Over the past two decades, singer-songwriter Marc Sirdoreus has evolved from a cult-favorite fixture of Orlando's nerd rock scene to an accomplished independent artist with a music video that was in the running for a 2018 Grammy nomination, with a string of No. 1 releases on Bandcamp's vinyl pop charts. Now, on the eve of his musical alter ego's 20th anniversary, Sirdoreus is taking his "Marc With a C" stage persona somewhere brand new: the theater.
The last time I devoted this column to Marc With a C, back in January 2018, he was on the verge of releasing the final installment in his Obscurity trilogy, and was talking about turning the albums into a theatrical production. Personal circumstances temporarily stalled the project, but on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 3 and 4, The Obscurity Show makes its official debut at the Downtown Arts Collective. (Visit marcwithac.com for tickets.) I interviewed Sirdoreus ahead of opening night to learn about this new chapter for Marc With a C, and where it will take him next.
Orlando Weekly: What exactly is The Obscurity Show?
Marc Sirdoreus: It's a one-man show, but it's a little bit further than that: It's an experiment in DIY theatrical minimalism.
People might try to pigeonhole me as a singer, or a songwriter, or a storyteller, or maybe even a comedian on some bad days. I can be all of those, depending on what you see. The same goes for The Obscurity Show.
This is sort of to take obscurity out of what I do, but also leave you with a few more questions.
How has The Obscurity Show changed since its workshop in 2018?
A good portion of the show has been rewritten. I took some of the original ideas, and using a recording of that night, I wrote out what I did longhand. Then I said, well, OK, this didn't work, and took that away. Tightened up other things. There were some songs that I had actually shortened and skipped verses, and I said no, I can play the whole song. Sometimes it was going on too long with talking; the ideas in the songs were getting lost, so it needed to find that right balance. Little bits have been added that will hopefully introduce me to those who are not familiar with what I do.
What has the transition from musical performer to stage actor been like?
I didn't have to change as much as one would think, because my name is Marc Sirdoreus, and I portray an act named Marc With a C, so I've been acting for nearly 20 years. The trouble for me was being able to memorize lines, specific things that must be said a certain way while I look at a certain point in the room. That didn't come so naturally to me.
As Marc With a C, I write things to a point, and memorize it up to that point, but I never finish it until I'm about to premiere it live. ... A lot of The Obscurity Show is memorizing a script so that I can spit it out the exact same way. I don't have nearly the room to improv that I normally do, and that is brand-new to me. I'm not sure that it's something I'd recommend to anyone based in improv: to unlearn that, and then going back to doing it the same way you do at every other show.
What were your biggest challenges adapting to the theater?
Not being able to push up my glasses whenever I feel the need to, because I'm trying to make a statement. Not being able to run over and grab a towel or take a drink of water because I'm thirsty. These are all things that one can do at a rock concert, but audiences don't seem to be too thrilled if you do that and call it theater.
How do you hope audiences will respond to The Obscurity Show?
This is Marc With a C's DIY minimalist version of theater. You're free to hate it; I hope you won't. I'm incredibly motivated creatively and feeling very positive about a future that we can have, and I want to share that. I want people to walk away feeling inspired themselves to do anything that their own anxiety has told them "no." I hope that someone, anyone, leaves that show going, "I can try again tomorrow." But mostly I don't want you to have a bum night out.
What comes next for The Obscurity Show and Marc With a C?
I don't really know where the show is going to go. If people really like it and want me to stage it in places I'm open to that conversation, but it turned into a pretty Herculean task to put this on.
I don't often look back at myself, so for the next year, to celebrate my 20th anniversary, I'm going to spend 365 days looking back at what I've done over a 20-year period. That's going to have a three-LP best-of set that comes out on Dec. 6. We also hope to have a memoir that I've been writing over many years out by December.
That's the one chance you get to look back with me. After that, I've got to find out who I am, who we are, and what it is now when I put pick to string and come up with new ideas for the future.
Once I'm done looking back, I will be heavily informed by my past, but no longer bound by it, and that is really exciting.