Thursday, February 02, 2012

I Interview Playwrights Part 424: Eddie Antar



Eddie Antar

Hometown: Brooklyn, New York

Current Town: New York, NY

Q:  Tell me about The Navigator.

A:  The Navigator is about a man that suddenly gets a gift. He begins to get the answers to every decision in his life. Is this a good thing? At first, sure. But after a while... what's life without risk? What value does victory have when there's no possibility of defeat. There was a wonderful Twilight Zone episode where this bank robber dies and goes to the afterlife. He's met there by an angel who greets him and tells him he can have anything he wants. First he asks for things like money and dames. The angel complies. Then, he says, "this is no fun. I want it to be a challenge. It should be harder." The angel complies. Finally, the bad guy says "I've had it. I can't take it anymore. I want to go to the other place." The angel looks at him and says "This is the other place".

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I just finished my first bi-lingual play called "Papi / Flaco" about a Dominican family that lives in the northern section of Manhattan called Inwood. It's the story of a father who coaches Little League baseball and his son who plays on that team. The play explores the mores and cultures of the Latino community, specifically when it comes to the roles of men and women. My short play "Gifted Child" about a couple of divorced parents called into a teacher conference and discover that their child has healing powers, has been chosen to be in The Network One Act Festival in New York City so I'll be working on that. I will also be having a public reading of a play called "Life On Hold", which is about the game changing effects on five Jewish women from Brooklyn who re-start their weekly card game three months after 9/11.

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 a kid I use to play ball against the side of our house. I would throw the ball against the wall and act out the entire baseball game. Lots of kids do this BUT! I would act out both teams (I was a Yankee fan and they were always playing the Red Sox) AND we weren’t the only one scoring runs. I would even act out visits to the pitcher’s mound and injury time outs. And, yes, every once and a while THE YANKEES WOULD LOSE! Which allowed me to act out the losing locker room interviews. Here’s the key to all of this. It had to be real. It had to be stuff that would happen. Even if it didn’t go my way. Of course I won most of these fantasy games, but it wasn’t easy.

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

A:  My favorite type of theater (or any narrative art) is the type that makes you believe stuff that would never happen. When point A and point B are that far apart and you take an audience on a journey from one point to the other in a believable way... that's awesome. Many plays (movies, tv...) I see have these cool premises but don't take the time to get from point A to point B. It's not that she would never sleep with him, it's that you didn't lead us to believe that she would sleep with him.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  David Mamet, Stephen Adly Guirgis, Sanford Meisner, Susan Lori-Parks; these guys understand the music of language. They see plays as musical. I love that.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I'm not big on the experimental stuff. Though done well... sure. I also don't like the obvious Good Guy / Bad Guy stuff. I saw a play once that was nothing more than an indictment of Orthodox Jewish Women. I get excited by the type of theater that features struggles and big questions. Struggle is more important that conflict. Conflict is The Evil Empire wanting to destroy The Republic. Struggle is watching the head of the Evil Empire agonize over the fact that his son is part of the Republic. Shakespeare knew this. That's why you could identify with even the most evil of his characters.

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

A:  Your ideas are worthy. ALL your ideas are worthy. Take the time to move your story from point A to point B. Allow yourself to be painted into a corner with your scripts. It's how your characters get out of the situation that's the good stuff. And the basics: Someone must have a dire need. Their actions and words have to stem from that dire need. There has to be an obstacle. There needs to be a resolution. The resolution need not be a clean one, but there needs to be some sort of resolution.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A;  My New York Innovative Theatre Award nominated play “The Navigator” will be remounted by the WorkShop Theater Company, February 9-March 3. For details and to purchase tickets visit
www.workshoptheater.org/mainstage/2012/navigator

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