interview.
DA: Thank you very much, and thank you for having me.

The World Academy of Arts, Literature and Media - WAALM -
It supports, develops, and promotes the dramatic and fine arts, creative writing and poetry, as well as professional journalism and media productions. WAALM regularly identifies and rewards excellence, inspires practitioners, and benefits the public, by means of an awarding event. As a nonprofit, independent and secular organisation, WAALM promotes cross-cultural activities and humanitarian efforts.
WAALM - School of Cultural Diplomacy
It is a division of WAALM and the first ever School of Cultural Diplomacy. It offers further and continuing distance learning education for adults.
WAALM - School of Cultural Diplomacy is a secular, non-governmental organisation (NGO) and belongs to no political party.
Diplomatic Journal
It is an electronic journal, a media center for WAALM - School of Cultural Diplomacy.

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