Monday, May 01, 2017

I Interview Playwrights Part 932: Edward Einhorn





Edward Einhorn

Hometown:  Westfield, NJ

Current Town:  New York City

Q;  Tell me about The Marriage of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein.

A:  It's a marriage farce set at the fantasy wedding of Stein and Toklas. Four actors play about 30 roles, particularly featuring Hemingway and Picasso as well as Stein and Toklas. I wanted to create a tragic farce in the mode of Ionesco, structured a little like Waiting for Godot (two parallel acts that speak to each other), using some of the language of Stein. There's also definitely some Ridiculous Theatre influence (and we have a few Ridiculous Theatre veterans involved in the production). It tells the story of their lives together, which like all lives is a mixture of comedy and tragedy. Of course, there is a political edge, as it implicitly examines some of the politics of gay marriage. But essentially it is about two individuals and their unique relationship.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I am writing a play called The Resistable Rise of J R Brinkley, a political play in the mode of Brecht, dealing with our current president by telling the story of another notorious con man. Brinkley was a quack who became rich by selling a supposed cure for impotence--surgery that inserted goat testicles into human. He became a radio personality and eventually ran for governor of Kansas...and won, though they illegally invalidated the result. I am fascinated about how such a seemingly obvious fraud was able to fool so many people...and what it is about the American psyche that we celebrate wealthy men as if they are also great leaders.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  My older brother read me Ionesco as a kid (starting at seven years old). By nine, my favorite plays were Rhinoceros and The Bald Soprano.

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

A:  Obviously, the world of criticism is a mess. I wish there were more of an attempt in New York to pay attention to small downtown work. Even the OBIEs have become a celebration of the wealthy, mostly going to shows with huge budgets. Now that newspapers are dying, we have an even greater responsibility to support each other.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  As you might guess from the above, Ionesco and Beckett and Stein are all heroes. Vaclav Havel as well, and in this case I had the amazing opportunity to work with him for a number of years.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Theater that tackles great ideas with strong theatricality. I am all about finding innovative ways to theatricalize complicated political, scientific, and philosophical arguments.

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

A:  Turn back now. The landscape is getting harder and harder. But if you must do it, find some way to find the ideas or situations that most excite you and convey your excitement about it in your work. Anything can be interesting, if an audience understands why you find it interesting. Communicate that excitement.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  I will make this, why should you see The Marriage of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein. Here are some reasons: We have Mia Katigbak as Stein, who won both an Obie and a Lortel. Jan Leslie Harding, who plays Picasso, won two Obies. Grant Neale (Hemingway) is a Ridiculous Theater veteran, and Alyssa Simon (Toklas) has one nytheater.com's Person of the Year. And they are all amazing, as is our design crew. Also: It's fun, funny, only 80 minutes long, and comes with free champagne. And it plays at HERE May 10 - 28. You can get tickets/read more at www.untitledtheater.com

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