An Interview with Hot Spot’s Tim Bauer

An Interview between BOA X Dramaturg Ignacio Zulueta and playwright Tim Bauer (Hot Spot, Program 2).

Being a dramaturg is somewhat like being an editor: one gets to focus on the writing and the writer, rather than the audience or on the methods of production. I got a chance to chat with each of the writers at Bay One Acts about their work, how they get it done, and what they’re looking forward to from BOA and beyond.

Zulueta: Hello Tim, let’s talk shop.  You’re working with director Rob Ready from Pianofight on THE HOT SPOT. Can you describe your previous working relationship with Pianofight?

Bauer: Rob directed a short play of mine in ShortLived, but those pieces are staged so quickly that playwrights don’t attend rehearsals.

Zulueta: Though you’ve won competitions and productions nationally for your plays, how does having a local festival change the factors and rewards for you as a writer?

Bauer: For me (and for Jessica, as she often says) it’s all about community. I had a piece in last year’s BOA and many of those folks have become collaborators and friends.

Zulueta: How many Bay One Acts have you participated in, then, and what has become of those scripts?

Bauer: Last year was my first. Alex Curtis directed Three Little Words, and we’ve been applying to take that production on the road.

Zulueta: That was a fine work of comedy; make sure to let us know when and where Three Little Words winds up next. How long did it take you to write your current BOA selection, and did it take the amount of time you expected?

Bauer: THE HOT SPOT started at PlayGround, where we get four days to write a 10-minute play on a given topic. I’ve been in PlayGround for several years, so it’s become a regular process.

Zulueta: I can’t wait to hear that PlayGround topic seed, then. In three words: what inspired you to create THE HOT SPOT?

Bauer: Topic: Strange Attractor.

Zulueta: Nice. In two words: what unforeseen change or collaboration is taking place in your show?

Bauer: Feelings uncovered.

Zulueta: THE HOT SPOT features a certain hi-fructose caffeinated beverage. Why is it Mountain Dew?

Bauer: I tried to choose the nastiest-looking beverage I could think of.

Zulueta: Tim, you have succeeded.

Zulueta: Come see HOT SPOT at BOA X’s Program II, opening on March 6, and with a special post-show talk on Friday March 11th.

An Interview with Twice as Bright’s Daniel Heath

An Interview between BOA X Dramaturg Ignacio Zulueta and playwright Daniel Heath (Twice as Bright, Program 2).

Being a dramaturg is somewhat like being an editor: one gets to focus on the writing and the writer, rather than the audience or on the methods of production. I got a chance to chat with each of the writers at Bay One Acts about their work, how they get it done, and what they’re looking forward to from BOA and beyond.

Zulueta:      Hello Daniel. Let’s talk some shop. You’re working with director Sara Staley from Playwright’s Center of San Francisco. Do you have a working relationship with PCSF before now?

Heath: This is my first time working with PCSF on a theater project. It happens that my IT consulting company, Giant Rabbit, provides IT support for New Conservatory Theatre Company (we specialize in support for non-profits), but that’s just a random it’s-a-small-city kind of thing, and doesn’t have anything to do with us working together.

Zulueta
:Sara Staley also works for New Conservatory Theatre.

Heath: That’s right.

Zulueta: What opportunities will become available to you as a result of TWICE AS BRIGHT being featured at BOA?

Heath
: Well, it’s nice to have another production for the piece… it’s actually the most-produced of any of my short plays.

Zulueta: Knowing your body of work, that implies a lot of productions for TWICE AS BRIGHT. Where else has it been done?

Heath: New York, Chicago, Toronto, and San Francisco, where it won the first Shortlived back in 2008.

Zulueta
: At Pianofight, in fact – who happen to be directing Hotspot this year at BOA X. How many Bay One Acts have you participated in by now?

Heath
: This is my second.

Zulueta: Who directed and produced your plays, and what has become of those scripts?

Heath: Amy Clare Tasker of Cutting Ball directed Nothing Works last year, which was a lot of fun, but that’s not a play that has gone on to any other productions since.

Zulueta
: How does this production of TWICE AS BRIGHT compare to the trans-national productions, and even to its first debut at Shortlived?

Heath
: I find it much easier to feel that short plays are more-or-less “finished”, as compared to full-lengths. But it’s nice to have it done locally again, because I can watch it take shape in production. This script is a bit leaner than the last time it was on stage here in San Francisco, but it hasn’t changed much from production to production.

Zulueta
: In three words: who or what influenced you during the creation of this play, or inspired you to write it in the first place?

Heath: Mostly sleep deprivation.

Zulueta: In two words: what unforeseen change or collaboration is taking place in your show?

Heath: We’ll see.

Zulueta: Exciting. Now, TWICE AS BRIGHT is about love in 10 minutes or less. Have you ever made someone fall in love with you in 10 minutes or less?

Heath: Have I ever made someone fall in love with me in 10 minutes or less?

Zulueta: Yup.

Heath: You’d have to ask the lady.

Zulueta: (laughs) And how about the gentleman?

Heath: Vice versa?
(beat)
Heath: Let’s say I’ve had a very strong impression made on me in less than ten minutes and leave it at that.

Zulueta: Come see TWICE AS BRIGHT, by Daniel Heath. What kind of impression will it make on you, dear reader? Bring a date and find out.

An Interview with The Pond’s Sam Leichter

An Interview between BOA X Dramaturg Ignacio Zulueta and playwright Sam Leichter (The Pond, Program 1).

Being a dramaturg is somewhat like being an editor: one gets to focus on the writing and the writer, rather than the audience or on the methods of production. I got a chance to chat with each of the writers at Bay One Acts about their work, how they get it done, and what they’re looking forward to from BOA and beyond.

Zulueta: I’m here with Sam Leichter, author of THE POND. You and director Paul Cello have put in development on your play, THE POND, prior to entering rehearsals. How does this compare to your normal playwriting and production process?

Leichter: As a playwright, this is the first time I’ve ever had a play developed. I’ve met with Paul and the actors several times to read the newest version of the play, allowing me hear it out loud and make revisions. The process has been incredibly helpful. Paul has been instrumental in the formation of the play.

I’m still new to writing, so I’m not sure I have a normal process yet. This is only my third short play to be produced. The first two were written in a vacuum, without any outside input, and both were done in a very short amount of time. THE POND has taken longer. It’s changed quite a bit since I wrote the first draft. For the better. I hope.

As an actor, I’ve participated in the development of new work. I’ve acted in several world-premieres by Ben Fisher, another playwright in BOA this year. Those experiences helped me during our work on THE POND. In general, I find that my experiences as an actor are helpful in writing plays, and have been a solid foundation for me as I worked to develop THE POND.

Zulueta: Short plays are the rage nationally – what opportunities will become available to you as a result of producing THE POND at BOA?

Leichter: It would be wonderful to see this play have a life after BOA. Last year, my play THE PHILADELPHIAN was submitted to a few festivals after its BOA premiere. It wasn’t selected, but it might show up somewhere down the line. There was a lot of interest last year in developing THE PHILADELPHIAN into a full-length play. I’m hoping there will be a similar reaction to THE POND. I have a few short pieces – 10, 20 and 30 minutes long – that I’ve thought about combining into a night of short plays. They’re similar in tone and would fit together nicely. I’ve never produced anything… Maybe I’ll do that next.

Zulueta: How many Bay One Acts have you participated in previously?

Leichter: This is my 3rd consecutive BOA. In 2009, I acted in Ben Fisher’s EXCHANGE. Jessica Holt directed. It was a really creepy piece. I played a demon, ushering damned souls into hell. Lots of fun. It was produced by Jessica’s company, Threshold. I’ve acted with them a few times. There’s still talk of Threshold staging the play with two companion pieces that Ben wrote. I hope it goes somewhere – I’d love to play that nasty demon again.

Last year, I wrote a play. It was the first time my work had been seen by other people. It was an amazing experience.

Zulueta: In three words: who or what influenced you during the creation of this play, or inspired you to write it in the first place?

Leichter: Campfire ghost stories.

Zulueta: In two words: what unforeseen change or collaboration is taking place in your show?

Leichter: Inspirational actors.

Zulueta: THE POND is a wee bit spooky. Have you ever personally seen or experienced a ghost?

Leichter: I love ghost stories! By that, I mean both stories that are literally about supernatural forces, and those about memories and experiences that haunt us, the metaphorical ghosts in our lives. I tend to write about the latter. Most of my plays so far have been about people who have pasts that they cannot escape.

THE POND isn’t scary in the “BOO!” sense, but rather it will (hopefully) creep under the audiences’ skin, making them reflect on the skeletons they have in their own closets, the secrets they’ve buried and never speak of… and what might happen if, one day, someone came into their home and dug them up.

An Interview with Speak Roughly’s Stuart Eugene Bousel

An Interview between BOA X Dramaturg Ignacio Zulueta and playwright Stuart Bousel (Speak Roughly, Program 1).

Being a dramaturg is somewhat like being an editor: one gets to focus on the writing and the writer, rather than the audience or on the methods of production. I got a chance to chat with each of the writers at Bay One Acts about their work, how they get it done, and what they’re looking forward to from BOA and beyond.

Zulueta: I’m here with Stuart Bousel, author of SPEAK ROUGHLY. Stuart, what’s your working relationship with director Kate Jopson of Woman’s Will? How does your collaboration for BOA X compare to your normal playwriting and production process?

Bousel: I only met Kate Jopson, at a completely unconnected event at Theater Pub, about a  week before I found out she was directing my show for BOA. I had seen her in a Threshold show, but didn’t even know she was a director. Woman’s Will was started by an alum from my college, Reed, but that’s really my only connection to them and I confess I’ve only seen two of their productions. As far as how this process is different… for me, it’s not really. Kate and I met for coffee and she gave me some feedback and asked some questions about why I had made some of the choices I made when building my story and characters. I made two small cuts at her suggestion and put a couple of ideas in her head to mull over after getting a sense of what drew her to the piece and what her take on it would be. As a writer who is also a director, I know how important it is for a director to be given space and freedom to make their own artistic voice heard in a production. You want them to get the piece and you want it respected and well-interpreted, but I believe that if you’re going to collaborate you really collaborate and that means, at some point, letting go of the piece as a writer so it can live as a play. Kate and I have communicated a few times over e-mail as she’s made her choices about casting and I suspect we’ll keep communicating throughout the process but I’m really letting this be her show. I did the same with Claire last year- I only came to two rehearsals- and it worked out brilliantly. It’s an exciting moment on opening night to be re-introduced to your own piece.

Zulueta: Short plays are the rage nationally – what opportunities will become available to you as a result of producing SPEAK ROUGHLY at BOA?

Bousel: it’s pretty much going to depend on whether I feel SPEAK ROUGHLY works or not. If it does, I have some ideas of where I’d like to take it next, including making it part of an evening of similarly themed shows, but like all plays I hope it has a life of its own and that other people/companies want to do it. We’ll just have to wait and see, won’t we?

Zulueta: I recall seeing your play about the disobedient piano last year. How many Bay One Acts have you participated in previously, who was involved, and what’s become of those scripts?

Bousel: HOUSEBROKEN was my first time having work performed at BOA. It was directed by Claire Rice, who I designated as No Nude Men’s representative at BOA when we decided to be a producing partner last year. Claire was actually offered a number of scripts but she ended up choosing mine because she really liked it and it called to her the strongest out of what she was given. I was actually mildly embarrassed at the time because I felt like it would look like we’d “arranged” the whole thing but when I saw what she did with it and my excellent cast I was so happy it had happened. Since then I have shown the script to a couple of people. There is always talking of turning it into a short film, but it never seems to happen, partly because I’m so busy with other projects that it’s hard find time to really push that one. But I’d like to see something done with it. Other than HOUSEBROKEN I was actually in BOA as an actor in 2005. I was in FUTURE OF THE FEMALE, which was directed by Scott McMorrow. That was actually one of the best acting experiences I’ve ever had in San Francisco. Scott’s a good director.

Zulueta: Is BOA X the premiere of this production? What does that mean for SPEAK ROUGHLY in particular and your corpus of work as a writer?

Bousel: BOA X will be the first time SPEAK ROUGHLY is performed, outside of a reading context. To me, that means this is the test drive to see if it actually works, or needs more work. As a writer, this marks my 35th time being fully produced. Or 33rd if we don’t count the films.
Zulueta: Fans of Lewis Carroll, and viewers of the Tim Burton film, will find your cast of characters quite familiar. What’s it like re-imagining canonical characters from Victorian children’s literature into a contemporary meditation on intimacy and abandonment?

Bousel: Actually, Carroll fans will probably be displeased with my take on his characters- but since I’m not really a Carroll fan, I kind of shrug and say “oh well” to that. I tried to capture the mood and style of Carroll’s Wonderland with the patterns of the dialogue and the way the story reveals itself, but the characters probably have more in line with the Burton film, which is I see as a fantasy film- and a fairly good one- while Carroll’s book is really more absurdism/da-da.

The play is largely inspired by having played the frog footman all summer in a production of ALICE IN WONDERLAND, watching Geoff Nolan and Karen Offereins as the Duchess and Cook, respectively, and becoming so familiar with the Duchess scene that I couldn’t resist the temptation to explore it, especially after Geoff said to me one day,

“You know, I don’t think this is her first pig baby.”

I’ve done a lot of adaptation work over the years and I’ve really come to understand that you have to make every adaptation your own. One way to do that is to follow those elements of the material that most appeal to you, down a rabbit hole (if you will) to some new place the previous author hadn’t gone. For me, the gothic elements of the duchess scene- its frightening pig babies, the violence of the cook, the frog-headed servants, the house in the woods, the dangerous and omniscient cat- were the most intriguing and I built the world of the play out of that. I sort of revamped things so that the Duchess is the new Alice- the part that doesn’t fit in to the askew logic of the whole- and thus she really isn’t at all the way Carroll envisioned her. Or the way Geoff played her, though I couldn’t have written this play without his performance.

Interestingly enough, I wrote this play as a birthday present for Karen, who is a big Carroll fan.

Zulueta: In three words, not including Lewis Carroll: who or what influenced you during the creation of this play, or inspired you to write it in the first place?

Bousel: Geoff. Karen. Despair.

Zulueta: In two words: what unforeseen change or collaboration is taking place in your show?

Bousel: Sexual Tectonics.

Zulueta: Why is a raven like a writing desk, anyway?

Bousel: Because Poe wrote on both.

An Interview with Test Preparation’s M.R. Fall

An Interview between BOA X Dramaturg Ignacio Zulueta and playwright M.R. Fall (TEST PREPARATION, Program 1).

Being a dramaturg is somewhat like being an editor: one gets to focus on the writing and the writer, rather than the audience or on the methods of production. I got a chance to chat with each of the writers at Bay One Acts about their work, how they get it done, and what they’re looking forward to from BOA and beyond.

Zulueta: Okay, let’s talk shop. You and your director, Julia Heitner, got to know each other prior to BOA. Had you worked together before? What are you figuring out now about TEST PREPARATION in the course of producing it at BOA?

Fall: Julia and I have been friends for a long time, and this isn’t our first theatrical collaboration. I directed her in my short piece for the March 2010 San Francisco Theatre Pub, and we were both backstage PAs for Peter Nachtrieb’s T.I.C.: Trenchcoat-in-Common at the Magic. We met during an internship at the Z Space Studio.

Zulueta: Is this your first time at BOA, and what does this mean for TEST PREPARATION?

Fall: Yes. It received a reading at the No Nude Men company retreat in September 2010. Having the play premiere here is amazing; BOA is one of the best festivals in the Bay, and certainly one of the most exciting for emerging writers.

Zulueta: How long did it take you to write this play, and how long has it been waiting to see the footlights?

Fall: Test Preparation wasn’t planned or premeditated; it just came out. Like most plays that arrive in such a fashion, it didn’t take me very long to write – probably about two days altogether.

Fall: It was originally called The Lesson Plan (as an homage to Ionesco’s La Leçon) when I wrote it in August 2010. I changed the title almost immediately, but the script stayed more or less the same. So I guess it’s taken about eight months to go from draft to stage.

Zulueta: In three words: who influenced you during the creation of this play, or inspired you to write it in the first place? (I sometimes ask ‘what’ influenced you, but in this case, the play’s antagonist seems rather well drawn.

Fall: My SAT students.

Zulueta: Oh dear. In two words: what unforeseen change or collaboration is taking place in your show?

Fall: Good ones.
Zulueta: What was your SAT score, and what or who did you have to sacrifice to achieve it?

Fall: You know, I’ve made it a policy not to tell people my SAT score (the combined score is out of 2400 these days, so it wouldn’t really sound so impressive now anyway).

Zulueta: You got a 1600, didn’t you?

Fall: For me, I think, the blow came years later, when I was teaching the SAT (and SAT IIs and ACT and so on and so forth) after I had graduated from college. These kids were looking at me like I had it made because of a score I’d gotten six years before, when really I had no idea what I was doing with my life. The SAT might get you into college, but it’s not going to tell you what to do once you get out.

Fall: We’re all trapped in the same system until these various arbitrary totems – the SAT score, the high school diploma, the eternal GPA, the bachelor’s degree – have been collected, and then, suddenly, the system has no use for us anymore.

Fall: After that, we’re completely lost.

Zulueta: Test Preparation. For the sake of your academic future, go see this play.

An Interview with The Fall’s Crish Barth

An Interview between BOA X Dramaturg Ignacio Zulueta and playwright Crish Barth (THE FALL, Program 1).

Being a dramaturg is somewhat like being an editor: one gets to focus on the writing and the writer, rather than the audience or on the methods of production. I got a chance to chat with each of the writers at Bay One Acts about their work, how they get it done, and what they’re looking forward to from BOA and beyond.

Zulueta: I’m here with Crish Barth, author of THE FALL. What’s your working relationship with director Colin Jonson of Round Belly Theatre Company?

Barth: Good question.  I’ve been so busy, I have yet to have a conversation with Colin.

(beat)

Barth: I hope it’s still happening.

Zulueta: I’ll pass that on to Colin when I see him next.  So, short plays are the rage nationally – what opportunities will become available to you as a result of producing THE FALL at BOA?

Barth: That’s another good question.  I doubt there will be movie producers waiting for me after the show wanting to buy the movie rights :-)  But having a production only enhances future productions.  A BOA piece of mine from other years went on to have a short life in New York and it was so great to have a production of it under my belt so I could really contribute more to the process and, in fact, was more open to suggestions by the director because I could reference the other production and say, yeah let’s try that – simply because it was a different interpretation than the previous.

Zulueta: How many Bay One Acts have you participated in previously?

Barth: This is my 4th BOA – and, incidentally, let me just say, I’ll NEVER forget BOA providing me with my first production EVER (“General Admissions” in 2008).

Zulueta: Cool. Will you have the pleasure of debuting THE FALL at BOA X in March?

Barth: Yes, this is the premiere of this piece.  In fact, all of my BOA pieces have been premieres.  I think that’s important.  Not necessary but important.

Zulueta: What does that mean for THE FALL in particular and your corpus of work as a writer?

Barth: I think it’s a wonderful use of such a collaborative one-act theatre lab where, with last year’s piece, READING WITH FRIENDS,  which really developed from a mediocre short into a slightly worthy piece of theatre by the end of the rehearsal process.

Zulueta: And THE FALL?

Barth: For this play, this production means I REALLY get to see if it’s working – which is really what it’s all about, right?

Barth: It’s funny actually, being relatively new to having pieces produced, I think I’m moving on from being simply excited to have a bunch of people paying money to see my play to really watching to see if it’s working, you know?  Kind of less “production struck” and more self-crtitical.  i.e. is this working?  is it not?  and WHY?  Watching the audience is so helpful.  As is standing in line for the bathroom and listening to comments by people that don’t know I’m the playwright – NOTHING is better than that.

Zulueta: How long did it take you to write this play, and how long has it been waiting to see the footlights?

Barth: At this point, it’s taken me basically three weeks to write it.  One week for the first draft.  Two weeks for the second — and not a long wait for the footlights.  Kind of right off the press into the festival (quite rare in that sense).

Zulueta: In three words, not including Natasha Richardson: who or what influenced you during the creation of this play, or inspired you to write it in the first place?

Barth: Self centered people.

Zulueta: In two words: what unforeseen change or collaboration is taking place in your show?

Barth: It’s funny.  Ordinarily I’m ultra concerned with that when writing a piece.  In this one, however, there’s really none.  Just the self-centered nature of humans going about their business, despite a rather tragic event unfolding before their eyes.

So perhaps two words could be 1. none and 2. whatsoever.

Zulueta: Have you ever met, or been, a member of the grammar nazi party?

Barth: (laughs)

BOA X Makes Kickstarter Goal!

We are so thrilled to announce that we have successfully met our fundraising goal for the upcoming 10th Annual Bay One Acts Festival.  Thank you to all of fabulous and amazing Kickstarters for making our campaign a success! Stay tuned for updates on rewards and incentives in the next several days!

Thanks again and MAD MAD love to all you Kickstarters.

BOA X