Wednesday, January 06, 2016

I Interview Playwrights Part 809: Eric Bogosian

photo by MONIQUE CARBONI

Eric Bogosian

Hometown: Originally I come from Woburn, Massachusetts about ten miles northwest of Boston. Used to hang out at the Burlington Mall. We were the first "mall rats."

Current Town: New York City for forty years. Started here as a "go-fer" at the Chelsea Theater, then worked at the Kitchen for a number of years.

Q: Tell me about 100 Monologues.

A: 100 Monologues is a collaboration between me, my son Travis (who has produced all the videos and commandeered the shooting) and the community of great actors I've worked with over the years. I was playing cards with some of these guys about three years ago and the book "100 (monologues)" which was a collection of all the monologues I did Off-Broadway was just published and someone suggested that other actors try to do them, and we shoot them and post them.

Turned out it was a little more complicated than that. (All these actors are SAG actors. The shooting was more expensive than we expected.) Once we got all the union paperwork figured out, we formed a small production company and the actors basically donated their time. We rehearse for a couple of days and then shoot on the Black Magic camera. Many of these actors are character actors most people only get to see for a few minutes at a time in movies or tv. Here they get to stretch out and do their thing. It's all about having fun.

Q: What else are you working on now?

A: I just completed a big project, a history book about the true story of a group of Armenian assassins who avenged the Armenian genocide in 1921. It's pretty incredible. You can go to the Facebook page operationnemesis (one word) to learn about the book and Operation Nemesis.

I'm also acting on a new Netflix tv show called "The Get Down" about the birth of hip-hop. But we had to sign a confidentiality agreement promising that we wouldn't talk about it so that's all I can say.

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 spent most of my time by myself when I was small. I read endlessly and didn't get along with other kids. I spent most of my time in my room either reading or fantasizing in front of the mirror. Later I would find out that this was called "acting" and that I was good at it. So I started acting in high school, loved it and never gave it up. My beloved teacher had us write our own plays and I guess that was what got me started writing. My favorite story is writing the scariest story I could, reading it front of the class and having everyone laugh. I have learned by performing.

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

A: Make tickets cheaper. I think it's absurd that the people who work in the theater can't afford to see each other's shows. How are we going to learn and grow if we can't see the work of our colleagues? A less expensive theater is more vibrant. It is a younger theater. The union situation is problematic. We need a union but we also need the freedom to do shows for and by ourselves.

Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A: My first and foremost theater hero is Richard Foreman. He had a simple credo: put on stage what he would like to see himself. That's basically the impulse of a non-commercial, radical theater. I love commercial theater too, but for me, all the good stuff is happening on the fringes. It's where the invention happens. Joe Papp and Wynn Handman was/is also heroes of mine since both these men lived and breathed theater and dedicated their lives to spreading the word and making theater something that includes everyone!

Q: What kind of theater excites you?

A: I like energetic, awkward, slightly manic theater. I like theater that draws you in by its humor and energy and specialness. I'm a member of LAByrinth Theater Company and love what we do and how we do it. Probably my favorite piece of theater ever was "True West" produced by Steppenwolf Theater with John Malkovich and Gary Sinese. Dangerous and funny. The best. I like what Adam Rapp, Tom Bradshaw and Hallie Feiffer are doing . But you never know what's coming next that's going to blow you out of your socks.

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

A: Do everything you can to get your stuff on its feet. Table readings are not enough. Even if it's in the tiniest basement with an audience of ten, you have to get it on its feet. Theater makes it's own rules and you can only learn them by making theater and making mistakes. Theater is not for the timid. You have to throw yourself out there. There is too much emphasis on how things sound and not enough focus on how they PLAY.

Q: Plugs, please:

A: I love what is happening at Rattlestick, Playwrights Horizon, SoHo Rep, PS 122 and what's going on out at in Brooklyn at the Theater for a New Audience. Their production of "The Killers" with Michael Shannon was fantastic.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Enter Your Email To Have New Blog Posts Sent To You

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Support The Blog
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Mailing list to be invited to Adam's events
Email:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Books by Adam (Amazon)

1 comment:

Bobby Keniston said...

I have been a fan of Mr. Bogosian for years now, and even used some pieces of his monologues for auditions. This quote from the interview is a must for all playwrights: "Do everything you can to get your stuff on its feet. Table readings are not enough. Even if it's in the tiniest basement with an audience of ten, you have to get it on its feet. Theater makes it's own rules and you can only learn them by making theater and making mistakes. Theater is not for the timid. You have to throw yourself out there. There is too much emphasis on how things sound and not enough focus on how they PLAY."
Very well said, Mr. Bogosian.
Thanks Adam, for this great interview!