Sunday, November 20, 2011
I Interview Playwrights Part 405: Emily Chadick Weiss
Emily Chadick Weiss
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY (Brooklyn Heights)
Current Town: Brooklyn, NY (Prospect Heights)
Q: Tell me about your pilot.
A: Many months ago, I thought, "I want to write TV and I want to write something for my talented actor friends so we can all eventually bask in glory together.” And so I wrote “The Share,” a half-hour comedy about too many roommates crammed into a Crown Heights apartment.
We filmed it in early October and it should be done with post-production come January 2012. It’s looking good! And I’m going to pat myself on the back for casting pretty good people. Also, the crew was dynamite, including our Director of Photography, Timothy Whitney, our Director Christina Roussos and our editor Tony Arkin. Matt Schatz wrote the theme song! I am living out my dreams!
We raised thousands on indiegogo – thank you contributors! And we’re hoping some entity like a network gives us funds to do it again and again and again.
Steven Boyer plays NATHAN, laid off from Lehman Brothers, still thinking about becoming a fireman or a dog walker or a real estate agent…
Lucy Devito plays MONA, a magician’s assistant who overcharges all of her roommates and wants Nathan.
William Jackson Harper plays LINCOLN, a frustrated artist who sleeps in the closet and wants to get with
JUSTINE, a Filipino actress always cast as the wrong race, played by Maureen Sebastian.
Katie Kreisler Black plays THEA, a lesbian entrepreneur with a webseries about how to stay fit while eating everything in sight. And those are just the roommates.
Julie Fitzpatrick plays MADELEINE, a lovely schoolteacher who can’t stand her students. Nathan can’t get enough of Madeleine but Scott Sowers plays FRITZ, Madeleine’s crunchy and self-righteous middle-aged fiancé. Robert Askins plays STU, Mona’s worthless brother who somehow manages to snag the ladies. And Megan Tusing plays AMY, Nathan’s consistently pissed-off ex-wife.
Also watch out for Lance Rubin as a hunky date, Eugene Oh as the guy at a bar and Jarlath Conroy as the bartender.
Q: What else are you working on?
A: I’m writing the next episode of “The Share” and polishing up my play, “The Relief” about a dysfunctional non-profit trying to save Pakistani flood victims.
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: I would wake up early and make musicals with my Russian stacking dolls. I still do that but wake up a little later now.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: We must find a way to make more money in theatre, not millions, but not nothin’. When people say yes to non-paying work it hurts us all in the long run. If producers, theatres etc. rely on our desperation to see our work realized then we will always feel desperate for both artistic opportunities and day jobs. For “The Share” it was a real pain in the neck to raise money to pay everyone, but because we did, everyone was compensated for every day on set and the actors got a bit added to their SAG pension and health benefits. I really admire organizations that give at least a small stipend to their playwrights, actors, and directors so we don’t have to lose money if we want to get a drink after our show.
Also, as a member of Youngblood, the group for emerging playwrights under 30 at The Ensemble Studio Theatre, I must say I think the model of the Youngblood brunch is genius. You see 5 great new short plays while getting drunk and having brunch. I think theatre with food is a great combination and makes theatre digestible to theatre and non-theatre people alike. Pun intended.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: Amy Herzog, Richard Greenberg, Wendy Wasserstein, Stephen Sondheim, William Finn.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Stories with characters that feel true and funny and sad. An excellent play is more filling than an excellent meal.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: For playwrights just out of college and young playwrights:
Get some sort of job, even if it doesn’t pay much or it’s gross, just get the job and earn some money and don’t live with your parents for too long; you won’t feel sexy.
If you happen to obtain a job where you pretty much like most of the people around you, the pay is okay and you have a little time for writing, you are lucky! (I’ve had a whole bunch of jobs – from school admissions to working at a Chinese Bank. And now I have five jobs as a writer/producer, a Real Estate Agent, a babysitter, and I am about to start a job as a playwriting teacher. And sometimes I have time to shower!)
For playwrights starting out later in life:
Wow, you are brave and poetic. Keep being you.
About choosing to write plays as a career:
It can be painful but if it makes you feel alive, keep truckin’.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: “The Share” - half hour web pilot I wrote. Coming in January 2012! Until then, like The Facebook page “The Share” please.
The Occupy Wall Street Youngblood Brunch! Sunday December 4, 1pm. My play is called “The Brainstorms” and is about two girls contemplating spending their Friday night protesting, once they finish curling their hair.
“Hand to God” at The Ensemble Studio Theatre - good show, good performances, good theatre; a night well spent.