nytheatre.com q&a preview by Julian Sheppard
March 14, 2013
What is your job on this show?
What is your show about?
Two bartenders, Ray and Ed, have the chance of a lifetime - will they succeed or lose everything?
When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?
I have the sneaking suspicion it was always. I was lucky enough to grow up around theater, as both my parents were involved in the arts. I remember seeing the original incarnation of Litle Shop of Horrors at the old WPA Theater on west 23rd street when I was... young. So I had a familiarity and comfort with theater that made it easier to imagine as a career. Or if not career, a thing I did all the time. But the play I say, that made me sit up and go, what the hell was that? Was Reckless, by Craig Lucas at Circle Rep. I will never forget the moment the husband says "I took a contract out on your life." Maybe that's why I keep going. The desire for that one, perfect, indelible moment.
Complete this sentence: My show is the only one opening in NYC this winter that...?
Is commissioned by two actors and a director and specifically written for them. Okay, I confess I haven't done an exhaustive scientific search to verify that - and if there is another situation just like Owned, I promise to come see it! Neil Holland, Don DiPaolo and Sam Helfrich were introduced to me by Steve Belber, whose play Tape they had produced in Fall, 2011. They wanted to take on the challenge of a new play and roles created for them (and for Sam to direct). And that's where Owned comes from. They commissioned me, I wrote it, and now it's up. No muss, no fuss, and hardly a wrinkle. So come support theater that allows the playwright to escape the development process and features actors and director taking control of their careers.
Is there a particular moment in this show that you really love or look forward to? Without giving away surprises, what happens in that moment and why does it jazz you?
Well... there's more than one. And I hate giving stuff away. But I'm really looking forward to the moment right near the end, when the dust has settled and things have run their course, and Ray & Ed (Neil and Don's characters) are left with what has gone down. And after chaos, and passion, and everything they've done, they're left with... well, what? And it's quiet, and still. And they have to make a choice about what they're going to do next. There - that doesn't quite give it away.
Groucho, Chico, Harpo, or Zeppo?
Brutal, brutal question. In fairness, I have no connection to Chico. But Groucho is Groucho - the wit, the panache, the moustache. I actually went as Harpo for Halloween once, which I highly recommend: You don't have to talk all night, and if someone annoys you, just honk your horn at them. But I have to, in the end, go with Zeppo. Because people forget Zeppo, and nobody likes to be forgotten. So it's me and Zeppo down by the schoolyard.
Who are your heroes?
Mrs. Brown, who was my teacher in 3rd grade and whom I still remember. Sister Pat Carrigan, who gave me my first job in theater, at GeVa Theater, in Rochester, New York. Helen Merrill, because she was Helen Merrill. The writers in my writers' group. Joe Kraemer, because he makes everybody he comes in contact with feel like the most special person in the world. Craig Lucas, Tony Kushner, August Wilson, Marsha Norman, Kenny Lonergan, and about a hundred other writers. Nana Obermann. My mom. And of course, the Earl of Sandwich, without whom we would just be carrying around pieces of salami and cheese and have mustard all over our hands.