Next week Primary Stages will be hosting the 8th Annual New York One-Minute Play Festival (#1MPF)!
The One-Minute Play Festival is a unique exploration of short form playwriting. We are excited for the festival’s return to Primary Stages, after hosting the 5th annual festival in 2011. Since then the event has partnered with several other Off-Broadway and regional theater companies, sparking creativity and discussion wherever it goes.
Dominic D’Andrea, the festival’s Producing Artistic Director and curator, gathers together dozens of playwrights (listed below) who write new micro-plays. They are paired with local directors and actors to collaborate on complete pieces that last no more than two minutes in total. With #1MPF, D’Andrea promotes the spirit of radical inclusion, representing playwrights and actors of different age, gender, race, culture and point of career. The end result is a reflection of our collective theatrical landscape.
Primary Stages sat down with Mary Bacon, currently playing Christina in The Tribute Artist, to chat about inspiration, the neuroses of her character, and her fondness for director Carl Andress.
Mary Bacon as Christina in The Tribute Artist. Photo by James Leynse.
What is your role in The Tribute Artist?
I play Christina, Adriana’s niece. She shows up thinking Adriana has been trying to sell the town home that Uncle Lou specifically left her in his will. She discovers Rita and Jimmy, who she thinks is Adriana, living there. Christina’s arrival with her kid Oliver throws a wrench in the friends’ scheme to impersonate Adriana and sell her seemingly unclaimed home, kicking off the obstacles in the play our heroines have to conquer.
What have you learned while creating this role?
The Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group is a Primary Stages program that cultivates new work for the stage by bringing together eight emerging to mid-career playwrights annually. Each playwright develops a new full-length play (and in some cases, more) and presents their work at the end of the year in the Fresh Ink reading series. The prolific Adam Szymkowicz has been a member for several years. We invited Adam to share a look into his unique playwriting process.
Adam Szymkowicz, playwright and member of the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group at Primary Stages
What Am I Working On Now? or The Confluence and Fluidity of Ideas.
Like many playwrights I am always working on multiple projects. Over the years, I’ve had a lot of ideas of projects I want to do and there is never enough time to do them all. Sometimes when I’m between writing scripts I will make a list of the things I plan to do.
A recent list like this contained 20 play ideas, 15 film ideas, 3 graphic novel ideas, 6 novel ideas and a few other-hard to-classify projects. Sometimes I will combine a couple of these ideas to make something. Sometimes I will have a new take on an old idea that suddenly makes it come into focus. And then sometimes completely new ideas appear and demand to be written.
Primary Stages sat down with Keira Keeley of The Tribute Artist, to chat about her experience playing a trans man, and her various artistic inspirations beyond the stage.
Keira Keeley as Oliver in The Tribute Artist. Photo by James Leynse.
What is your role in The Tribute Artist?
I play Oliver, a transitioning female to male transgendered 15-year-old. I basically am the honest, open, truth-teller in this group of ridiculous schemers. I arrive on the scene from out of town with my mother (Christina, played by Mary Bacon) to claim our legal inheritance of the multi-million dollar townhouse that everybody else wants a piece of! Throughout the course of the play and developing a genuine friendship with the faux Adriana (played by Charles Busch), I blossom in confidence and sense of self and step into my identity as a man. There’s a lot of humor and lot of heart in Oliver.
What were your first thoughts when you read the play?
One of the elements of The Tribute Artist that really struck me was how the characters’ sexualities and genders were simply allowed to be a detail about who they each are, but not the sole label of that person. For instance, Oliver is transgender, Rita (played by Julie Halston) is a lesbian, but all of their stage time does not revolve exclusively on this detail, it’s just a facet of them, like having blonde hair or being a certain height. I found that refreshing. (more…)
On a chilly October evening in 1993, I walked several blocks from my home at the time in Sag Harbor to the Bay Street Theater to see a reading of You Should Be So Lucky, a new play by Charles Busch. I was familiar with Charles’ early work with his company Theater in Limbo on plays like Vampires Lesbians of Sodom and Psycho Beach Party. I had always admired Charles for his ease at transforming, for his sly humor, for his adoration of old movies and movie stars, and for his knack at repurposing bygone theater conventions. But mostly I admired Charles as an all-around man of the theater: actor, playwright, comic, producer, founder, visionary.
Primary Stages’ 1994 world premiere of “You Should Be So Lucky,” written by and starring Charles Busch
I recall an interview from the seventies with the great Charles Ludlam, who was the founder of the most aptly named entertainment establishment in history, the Ridiculous Theatrical Company. When asked how he got his start, he replied that when he was ready to enter the business, there was no obvious door for a person of his talents to do so.
“The first thing I had to do was invent the door.”
We sat down recently with three writing instructors at Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts (ESPA) to chat about what inspires them in and out of their classes. Brooke Berman‘s work has appeared at Second Stage, The Play Company, and Steppenwolf Theatre, and her play Hunting and Gathering was produced by Primary Stages in 2008. Rogelio Martinez has written plays for Arden Theater Company, the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the Public Theater, and the Atlantic Theater Company. Stefanie Zadravec is a resident playwright at New Dramatists, a recipient of the 2013 Francesca Primus Prize and a 2013 NYFA Playwriting Fellowship for her play The Electric Baby. All three are offering classes at ESPA this semester.
What inspires you to write?
Brooke Berman: If I didn’t write, I’d explode. Characters come to me and they want very badly to articulate their experience. I write what they tell me. And then, I’m nicer to the people in my life. (more…)
Primary Stages sat down with none other than Charles Busch, the playwright and star of The Tribute Artist, to chat about inspiration, the origins of the play, and his work with director Carl Andress.
Charles Busch in the Primary Stages production of THE TRIBUTE ARTIST
How did this play come to be? Could you tell us a bit about where you got the idea and how it has evolved to this point?
I love caper movies where a group of eccentric misfits band together to pull off a scheme. I’ve always wanted to do something like that with my long-time stage buddy Julie Halston. I’ve also thought for a long time about writing a play where I played a fellow who due to circumstances has to masquerade as a woman, as opposed to most of my roles where I’m simply playing a female role. I wanted to see if I could find a fresh way of bringing my own experiences to such a classic theatrical and cinematic situation. Primary Stages commissioned me to write a play for them and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to put these ideas together. (more…)