Nov 2, 2012
I Interview Playwrights Part 520: Ike Holter
Hometown: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Current City: Chicago Il all the way! Going on ten years in July.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Last week, I wrote and directed a one night only sequel to the Nickelodeon 90’s classic “Are you Afraid of the Dark” called “THE MIDNIGHT SOCIETY.” (Remember SNICK? Awesome stuff.) We caught up with the society years later; pushing 30, casually alcoholic, and telling real life scary stories about Student Loans, Bedbugs, and GRINDR.
We did it in my backyard around a campfire and had almost 200 people in the audience; totally free, totally fun.
My show LOOM opens this Friday (Nov. 2nd) and it’s crazy; it’s about these three guys who get together on the ten year anniversary of their best friend from high school’s disappearance. Think “Bug” meets “Big Chill”.
We’re also doing it site-specific style, in a huge sweaty garage on the North Side of Chicago. So yeah. Shit gets weird.
I’m working on two workshops for November, the first one is called “CANON” and I’m adapting it from stories by Cathy Nathan. It’s about iconography and photography and James Dean and fame and poor people and it’s going to be totally cool. The music is great; songs written by Erik Della Penna, and it’s got a super-sweet-chi-city cast. Also get to re-team with my “HIT THE WALL” director Eric Hoff, which is always a good time.
Finally there’s “KITCHEN SINK”, which I’m writing for DePaul University’s Reskin Theatre downtown. Dexter Bullard’s directing it, and he’s a rock-star. It’s about a young couple going through a huge turning point in their relationship. When they find out that a personal, prized possession was stolen from them, they go absolutely batshit crazy, recruit a private detective, and slowly sink into a pitch-black-film-noir escapade as they try to bring the thief to justice.
I’m also on commission for the Goodman Theater with their First Unit program working on a show called “PROWESS”.
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’ve been writing and directing stuff since High School. I had this show called “REMOTE” that I wrote when I was 16. It was awful. Just terrible. The show was so bad that at one point an audience member turned to their seat-mate and whispered: “Is this supposed to be a comedy?”
I wanted to stand up and scream “Like duh! Couldn’t you tell by the terrible dialogue and the barely-there plot and character arcs?!”
But then I realized that their confusion was totally justified. I wrote something that even I didn’t want to see.
Now, whenever I’m in trouble with a script, I remember experiences like that and try to only write shows I’d pay money to see: not trying to be anyone else but myself.
(No, for real, though. That show was totes awful. Like “clear the room” smells of badness.)
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: Lower the god-damn ticket price. Jesus, it’s just awful. Lots of plays now are 90 minutes and 90 bucks. That’s a dollar a minute. If theater’s are going to charge that much, they should let the audience bring in mixed fruits and vegetables to throw at the stage if they don’t like the show.
The solution for this? I think? Maybe get smaller plays that appeal to more people. Have cheaper tickets. Because, honestly, for 90 bucks a ticket I should be able to eat a pulled pork sandwich and text my roommate.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: Kander and Ebb taught me class. Brett Neveu, Carlos Murillo, Caitlin Parrish and Dexter Bullard taught me Chicago storytelling--small theaters, big stories.
Everytime I see a John Guare play I want to just kidnap his brain and make it tell me things.
And I think Stephen Sondheim teaches us everything we need to know about adult, accessible, awesome story structure.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: This sounds weird, but I love plays that just start: no exposition, we’re just in a room and the story’s already in progress.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Be nice to people. Good actors, stage managers, dramaturgs, directors and producers will want to work with you if you have positive energy, interesting ideas, and don’t get wasted during their shows.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: I’m a founding member of The Inconvenience, we do Theater, Music, Art and Dance:
Also, LOOM is being produced by Nothing Without a Company, where I’m also a founding member.
Check out The New Colony, one of the best up-and-coming theater companies in Chicago
And my personal favorite place to see shows in Chicago is at A Red Orchid Theater.