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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, April 20, 2014

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Milwaukee Theatre Folks: Phylis and David Ravel


David Ravel is Producing Director of Theatre X. He teaches dramatic literature and playwriting at Marquette University, where his boss is Phylis Ravel, his wife, and Artistic Director of Marquette's Department of Performing Arts. Together, they founded Brooklyn Playworks, a theatre company that had a happy life from 1984-'90 and produced the work of new American writers.

OMC: Has your marriage enriched your art?
DR: Can't imagine what it would be like without it.
PR: Marriage has enriched my art and art has enriched my marriage.

OMC: Do you discuss your work with your spouse?
DR: Incessantly. Our idea of pillow talk is discussions of casting and (worst yet) budgets.
PR: He is my sounding board.

OMC: Does your spouse offer you constructive criticism?
DR: The best. I trust her above all others.
PR: Honest, constructive, and right.

OMC: As a casting director, what kind of roles would you suggest for your spouse?
DR: When we were in graduate school at UCLA, my thesis project was a play about a bachelor party where the guests thought it would be a constructive idea to execute the groom. At the same time, Phylis was doing Amy in Company (who sings the Act I closing song about not wanting to get married today). We were to be married a week after graduation (and the completion of these two projects). Since then, I stay clear of any casting suggestions.
PR: He doesn't act, but in his youth he was a cross between Billy Joel and Armand Assante.

OMC: What qualities do you admire most in your spouse?
DR: Her creativity. Her energy. Her compassion. And if you can talk her into it, she makes the best pot roast ever. The last time I had one was about three or four years ago.
PR: His intelligence, perception, and objectivity.

OMC: Given the ephemeral nature of theater, how do you plan to keep your relationship together?
David: We're going on 21 years now. I think it's because of theatre's ephemeral nature that I treasure what we have.
Phylis: A sense of humor and not taking the public life of art too seriously.

OMC: Some show business marriages seem to flounder when one spouse's career takes off while the other's languishes. Does this worry you?
David: No.
Phylis: Please let this happen. I'll have time to cook a pot roast.

OMC: What do you to recharge your collective batteries?
DR: Mornings begin with coffee and NYTimes in bed where we regroup for the day. Sundays are blissful, because it's coffee, Sunday NYTimes, and a whole lot of undisturbed time.
PR: Ditto.

OMC: Curtain time is magic but how do you handle the day-to-day grind that wears all of us down?
DR: Wasn't Chekhov who said "any idiot can handle a crisis -- it's the day-to-day living that wears you out"? I think that's what we have to save our best stuff for.
PR: He appropriated my quote. I found it first.

OMC: What advice do you have for theater artists who want to have a career in show business?
Jen: Marry someone rich.
DR: I like Jennifer 's (Rupp) suggestion (marry someone rich) a lot!
PR: I have no suggestions; I'm just grateful I have David.

OMC: What advice do you have for theater artists who want to have careers and a marriage in show business?
DR: Be kind.
PR: Pepto Bismol works for us.

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