Sunday, July 03, 2011

I Interview Playwrights Part 366: Marco Ramirez

Marco Ramirez

Hometown:   Miami, FL

Current Town:  Los Angeles, CA (don't hate)

Q:  Tell me about your play at Dahlia.

A:  Broadsword is a play about a heavy metal band that broke up years ago and is forced to come together because one of their own has died/mysteriously disappeared. It's part funeral-play, part mystery-play. On a good day, I like to think it's one a little Agatha Christie and a little Stephen Adly Guirgis, as filtered through an episode of The X-Files. If that sounds odd, it should - the whole thing takes place in New Jersey.

Q:  What else are you working on?

A:  I'm on the writer's staff for my second season of FX's Sons of Anarchy. That's my very fun day job. Other than that, I'm working on a new play about people who make horror movies in the 1940s (Mister Moonlight, coming to a Literary-Manager's-enormous-pile-of-scripts near you).

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  Not sure if this is an answer, but there's an episode of Batman: The Animated Series that still makes me cry.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I'd shift our focus to building new audiences. As storytellers, theatre-makers are two or three generations away from becoming totally obsolete, going the way of the brick-layer, the alchemist and the dinosaur. We're competing with streaming media and Transformers movies. Oedipus Rex is losing the battle to Optimus Prime. If we want to stay relevant, we have to keep pushing the form forward and work at getting audiences enamored with the incomparable experience of watching a play.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I caught a production of Point Break: Live in LA that was probably the most theatrical thing I've ever seen (seriously - second only to The Piano Lesson) and the crowd was about 200 wasted Frat boys in DMB T-shirts. In the American theatre, anything ANYONE is doing that brings in the under-50 crowd is worth thinking about, and talking about. I'm not saying Point Break: Live is high art, but it's certainly theatre, and the gentlemen of Sigma Phi were eating it up.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  See plays, any way you can. Usher for free tickets, sneak in at intermission, punch an old lady in the lobby, I don't care how. See plays you don't expect to like. Let yourself be surprised. A great playwriting teacher once told me, "There's nothing really to learn from watching a masterpiece. There's plenty to learn from watching something imperfect." Take notes, think about what you'd do differently. Don't blame the-state-of-American-theatre for why no one's doing your plays, American theatre is too busy blaming the-state-of-the-American-economy for why they shouldn't be doing plays to begin with. It's your battle. Give them no choice but to say yes. Read more August Wilson. Re-read August Wilson. Read comic books. Listen to old records. Spend too much time on Wikipedia. Talk to old people on the train. Find inspiration in unexpected places.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Broadsword at The Black Dahlia,

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