Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I Interview Playwrights Part 158: Deron Bos
Hometown: Stafford, VA
Current Town: Culver City, CA
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I just finished a very crude first draft of a new play titled The City She Wants Me. My blurb for it currently reads like this: "Durn wants to become a Lego superstar, Jack has been called by God, Faye is proposing to rebuild 1930's L.A. in an unmarked warehouse, and Claudia Turnkey is going to die ... soon." I have two other ideas kicking around and I want to start them in between revising City.
Q: You recently moved to LA from New York. How are you finding the change? Should everyone in New York move to LA?
A: Well, my reasons for moving to LA were mostly family driven -- my wife is a SoCal native, her family is here, and our two boys are surely benefiting from that close proximity to her family. (As are their parents.) And we were all ready to move away from the NY winters. But it was really important for me to stay in a city with a cultural/arts/entertainment scene and the mythology of L.A. has fascinated me for the past ten years. I also have ambitions of writing for TV, but my focus at the moment is mostly on raising my two young sons and I'm finding if I can find the time to write something in the midst of that it's going to be a play for the STAGE.
A few months after moving here I was lucky enough to become one of the founding members of The Playwrights Union, "a network of Los Angeles theater artists writing for stage, theater, and film." Jennifer Hayley, who I knew from my Seattle days, founded it and it's a great roster of talented and experienced playwrights who call L.A. their home. I thought I would have to search and be here for a while to find a supportive artistic community like this one and then it just fell into my lap. It's nice when things happen like that, because you know ... often they don't.
Ha! I can't help but think that last question is to support your own campaign to move to L.A., Adam. Personally, I do miss NYC, Brooklyn, and the theater community there. However, this is now my third city since college and I do love how much overlap happens with the communities you make in each city.
Q: What was your experience like studying playwriting at Brooklyn College under Mac Wellman?
A: Overall, I thought it was a great experience because:
1) The tuition is dirt cheap for a graduate program if you're a New York resident.
2) It's in Brooklyn.
3) Mac is incredibly well read, darkly hilarious, and a gifted teacher.
4) I made some great friends.
5) I wrote a play a semester.
There were times when I questioned if I was in the right place because my writing seemed traditional compared to many of my classmates, but then I learned: A) My writing is much weirder than I originally thought. B) I'm much happier being the square in the midst of experimentation that I am being the revolutionary amongst squares. I think it speaks well of the program too that its recent graduates have produced both highly regarded theater both uptown and downtown.
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: It was Revolutionary War day in kindergarten and my mom borrowed a felt George Washington costume from my best friend and neighbor Greg Froio's mom so I could get all dressed up. When I arrived to class I discovered that the only other kids who were dressed up were a few girls in Betsy Ross hats. I loved costumes as a kid, but because I was a shy kid, I loved the kind with a substantial mask. George Washington offered no such shelter. I burst into tears and wouldn't stop crying. I remember my teacher (who was missing one hand) scolding me in the bathroom and saying, "Stop crying! Do you want to be a crybaby?! No one likes a crybaby!" I stopped crying.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: I think every LORT A house in the country should be required to hire a resident playwright and give them a modest but livable salary for at least three years. I'm sure that there are managing directors across the country preparing an email right now to tell me how naive this proposal is, but until that time it sounds like the right move to me. It would be a shot at creating some true regional theater.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: Fred Franklin (my high school drama teacher), Marshall W. Mason, and the Mighty Twelve Company Members of Printer's Devil Theatre during the 97-2000 era.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: The thrilling, the original, and the heart felt. I find that I want to see something that has LIFE to it and that comes in a lot of different shapes and genres. And it's impossible to do, but so satisfying when it happens.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: I'm an advice junkie and especially a sucker for writing advice. Reading Anne Lamott's essay "Shitty First Drafts" was a revelation for me and it's something I reread often for courage and comfort. This advice from the author of my favorite cheerleading movie, Bring It On has given me a lot of fuel over the years. Recently, I found this essay from Merlin Mann on the danger of advice speaks to my many of my writing challenges. And of course, the wealth of advice given by the 150+ interviewees of this project has been fantastic, it's its own course on playwriting. So, following Mann's lead I would say indulge in some advice, but then get down to the task at hand: write. (I'm continually telling myself this very instruction.)
Q: Plugs, please:
A: My new play, The City She Wants Me, will have its first public reading on May 8 at 6:30 pm as part of the Playwrights Union's first public event, The Playwrights Union Reading Festival. There's a weekend of great work from our playwrights and it's free so if you're in LA please come out and check it out!
My director (and good friend) for that reading, Paul Willis directed an exceptional production of my friend Sheila Callaghan's play, Lascivious Something for the excellent theater L.A. theatre company, Circle X. It closes May 1st.
Finally I was very excited to hear that Clubbed Thumb in NYC will produce my friend Kate E. Ryan’s play Dot this June as part of their Summerworks festival. I read Dot right before I left NYC and was knocked out by how hilarious and original it is -- it was my favorite script I read that year.