Remember how I said I wasn't sure where this blog would go next? Basically, I said most of what I wanted to say about playwriting. I was wondering if I would continue to blog. Well, now I've decided to start something new where I interview playwrights. I'm starting off with the delightful James Comtois. Photo by Randi Rosenblum.
So what do you have going on right now?
A show called Infectious Opportunity, playing at the Brick Theater's Antidepressant Festival. It's about a screenwriter who fakes being HIV-positive to boost his career.
Is Infectious Opportunity autobiographical?
How did you get into playwriting? Do you like it still? what makes you write?
I got into playwriting in college after a few aborted attempts at writing comics and screenplays. I still like writing plays a great deal. I think the two main factors that fuel my writing are the ideas behind the scripts themselves and the fact that, through my production company, Nosedive Productions, I know the scripts are going to see the light of day via production in a very short period of time. It's always good motivation to write something when you know it'll be staged within 4-8 months of completing the final draft.
What kind of theatre excites you?
Different kinds, although I mainly enjoy theatre that provides either a visceral or hypnotic experience. And if it can provide both? Hotness. Pure hotness. I think my favorite productions are those that find a way to immediately hook me in and make me forget I'm watching a play, and make the real world seem a bit distant and unreal after curtain call.
You're one of those playwrights with his own theatre company (Nosedive Productions). What are the pros and cons of starting and running your own theatre? How many shows does Nosedive do a year?
Nosedive produces two shows a year on average. As I mentioned before, it's always nice to know that your work will be staged in the very near future. Plus, it's cool to be able to oversee and be actively involved in the productions, which ultimately offers me more creative control of the work. In terms of downsides, I guess running a theatre company means an increased workload. You can't just write a script then send it off and be done with it. You need to participate in the legwork in getting the thing staged (which is both a pro and con). Also, you're partially responsible for either paying for the production or getting the money for it.
Many of my readers are playwrights. Do you have any words of advice for playwrights? Things to do, things not to do?
I think the best thing to do is to keep writing and to keep writing different things. If you write a script that you think stinks, don't spend all your time and energy rewriting it or fretting over it: just finish it, put it away (either for the time being or indefinitely, it's up to you), and write a new script. Perseverance and tenacity are pretty good traits to have when being a writer.
You work with a lot of the same actors over and over again. How does that feed into your creative impulses (or not). (or what are the upsides or downsides to that?)
It's always a lot of fun to be putting on theatre with a team, especially a team that knows each other really well. Even though I rarely (if ever) write for a specific actor in mind, it's good to know that members of the cast & crew will be familiar with my work and overall style. But sometimes we like to mix it up. I always like to have at least one or two newbie cast members for any given show. Oddly enough, most of the cast members for Infectious Opportunity are new to Nosedive.
And what's the show information for those people who want to see your show?
Infectious Opportunity is playing for four performances at the Brick Theater on 575 Metropolitan Avenue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: Sunday, June 7th at 5pm; Tuesday, June 9th at 8pm; Wednesday, July 1st at 9pm; and Friday, July 3rd at 7pm. You can get your tickets here