Some artists work on canvas. Others, with their voice and bodies. Park Cofield is a theater director who uses his creative juices to come up with crazy performances like the recent Beltline performance of See the Gyrastacus. We were so impressed with what we witnessed, we had to sit down with Park and pick his brain for this week's Local Mug.

SCOUT: How would you best describe your work to someone who’s never seen it before?
PARK: I am a theater director. I create highly visual performances and spectacle events. My work usually includes puppetry, physical theater and live music. I love odd-yet-true stories and unknown historical facts!

SCOUT: What is your earliest memory of entertaining?
PARK: When I was six, I convinced all the neighborhood kids to stage Star Wars in my backyard. I was Luke (of course) and made a light saber out of a flashlight and a wrapping paper tube, and modified a karate outfit for my costume. Everything was going according to plan, until I asked my mom for a fog machine. I REALLY needed it for the final scene....

SCOUT: What made you pursue this passion? Or at what point did you realize “this is what I have to do”?
PARK: I’ve always put on shows. I studied acting in college, but quickly decided I wanted to focus on writing and directing. After I graduated, I flew to Denmark to study with the Odin Theatre and it changed my entire approach to creating theater. When I returned home, I started to incorporate physical scores, improvisation, and object performance into my process of creating a show. It just kind of clicked with me. I’ve been self-producing and creating new work ever since.

SCOUT: What was your first performance? And what was your first “official” gig?
PARK: The summer after I graduated high school, my best friend and I wrote, directed, and produced a comic adaptation of the work of Edgar Allan Poe called "The Poe Project" (or "Corn on the Macabre"). Poe is hilarious! Luckily, other people thought so too. We had to extend the run.

SCOUT: Where in Atlanta do you go to get new ideas?
Thrift stores. I love thrift stores. Objects and props inspire me. I could build a whole show from things I find. I always come up with ideas at A Cappella Books, too. I found an anthology there on James Ensor, a Belgian painter whose work was the starting point for one of my performances.

SCOUT: Where do you go to unwind?
PARK: My wife and I love to catch movies at the Starlight Six Drive-In and to get treats from Rita's Italian Ice or SunO, the awesome Korean dessert place. My favorite pub is the Brick Store in Decatur - I can’t get enough their “Shepherd’s Daughter’s Pie”.

SCOUT: Your favorite “curious find” in Atlanta?
PARK: The Puppet Slams at Dad's Garage! Think poetry slams - but with puppets. Anything goes... and I mean ANYTHING!

SCOUT: Favorite venue?
PARK: Can the Atlanta BeltLine be my new favorite venue? I love seeing performances in non-traditional spaces, like all of the work that is part of Art on the BeltLine. If you haven't walked it yet, you should check it out!

SCOUT: Another local Atlantan that inspires you or your work?
PARK: Lauri Stallings and gloATL . Hands down, some of the most exciting work being done in the city. It was incredible to follow their dance performance through the streets as part of Le Flash. Here's to more public art in Atlanta!

SCOUT: How do you come up with new ideas?
Overheard conversations, Wikipedia entries, guided museum tours, candy wrappers. I'm serious. I wrote a whole play based on Laffy Taffy jokes. See the Gyrastacus was inspired by Southern hunting legends. I start by combining all the things I'm interested in at any given moment and seeing what similarities develop. Sometimes it's a mess, sometimes it works out.

SCOUT: Did you ever pursue a “non-creative” career and have it validate you don’t belong in a cubicle?
I'm not sure the cubicle is so bad. I worked in a mailroom once and drafted a whole script in my head while delivering packages. Time away from your art is just as important as the time spent rehearsing. Art needs time. It's about how you balance your focus. Currently, I'm the Audience Development Manager at the Center for Puppetry Arts. My days are spent with cross promotions, social media strategy, and creating special events. Puppet building, writing, and directing have to wait until the night or weekends. If you're an artist, you're an artist - and that doesn't go away when you put on a tie.

SCOUT: Finally, any kind of shameless plug? Where can people go to check out more of your work?
You can visit my website at www.parkcofield.com and sign up for my e-newsletter. I'm also easy to find on Twitter and on YouTube.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Richardson