Sunday, March 15, 2015

I Interview Playwrights Part 724: Larry Phillips



Larry Phillips

Hometown: Brick, NJ

Q:  Tell me about your upcoming show:

A:  "Learning to Skip" is a comedy that begins in a Kindergarten classroom. Jill, an Alpha Mom discover that her son Preston, might not be as perfect as she had hoped.

Feeling that a weakness in her child is more a poor reflection on her as a parent then on the actual child, Jill is mortified. This tiny flaw of Preston's sets off a chain of events that unravel the lives of his parents, his teacher, and her poor fiancé. As each of them tries to rebuild they all are forced to look their own flaws, and soon a battle for power, perfection, persistence, patience, and peanut butter overcomes them all. Did I mention it's a comedy!

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I have 2 plays that are in the workshop phase that I hope to see productions of over the next year or so. "Arbuckle Syndrome" which is a look at Asperger's. And "Last Chance for Mama", which is Hollywood satire about getting
a TV show green lite.

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 in the 2nd grade, my teacher left half way through the year to adopt a baby. At the end of the school year, she came back one day to visit the class with the baby. For some reason, the class sang lullabies to the kid. After the third lullaby, I or reasons I do not know, shouted, "Geez kid, go to sleep already." It got a huge laugh from both kids and the adults in the room. It's my 1st conscious memory of what it was like to get a laugh...and I'm still chasing that feeling to this day.

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

A:  It's not something I would change as much as something I would love to see more of: "Paying it Forward". When you find yourself in situation where you can help a playwright, a director, an actor, a designer find work, please do. On each show we try to bring someone in that we have worked with before and really liked. They may not be making a lot of money (or any) but each opportunity to work and meet new people is an open door. People have done it for me, and am forever grateful.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  At 12 years-old I was introduced to work of Neil Simon and David Mamet, and I become obsessed with both of them. Two very different men, yet 2 playwrights who write in very specific rhythms. I am fascinated with rhythms; how people speak, how they write, how they sing. When I write I always think about each character and his/her rhythms of speech, and I have to think Mr. Simon and Mr. Mamet played a huge part in that education for me.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  There isn't one specific type that excites me. My general rule is, just please don't bore me. I'm not saying everything has to be outlandish, or have twists and surprise endings. Just assume that your audience is as smart as you are. I get very restless at a show when I'm 2 steps ahead of what I'm watching.

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

A:  Save everything you write and every now and then revisit it. I don't care if it's a entire play, a scene, or four lines of dialogue. You never know when something you wrote six years ago might trigger a new idea.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  "Learning to Skip" plays April 23rd-May 3rd at The Bridge Theatre in Shetler Studios. If you come and don't like the play, you may see me afterwards and I will give you your money back.
Tickets can be purchased at RandomlySpecificTheatre.com


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