5 Questions With Jimmy Grzelak of Fringe Show 'How To Be A Terrorist'

By Ken Storey

We recently interviewed Jimmy Grzelak of the Fringe show 'How To Be a Terrorist' 

The show is explores the sort of violence that comes from boys being boys. It uniquely combines two very different but equally controversial social issues into a deeply personal and urgently-felt piece of theater. It also explores the sexuality of the founder of the Boy Scouts, as well as the queerness and campiness of the famous all-boys movement. The show premieres at the Orlando Fringe just as the board of the Boy Scouts of America, meeting at the Gaylord Texan Resort, will be taking a historic vote on gay membership.  Grzelak is an Eagle Scout himself and brings his own experiences with the Boy Scouts into the play.

TDC- What will your audience see in this show? 
JG- The audience will see me build a fire onstage. They will see me turn down the lights, channel the spirit of the founder of the boy scouts and sing a duet or two with him. They will see me play a number of totally brand new, possibly invisible, musical instrument, including at least one organic synthesizer.

TDC- Have you reached out to the Boy Scouts about your show?
JG-The Boy Scouts have obviously been in the news a lot lately; in fact, during the Fringe, all the head honchos will be meeting at the (for real) Gaylord Texan Ranch to take their big up-or-down vote on gay members. No matter what they do there, I will have a lot of thinking to do. I have a lot to say, and this show is my way of saying it, so an invitation might be in order.

TDC- Have you invited local Boy Scout troupes to come to your show?
JG- Nope – with this show I am portraying boy scouts in a way that I think current or former scouts would recognize, appreciate, and at least in part enjoy, but this is political show and I don’t think it would necessarily make them all happy.

TDC-Tell me about your Florence Chandler award. How did you get it?
JG- The Chandler fellowship is this crazy almost relic of the 60s sort of thing – it’s essentially a pile of money to go find yourself and find your bliss anywhere outside of the U.S. for 365 days. The catch would be that you have to propose a challenging project that you seem sufficiently crazy about that you are going to work on it for that whole span of time, and not just chill on a beach in Thailand. 

My project is titled Suspending Disbelief and it’s a crazy idea that I am crazy about. I will be going to places where people are making extreme claims to divinity or holiness. But instead of approaching these places as an academic researcher, I will be thinking like a performer. For example, if you say you’re Jesus (as one guy in Siberia whose people I’ve been talking to does), my response will not be “How?” but “Okay, and what comes next?” More about that project will be popping up on my website, jimmygrzelak.com in a few days! 

TDC- What local shop/restaurant/bakery/hood in Orlando are you most looking forward to exploring? 
JG- My consumer allegiance/product endorsement can easily be bought. I love everything, especially that which is good and free/cheap. A scout is thrifty, after all.

You can check out 'How To Be A Terrorist' at the Red Venue (Orlando Shakespeare Center -812 E Rollins Street, Orlando 32803)
5/21, 8:15p
5/24, 8:45p
5/25, 11:00p
(Run time 55 minutes)
Tickets & Passes:
$10 Ticket + Fringe Button

Check out our Guide to Fringe for all your Fringe needs. And don't forget to vote in our Audience Choice Awards and make sure to check out our Food Truck Court at Visual Fringe during the weekends. 

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