Monday, January 09, 2017

I Interview Playwrights Part 902: Patrick Flynn




Patrick Flynn

Hometown: Wilmington, Delaware

Current Town: Bethesda, Maryland. But I've also lived in Washington, DC, Alexandria, VA, Silver Spring, MD, Los Angeles, CA, and North Wales, PA.

Q:  What are you working on now?

A:  Right now I've got a commission with Flying V Theatre called Sheila & Moby. It had its first reading at the Flying V Awesome-a-Thon fundraiser in December and that went very well.

My play Anatomy of an Infidelity from 2016's Page-to-Stage Festival at the Kennedy Center was received very well as was my Capitol Fringe show Giant Box of Porn. The problem is, as always, breaking the cycle of: having a reading, the audience/actors loving it, and then nothing. Obviously, commissions don't usually suffer that fate but there's so much great theatre here in DC, I'm really struggling with what do with these scripts once we've had readings and/or workshops.

It occurred to me recently this is probably why so many people form their own theatre companies. But I have less than no interest in doing that. So: ONWARD!

Q:  Tell me about the Original Cast Podcast.

A:  I had two or three podcasts while I lived in L.A. but never found one I really liked. Once Erin Teachman had me on his DC theatre podcast Exit the Stage Door, I started to think about having a podcast of my own again.

The idea came simply because I was shocked to discover no one else was doing it. Original cast albums are this uniquely theatrical artifact and they have their own life independent of the shows they are attached to. My theory was that every theatre person had one cast album that really lit their world on fire when they were young. And it seems I was right.

The show debuted in March 2016 and has been growing very steadily since. It's had some good luck. Robbie Rozelle became a fan early on and tweets about the podcast a lot. And, just recently, I was fortunate enough to catch Daisy Eagan between performances of The Secret Garden at Shakespeare Theatre her in town which obviously got some downloads.

I did the first live episode at the Flying V Awesome-a-Thon and really am looking forward to doing more.

It's a lot of work because I edit the 2-hour interview down to 45-55(ish) minutes for release and add songs clips and such but I love doing it. It's a lot of 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:  This is going to sound cheesy but it's 100% true.

When I was a kid, I did a lot of theatre at the Wilmington Drama League. Every summer they host the Jeff Walker One-Act Festival for young directors. Tech in those days was an all-day affair. Most people are in more than one show so we would just come and hang out all day.

My friend John Bromels told me I should watch the tech of a show he was in. As I sat in the house I saw this guy about my age running from the stage to the house and back again. I found he was not only acting in the play but directing and had written it as well. That was Keith Powell who would later go on to play Toofer in 30 Rock.

It had never occurred to me before that someone my age could write a play. I just didn't know you were allowed. I met Keith and we became friends and later collaborated on a lot of web content.
I wrote my first two one-acts that fall and just never stopped.

footnote - you can learn about Jeff on my blog here which could also be an answer to this question: http://www.unknownpenguin.com/2015/04/someone-elses-story-2/

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


A:  The cost. I'm sure there's a reason tickets are so expensive but it is inaccessible to so many because of the cost. It really pisses me off that seeing live theatre is not something you can just do on a whim. I don't know what the answer to the problem is but if I had a magical theatre wand, that is how I would wield it.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Bob Fosse is my theatrical idol in a lot of ways. I find him fascinating, brilliant, and frustrating.
David Ives, Yasmina Reza, and Stephen Sondheim are probably my three biggest heroes from a writing standpoint. More than anything I admire their efficiency of language. They create and present clean, clear, & crisp characters using as few words as possible.

Ives's All in the Timing is a book every theatre kid my age had and it has really stuck with me.
Reza's Art is a play I'm constantly chasing.
And Sondheim is Sondheim.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  That's a really hard question to answer. I guess the answer is: anything alive. Anything that people are doing for the love of it. Anything where the energy from the stage is infectious. Anything where everyone left it all on the boards. That's what excites me.

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

A:  Don't be precious with your gift. The more you write, the better you get. So don't be afraid to throw away pages and pages of a script to make it better. And listen to everyone's notes. You want the best idea in the room, no matter who suggested it.

And cut Scene 1.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  I'm doing Play-in-a-Day here in Bethesda on February 18, writing and directing a 10-minute play in 24-hours representing team Adventure Theatre MTC. http://www.bethesda.org/bethesda/play-day
I'll have something at Page-to-Stage at the Kennedy Center but I can't really announce that yet (possibly because I haven't written it yet).

And listen to The Original Cast on iTunes. I'm really proud of it and I think all music theatre fans will love it. https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-original-cast/id1093807015?mt=2

And you find all about me at http://www.unknownpenguin.com/about, on twitter at https://twitter.com/unknownpenguin, and at the New Play Network at https://newplayexchange.org/users/1099/patrick-flynn.

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