An Interview With “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” Director Allison Combs

Marissa Skudlarek, BOA 2013′s Anthology Editor, is conducting interviews with the festival’s playwrights, directors, and actors. Next up is Allison Combs, director of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

Allison Combs served as co-director of “Cloud Flower,” presented in BOA 2011. Her contribution this year, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” uses the text of T.S. Eliot’s famous poem as the basis for an ensemble-devised theater piece.

Marissa: “Devised work” is one of the hottest things in the American theater right now, but some people are still fuzzy on what exactly that means. What does “devised theater” mean to you, and why is it so awesome?

Allison: Devised work, generally speaking, is content that is created in the rehearsal space. Unlike a traditional process, in which a playwright writes the play and the director interprets it to the actors, devised theater is usually created/written by the entire company. It is the director’s job to have a final goal in mind and steer creation through organized material generating processes. Once material has been developed, then the director becomes the editor and stitches the work together into a piece.

Why is it awesome? Because the aesthetic is unlike anything else, and every single person involved deeply affects the final product.

Marissa: What drew you to T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” as the jumping-off point of your piece for BOA 2013?

Allison: I’ve always loved this poem. At first it was for the rhythm of the words and the images they conjured. I bumped into it at various times throughout my school years and eventually began to wonder if there were some significance to that.  It took me a long time to really feel like I understood the poem. It wasn’t until I had decided to write a play on it and then chickened out (due to fear of failure) that it really clicked.

Marissa: Another wonderful thing about devised work is that every troupe’s process is different. Can you talk a little about your process in adapting Eliot’s poem together with your ensemble of actors? What were rehearsals like?

Allison: In devising work I almost entirely rely on methods from Viewpoints, because that is how I was first introduced to this type of work. Viewpoints provides a vocabulary to use to describe movement in particular. I then, as the director, ask the cast, using this vocabulary to develop small, specific pieces of material, or sometimes to improvise within clearly defined limits. We generate an enormous amount of physical text in that way, which I then work into the piece.

Marissa: “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” is the interior monologue of a meek, self-loathing man. When you proposed this piece for BOA 2013, you noted that it would “absolutely contain movement.” What was it like to create a physically inventive theater piece about a character who is so repressed? Did that cause any difficulties during the process?

Allison: No difficulties. Movement, especially expressive movement, is just another way of telling a story, no matter the type of character. I knew the piece would absolutely contain movement because the devising method I use focuses on the physical and visual.

Marissa: What has been the most wonderful discovery and most frustrating challenge in creating “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”?

Allison: Wonderful discovery: my cast. They’re fantastically talented, intelligent, and kind people. The most frustrating challenge: Realizing I now think of Prufrock the character as a different person than I did prior to starting the process.

Marissa: What do you hope the audience will get out of your piece?

Allison: A strong sense of Prufrock’s story, and his sadness. I hope they can connect their personal experiences to his inability to take action.

Marissa: What’s up next for you and for Do It Live! Productions?

Allison: I’d like to make “Prufrock” into a full length production. Keep your eyes and ears open!

Marissa: Will do, Allison! In the meantime, thank you for taking the time to talk to me about this incarnation of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”!

“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” appears in Program 1 of BOA 2013, with upcoming performances on September 28, and October 2 and 4, at Tides Theatre.

An Interview with “Write Dirty to Me” Playwright Daniel Holloway

Marissa Skudlarek, BOA 2013′s Anthology Editor, is conducting interviews with the festival’s playwrights, directors, and actors. Next up is Daniel Holloway, author of “Write Dirty to Me.”

Daniel Holloway is making his BOA debut with “Write Dirty to Me,” a comedy that envisions Herman Melville, Alfred Tennyson, and Sylvia Plath as phone-sex operators… and some famous literary characters as callers on the chat line!

Marissa: Can you talk a little about the genesis of “Write Dirty To Me”? What was the initial impetus for writing this script?

Daniel: I got the idea for “Write Dirty to Me” after an unexpected close encounter with an actual phone-sex operator. I was working on a show and afterwards one of the cast members suggested we all go to his house, have a drink and continue to discuss the ideas of the play. We all piled into the little apartment he shared with his girlfriend, sat on the couch and started talking plays and literature. As we conversed, the sultry sounds of dirty talk would periodically waft in from beneath the closed bedroom door. About an hour into everything—in the middle of a dialogue about James Joyce—the door to the bedroom opens and in walks the girlfriend. “She makes phone sex calls,” the boyfriend said with a quick tilt of the head. She sat down with us and took up right away in the discussion of Ulysses. I was struck by how easily my brain moved from literature to sex and back again. It seems sex and art are always tied together for we homo sapiens. Words and storytelling are powerful tools of seduction, and sex has most definitely given rise to some wonderful novels, poems and plays. “All authors would make great sex callers,” I thought and things took off from there.

Marissa: The idea of famous authors working as phone-sex operators is definitely a great premise, and one that I can imagine being funny with any number of authors in the main roles. So what made you choose Tennyson, Melville, and Plath as the three authors that would be depicted in your play?

Daniel: I wanted to use authors that everyone would know and have some idea about already. I think we all had to read Moby-Dick or “The Charge of the Light Brigade” at some point, and who can escape college without somehow romanticizing Sylvia Plath? We already feel as if we know these three writers because we spent so many years with them in textbooks. It made it fun to bend and warp those expectations ensconced since middle school.

Marissa: Have you ever had lustful feelings for authors or fictional characters—and if so, who?

Daniel: Of course! I would do things my mother would highly disapprove of with Edna St. Vincent Millay. Don’t even get me started on my fantasies about a carafe or two of wine and a quill-and-paper fight with the Brontë sisters on a rainy English night. Character-wise, I think every one of us would go for a good Danish threesome with Ophelia and Hamlet. (Is it wrong that I could go on like this for quite a while?)

Marissa: What do you hope the audience will get out of “Write Dirty to Me”?

Daniel: Well, first, I hope the audience gets a laugh and a damn good time. I suppose too, on some deeper level, I hope the audience walks away thinking differently about these “classical” authors and poets and the words they wrote. Hopefully they’re inspired to read the books again, maybe for the first time since college, and see that they’re more than academic pieces… they’re tools that can help get you through this life. Also, if I can get a little intellectual for a minute, I hope that people will see how art connects us. We come together as a community when we all laugh at a dirty joke because it reminds us that we’re all the same; we’re all out there trying to get laid. Likewise, we we all nod when we recognize a famous line of a poem; it reminds us that we’re all the same on a level higher than the physical, too. Art unifies us.

Marissa: What about “Write Dirty to Me,” in your opinion, makes it feel like a “Daniel Holloway play”?

Daniel: I think it’s the mix of highbrow and lowbrow. A lot of people think you can’t make an intelligent penis joke, for instance. I think you can. For goodness’ sake, have you read The Canterbury Tales? There’s a fart pun every six lines. I think mixing the two—the “banal” and the “artistic”—is an exact mirror of the human condition. We all think poetic, beautiful thoughts and see the incredible beauty in life… and we all laugh at filthy sex jokes. It’s what we are as a species. Why can’t the two live together?

Marissa: How has the rehearsal process for “Write Dirty to Me” been? Has the script changed at all during the process?

Daniel: Rehearsal was a real eye-opener and the script definitely went through some changes. There is a fine line in American society between pushing the boundaries and producing laughter, and pushing the boundaries and having people snap shut like a well-oiled bear trap. Having an actor actually say the line—right out there in the real world—lets you know very quickly where things are falling.

Marissa: What’s up next for you?

Daniel: I’m currently finishing up another highbrow/lowbrow play, this one full-length. It’s a re-imagining of Beowulf and deals with modern capitalism, sexism and the state of modern writing… with the same irreverent bent as “Write Dirty to Me.” If you know anyone looking to workshop or produce a filthy, thinking play, let me know. I’m wide open.

Marissa: Now you’ve got me wondering if that innuendo there (“I’m wide open”) was intentional, or if it’s just that everything sounds a little raunchy after our discussion. In any case, thanks very much for talking with me about “Write Dirty to Me”!

“Write Dirty to Me” appears in Program 1 of BOA 2013, with upcoming performances on September 28, and October 2 and 4, at Tides Theatre.

An Interview with “3 Sisters Watching Three Sisters” Playwright Ignacio Zulueta

Marissa Skudlarek, BOA 2013′s Anthology Editor, is conducting interviews with the festival’s playwrights, directors, and actors. Next up is Ignacio Zulueta, writer of “3 Sisters Watching Three Sisters.”

Ignacio Zulueta is a Bay Area playwright who served as BOA’s dramaturg and conductor of playwright interviews in 2011. You can probably figure out what “3 Sisters Watching Three Sisters” is about; if not, this interview, should clarify matters.

Marissa: Can you talk a little about the genesis of “3 Sisters Watching Three Sisters“? I was a fellow participant in the Wily West Productions event last February where the play made its debut, but our readers probably won’t know this backstory.

Ignacio: In Wily West Productions‘ Cowboys vs. Outlaws 2013 season kickoff, participating playwrights had two weeks (I imposed a three-day deadline) to create a seven-page play from a prompt: mine was “He found it in a dark hole in the woods.”

Marissa: So how did you get from that prompt to a story about three women watching a Chekhov play?

Ignacio: By kicking against the obvious. I felt the prompt to be rather over-specific, so instead of treating it as a plot synopsis or key point and locking myself into a scenario, I used it as a bit of found dialogue instead, and built the play from the dialogue out. Sharp-eared audience members can hear the distinctive line in the play itself. Plus, Women’s History Month was coming up in March, and the nation was twisting itself in knots over the Supreme Court’s still-impending ruling on Prop 8. Combined with my rebellious instinct against the prompt, I decided that the “he” in question should be an offstage character, and the voices in question should all be “she’s.”

Marissa: Your characters argue about whether Chekhov’s work is touching and important, or boring and depressing. Where do you stand on this issue?

Ignacio: I would argue that Chekov is so important because it is so depressing. I also think the Slavic writers have an appreciation of the tragic, the unjust, and the futile that is in synch with East Asian literature and my sensibilities as an Asian American playwright. It is said that Chekov told Stanislavsky and the cast of the premiere production [of The Seagull] that they were performing a comedy. Whether this is apocryphal, misguided, ironic, or a very Russian joke played by the playwright on his cast, is best left to others to determine. The ambiguity is all, and I also see entertainment as encompassing more than wish-fulfillment, or immediate gratification. This play, and my full-length comedy in production at AlterTheater, The Fellowship, obliquely address the happiness trap that lies within the artistic output of incredibly wealthy, consumer-driven cultural producers that we are. For my part, I believe that theater thrives on depicting crisis, while consumerism thrives on creating insecurity. Both are exciting. One is markedly unhealthy.

Marissa: So do you have a favorite Chekhov play?

Ignacio: OK, it’s dirty confession time. I have not read or seen the entire Chekov canon. God, what have I been doing with my life? That said, I find the sibling rivalry, duels, and bad-to-worse arc of Three Sisters to be pretty compelling – not just for this short, but for my other full length, Kano and Abe, being featured at SF Playhouse’s Sandbox readings next month. I’ll save the pitch for later in the interview, though – just remember those bloody duels and spats when I do.

Marissa: I also wondered if you were familiar with Will Eno’s short play “Intermission,” which has a similar premise to “3 Sisters Watching Three Sisters” — a conversation among some audience members during intermission of a play at a big regional theater. (San Francisco’s Cutting Ball Theater produced “Intermission” in 2011.) Could Eno’s play have influenced yours, or is this just a coincidence?

Ignacio: I think both plays focus on the way in which theater, despite its anesthetizing potential, nevertheless does the work of raking up audiences’ feelings in unpredictable, risky, and publicly embarrassing ways. That said, I recall watching a double bill at Cutting Ball of “Intermission” and “Lady Grey (in ever lower light)” but I confess that both at the time and some years later, “Lady Grey” left a far more favorable impression than the former. The very literal reveal of Lady Grey and her vituperation for her audience, prompted by the humiliating demands of her profession, resonates more with me than the fatuous characterization of the younger couple in “Intermission” and the insipid quality of the modern play all four characters are watching. Eno’s protagonists for “Intermission” are very much the older couple with their touching dog story, passing on their accumulated wisdom to the blasé younger pair. In contrast, my blasé youngest sister gives as good as she gets, and her suspicion for the traditional theatre is as deeply motivated as her older sisters’ devotion to it. And then there’s setting: Eno’s setup for “Intermission” focuses on the generation gap in audiences, but barring the use of a cell phone, it could just as easily occur in any point in time after the Korean War. “3 Sisters Watching Three Sisters occurs with a very specific text during a very specific moment in time. Finally, the triangulations of status allowed by an interrelated three-person cast are very different from the stable quadrant of Eno’s four-person, two-couples cast. From those fundamentally different foundations, necessarily different plays have sprung into being.

Marissa: What do you hope the audience will get out of “3 Sisters Watching Three Sisters”?

Ignacio: I hope my audiences decide to patronize more shows, and not just the ones that their friends are performing in. Since this preaches somewhat to the choir, I also hope they’ll leave with a refreshed outlook on how theater aligns with the modern media environment. As I mentioned before, “3 Sisters…” is an interrogation of why the epiphenomena of live performance matters as much as the performance itself. Though really, anyone who’s scored a vital business card during a post-show after-party, or met their soulmate (or start-up crony) at Burning Man, will recognize the serendipitous value of congregating in person for a rallying work of art. That doesn’t happen playing a solo video game or binging on Netflix.

Marissa: What about “3 Sisters Watching Three Sisters,” in your opinion, makes it feel like an “Ignacio Zulueta play”?

Ignacio: These characters talk too much, and think even more than they talk. Plus, they’re all related. Furthermore, “3 Sisters Watching Three Sisters” is the first of an entire year’s worth of plays (from Feb. 2013 to Feb. 2014) that I decided to write featuring a gender ratio of at least 2 females to every male. Before my male actor friends out there get up in arms, I’d like to point out that is hardly an act of activism on my part, but rather, a simple acknowledgement of the realities of the stark gender ratios in theatre. BOA Artistic Director Sara Staley pointed out in an interview with Ashley Cowan that the production team for BOA 2013 is all female. Thus, it seems reactionary rather than revolutionary to make a year’s worth of my playwriting output match up with the demographic facts on the ground.

Marissa: How has the rehearsal process for “3 Sisters…” been? Has the script changed at all during the process?

Ignacio: I actually expanded the material past the 7-page limit of the original play, which was written during a three-day binge back in February. One of my sisters wasn’t as thoroughly written as she could have been, and changing events on the political landscape, both in California and nationally, threatened to render the script outdated. I talked to Sara Staley and director Kat Kneisel about my plans for a rewrite at the first BOA Program 2 read-through. Sara said, more or less, “Keep it as good as it is now, or better.” Kat said, paraphrased, “The original draft is seven pages, I think we can expand a little and get comfortable.” I said “Gotcha, gotcha, great. I’ll get back to you with the changes.” And that’s how we got to where we are today.

Marissa: What’s up next for you?

Ignacio: As I mentioned before, blood ties and radical adaptations have been very much on my mind. In 2012, PlayGround commissioned me to write Kano and Abe, a Daly City bible story. It’s kind of like Two Brothers to Three Sisters, except the brothers in question are Cain and Abel. How’s that for depressing? SF Playhouse picked it up to kick off their Sandbox reading series on Monday, October 14th. That’s exactly 9 days after BOA closes, so I’ll be able to treat Bay Area audiences to a fresh draft of a full-length work, provided I don’t party too hard at the BOA closing party.

Marissa: You deserve to treat yourself at the closing party, though! “3 Sisters Watching Three Sisters” is a lovely play, especially when placed as the finale to an evening of one-acts. Thanks for talking to me about it.

“3 Sisters Watching Three Sisters” appears in Program 2 of BOA 2013, with upcoming performances on September 27 and 29, and October 3 and 5, at Tides Theatre. We also encourage you to check out the interview that Wily West Productions, which is producing “3 Sisters…” at BOA, conducted with Ignacio!

An Interview with “Inexpressibly Blue” Playwright Nancy Cooper Frank

Marissa Skudlarek, BOA 2013′s Anthology Editor, is conducting interviews with the festival’s playwrights, directors, and actors. Next up is Nancy Cooper Frank, writer of “Inexpressibly Blue.”

Nancy Cooper Frank is a Bay Area playwright and “Inexpressibly Blue” is her BOA debut. It’s a wry comedy about two middle-aged women with singularly appropriate names: the cheerful Felicity and her friend Dolores, who’s got the blues.

Marissa: Can you talk a little about the genesis of “Inexpressibly Blue”? What was the initial impetus for writing this script?

Nancy: I was blue one morning,  and I didn’t feel like writing at all. So I wrote “I’m blue.  I’m blue! I’m bluer than blue” and so on, until before I knew it, I had one character so committed to being miserable that another voice spontaneously arose to get in the first character’s face and try to cheer her up. Whether she wanted to be cheered up or not.

Marissa: You are a former professor of Russian literature and you frequently write about Russian subjects. In this country, we often stereotype Russian culture and literature as melancholy, dark, and sad. Do you think there’s a connection between your interest in Russian culture and your writing a play about sadness? Or do you disagree with the perception that Russian = melancholy?

Nancy: There’s a very funny line in Ignacio Zulueta’s play that draws on that stereotype!

Marissa: Yes, this makes for a serendipitous connection between your play and Ignacio’s “3 Sisters Watching Three Sisters,” which is also in Program Two of BOA!

Nancy: I’m tickled to share a bill with his moving tribute to Three Sisters. To get back to your original question: If we had a couple of hours/vodkas, I could expand on this. Short answer: I don’t need Dostoevsky to teach me how to get into a funk. I can do that on my own. Anyway, even if  Russians ‘do’ melancholy better than we do, are they really the outliers? Or is it American culture—with its insistence on cheer, and its denial of sadness—that’s strange?

Marissa: Speaking of Chekhov, you’ve hinted that there’s a hidden Chekhov reference in “Inexpressibly Blue”—are you willing to share what that is?

Nancy: In one of Chekhov’s lesser known one-act plays, “The Anniversary,” a character says “I’m so unhappy! I even drank my coffee this morning without enjoying it!” [Ed: Dolores in “Inexpressibly Blue” also says this.] She says this to gain sympathy, but it’s such a trivial statement it has the opposite effect.

Marissa: So if you’re battling a bout of the blues, what are your favorite quick remedies to cheer yourself up?

Nancy: Get outside. Walk. Walk some more.

Marissa: What do you hope the audience will get out of “Inexpressibly Blue”?

Nancy: I hope the play evokes a rueful smile or two. I hope people can see themselves in Dolores, Felicity or both.

Marissa: What about “Inexpressibly Blue,” in your opinion, makes it feel like a “Nancy Cooper Frank play”?

Nancy: Come to think of it, several of my short plays seem to set basic temperaments or character traits (optimist/pessimist; introvert/extrovert) against each other. And a kind of bleak optimism, or maybe cheerful pessimism, is a common element to many of my plays, including “Daniil Kharms: A Life in One Act and Several Dozen Eggs,” based on a real-life Russian absurdist author.

Marissa: How has the rehearsal process for “Inexpressibly Blue” been? Has the script changed at all during the process?

Nancy: The biggest change came at the very beginning of the rehearsal process, when the director, Robert Estes, suggested my characters should be engaged in an activity together—they shouldn’t just sit and talk. And so I pictured them doing tai chi together—it’s a nice accompaniment for the shifting balance of their moods and of their relationship. For one rehearsal, we had  a tai chi instructor, Barbara Jwanouskos (who also happens to be a playwright), lead actors, director and coordination-challenged author  through some tai chi moves in the park. My actors, Linda-Ruth Cardozo and Patti Morse, also helped me tweak some lines. I had fun working with this team!

Marissa: What’s up next for you?

Nancy: I’m writing this after midnight, fresh from workshopping a rewrite of “Daniil Kharms” that I am very pleased with. I’m looking for opportunities to produce that play.  I’m also working on a one-act comedy “The Plumber.”  The title character is a Slavic philosopher/plumber with the ability to make his customers more than a little blue… I’m beginning to see a pattern here.

Marissa: Nancy, thank you for taking the time to talk with me about “Inexpressibly Blue”! Its cheerful pessimism makes it the perfect curtain raiser for Program Two of BOA 2013.

“Inexpressibly Blue” appears in Program 2 of BOA 2013, with upcoming performances on September 25, 27, and 29, and October 3 and 5, at Tides Theatre.

An Interview with “Modernizing the Afterlife” Director Katja Rivera

Marissa Skudlarek, BOA 2013′s Anthology Editor, is conducting interviews with the festival’s playwrights, directors, and actors. Next up is Katja Rivera, director of “Modernizing the Afterlife.”

Katja Rivera is a Bay Area director and performer making her BOA debut. The play she’s directing, Tracy Held Potter’s “Modernizing the Afterlife,” is a comedy about how, if you have the right app, you can improve anything… even Heaven itself.

Marissa: What attracted you to the script of “Modernizing the Afterlife” and made you choose to direct it for BOA 2013?

Katja: A couple of things. It’s funny, and I like funny (it made me laugh when I read it), and I’ve been wanting to work on one of Tracy’s plays since seeing her work done at Playground this last year.  Also, I am advocating for female playwrights, and felt that they were underrepresented this year. Finally, Tracy left the characters open as to age and race, so I could just see in the audition process who would be the best for for each role. I enjoyed that freedom.

Marissa: “Modernizing the Afterlife” satirizes our tech-driven society, where there’s an app for anything you want to do. Do you have a smartphone? If so, what are some of your favorite apps?

Katja: Yes, I do have a smartphone. I love the basic apps (weather, maps, Yelp and Facebook), but my favorite fun ones are the New York Times, my Virtuoso piano app (you can play piano on your phone!), Webster’s Dictionary, Craigslist (I especially cruise the “For Free” section), and my very favorite: my daughters’ blogs.

Marissa: I am totally stealing this question from James Lipton, but I think it’s appropriate for someone who’s just directed a play called “Modernizing the Afterlife”: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Katja: “In honor of you, we made strawberry shortcake for dessert tonight!”

Marissa: What do you hope the audience will get out of “Modernizing the Afterlife”?

Katja: Honestly, I just hope they laugh. Sometimes, that is enough..

Marissa: How has the rehearsal process for “Modernizing the Afterlife” been? Has the script changed at all during the process?

Katja: The rehearsal process was concentrated and brief.  We had to share [actress] Nkechi Emeruwa with two other directors, so efficiency was the order of the day.  Tracy expanded the role of Steve Jobs based on the casting of David Naughton, because he brought a certain flavor to the role. Also, she had some tech-savvy folks read it for accuracy.

Marissa: What has been the most wonderful discovery and most frustrating challenge in directing “Modernizing the Afterlife”?

Katja: I loved getting to work with this fun and enthusiastic cast and getting to meet the BOA all-girl tech team! I loved discovering what hams my actors were. The frustrations… ah,  the limits of time and space.

Marissa: What’s up next for you?

Katja: Next up is the Olympians Festival. I’m directing plays by Bridgette Dutta Portman and Kirk Shimano. On the same night! It’s going to be crazy! And then I’m looking for acting work. Got any jobs for a union gal of a certain age?

Marissa: Well, if I come across any — or if there’s an app that will make the audition process easier — I’ll be sure to let you know! Thanks for taking the time to talk with me about your work on “Modernizing the Afterlife.”

“Modernizing the Afterlife” appears in Program 1 of BOA 2013, performing September 22, 26, and 28, and October 2 and 4, at Tides Theatre.

An Interview with “Break of Day” Playwright Jeff Carter

Marissa Skudlarek, BOA 2013’s Anthology Editor, is conducting interviews with the festival’s playwrights, directors, and actors. First up is Jeff Carter, writer of “Break of Day.”

Jeff Carter is an award-winning playwright whose works have been produced in Boston, New York City, San Francisco, and more. “Break of Day,” his contribution to BOA 2013, is a seriocomic play about Ted and Fred, twin brothers who are “just the slightest bit ‘different’ from other people,” as they struggle to move on after the death of their mother.

Marissa: How did  “Break of Day” come about? What was the initial impetus that made you write this script?

Jeff: “Break Of Day” is very loosely based on a family of poor farming people I was familiar with growing up.  The inspiration to write the play just came to me one day.

Marissa: “Break of Day” takes place on a farm somewhere deep in rural America. Do you have personal experience with this kind of environment? What was it like to write a play that takes place somewhere so distant from the Bay Area?

Jeff: I grew up in a potato-farming community in northern Maine.  Many of my plays are concerned with life in rural America.  Write what you know, I guess.

Marissa: The world of this play seems somehow timeless — it could be taking place today, or it could be taking place 60 years ago. Do you think of the play as taking place in the present day, or do you think of it as a period piece? Does it matter?

Jeff: I wanted the play to have a timeless quality.  I prefer not to set references to particular times and locations in my plays, if possible.

Marissa: Your bio says that you worked on “Break of Day” with the Monday Night Group — can you tell us a little about what this group is and how they helped you develop the script?

Jeff: The Monday Night Group is one of the oldest playwriting workshops in the Bay Area.  It was initially organized by Will Dunne and several other local writers over twenty years ago.  Recent works by member writers are done as cold readings by local actors.  We proceed from there.

Marissa: What do you hope the audience will get out of “Break of Day”?

Jeff: I hope the audience simply has a thoughtful experience with the play and that it stays with them after they leave the theater.

Marissa:  What about “Break of Day,” in your opinion, makes it feel like a “Jeff Carter play”?

Jeff: You got me there.

Marissa: How has the rehearsal process for “Break of Day” been? Has the script changed at all during the process?

Jeff:  The rehearsal experience was great.  Brian Trybom’s direction was right on, and so were the performances of John Lowell and Shane Fahey.  A few minor cuts were made during rehearsals.

Marissa: What’s up next for you?

Jeff: My full-length play Pastoral Paranoia will be produced by Scorpio Theatre in Calgary, Alberta beginning in October, and I’ll continue to work on one thing or another.

Marissa: Sounds great, Jeff. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me about your pastoral, poignant play “Break of Day.”

“Break of Day” appears in Program 2 of BOA 2013, performing September 21, 25, 27, and 29, and October 3 and 5, at Tides Theatre.

Interviews With the Cast & Crew of “Shooter”

In the coming days, Marissa Skudlarek, the BOA Anthology Editor, will be posting her interviews with the writers, directors, and actors of BOA 2013 on this blog. In the meantime, though, we encourage you to check out the interviews that San Francisco Theater Pub has conducted with the cast and crew of “Shooter,” the piece that they are producing for BOA 2013. Please click on the links to read the interviews on San Francisco Theater Pub’s site.

Interview with “Shooter” Playwright Dan Hirsch
Interview with “Shooter” Director Rik Lopes
Interview with “Shooter” Actor John Lowell
Interview with “Shooter” Actor Randy Blair
Interview with “Shooter” Producer Brian Markley

“Shooter” appears in Program Two of BOA 2013, September 21, 25, 27, 29 and October 3 and 5 at Tides Theatre in San Francisco.

THANK YOU to our Bay One Acts Festival Community!

MANY THANKS to the 200 BOA backers who pledged to our 2013 Kickstarter campaign. We did it! With YOUR support! Your donation goes right back to the 13 plays in our 2013 festival, and to the talented and dedicated artists bringing all to you in two dynamic line-ups of plays at Tides Theatre now through October 5th. We’ll see you at both programs of BOA 2013!



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The 2013 Bay One Acts Festival (BOA) Kickstarter Campaign is now LIVE. Each pledge received through our Kickstarter campaign goes right back into bringing the 2013 BOA Festival to you.  Give now to receive ticket discounts and extras before they go on sale including the 2013 BOA Anthology, reserved seating, and concessions tickets. Remember we need to reach our goal by the end of the campaign to receive any of the money pledged. Please pledge what you can today, and help us spread the word about this campaign to friends and family. Your support will keep a Bay Area theater tradition alive, and help our BOA community grow in 2013.