Confession: We went to an art exhibit on Tuesday mostly because we knew Adam Driver would be there (so GIRLS first season of us, we know). Dubbed Spring/Break, the NY-centric art exhibit showcases curators from all five boroughs. This year, a portion of the sales will be donated to Arts in the Armed Forces (AITAF), an organization that "bridges the cultural gap between the United States Armed Forces and the performing arts communities by producing theatrical and musical performances for mixed military and civilian audiences." Founded by Driver--who spent two years as a Marine before jumping into acting--and former Juilliard classmate, Joanne Tucker, the non-profit charity's past performances have featured everyone from Jake Gyllenhaal, to Frances McDormand. Showcasing works selected by more than 20 curators, the art show boasted a wide range of mediums, from an amazing geometric collage we hope to one day own, to a really cool sculpture made of vibrant colored rods. Check out our chat with Dunham's on-screen-ex-boyfriend, as well as our favorite pieces from the exhibit, below. And if you fall in love with a piece, head over to Paddle8 before March 10th to bid on it!
How did AITAF come about? I used to be in the Marine Corps out in California. And then I went from the Marine Corps to Juilliard. I was interested in acting in high school, but acting didn't seem like a reasonable profession where I was from in Indiana. But you have a sense when you get out of the Marines that you can handle all civilian problems. Like, 'I fired weapons, so I can do emails and taxes!' So I heard that Juilliard was the hardest school to get into, and that motivated me and I applied and I got in. I was exposed to all these characters and plays at Juilliard that had nothing to do with the military but that were articulating my experience in the military that I had never been able to articulate before. I was able to put words to feelings for the first time. So basically I wanted to use these characters to create a troop entertainment to continue my service.
What was the next step? We figured out that best way to do it would be to do monologues and music, with no sets, no costumes, or anything like that. Just contemporary plays with characters I thought would resonate with the military audience that had nothing to do with the military--because nothing is more annoying than civilians telling people in the military what it's like to be in the military. And we've gotten some amazing actors to be a part of it, like Laura Linney and Frances McDormand.
Do you travel for each of these performances? Our first performance was in Camp Pendleton, where I was stationed in. We've only been able to do about one performance a year up until this point. But this year, we've been picking up steam. Our end goal is to travel overseas. Families are a big part of it. And eventually, we really want to branch out to all the performing arts in general, and not just do theater specifically.
Do you feel like your experiences in the Marines play into your current roles as an actor? The great and terrible thing about being an actor is that you're constantly discovering things that are new about yourself. But you never figure anything out. There's nothing to figure out. It's a dialogue--a constant journey.
How has the response been so far? Really positive! I think because there just isn't really anything like that in the programming and events [for the armed forces]. When I was there, the events were, like, Win a Date with one of the San Diego Chargers Cheerleaders.
Was that really an event? Yeah!
Did you win? No! But I wanted to. But the guy who won didn't even win a date. He just like walked around with this girl, and everyone watched].