Thursday, January 21, 2016

I Interview Playwrights Part 812: Matt Cox

Matt Cox

Hometown: Rowlett, TX

Current Town: New York, New York

Q:  Tell me about Puffs.

A:  Puffs is the story of the other kids in the class of 1998 who attended a certain famous magic school from a certain famous book series about a certain famous boy wizard. Our hero is Wayne Hopkins. Not exactly the ‘coolest’ kid, not particularly ‘good’ at magic, and also just happened to be placed into ‘not exactly everyone’s favorite’ house: The Puffs. The play follows Wayne and the other Puffs over the course of seven years. Seven increasingly eventful years full of snakes, monsters, a very evil wizard, and many other things that probably shouldn’t be around unsupervised kids.

Basically it’s sort of a Rosencrantz and Guildenstern-like trip through that previously mentioned book series. It a parody and a love letter, while also about growing up and all that sort of fun stuff.

It features a wonderful cast including Zac Moon, Julie Ann Earls, Langston Belton, Madeleine Bundy, Stephen Stout, Evan Maltby, Andy Miller, Ellie Phillips, A.J. Ditty, Jessie Cannizzaro, & Nick Carillo. Puffs was directed by the ever so talented and amazing Kristin McCarthy Parker. It is currently playing at The People’s Improv Theater.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  A few projects actually. A Game of Thrones-esque Fantasy Musical, with a working title (at least in my mind right now) A Song For Every Sword. A site-specific murder mystery/ horror/comedy The Last Request of Charles Beauxner, which just had a first read through the other night. I’m in the very very early stages of developing a big multi part Sci-Fi epic. And I’m always making tweak to Kapow-i GoGo, my first produced play/ darling. (It was a 9 episode celebration of Saturday morning cartoons/ video games/ lots of things. It was quite fun.)

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 don’t have a lot of fun theater or writing related stories as a child (except the time I got to do the line for the letter ’T’ in the strange alphabet/ Texas history hybrid, ’T’ was coveted as of course it stood for……. Texas. I’m sure that set me on a path somehow.)

But, one thing growing up that certainly contributed to the type of stories I love. All throughout my childhood my dad and I both read through the works of David Gemmell, a fantasy writer. He would read it first and then eventually I would catch up to the book he had just read. In retrospect these books probably weren’t super appropriate for 4th grade me, but the different blends of heroes and their crazy antics developed a very active imagination and a love of adventures. I was often that kid, the one reading the book with the guy holding an axe fighting orcs or something on the cover. And happy for it!

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

A:  Everyone should be represented across all aspects of theater. Writers, actors, directors. Diversity is important for representing life & creating different works across the entire spectrum.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  The first playwright I fell in love with was Christopher Durang. Just the way he used comedy, and often mixed with such serious things, was a lesson every time I opened one of his plays.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I enjoy theater with a touch of something unexpected for the stage. Fantastical elements, or an epic larger than life plot, or even just a real ambitious scenic design. Things that really reach into the imagination and makes something tangible and real for an audience. I like theater that thinks outside of the box in a still entertaining way, and has a real soul in it.

I also enjoy things that are on the lengthier side. It it’s longer than 4 hours I’m into it.

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

A:  Find a team. Starting off is so much easier when you have a group of talented friends/ collaborators rising through ranks with you. I wouldn’t be doing anything if it wasn’t for the people I’m surrounded by constantly making me strive to do better. It certainly helps.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Puffs is currently running through March at The People’s Improv Theater.

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