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Jun 29, 2016

I Interview Playwrights Part 858: Reina Hardy

Reina Hardy

Hometown- definitely Chicago

Current Town- Interlochen, MI (teaching playwriting at summer camp)

Q:  Tell me about Bonfire and your Sky Candy show.

A:  Bonfire is the culmination of a very chill yet very helpful year-long development process that I've been doing as part of Pipeline's Playlab. I'll be presenting a reading of a play that's been tricky for me to write, and I feel like I'm the poster child for the usefulness of this process.

"Agent Andromeda and the Orion Crusade" is a devised circus show, helmed by my director soulmate Rudy Ramirez, (who directed my plays "Stars and Barmen" and "Changelings" at the Vortex) and starring the fine aerialists of Austin's Sky Candy troupe. The phrase "devised" sounds kind of artsy, but this is going to be an action comedy romp loosely inspired by Barbarella. Loosely, because we wanted to be queerer and less vintage in our demented sex positivity, and also because we wanted a real plot. A cheeky, referential sci-fi plot, but a plot nonetheless. I finished the rough draft of the script a couple weeks ago, and I'm really, really happy with it. It's hot. It's funny. It's about female desire, it treats sex as both ridiculous and important, and it contains a scene where two ex-lovers engage in trial by combat using a flying stripper pole.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I just got back from a workshop student production of "Fanatical," the science-fiction convention-set musical I've been developing with composer Matt Board and the Stable, a UK production company. I spent a month in glamorous Woking for rehearsals and constant brainstorming with Matt. We're getting things in shape for a UK production in spring 2017.

Finally, I have a new script in the works. It's a secret, but it's called "The Clone Princess."

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 grandma sent me a children's bible. Lacking context for the book, I read it cover to cover and concluded that it was very interesting but probably too structurally innovative for a small child. I mean, starting out with short stories, but then suddenly switching gears to a bildungsroman? And what on earth is going on in the final chapter?

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

A:  I'd like discussions of gender parity and diversity to start with writers, directors and other generative creatives, and I'd like these discussions to also include smaller non-equity theaters (which is where most people need to get their experience.) Oh, also, when I say "discussions," what I mean is "immediate drastic improvements."

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  For years now, my theatrical hero has been Bob Fisher of the Mammals in Chicago. He's set things up so he can make what he wants to make without being beholden to anybody. His work is totally unique to him, genuinely weird... but his response to feedback is to ask questions and push his work in new directions. He's my hero because he feeds himself first, and the audience first, and basically no-one else. It's a good thing to remember.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I'm a sucker for novelty, I'm actually a very cheap date that way. The first time I see something done, I'm always interested. The second time, I start needing to see you do it well.

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

A:  Get together with friends and make something. Don't ask for permission. Don't wait for anything.

Help other people. It's easy and fun. Think- "What can I offer this actor/director/playwright?" How can I be useful to them?" Organizing a reading for another playwright, for example, is a lot less work than organizing your own reading while still trying to be the writer in the room. And then, you get to take that burden off other people, while assisting in the creation of work that you could never personally create.

Finally, make it a goal to collect nos. If you don't have anyone saying no to you, you are probably not asking enough.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  In order....

Monologs for Nobody: I have two pieces in this interesting experiment at the Toronto Fringe:

Bonfire series! EVER so much goodness

Agent Andromeda: The Orion Crusade
tickets on sale now!

I have a website: reinahardy.com
As well as an NPX profile, where you can read full length scripts: https://newplayexchange.org/users/223/reina-hardy
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