Saturday, August 30, 2014

Now Published and Upcoming Shows

Look what was just published!

Clown Bar



Collect them all!


Here they are on amazon.


Upcoming and Ongoing Productions of My Plays--

Clown Bar (remount of production #2)
Pipeline Theater
Continues at  the Box, NYC  (opened June 14)


Nerve

Production #16
DePaul University
Chicago, IL
Opens June 5, 2015

Hearts Like Fists

Production #11
California State University Fullerton
Fullerton, CA
Opens September 26, 2014

Production #12
Santiago High School
Corona, CA
Opens October 16, 2014

Production #13
The Episcopal School of Texas
San Antonio, TX
Opens November 19, 2014

Production #14
Know Theatre of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH
Opens March 27, 2015

Production #15
Stephens College
Columbia, MO
Opens April 9, 2015




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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I Interview Playwrights Part 687: Isaac Rathbone



Isaac Rathbone

Hometown: Milford, NY (small upstate town right next to Cooperstown)

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY
Q:  Tell me about The March of The Bonus Army.

A:  It is a historical play chronicling the events of 1932's Bonus March. Essentially all veterans of World War I were guaranteed a "bonus" payment, which was a wage compensation due to the fact that civilian workers made more than those in combat. The economic devastation of the Great Depression led to over 20,000 veterans marching and camping out in Washington, DC calling for an acceleration of these payments. Their lobbying efforts fell on deaf ears and the Bonus Army was evicted by General MacArthur and the US Army. It is a lesser known event in American history, yet paved the way for future legislation such as the GI Bill. Our hope is that audience members will leave the theater with a different perspective on both Veteran's Rights as well as the American right to demonstrate peacefully.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I am currently in a heavy stage of re-writes on a full-length play entitled "The Gnome," about an upstate NY Wal-Mart employee who finds a magical lawn gnome after an early spring thaw. My hopes are to have it ready for a 2015 production. I am also in the very early stages of a play combining two of my favorite genres: Science Fiction and Sports (specifically baseball).

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  I am old enough to have seen the original theatrical release of "The Empire Strikes Back." The next day in pre-school, I gathered all of my friends and "re-staged" the entire movie using the school's blocks and toys as props. I even directed my friend who was playing Luke Skywalker to have his hand severed. When "Return of the Jedi" was released, my kindergarten friends wanted to re-stage that movie during playtime. I turned it down. I'm an "Empire" guy.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  The economics. Hands down. And I'm not saying all theater artists need to be millionaires and all shows should have free admission. But if all artists involved, at all levels of theater, could just go into working on a project and not have to sweat out the underlying logistics of "how can I do this and only go sort of broke and not totally broke," I think there would be an increase in overall quality and audience.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  I always find myself going back to Harold Pinter's work for inspiration, so he would qualify. My wife Jennifer, never ceases to amaze me in what she can accomplish on-stage (she's the lighting and production designer on the show) as well as her ability to break down and analyze a script.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  The kind of show that while I'm watching it, I know I'll be thinking about it the next day and hopefully beyond. It's exciting to have something trigger your emotions or thoughts, even if you don't know what it is at that exact moment, and to keep mental notes through out the evening. I love that. There usually tends to be some degree of intentional subtlety that lets me really dig for those things.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  During the after-party of my very first New York show, I was on Cloud 9. So after having a few celebratory beers, I went to the men's room. The two guys on each side of me, knew each other but not me or who I was. So with the playwright standing in the middle, they began to make "Urinal Chit-Chat" that consisted of completely ripping apart the play. You will go through extreme highs and extreme lows. Enjoy the highs and wash your hands after the lows.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:   "The March of the Bonus Army" September 4th-7th & 11th-14th. Black Box Theater at CAP21, 18 West 18th Street! The show is not only socially relevant and full of historical content, it features live music of the era played and sung by the cast. It's one of those performances by a group of talented individuals that has a lot of heart.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Interview Playwrights Part 686: Julián Mesri



Julián Mesri

Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina // New York, NY

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  Tell me about Immersion.

A:  Immersion is a play that asks us to consider what would happen if a group of white 20-something New Yorkers and an immigrant Latino family found themselves unknowingly living in the same apartment. The play utilizes this framework to explore the production of bilingual theatre—the piece veers between English and Spanish with no subtitles provided. The beginning of the piece is oriented around a Spanish lesson for one of the main characters, which means things are constantly being translated into Spanish, and as the situation veers out of control, the English-speaking audience finds itself relying upon the (sometimes unreliable) translation skills of other characters. It ends up creating a very fun, very unique night of theatre that poses questions about immigration, language and housing at a time when all these issues are pertinent, pressing and definitely in need of discussing.

Q: What else are you working on now?

A:  Right my company Sans Comedia is preparing the rest of the shows for our first season, including my play Lisa and Her Things, a piece set at a truly banal dinner during which the subjects of death and cheese are given equal weight. The show will have a short run at The People’s Improv Theatre.

We are also developing Oedipus Gol, a play that will mash up Oedipus Rex with a soccer game projected on television, exploring the ways in which we sublimate very real suffering into things outside our control, and putting the actors in an active relation to both the text of the play and the “text” of the soccer game.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  I grew up in the theater – my mother, Susana Cook is an active downtown writer, director, and performer and when I was younger I would often be in her plays. My first role in her first show in New York City, “The Title” (I gave her the name), was of a boy who would eat Cracker Jacks while one of the actresses, Kate Wison, would play the accordion and tell stories. My only line was “Why?”, over and over again.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I want to see theatrical structures that encourage diversity in audience, artists, and forms, and to do away with the tyranny of space. This, I feel, is only possible by having theaters put on more plays at once, giving them longer runs and drastically lower ticket prices, and by creating lighter, more disposable, productions. This means theaters expanding their notion of professionalism, and less reliance on huge, expensive, debt-inducing structures in determination of merit.

Ah, that’s definitely more than one thing. More productions with less preciousness. There we go.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  The artists who I feel have influenced my work and inspired me most are – Jean Genet, Antonin Artaud, Caryl Churchill, Rafael Spregelburd, Manuela Infante, Richard Maxwell, Ciro Zorsoli, Reza Abdoh, Maurice Maeterlinck, Tadeusz Kantor, Sasha Waltz, Pina Bausch, and Frank Castorf

Also incredibly important have been my playwriting mentors Alejandro Tantanian and Carson Kreitzer, the amazing artists that have come through INTAR theatre, Rene Buch at Repertorio Español, and the countless theatrical productions that I fell in love with working on as I grew up as part of Susana Cook’s company.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I like theatre that actively engages with me – where I feel I can have a real conversation with the ideas and story and images—that there is something absolutely theatrical about the way it’s being presented to me. I don’t need things overly explained or a structure that’s too predictable – but I do need to be invited in – to be considered and to feel that the artists have really considered this relationship in their work.

Mostly I just want to enjoy myself, see something aesthetically pleasing and hopefully see something I haven’t seen before.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  See your work onstage – don’t just rely on readings. Think of the way you make work and the work you put onstage as a continuing process – and that innovation can be not just in the way in which you tell stories, but in the ways in which you conceive and experience a theatrical process.

Also—don’t be afraid to make a mess. We need those.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Immersion – coming September 12th at This Theater (soon to be known as “The Treehouse”) (29th and 6th), runs Fridays and Saturdays for five weeks. Tickets are 15 dollars and will be available on our website www.sanscomedia.com as soon as they go on sale.

Also, if you’ve never been, check out a show at one of my personal favorite venues in NYC, INTAR theatre – an amazing space and perhaps an even more amazing theatrical community. Lou Moreno is truly doing some great things there and really goes out of his way to support the cause of Latino artists in New York.



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Friday, August 15, 2014

Two Classes I'm Teaching In NYC

Very excited about these.  Follow the links for more info.


Web Series Writing at ESPA (Primary Stages)

Sundays from 11:00am – 2:00pm

September 21, 28, October 5, 19, 26, November 2, 9, 23, December 7, 14


Genre Playwriting at the Brick

Thursdays 11am-2pm.

Sept 11, 18, 25, Oct 2, 9, 16, 23, 30.


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I Interview Playwrights Part 685: Jiehae Park



Jiehae Park

Hometown: This is the first year in my life I’ve lived in the same city for 3+ years, so lots of hometowns (or none?). My folks live in South Korea, and that’s got some hometown feeling.

Current town:  New York

Q:  Tell me about your play in the Kilroys List.

A:  HANNAH AND THE DREAD GAZEBO is about a woman who receives a mysterious FedEx box from her grandmother in Seoul, containing "a wish" and a suicide note— right before said grandmother jumps off the roof of her retirement home into the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. The play is the family trying to recover her body and figure out why she did it…It’s weird and hopefully funny. The script won the Princess Grace Award and Leah Ryan prize last year.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I’m collaborating with designer Tristan Jeffers on a play about place/memory through the lenses of cartography, the internet, and John Harrison—the 18th century village clockmaker who invented a hyper-accurate watch that allowed sailors to calculate their longitude on the open sea. We just finished a two-week residency at Berkeley Rep’s Ground Floor (incredible, supportive place like no other-- everyone apply!). I’m revising my Soho Rep lab play, a trashy-dark-comedy adaptation of Macbeth set in a high school about scarily competitive Asian twins. And I’m in the verrrrrry early stages of my play for the Emerging Writers Group—it's about a group of young people trying to start a charter school…I think about this in terms of theater a lot—the fact that the blind optimism of well-intentioned young people is necessary for movements to get started, but can play out in funny-tragic-narcissistic-generous-helpful-unhelpful-complicated ways.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  Time/money. I’m confused about them the same way an intro physics student might be confused about time/space. Are they the same? Are they just tangled up? Are they both manifestations of some third thing? Do people smarter than me know the answers?

That came out more glib that I intended…probably because I find those questions genuinely terrifying. I have a great dayjob (I jokingly refer to it as “my rich husband”) that gives me flexibility and funds, and it's scary to acknowledge how much my ability to participate in the arts—at least in this city— is due to that baseline stability.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Jenny Schwartz and Ken Schmoll for creating the gentle, perfect space that was this year’s Soho Rep lab, and because they are magical genius wizard people. Complicite— Mnemonic is still a high-water mark in my memory, Tim Crouch, Diana Son, Leah Ryan, Sarah Ruhl, Lisa Kron, New Dramatists the institution and the individuals who comprise it, Naomi Iizuka, Kyle Donnelly, Luis Alfaro, Prince Gomolvilas, Karen Zacharias, the writers in every writing group I’ve been in because they literally have been my heroes in numerous hours of need, folks who make work that doesn’t look anyone else’s in product or process—the Rude Mechs, Rainpan 43, Deborah Stein and Suli Holum, Improbable. And lastly but really firstly: Connie Congdon. I would not be a playwright if not for her.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Funny, surprising, sad, smart, warm, physical, music-loving, expansive, challenging. With no intermission.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  I feel like I don’t know anything! But that’s mostly what I’ve been working on—being okay with not “knowing” in advance bc everything I write/do/live in that state seems to be numbingly boring. I’ve really appreciated being in writers groups these last two years…and by “really appreciated” I mean “would have gone insane and/or cried a lot more without”…I feel relatively new to writing bc I slid into it sideways from acting, and my writing group peers have been both school and lifeline.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  This weekend (August 15-17th) I’ve got a short play up for an awesome kid/adult pair at the 52nd Street Project, and if you happen to be in Maine, I’m performing in a show by Jerry Lieblich and Stefanie Horowitz (aka Tiny Little Band) called GHOST STORIES which feels really special, as does the place it’s happening (Mohawk Arts Collective, started by impresario Andrew Simon). The show will be excerpted October 10th as part of the Prelude festival.
 
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Morgan Gould Interviews Assholes (involved in theater)

This is hilarious.  http://iinterviewassholes.blogspot.com/  That crazy Morgan Gould!


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I Interview Playwrights Part 684: Cory Conley



Cory Conley

Hometown:  Middletown, NY

Current Town: New York, NY (Washington Heights)

Q:  Tell me about Magic Kingdom.

A: MAGIC KINGDOM is an imaginary autobiographical work (narrated by an imaginary playwright named, um, Cory) about a trip to a theme park in Florida. There's a brother and a sister, each of them confronting the end of a relationship, who use this theme park to play out their secret fantasies and (perhaps) avoid the scary next stage of adulthood. Also, there's a guy in a suit named Mickey. I play "myself," and it's pretty wild.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  No upcoming productions, but I'm at work on a musical, which should be ready in about 7.5 years. Also I recently finished shooting a short film I wrote called HENRY AND HENRY.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I think we should write plays about big, important things. And we should be honest that we're doing that. And we should stop being defensive about it. So many writers say things like this: "Oh, I swear, this ISN'T a political play." Or, "it's not ABOUT gay rights / Afghanistan / child abuse / whatever." Well, why not? If you can't admit that the theater you're making is about something, why spend your precious time and resources on it? Like Albee said, every play should be an act of aggression against the status quo. We should just own it.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Tennessee Williams, for his elegance and prolificness. Stephen Sondheim, for his refusal to "sell out." Cole Porter, for being a genius. Caryl Churchill, for the same reason.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  It's weird, but I get most excited by slow, life-like theater. Especially when people complain about how slow it is. Like, "The Flick" by Annie Baker. One of my favorite theatrical experiences ever. I hope we see more stuff like that.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Don't underestimate how hard it is. It's a full-time job; treat it like one. Also, try to push yourself to write something different every time. You'll discover you're curious/passionate about more things than you think you are.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  http://mkplay.weebly.com/


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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Plays of mine and places they are being done

Clown Bar (remount of production #2)
Pipeline Theater
Continues at  the Box, NYC  (opened June 14)



Hearts Like Fists

Production #11
California State University Fullerton
Fullerton, CA
Opens September 26, 2014

Production #12
The Episcopal School of Texas
San Antonio, TX
Opens November 19, 2014

Production #13
Know Theatre of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH
Opens March 27, 2015

Production #14
Stephens College
Columbia, MO
Opens April 9, 2015

There are more but they are not announced yet so I probably shouldn't say anything.  You know how it is. Things come.  Things go.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

I Interview Playwrights Part 683: Melody Bates



Melody Bates

Hometown: Portland, Oregon

Current Town: Brooklyn, New York

Q:  Tell me about R & J & Z.

A:  R & J & Z is a new verse play that starts with Act V of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet…and keeps going. It’s inspired by Shakespeare and modern horror movies in equal measure—the idea came after seeing a production of the opera version in which the lovers both die, then get back up and keep singing. Because, opera. As we were walking back to the subway, I joked with my husband: “what are they supposed to be, undead?” I stopped in my tracks and said, “oh my god I have to write a play called Romeo and Juliet and Zombies.” The Stonington Opera House in Maine supported the writing through a series of residencies, and R & J & Z just had its world premiere there. It’s my first full-length play and I also played Juliet, so it was a huge deal for me. I couldn’t have asked for a more outstanding team—our director Joan Jubett, our incredible cast and designers, and the local talent involved were all a dream to work with. It was a good time. We made people jump out of their seats; they laughed a lot and cried a little and on at least one occasion there were high-fives in the audience, so I feel like we did our job.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I got back from Maine at the end of July and tried to enforce a small break on the work front. Now I’m working on next steps for R & J & Z—we really want to bring the play to NYC. I also have a couple of writing ideas in the hopper, including a two-person Twelfth Night and a long-form version of a favorite Scandinavian fairy tale, and some interesting acting gigs coming up in the fall.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  My Dad was a writer. I remember being very small and watching him, sitting at his old typewriter—he might sit there for ten minutes, motionless, and then he’d start firing off words. I love the sound of a typewriter. It’s good for the creative act to carry some percussion and force. Anyway I was around writers and writing all the time as a kid. Once after a road trip my Dad found a scrap of paper in the car—it was a bit of a poem that I’d written on the ride. I’ll quote it here only because my husband threatened to email it to you if I didn’t: “A glimmering pond in the sunset’s glow/ A white arm holds a jeweled sword/ ‘Tis myth, ‘tis true, but then again/ Could it not be so?” I was ten or eleven and I read a lot of myths and legends. I was somewhat mortified to be discovered; to this day it still makes me feel crazy when someone reads something I’ve written for the first time. My Dad loved it.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I teach a year-long Shakespeare collaboration with middle schoolers in Brooklyn. We spend a year immersed in one of the plays, and in the spring I direct them in a full production. On our first day I like to ask them, when was the last time you dealt with a doctor? How about a policeman? How about an actor? When we think about it, actors working in their professional capacity are a part of most of our lives on a daily, if not hourly basis. Turn on the television, the radio, go to a movie—actors are constantly feeding us. And yet we persist, as a society, in dismissing what they do as non-essential. Storytelling is essential to us as human beings. We have these huge brains, with an unparalleled capacity for coping with emotional extremity: they need exercise. They get that exercise through the storytelling that happens in plays, movies, books. We need to laugh, cry, get turned on, experience catharsis, feel. You can’t keep a big dog in a small city apartment. Big brains are the same; they need to run. So it bums me out any time someone talks about theatre as something extra, an accessory, a non-essential thing that’s just there to entertain us if we can afford it. It bums me out and it pisses me off! Engaging with stories, whatever the medium, is an essential part of their lives. The people who feed us those stories are serving a fundamental need. Let’s talk about it like that’s the case, and not shuffle around hoping someone will throw us a bone. What we do is essential. I’d like to change the attitude that says it isn’t.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  My heroes are people I love who have touched my life. My mom and dad, who told me my first stories and sang me my first songs. My teachers at Columbia, especially Kristin Linklater and Anne Bogart. Judith Jerome, the visionary Artistic Director of Opera House Arts at the Stonington Opera House, who has been a mentor and inspiration. J.Stephen Brantley, whom I adore as both writer and actor, and who offered me great advice about acting in my own work. My husband David Bennett, who is a genius and my favorite collaborator. I like omnivores—people who work across forms and can do more than one thing. Can an institution be a hero? Because in that case I’d say the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is one of mine. I saw a production of Taming of the Shrew there when I was about nine, and it changed my life. I think you can say OSF is responsible for my come to Shakespeare moment.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I’m a populist at heart, and I love art that is populist. I was raised on the Sesame Street aesthetic. That show was like, joyful to watch as a little kid—and if you go back and watch it today you realize that it’s full of these great, sly, smart references and jokes that were aimed at the parents. Shakespeare’s like that too—aimed at the gentry in the box seats and the groundlings at the same time. If your audience is with you, you can go to all kinds of places: extreme, dark, beautiful, rapturous, raw, funny, sexy, scary, dangerous, heart-breaking, powerful, sublime. You can really get into it. But I like to have permission. I like to give permission, and have it given to me. I guess you could say I like consensual theatre.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  I’m a baby playwright, so I don’t know if I have the right to give advice, but here goes anyway. Follow your bliss. Work fucking hard. Be kind. Be generous. Be fearless. Leave places better than you found them. Find people you love to work with, and work with them whenever you can. Listen to Papa Yeats: “Let us go forth, the tellers of tales, and seize whatever prey the heart long for, and have no fear. Everything exists, everything is true, and the earth is only a little dust under our feet.”

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  As I said, our production team from the world premiere of R & J & Z is working on bringing the play to NYC. Keep your eye on https://www.facebook.com/RandJandZ for updates and info. If you’re in Maine in August, get down to the Stonington Opera House and check out The Last Ferryman directed by Judith Jerome. If you’re in Cleveland in December, go see my fabulous company-mates in Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant at the Cleveland Public Theater. And you can always keep up with my doings at www.melodybates.com

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Friday, August 08, 2014

I Interview Playwrights Part 682: Alex Trow



Alex Trow

Hometown: Highlands Ranch, CO

Current Town: New York, NY

Q:  Tell me about your upcoming show

A: It’s called Flamingo, and it’s about love and lust, and how you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get… to a place where you make a choice and oof that’s hard. It’s my first full-length play, and I’m getting to act in it, so I feel prrrrrretty nervous and excited and lucky.

A:  What else are you working on now?

A:  As a writer, a few other plays with bird titles, a screenplay maybe, an immersive theatrical experience, and, someday, the blank Word document I’ve saved as “What the F Happened to Enthusiasm?(!), and What You Can Do About It!!” As an actor, this play, Flamingo.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  When I was 16, I ran over a rabbit, and unfortunately it was badly injured but not dead, and my friend Eric got out of the car and went back and mercy killed it with a rock. I went home and cried-n-wrote an ode from the rabbit’s point of view as she died, i.e. the last things she saw and really noticed that warm summer night with all the stars up above. So: maybe I’m both a little hyper-sensitive about and willing to linger inside your everyday mercy killing?

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  Off the top of my head, I would make it part of every kid’s elementary school education. Like gym class. Gym class for emotional intelligence.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  So many playwrights and actors and weirdos, but also my parents, because they were both scientists/”left-brain people” as professionals, but took my brother and me to theater from age 5 on, and go themselves all the time. They recently took an acting class at a community college to “understand” what my brother (also an actor!) and I “go through” – I saw the video of their final exam, which was a monolog presentation, and turns out they are great actors! Like not embarrassing at all, just great.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A: I think the most exciting theater is the kind where people – and even things - are really listening to each other and responding to what they hear. That is purposefully vague because my excitement horizons are actively expanding.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Stolen science advice! Spend time, just lots of time, writing anything. I think I really believe in the Ten-Thousand Hours rule (a thing convincingly described in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers) whereby one becomes an expert in his/her field after 10,000 hours of dedicated practice. The hard thing is that in my experience, the first many many many hours of doing anything can produce pretty bad stuff… but you have to keep going, it always gets better! Because time. I thought about it, and I probably have 600 hours or so…. Only 9400 left to go.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Please come see Sanguine Theatre’s Co.’s production of Flamingo at the IRT Theater (154 Christopher Street). Writ by me; acted in by Dylan Lamb, Ian Antal, and me; directed by Jillian Robertson; produced by Sanguine Theatre Company - September 3-14, 2014. Tickets here! (And in 9000 hours when I write lots of other stuff, I’ll notify everyone via www.alextrow.com.)


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Thursday, August 07, 2014

I Interview Playwrights Part 681: Caroline Prugh



Caroline Prugh

Childhood Home: Alexandria, VA

Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Q:  Tell me about It's Only Kickball, Stupid.

A:  This play is about navigating the end of childhood and the beginning of adolescence - scary, awkward stuff. But it doesn’t end there; instead it telescopes ahead to the present. So the cast has to play both twelve and thirty-five; be able to shift seamlessly between high-energy comedy and quiet naturalism; break the fourth wall and restore it; and do all of this in the round.

Fortunately, we have a powerhouse cast – Autumn Hurlbert, Eric T. Miller, Lori Prince and Debargo Sanyal. They are rock stars.

And bless Adam Fitzgerald and everyone at kef productions, I brought the first act of this play to them and they asked me to hurry and write the second. And then they committed to producing it and here we are. I know this isn’t how it usually happens and exactly how lucky I am - trust me.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I have a play I wrote from a story by director Kate Holland called No Provenance in the Fringe that starts performances Sunday (8/10) at noon.

I’m adapting an earlier play of mine with music (I also write music) called At Daybreak into a concert musical with director Jimmy Maize, producer David Carpenter and orchestrator Eli Zoller.

Thanks to producer Doug Nevin, I’m working with director Kevin Newbury on a play about two one hundred year old women called On This Morning.

Director Simón Hanuaki and I are developing a trunk show/music hall theater piece called Decline and Fall; or A Guide to How the End Begins for Those Too Big to Fail.

I’m writing the book for an original musical with composer Patty Weinstein.

I’m co-writing a play with director Cat Miller about the marriage of German chemists Clara Immerwahr and Fritz Haber. Cat and I are slated to do a reading of another play of mine at the end of September with Voyage Theater Company.

I’m sitting on three freshly completed first drafts of plays no one has seen.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  Jo March. My mom read me Little Women and I fell in love with Jo March. I thought she was the absolute coolest character (even though it bothered me that she ended up with The Professor and not Laurie, I didn’t get why until I was older).

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  My high school drama teacher, Robin Bennett. She instilled in me a sense of professionalism that led me to a professional career in the theater.

Stuart Thompson – the classiest man on Broadway. I can’t begin to codify all he taught me about theater over the eleven years I worked for him – particularly how producers are also “creative” and the nonmonetary value of commercial production.

My teachers: Connie Congdon, Wendy Woodson, Suzanne Doogan, Michael Birtwistle, Kelly Stuart, Chuck Mee, Gideon Lester, Anne Bogart, Christian Parker, Deborah Brevoort, and Frank Pugliese.

My friend and teaching colleague Gregory Moss. We’ve logged countless hours discussing the craft and process of playwrighting.

Q:  Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?

A:  My wife Paige - her jokes, her stories, her timing, her rhythm. She’s the funny one. I just write it down. She doesn’t want to perform in public, ever, and I don’t want to see her innate brilliance go to waste. …Is it considered stealing when you’ve been together for nineteen years?

Also I deeply love the work of Pina Bausch, Yanira Castro, Kathy Couch, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, PJ Harvey, William Wells Brown, Cindy Sherman, Virginia Woolf, Bert O. States and Walter Kerr.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  All theater excites me. Even when it’s bad, even when it’s boring - I’m interested in figuring out why that is so. What makes something not work? What do we mean by that? I love this medium and I want to explore all that is possible within it.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Write, write, write. Find your people, make theater. Don’t get hung up on what other people are doing, it’s just a distraction (and it won’t get your plays written).

Go see as much theater as possible. Particularly if you think you won’t like it, if it doesn’t involve your friends (but still support your friends too).

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Christina Quintana’s play Enter Your Sleep at the Fringe.

Libby Skala’s play Felicitas at the Fringe.

My play with Kate Holland No Provenance at the Fringe.
www.fringenyc.org

Be on the lookout for Nellie Tinder’s new piece this winter.

It’s Only Kickball, Stupid. August 28- September 14th. For tickets call 866-811-4111 or visit www.kefproductions.com

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Sunday, August 03, 2014

I Interview Playwrights Part 680: Daphne Malfitano


Daphne Malfitano

Hometown: New York City

Current Town: New York City

Q:  Tell me about Paternus.

A:  I wrote Paternus in 2010, as an experiment in non-linear narrative style, and an ode to my paternal grandfather. I became fascinated with the way we compile information in real life, and how that's not mirrored in linear storytelling. The best examples are news stories- the initial report usually only deals with the most current situation, for instance: "two men were found dead in the woods this morning." From there we learn things in reverse, the focus starts pin-tight and gradually widens: "The men were in the woods on an annual camping trip." "Their names were...." "Their jobs are...." "They were born...." And finally we have the whole picture, with the past and present, but we tend to get that information in reverse, and I wanted to know what that would look like on stage. On film we've seen it a number of times, but on stage I was only aware of reverse-chronology being used in "Merrily We Roll Along," so I was eager to explore it. It's a huge boon, having the opportunity to see an experiment to its final stages. For that I am so grateful to Rogue Machine Theatre who took on this strange little play.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  Too many things! I try to create a hierarchy... number one right now is finishing a full length play I've been working on for a while. Second is a TV pilot, an apocalyptic story about the upcoming, inevitable water wars. Then there's a novel, a few short stories, I've never had the issue of writer's block, only of not enough time.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  My whole childhood explains who I am as a writer. I grew up in the opera world. My mom, Catherine Malfitano, is a soprano, so I spent my childhood on the road, backstage, in rehearsals. My earliest lessons in storytelling, structurally and thematically, came from Don Giovanni, Salome, Wozzeck, Tosca, Madama Butterfly. The title character always dies, the stories are filled with rape, lust, murder, vengeance, honor, and betrayal. These were my bedtime stories, and seeing my own mother in these characters allowed me to see through the spectacle, and into the truth of the tale. My parents used to recall this story to explain what kind of child I was: When I was four years old they hesitantly took me to my first Salome rehearsal, starring my mother. Of course they had been worried how a kid would react to such a perverse story. At the end, after Salome has John the Baptist beheaded, and then sings to his severed head, and kisses his dead lips, my father turned to me and asked what I thought. Was it wrong, what Salome was doing? My four year old response was: "No, it's not wrong, she doesn't know he's dead."

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  Funding.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Harold Pinter, Tennessee Williams, Henrik Ibsen, Martin McDonagh, Bertolt Brecht, Tom Waits, The Tiger Lillies.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Anything that defies the norm. Theatre that tries things that have never been done before, even at the risk of being misunderstood, even at the risk of failing. Storytelling must progress, not stagnate.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Tell your stories, no matter what rules you have to break to do so.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Paternus is running at Rogue Machine Theatre in Los Angeles. roguemachinetheatre.com for tickets. I'm back in my writing cave, but future updates will emerge on daphnemalfitano.com or facebook.com/daphnemalfitano
 
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