Friday, October 21, 2011

I Interview Playwrights Part 395: Joe Roland

Joe Roland

Current Town: New York, NY.

Q:  Tell me about On The Line.

A:  I wanted to tell a story about working class people that didn't take place in a trailer and managed avoid the issues of both crystal meth and incest. In On The Line, things are working for these people until their jobs are threatened. It's amazing what having a job can do for someone; and it can be frightening to watch what happens when good jobs disappear.

The play is about what happens to three friends who are caught between loyalties. The loyalties to their union, their jobs, their families and each other.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I'm finishing up my play Lester and Doyle LLP, which is about a young woman whose ambitions come in direct conflict with her principles when she is surrounded by corruption at the law office where she works. It's a comedy.

Q:  How does your acting inform your writing and vice-versa?
A:  It's all about story telling no matter which side you approach it from. The question I ask myself over and over, whether I'm acting or writing is "What's the story?" I learned to write by watching Mike Nichols teach a master class where it was all about telling the story.

I teach a playwriting and performance workshop to union members, and I think it's important that they experience both to see what each one requires from the other.

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

A:  When I was whatever the age is when you no longer want to ride a tricycle, I asked my parents if I could have a regular bike. They declined the request, offering some nonsense about my not being ready. The next morning I rode my little green hand-me-down tricycle to the end of the driveway and waited for the garbage truck. When it arrived I instructed the garbage men to crush my tricycle, and they did, as I watched with great satisfaction. My parents were not amused, and I was without any mode of transportation for some time. But I felt good about my decision. Still do.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A:  My teachers. Arthur Miller. O'Neill. And anyone who is trying to have a life in the theater, something that takes a truly heroic effort these days. Kipp Osborne (He opened a theater in this economy, if that's not heroic, don't talk to me.) Bill Buell.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  A good story well told. Honest.

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

A:  None. I don't want to encourage anyone. Seriously, you've already got a couple of hundred playwrights on this site, don't you think it's time we started to cull the herd a little bit?

But if you just can't help it and have to write plays: Arthur Miller said to write a play is a noble act. Make it count. Write about what matters to you. And if you find a way to get your work produced consistently, tell the rest of us.

Q:  Plugs, please:
A:  On the Line at the Canal Park Playhouse. Death of a Salesman.

1 comment:

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