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AN INTERVIEW WITH ERIC BOGOSIAN Eric Bogosian Three time Obie-award-winning monologist and actor, Eric Bogosian, is also a distinguished playwright, author of Talk Radio (made into a film by Oliver Stone), subllrbia, The New World and Griller. His work has been published and staged around the world. Bogosian stars occasionally on film and television, notably as Lt. Greenberg in Robert Airman's Cain Munity Court Martial, and opposite Steven Seagal as the evil Travis Dane in Under Siege 2. This interview was conducted by Kay Bonetti in the summer of 1996 for the American Audio Prose Library, which has recordings of readings by and interviews with over 130 contemporary writers. For more information about AAPL listings, write P.O. Box 842, Columbia, MO, 65205, or call 800-447-2275. An Interview with Eric Bogosian/iCay Bonetti Interviewer: In the introduction to subUrbia you talk about growing up in Woburn, Massachusetts. Can you fill us in a little bit about where you came from? Bogosian: I come from around the Boston area. My family, as I was growing up, was moving out farther and farther away from the center of the city into the suburbs, and I ended up spending most of my adolescence in Woburn. It's very middle-class, a lot ofblue-collar. Those are the kids and the values that I grew up around. It seems to me looking back—I didn't really understand this until I went to college—that I got kind of pushed and pulled in my feelings about things growing up there because I was very bookish and very verbal. I've come to believe thathas something to do withbeing from a Mediterraneanbackground, which wasn't common in that town. I'm Armenian, and my family is very close, with extended family, cousins and aunts, uncles, grandparents all over the place. I was used to talking a lot and being celebrated for being amusing. I grew up around all these kids that were from families where if you could make people laugh or you talked a lot, that was seen actually as a weakness. I was hanging around with kids who were pretty physical and not so book-oriented, and I was the odd man out. Interviewen How did that affect you? Bogosian: I spent a lot of time by myself. Until I was in high school and they put a name on it, and called it acting, what I was doing to amuse myself was hanging out by myself in my room, looking in the mirror, talking to myself, making up these voices. All the people that I knew, no matter whether they were relatives or people in TV, kind of entered me and came out again as these characters. I've always been fascinated, completely drawn to the diversity of people. I find it amazing that there are so many people with their own little motors running inside them. That's what theater is all about, putting yourself in the The Missouri Review · 97 shoes of somebody else—not only I, as an actor, but also the audience feels empathy for the characters on stage. That's the theater experience —catharsis, or whatever you want to call it. Interviewen In the introduction to subllrbia, you describe Woburn as a place that is becoming less and less of a community. The mini-mall where you first hung out had a barber shop, a pharmacy and a furniture store, which bespeaks home, family, community. Now it's a Seven-Eleven, a Burger King and a car dealership. There's a lot of talk about generation these days—Generation X, the Slackers—how do you see yourself as being one generation back from these kids in Woburn that make up the characters in subllrbia? Bogosian: It seems to me that there's a religion in this country that we all have absorbed, if we don't completely believe in it. It's a religion of money, and possessions, and having. When I say "religion," I mean if you have these things, they will save you. What I have in common with the generation that's out there right now is that in...


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