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Anais Nin interviews page two michael phillips photoAs for Sonia Maslovskaya, “This is the role of a lifetime, because I have so much personal connection with Anais (Nin) and I have such a profound understanding of her inner works and her inner life that I think I was really born to play her.  I was introduced to Anais Nin by a friend, a few years ago. I was sitting in a café with a new friend and as is the case with new friends, we exchanged a lot of stories in the beginning. We talked about traveling, and how I have traveled most of my life, and my past relationships, then she looked at me very carefully and said, ‘You really remind me of Anais Nin.’  At that time, I did not know much about Anais Nin and so we walked to a Harvard bookshop in Harvard Square and I picked up some of her erotica. I became very intrigued by her. I became very fascinated with her on a deeper level. I started reading her diaries and the letters between her and Henry Miller. Her generosity with love and her ability to forgive and her courage to risk with her heart. All of that made me admire her. At the same time  there was such a complexity within her and such juxtaposition  of the goodness and of the naughtiness. She flirted a little bit with the dark side and with her sensuality. She experimented and she was curious within herself, about her sensuality and her sexuality.  That is such an interesting part of her that I was able to connect with her personally. When I started reading her diary, it really fascinated me, because some of the thoughts are the same thoughts that I had within my personal diary or in my correspondence with my friends. I wouldn’t dare to compare myself to a person like Anais Nin, however there are a lot of similarities in the way that she thought and in her relationships with men. She was friends with a lot of artists and in that respect, I found a lot of personal connections with her. A lot of people tell me that in terms of my looks that I remind them of Anais Nin.”

So Michael Phillips, with all the people you could have chosen to write about and already having penned a play about Anne Hathaway and William Shakespeare, why did you decide to focus on Anais Nin?

He says, “I am personally attached to her diaries in a deep and profound way. I have held onto diaries of hers in various pieces and forms for at least thirty years. In times of great trouble and in times of great joy I find myself very drawn to her life. I have this connection with her that isn’t logical and probably it is not explainable, but it is there nonetheless. When I decided that I wanted to write a one person show, Anais was the only person whom I considered.”    

The more one talks to both Michael Phillips and to Sonia Maslovskaya, the more you become convinced that Anais: An Erotic Evening With Anais Nin, is about much more than staging a play, it is about self-discovery, because they identify so deeply and so personally with the manner in which Anais Nin lived her life. anais nin interviews page two larry minion photo

“One of my favorite quotes by Anais is, “Throw your dreams into space like a kite and you do not know what it will bring back; a new life, new friends, a new love or a new country.” I have been living by that slogan all of my life, before I even got introduced to her. That was one of the things that made me feel really well connected to her as well,” says Ms. Maslovskaya, who like Anais Nin has traveled much, in Ms.Maslovskaya's case she was born in Russia and has lived on both American coasts and she has traveled extensively. Both women are culturally diverse, with Sonia Maslovskaya being fluent in three languages and learning a fourth and she was trained as a classical pianist. Then there were Anais Nin's experiences as an author, actress, dancer and her connections to theatre.

Mr. Phillips’s philosophy concerning the essence of theatre appears reflected in this production, “I have seen tons of good theater and I have got my money’s worth and it was good, provocative or whatever and six months later, I don’t really remember it. The pieces that make you feel are the pieces that resonate with you, for possibly the rest of your life and that is what the difference is.”

Michael Phillips muses as to why people were drawn to Anais Nin when she was alive and why, through her journals and letters, she serves as a magnet for them today. “It was her willingness to live.  I think that a lot of us are fearful of truly living. I really do. Anais really embraced living. She wanted to taste, to feel and to sense everything.  The freedom that it gave her, resonated to anyone forty years ago (and it still does) today. It is timeless.. Every few years, a new generation discovers her. She is embraced again, by people who have come to her in so many different ways, through her diaries. Her quotes are everywhere. If you go into a gift shop, you will find a quote by her on a rock.”  

Larry Minion promises that Anais: An Erotic Evening With Anais Nin will have a life beyond Los Angeles and this run, which will end early in October. Plans are being made to tour the play throughout North America.

Top photo: Michael Phillips, bottom photo - Larry Minion