Friday, October 17, 2014

I Interview Playwrights Part 703: Forrest Attaway

Forrest Attaway

Hometown: Gun Barrel City, Texas

Current Town:  Kansas City, Missouri

Q:  Tell me about Columbus Day.

A:  Columbus Day was originally written as a one act play back in 2006. In that version it was more of an experiment in tone and rhythm, a sort of language piece that explored two separate plot lines with a very strong lyric prose element. The first story; a History/English teacher at the end of his rope decides to hold his classroom hostage with a shotgun. The second story; a young woman with a history of physical, sexual and drug abuse fights for her unborn child. The stories were meant to move independently of each other in opposite directions but also maintain oddly familiar courses of action.

I had always felt that there was more to the play than just a pretty piece of prose so I recently built in a second act connecting the stories. The play now follows the young woman’s journey as she fights for custody of her unborn child against the father as well as Child Protective Services in the state of Texas. In the second act it is revealed that the teacher from the first act was her lover and that she is the reason he walked into the classroom with a shotgun.

The theme of the piece is very much “The inevitability of the human condition and that people never really change”

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I am currently writing the book for a new musical called “LEATHERFACE, the Texas Chainsaw Musical” due to open late spring if legal can get their act together. I also have a piece on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder entitled “Little Atlas”

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 grew up in a small town in East Texas. My family consisted of blue collar workers and white collar government contractors. So my youth was inundated with hauling hay in the summer or afternoon classes with my grandmother drilling the benefits of social etiquette into my rambunctious brain. During my years at school I never really sat at the same lunch table, I didn’t have a set group of friends. So even though I stood out among my peers, I was very much an observer. I feel this is where my need to tell other peoples stories came from.

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

A:  I feel the establishment of the regional theatre in this country hurts us more than helps us. I feel we need to find a way to franchise the smaller venues so that live art is more accessible to the masses. It would employ more artist and drive ticket prices down to a more affordable cost.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  DEAD AND GONE I have to go with Cliff Odets, August Wilson, Romulus Linney
ALIVE AND KICKING I would say Will Eno, Albee, McNally

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I have become a fan of the “found” theatre spaces. Don’t get me wrong, I still like comfortable chairs and cocktails, but there is something very exciting and voyeuristic about watching a story unfold behind a gas station or in the basement of an old warehouse.

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

A:  Playwriting is an exercise in patience, from the time an idea is born to the time it hits the stage may seem like an eternity. But I have learned things in this profession are exactly as long as they need to be. That goes for your work too; if you can describe your play in a paragraph, then it only needs to be a paragraph long.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  “Columbus Day” is premiering at The Living Room Theatre though the month of October in Kansas City MO Check out the website
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