Monday, October 06, 2014

I Interview Playwrights Part 696: Brooke McEldowney


Brooke McEldowney

Hometown: I was born in Charleston, West Virginia. However, I grew up outside of Tampa, Florida. I pretty much think of my hometown as the town where my present home is, which is...

Current Town: ...Kennebunk, Maine

Q:  Tell me about Many Mansions.

A:  Many Mansions is the twilight of the gods, a miracle play, a sex farce, and the redemption of God with a teardrop. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Q:  What else are you working on now? Where can I read your comic strips?

A:  Most of the time, I'm working on my strips, "Pibgorn" and "9 Chickweed Lane." Because they are, by their nature, narrative rather than gag-a-day strips, they are as close to stage plays or screenplays as one can get with a pencil. I have written a screenplay for a story I created in Chickweed called "Edie Ernst, USO Singer - Allied Spy," which, despite the derring-do implicit in the title, is really a kind of epic love story. It is under option for screen realization. You can find both "Pibgorn" and "9 Chickweed Lane" at http://www.gocomics.com/pibgorn and http://www.gocomics.com/9chickweedlane. Chickweed also appears a innumerable newspapers here and abroad.

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

A:  I can't think of one, really. I've been drawing cartoons, obsessively, since I can remember. I suppose that would say all that can be said.

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

A:  I wish that it weren't a place where a standing ovation is no more significant than an occasion for some well-deserved stretching and scratching. If the occasion onstage is something that brings me to my feet, it would mean so much more if the rest of the audience weren't already there fumbling in their overcoat pockets for their train tickets and yawning.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Shakespeare for poetry, Shaw for argument, Terence Rattigan for empathy, Noel Coward for Noel Coward.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Telling a story absolutely wonderfully - not grinding an axe instead.

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

A:  The trait that separates human beings from other animals is not the opposable thumb; it is that we tell stories -- in theater, cinema, newspaper comics, comic books, around water coolers. It is what we are as creatures. Look in any bible, at any prehistoric cave-wall painting, at any two people sitting on a front porch. Stories are related as soon as the human mouth opens, to give directions, to complain to a cop, to lie to an electorate. In writing a play, your opinions are not half so interesting as the story that leads the audience to be hushed and coughless while you're telling it. Learn how to tell it well. And don't congratulate yourself over your opposable thumb.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:   https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/many-mansions-a-play-by-brooke-mceldowney 
 
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