Five Questions for Greg Manley

Name: Greg Manley
Title/Occupation: Commissioner of the Circle Rules Federation
URL (s): www.circlerulesfootball.com

1. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are now?

I grew up in Oakland, California and came out to NYC for college.  Right now, I’m upstate working for my third summer with the Mettawee River Theatre Company as an actor/puppeteer.  I played sports my whole life, and I got bit by the drama bug when I was in 5th grade, so I spent a long time trying to reconcile those two interests.  Eventually, when I was in my last year at drama school, I looked around me and said “Hold up. Where did all the athletes go?”  So I made a sport in drama school and called it a play.  Sooner or later the athletes showed up.  The good news is the drama kids showed up as well.

2. Which performance, song, play, movie, painting or other work of art had the biggest influence on you and why?

I saw Hamlet performed at the Old Vic theater in London when I was 13.  It was unabridged, with no gimmicks, no great new concept, and no celebrities; just four hours of good acting and great storytelling.  It’s the best play I’ve ever seen, and it was goddamn Hamlet, the most overdone play in the world!  But it goes to show that doing something well (I mean really WELL) goes a lot farther than reckless innovation.  It’s the same with cooking.

3. What skill, talent or attribute do you most wish you had and why?

Languages.  I wish I could pick up languages really quickly.  Then I could be a chameleon.  I already have the ambiguously brown thing going for me.  If I could speak a bunch of languages, I could pass for Brazilian, Afghani, Persian, Indian, Egyptian; the list goes on.  There are plenty of practical uses I’m sure, but the best part would be all the insider information.  I ought to buy Rosetta Stone.

4. What do you do to make a living? Describe a normal day.

Christ.  It seems like my whole year happens in the summer.  So my normal days are only normal for about a season at a time.  I’m still acting occasionally, I teach afterschool sports invention and drama regularly.  I do some production management for festivals around NYC, and the rest of the time I work on the Circle Rules Federation from home or on the field.  Sometimes I’m doing all those jobs in one day, sometimes I’m just left to my own devices.  Money’s tight, but I manage to live a pretty lush life.  I’ve got a room that opens onto the backyard, where we have a nice garden with a hammock, and a firepit.  I guess a normal day is just waking up and making it happen.

5. Have you ever had to make a choice between work and art? What did you choose, why, and what was the outcome?

All those lines have been blurring.  Lately, I’ve been choosing Circle Rules Football work over acting.  So I’ve been in the peculiar place of having acting in theater as a backup job.  So my work is art and my art, (Circle Rules Football – the whole reason I’m doing this interview), is work.  Maybe that’s just not a very helpful distinction.   About a month ago one of my housemates who had started working for the Census said, “Greg, you’d better get a job now.  You’re the only one in the house who hasn’t filled out a W2 this year.”  I got pissed.  I think as soon as you consider your art your work, it is.

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