Thursday, December 30, 2010

God of Garbage

My hometown paper, The Stranger, takes down French playwright Yasmina Reza (author of God of Carnage) and it's pretty delicious.

Read the whole thing. It's short!

My favorite bit?

I can only imagine that people like her plays in the same way that people like to stare at themselves in a mirror: Vacuous, middle-class theater subscribers like to watch plays about vacuous, middle-class people.

You're playing my jam, man. You're playing my jam.

Be There In 2011

In the spirit of being there, I thought it would be nice to lay out who exactly I'd be showing up for in 2011. Who are the artists and companies I love? Whose shows do I recommend following in 2011? The writers of Youngblood, obviously, but also these:

The Debate Society

The Debate Society is made up of actors Paul Thureen and Hannah Bos as well as director Oliver Butler. Buddy Cop 2 was one of my favorite shows of 2010, and its ironic title (and marketing image) belie what a smart, funny, natural, and touching piece it is. It's being remounted at The Atlantic in January. Don't miss it!

Half Straddle

I love, love, love Half Straddle and the work of their resident playwright, Tina Satter. The girls and gays of Half Straddle combine poetic language with comedy and music and dancing in ways that are surprising and delicious. Tina Satter's Family was another one of my favorite shows of 2010. Their description: "Twenty-year old Lily is about to be impregnated with Rudolf Nureyev’s frozen sperm to make her mother happy. Little sister Frarajaca wants to stage an artistic gangbang. And Mum doesn’t want to deal with anymore goddamn idiots. It’s a family drama. Sort of." Amazing! My beloved Jess Barbagallo (from MilkMilkLemonade) is also a member of this company.

Michael Yates Crowley

I reviewed Michael Yates Crowley's Evanston: A Rare Comedy at PS 122 a while back and have been following his stuff ever since. He runs theater company Wolf 359 and a monthly salon series, Hearth Gods. Wolf 359 "takes a chainsaw to language and pretension to create a new kind of American theater." A to the motherfucking MEN. Michael is in the Soho Rep Writers/Directors Lab this year and I can't wait for his reading.

Joe Tracz

Full disclosure: Joe and I have worked together before. Not that this matters, really, since I'm not a critic. Joe is one of the brightest, funniest, nicest, cutest playwrights I know and a member of Ars Nova's Play Group. He writes plays about gay werewolves and dance parties aboard satellites. Enough said. He is really, really taking off.

The Amoralists

What can I say about The Amoralists that hasn't already been said? They are probably the single most important theater company downtown and resident playwright Derek Ahonen has a real set of brass balls. This is what mainstream theater would look like if it weren't so boring and dusty.

And finally, Little Lord

I'll confess to being partial to a junky, toy theater aesthetic and the Little Lords have mastered it. Little Lord "manipulates classic texts, pillages faulty nostalgias, and celebrates the homemade as a means to create vibrantly bawdy, offbeat, intelligent, queer, funny (and often musical) theater." I loved, loved, loved their version of Babes in Toyland with David Greenspan and I look forward to their version of the tale of John Smith and Pocahontas.

Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Brunch of the Living Dead.

Brunch of the LIVING DEAD

If you think the weather outside is FRIGHTFUL...

What better way to spend the very first Sunday of the New Year than cowering under your seat, clutching your bloody mary in abject terror. Welcome [creaking door noises] to the BRUNCH OF THE LIVING DEAD...

Six (it's a bonus pack!) brand new short plays in the horror/thriller/slasher genre. Laughs, chills, thrills, creepy voices, a new musical -- we've got it all. Kick baby New Year right in the diaper with the YOUNGBLOOD SUNDAY BRUNCH.

by Lydia Brunner
directed by Lila Neugebauer
with Lucia Brizzi, Darcy Fowler and Nedra McClyde

by Joshua Conkel
directed by John Giampietro
with Loren Brown*, Molly Carden and Maya MacDonald

by Darcy Fowler
directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel*
with Geneva Carr*, Frank Harts and Seth Kirschner

by Patrick Link
directed by Jason Bruffy
with Dylan Dawson, Julie Leedes* and Shawn Randall

a new musical by Eric March
directed by Abigail Zealey Bess*
with Robert Askins, William Jackson Harper* and Bobby Moreno

by Erica Saleh
directed by Kel Haney
with Jackie Chung*, Jared McGuire and Megan Tusing

* member of Ensemble Studio Theatre

Five brand new plays, plus our fabulous BRUNCH BUFFET of pancakes, eggs, bacon, pastries and our fiscally irresposible open bar - all for just $18! Special holiday beverages may be had!

or call (212) 247-4982 x105

Sunday, January 2
doors open at 12:30pm for the buffet (food goes fast so get there early!)
show starts at 1pm

PLEASE NOTE: We usually have a waiting list, so any reservation not picked up by 10 minutes before curtain time can NOT be guaranteed.

Ensemble Studio Theatre
2nd Floor
549 West 52nd Street (bet. 10/11)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year's Resolutions For the Playwright

Dear Myself,

Yeah, yeah, I know. Resolutions are for chumps. But let me tell you something: so too is going into a new year completely unprepared. Especially this one. "2011." See, I got a look at the guy, in a Preview Issue? And I'll tell you what, 2011 may look to you currently like a wide-eyed babe in a cunning party hat, but oh no. He's got plans, plans you're not gonna see comin'. Fortunately for you, me, us, whatever: I learned a few things here in 2010, and with these things thus learned, we're gonna make a few resolutions. Now sit still, it'll be all right. I'm a professional resolver.

1. Be not bitter. Look, it's hard. Theater has currently a narrow-feeling playing field with a very few resources, and so, the successes of our peers can feel like judgments against us. SHE got this thing why did SHE get that thing certainly I could have got that THING but maybe I didn't know the right PEOPLE or go to the right SCHOOL or go to SCHOOL AT ALL plus HAVE YOU NOT NOTICED I HAVE BETTER HAIR etc etc. But I'll tell you, nothing is uglier than a chorus of brilliant people wallowing in mean-spirited, cold-hearted disengagement. Blowing off steam is one thing, but the tone I've heard you take -- ! So fight the fights, certainly, drum up the awarenesses. But fight the battles of class with class, learn how not to self-defeat in your defeat, and for heaven's sake, do not delight in the failure of others. Find something to love instead.

2. Find something to love. Oh, hello! I didn't see you there. I know you love plenty already, but really. Really, this year, chase down an obsession (or two). Fill up books and pages with it. Research it, talk about it, learn about it, live it. Maybe it's a band, a genre, a language, a plant, a person, a philosophy. Watch what it wakes in you. Then write that down. 'Cause not to sound like a damn hippie, but that's kind of the point, you dunce.

(Sing this to yourself if it helps. Someday you're gonna be free, Lord.)

3. Write. Don't give me that face. Write. Under any and all circumstances. However you need to, with and without restriction. Start things. Finish things. Feel the fear and then jam a fist in its face. SOON THE FEAR WILL FEAR YOU.

Also keep giving yourself these pep talks, they are hilarious. Jam a fist, that's a good one, is that some fancy new slang?

4. Be there. It means something to people when you support them. Go see their shows, readings, puppet shows, pantomimes. Dance, after; drink, after. Feedback, sure, if they want it, but being present! Rising the tide that floats all our ships. Don't think you can't go because you never know what to say after. Being there is part of the faith we all share that what we're doing is a thing worth doing, and, look. Faith is a hell of a thing to have when trying to act on all of these other high-minded resolutions.

5. Speaking of ships: acquire, by any means necessary, a Youngblood Ship. For real this time. Something along the lines of a beautifully restored 1920s steam ship with jet skis and a grand piano and a lavishly-appointed dining room. Then commence sailing around the world, bringing theater and cocktails to all. Ahoy!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sam Shepard Is A Dick.

I recently read Patti Smith's truly excellent memoir, Just Kids, which details the singer's famous friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe from beginning to tragic end. As you may or may not know, Patti Smith and Sam Shepard were lovers for a while, and this period in Patti's life is just as romanticized in the book as any other. Patti Smith writes about Shepard with a lot of love and kindness. That said, here's the thing: I think Sam Shepard is a dick, and so, apparently, did Robert Mapplethorpe.

We've debated whether or not Sam Shepard is a hot playwright on this blog before. Link says yes. I say no, only because I suspected he was an a-hole. My suspicion has been confirmed. Patti Smith and Sam dated for a while before Patti knew who Sam actually was. He went by the name "Slim" (ugh, how pretentious) and Patti had no idea he was an Obie winning playwright. She wouldn't know his real identity until Jackie Curtis pulled her into the girls' room one night and yelled, "Don't you know who that IS?" Strike One.

Okay, a short diatribe that's somewhat unrelated. it burns me up that Jackie Curtis would be star struck by Sam Shepard when Jackie Curtis is JACKIE FUCKING CURTIS. If you don't know who Jackie Curtis was, (s)he was an Andy Warhol girl and the star of Women in Revolt. She was a genius comedian and the world is an uglier place without her. I don't know, it just makes me sad when the world doesn't remember the right artists and SO often those artists are queer artists. If I had a nickel for each of them, to quote a John Waters' movie, "I'd buy a big purple Cadillac and drive around and laugh at poor people." Anyway. Diatribe over.

Patti continued to date Sam even after his whole weird "not telling her who he is" thing. They wrote and performed the play Cowboy Mouth together.Then she found out he had a young wife and a new born baby at home. And she continued to date him! Okay, I know a lot of the blame must be placed on Patti for going along with all of this, but she wasn't the liar. (Also, I like her work a lot more than his.)

Robert Mapplethorpe and Sam Shepard seemed wary of one another. Of course Mapplethorpe was wary... look at the shit Shepard was pulling. Ladies, if your oldest friend in the world doesn't like your new boyfriend, chances are your boyfriend is a total dick. If your new boyfriend doesn't like your oldest and best friend, chances are your new boyfriend is a total dick. It's true in both directions.

Eventually Sam Shepard sort of stops talking to Patti Smith, which is fine. Patti went on to marry the love of her life, Fred "Sonic" Smith form MC5, for whom she wrote the beautiful song Fredrick. Sam Shepard went on to become, well, Sam Shepard.

It was a funny experience to read this book. I've been a huge Patti Smith fan since I was in Junior High School. Obviously, I don't know her personally, but her music is so intimate that it sort of feels like I do. And I've been the best friend to enough girls that as soon as "Slim" entered the book I thought, "Uh oh. I bet this is Sam Shepard and I bet he's a total dick."

I was right, and so was Robert Mapplethorpe.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Get On That Carousel, Old Man.

Youngblooders who turn 30 must take a ride on the Carousel.

Is it good that Logan's Run came out way before I was born, or is it sad that I'm old enough to know what Logan's Run is?

Friday, December 17, 2010

New Tick Tock with Chris Sullivan

Hi internet,

Just in time for the holidays is a new post on my news and politics blog, Tick Tock with Chris Sullivan. This week we discuss the Bush Tax Cuts compromise that went through congress this week, Don't Ask Don't Tell, and Republicans lovin' that Christmas, among other current events. Take a peek!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I have a soft spot for plays -- and styles of playwriting -- that have become the silent geriatric corner-sitters of the contemporary American theater. Plays that are broken, bent, hard of hearing; plays that are a bit too earnest, or tone deaf; plays that are raised in a different era, and according to different social mores.

I'm talking plays that are, for all "modern" intents and purposes, bad plays. Plays that ought to just cede their places to younger plays, turn up their toes and die (read: move over to academia).

I have a soft spot for these plays because they let us imagine a time when people thought about people and performance completely differently. These plays take for granted none of the psychological "truths" we rely on so heavily these days: that people don't always say what they mean, for instance, and that politics are always personal.

I'm talking about Racine and Dryden, about medieval passion plays, about early twentieth century agitprop, about grand nineteenth century melodrama.

Sometimes my affection blinds me to how truly bad some of these plays are. I sit beside them (if you'll excuse the long-suffering metaphor) cooing and asking them to, yes, please, to please tell me their stories. And they croak on inaudibly in heroic couplets and breathe on my face.

Other times, though, these plays sneak up on you with moments of emotional fire, finely-wrought ambiguity, and general cojones.

I'd love to find a place for such plays in our cutting-edge, ironic hearts. I'm sure there are ways of looking to Dryden for playwriting tips, even if those tips require a bit more translation than Albee's or even Annie Baker's. These old, frumpy plays might show us ways to reinvent the worlds we create on stage, to build rules of behavior and emotion from the ground up.

What do y'all think about that dear venerable theatrical nursing home? Do you have any old favorites that still whisper in your ear as you write?


Now I'll make my pitch:

If you're looking for some reinvigorated geriatric theater this week, check out American Centaur's LORD WHAT THESE WEATHERS ARE COLD, a mash-up of two fifteenth-century cycle dramas (The Second Shepherd's Play + Joseph's Trouble with Mary, for those of you keeping score).

It'll happen at the Montgomery Gardens in Prospect Heights (104 Montgomery Street, Buzzer 6), Thursday the 16th at 8:30. Free. Followed by drink and revelry.

See for details.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Hey everyone! A workshop of my play "The Bird and the Two-Ton Weight" is going up this weekend. Come check it out! Here's the info:

The Bird and the Two-Ton Weight
a new play by Darcy Fowler
directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel

As part of Ensemble Studio Theatre's 6th floor workshops

featuring Molly Carden, Seth Kirschner, Heather Robb, Chris Thorn, and Sarah Townsend Turner.

December 16 at 7pm
December 17 at 7pm
December 18 at 2pm and 7pm

$10 suggested donation
Reservations recommended. Email to

At Ensemble Studio Theatre
549 W 52nd Street (between 10th & 11th Aves)


Friday, December 10, 2010

Spidey and the Haters

I just bought a ticket to see Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark, and I feel compelled to contribute via the Youngblog regarding the bizarre, swirling cloud of public speculation, schadenfreude, and calamity that surrounded the show even long before anybody had seen anything. At this point the show is still in previews, so technically even now nobody has really seen anything. And yet people delight in hating on it, even before they've seen it, which says to me that they aren't hating on the show, they are hating on the artists' attempt to make it.

Basically, this is what I want to say.

I have no patience for the haters.

None. I just don’t. Especially the haters who are members of the theater community. Look, why are you gonna shit on fellow artists who have taken on a massive challenge in the hopes of achieving something magical? Are you jealous? Are you jaded? Or do you straight up have an astonishingly tiny mind?

It is disheartening that so many people are rooting for these artists to fail. It’s hard enough. Failure is the looming specter that haunts every artist, from the moment we dress up in whatever uniform we’ve been assigned and pretend to care about coffee, office management, or mail-sorting, to the moment we entreat all our friends on Facebook to please come to our summer Fringe show in a non-air conditioned 6th story walkup tenement black-box theater, to the moment our mothers call to politely remind us that the uterus is not a canned good, that a twin bed is not cute after college, and that we do not contribute to society in any measurable way. Okay, so maybe Julie isn’t doing tenement black-box shows anymore, but still, compared to other professions, the deck is stacked, my friends. Do we also need our fellow artists screaming for our blood?

Some people say that what bothers them is the amount of money being “wasted” on this project. First of all, let’s remember something. This is America, where the auto industry gets public money and the arts do not. If rich people want to make an investment in theater, let them! For God’s sake, let them! That’s awesome! Others rail against the show’s high ticket prices, which render this and most other Broadway shows inaccessible to average people. Yeah, that definitely sucks, but that’s what happens when you both try to pay artists living wages and try to do it with no public funding.

I chafe at this trend of blaming artists for working within the system to create their work. If the issue is ticket prices, blame our government and our voters for not supporting the arts. And if the issue is the Hollywood-fueled superhero worship, blame the audience for liking what they like. Don’t blame the artists for making the show that people want to see, and for attempting to do cartwheels down the tightrope between commerce and art that we all must navigate.

All this is not to say that smaller, weirder, cheaper theater isn’t worthwhile. I love it. I make it. I pay to see it. But there are some things that can be accomplished with a massive budget that cannot be accomplished without it. This is fact. Why should we shackle the people who have somehow wrangled access to those resources? Why do we want more limits to the variety of what we as a community can accomplish?

I’ve been rooting for Spiderman for years now, ever since I passed by the loading dock area for the theater while the doors were open and saw a dark jungle of cables and rigging dangling from the grid. I stopped and gaped. I was excited. I wanted to witness this. I was willing to save up the money and spend it on an event, one that would take its place in the litany of experiences that add up to my life on this planet. This is the point, people! This is why we do this!!

So yeah. Don’t hate on our own. Because whether you think it's good or not is completely irrelevent to whether or not they should try.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Asking For Trouble
is just two days away...I've heard there's going to be blood, avocados, and a bush!

Here's how it works:

Youngblood playwrights picked a title, a holiday, a director, and a couple actors out of a hat, then spent a week writing a ten minute play and...

Thursday Dec 9, Friday Dec 10, Saturday Dec 11

See for yourself :

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Link on Links Vol. 2

I once wrote a post about how it's so cool that on blogs you can link to stuff. I thought it would be cool to do this in plays.

Consider this scene from Death of a Salesman:

Biff: Pop! I'm a dime a dozen, and so are you.

Willy: I am not a dime a dozen! I am Willy Loman and you are Biff Loman!

Biff: I am not a leader of men, Willy, and neither are you. You were never anything but a hard-working drummer who landed in the ash can like all the rest of them! I'm one dollar an hour, Willy! I tried seven states and couldn't raise it. A buck an hour! Do you gather my meaning? I'm not bringing home any prizes any more, and you're not going to stop waiting for me to bring them home.

Willy: You vengeful, spiteful mut!

Aw. I love a good link.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Meet Angela Hanks

Last but not least, Ryan Dowler interviewed newbie Angela Hanks. Here's what she had to say on childhood lies, the virtues of Texas, and her various writing habits.

Ryan Dowler: When you were a child, did you ever tell an outrageous lie?

Angela Hanks: Of course, man. In sixth grade I told this chick, Anna, that I was a twin. I believe Abigail was my twin’s name. I chalk it up to a combination of that Good Ol' Middle Child Syndrome, an impressive imagination, and adolescent yearning. I am one of five. Smackest in the middle. I think I just wanted some person close to me. Since that past infraction, I've been fine with being the middle child. I love my brothers and sisters completely and wholly and have come to understand how incredibly important they are to me and me to them. I wouldn’t be this fine- ass individual without them.

RD: Where do you like to write?

AH: While I sleep with my laptop, I frequent the computer lab over at the New School. I recently obtained an MFA in Playwriting from there. I am not ashamed that I still write at the computer lab. Not ashamed at all. Sometimes my magical computer location is available. I’ve secretly cried in the computer lab because shit sometimes gets real when you’re writing plays. I have slept over at the computer lab. Seriously, I have. It’s the sense of communion, I believe, that attracts me to it. Everyone is there to get something accomplished.

RD: If you could give any book to the fifteen- year old version of yourself, what would it be?

AH: Bone Black: Memories of Girlhood by bell hooks. I had already read Carson McCuller’s The Member of the Wedding by then.

RD: I think we're the only two Youngbloods/ers/ies from Texas. Are you ready for the TEXAS POWER ROUND?

AH: Yes!!!

RD: Okay, here goes:

Have you ever been to Schlitterbahn Waterpark?

AH: I have!

RD: Isn't it the greatest?

AH: Fond memories, yes. While I did not last on the surfing simulation ride, I have not been dissuaded from putting “learn how to surf” on my To Do Before I Die List.

RD: Do you want to dispel any myths about Texas?

AH: I want to dispel myths in general but Texas and its people feature majorly in my work. Here’s some history for you: Texans were once called Texians for a ten- year period after the Texas Revolution which resulted in the Republic of Texas. But then the United States was all “Eff you guys you can’t be your own country, and we’re gonna start calling you Texans, and wait a minute- are you hanging out with both Mexicans and American Indians! What’s wrong with you? Put a border there. Send those Comanches along the Trail of Tears. And listen you immigrants living in the Texas Hill Country: you’re not Czech- American or German- American or Swiss- American. You’re just plain white, but please keep making your delicious, delicious beer. But Okay: assimilate and adjust”. And that’s how all of that happened. And you know what: black cowboys exist. I know this because I’ve been to the Black Cowboy Rodeo at the State Fair of Texas. And you know what else: racism kinda still exists in the United States. It’s just that it exists more openly in some places. Than others.

RD: Do you have a Texas flag shower curtain?

AH: I do not own a Texas flag shower curtain, but my Texas Driver’s License will not expire until 2012.

RD: Isn't Williamsburg just a more snooty, less diverse version of Austin?

AH: Ha! Yes. Poor, poor Willy B. Get with the Progress Program. I do know some kids who live in Willy B and they’re decent people and I wouldn’t be friends with them if they weren’t ‘cause seriously who has time for jerks?

I don't judge the old contingent of artists who sought affordable rents or anyone trying to find affordable anything but [the artist-influx needs to] maintain an awareness and respect for the folks who first lived in those “affordable” areas, and not by choice, but because financial circumstance limits them to these particular neighborhoods.. I live in Crown Heights which is awesome. It’s predominantly West Indian, but there’s a diverse, community-minded crowd developing. An incredibly dynamic mix of people. My favorite bar there is Franklin Park. One of the bartenders plays some awesome Luther Vandross jams. Because he genuinely loves Luther Vandross. And I genuinely love that.

Austin is pretty rad. It’s eclectic. And Austinites work collectively to keep it that way.

RD: Similarly, last question: How has place influenced your work?

AH: It takes many hours to drive across the state of Texas. On that drive, the entire state changes in geography. I grew up in Dallas. 90% of my plays take place in Dallas. I feel like sometimes I write about Texas to get back to Texas because I'm so far far away from Texas. And I want to be near it but I can't. Not right now, at least.

Meet Eric Dufault and Lydia Brunner

Eric: Hi Lydia!

Lydia: Hi Eric! Well, to begin with the obvious: Where did you grow up? And when did you start to think seriously about being a playwright and why?

Eric: I grew up in Pepperell, MA, a little town on the border of New Hampshire. Very small: horses, foxes, turkeys.

I never had this perfect Road to Damascus "I'm going to become a playwright!" moment. I wanted to be a writer when I was young and impressionable. Somewhere in high school I made the responsible decision to move away from prose writing; I could easily see myself becoming some hunchbacked hermit all alone in the MA hills.

I began writing plays, and that migrated into college, and here I am now. Beyond the collaborative aspect, I like the possibilities and limitations of theatre. For me, it forces a "story-first" mentality. Also, I think you can do weird stuff well and get away with it.

Right back at you: You grew up in CT, right? Did you always live there? Do you feel like it influenced your writing in any way?

Lydia: I grew up in Ridgefield, CT, but I was born in northern California. I rode across the country at about one and half sitting on my grandma’s lap. Ridgefield is about an hour from the NYC and a ten minute drive from there to the town they based the The Stepford Wives on. The town has a Main Street complete with a local pizza place, and a candy store full of middle school kids.

I think it factors in some of my work, but it’s hard to explain how. The isolation affected me, and certainly the lesson that wealth conceals but does not solve unhappiness.

I did not want to be a playwright until a few years ago. My first year at Columbia, I was dragged along by a friend to a reading of a play written by his teacher. We wound up at the bar with the cast, playwright and her husband. Someone bought me a beer, and the playwright asked me why I hadn’t signed up for her class. In the dark, I couldn’t think of a reason not to.

Alright, back to you. What's the weirdest thing you've written into a play? What's the best moment of theater you've ever experienced? And what writers do you admire? Would you say that your work has a particular style?

Eric: I'm going to swap up the order that I answer these questions, if just to make things difficult.

We talked about how difficult and unpleasant it is to describe your own work, so I'm going to tread carefully with these answers.

I'm sure I have a style, though I don't quite know what it is. It's dangerous to try to identify and stick to a single style anyway, right? You just become a parody of yourself. That being said, there are common trends in my writing, and writers who have clearly influenced me.

Though I'm sure they're real common influences all over the playwriting world, the two playwrights who impacted my writing the most are probably Sam Shepard and Sarah Ruhl. I think they do really similar things, one in that gruff cowboy way, and the other in that wistful poetic way. Their best plays both make their own universes with their own rules, but allow them to be really accessible. They're also real funny! Lately I've been really into Mickey Birnbaum and Stephen Adly Guirgus.

Some of my early college-era plays were pretty weird. I grew up reading lots of comic books, and I think the hyper-compressed comic book writing of the sixties fed into the way I thought (think) about stories. I would try to pack as much as possible onstage; there'd be lots of historical figures and talking animals. One play had Vincent Van Gogh, Harry Houdini, Pinocchio, and a pair talking bugs. I think I've become more restrained since then. But talking animals do come up a lot.

Best theater moment as an audience member: I saw some Boston production of the Tempest when I was a kid (it's my favorite Shakespeare); I don't even know how much I understood or enjoyed it, but that motherfucker is burned into my brain. So much magic!

These are good and difficult questions, Lydia, so I'm totally going to boomerang them back to you. How would you describe your writing? Who're your writing crushes/influences? What was the first play you ever wrote? Do you have a "magical moment of theater" story?

Lydia: I too, have trouble describing my writing style. I’d agree that it depends which play is being written and that style tends to follow the content. But I guess I like violence, sex and humor. I’m more interested in families than romance. Most of my characters don’t finish their sentences.

I really like quite a few playwrights. For the more contemporary sort: David Lindsay-Abaires, Sam Hunter, Adam Bock, Julia Jordan, Joe Fisher, Craig Wright, Stephen Adly Guirgis, and Martin McDonagh jump to mind.

My first play was a pretty awful treatise on a doomed romance, full of half poetic language without much plot. But I quickly moved on from that type of work.

I really like theater that frightens you. I’d say the moment in SoHo Rep’s recent production of Blasted when the whole space goes black was probably the most memorable experience at a play. You hear something like a bomb, and then the sound of heavy objects being thrown. You sit in the dark for what feels like an eternity while these sounds get louder and louder. I clutched a stranger’s arm for dear life. Then the lights came up and the entire set has been dismantled and blown apart.

Eric: Wow, Lydia, I feel as if I know you so much more both as a person and playwright! And I’m sure you could say the same for me! Sure am excited to see what we come up with!

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Lonesome Winter" Opens December 2nd

The Management and Horse Trade Theater Group


Lonesome Winter

A Christmas comedy for the suicide set!


Written by Joshua Conkel and Megan Hill

Directed by Meg Sturiano

Winter Lipschitz is lonesome. She has no friends, an addiction to the Shop at Home Network has run amok, her nipple hair is out of control, and on top of everything else, her cat Sparkles hates her guts. After a failed suicide attempt, Winter is visited by life coach Debbie Metzger-Bolger. Will Debbie give Winter the tools she needs to get her life back on track? Or are the Pearly Gates the only thing in store for poor old Winter?

Featuring Nicole Beerman*, Megan Hill*, Kirsten Hopkins*, Nick Lewis, and Joshua Conkel

December 2-19th@ UNDER St. Marks
Thursdays-Saturdays at 8, Sundays at 2
Tickets Available at

*Member’s of Actor’s Equity. Equity Approved Showcase.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Meet Ryan Dowler

Angela Hanks interviews new member Ryan Dowler (the dude on the left, not the chick on the right.)

Angela Hanks: So, you've lived in all 50 states. How was that?

Ryan Dowler: That’s an exaggeration of course, but I have lived in many places. It started when a friend and I dropped out of school in 2002. We were in love with learning and pretty full of ourselves, so we thought we would just do it all ourselves. That is to say, we would pick a city, move there and, with the help of great books and field trips, learn everything we needed to know about the world. The job market was good then so we could really choose any place in the country to move – ANY place – and we chose Iowa. There wasn’t any real reason other than the fact that it was “centrally located.” We knew no one there. Every day, when we weren’t working, we would get up early and spend all day completing assignments of our own design. The first textbook we picked for history (primarily because the Iowa City Public Library carried two copies) began by kind of saying, “Native American Genocide? Genocide Schmenocide! The numbers are greatly exaggerated!” We kind of looked at each other and thought, “What have we done?” But to answer your question, yes, then I moved around to a bunch more places, got degrees, etc.

AH: If you could perform one character from a play, who would it be?

RD: George Deever in All My Sons. Best walk-on ever. Or twenty years from now, Ray in Blackbird. Preferably anyone who’s an asshole and then isn’t an asshole and then still just might be an asshole.

AH: How does music inform your work? Does it? Or do you just like to rock out to awesome awesome jams?

RD: I’m one of those people who listens to one album over and over and over again while I work. It kind of acts as white noise to distract that part of my brain that wants to look all over or daydream or what have you. In high school, it was Weezer’s Blue Album and then a Ben Folds Five album over and over and over, and now lately it’s been Raphael Saadiq. When the album ends and iTunes switches to a new song, my brain goes, “B’wha?” and I have to start the album over.

In general, I always prefer music to no music. My girlfriend Molly and I just moved to NY and we live in this building with all these older quieter people and Molly keeps telling me to turn the music down. I keep trying to explain to her that in the building we’re the Randle P. McMurphy contingent and the Randle P. McMurphy contingent isn’t supposed to turn the music down. If anything, we owe it to them to turn it up. To be fair, it’s all like Ray Charles and Loretta Lynn and its not even that loud.

AH: Where do you like to write?

RD: I just came here from Athens, Ohio where I had the perfect place to write, a place called Donkey Coffee. There are so many places to sit, different rooms and kinds of tables to choose from and every table has it’s own little lamp. What it is, it’s cozy. In New York cozy means small, but in Ohio cozy means smartly lit and warm, with a place to hang your coat. There was a table on the second floor with a big window where you could watch the snow fall and the people walking on the street. There was a couch in a great big room with paintings better than windows, where you could sit and write for hours next to sleeping teenage couples wrapped up in limbs and sweaters and scarves. Not a bad thing to see if you’re trying to write about the better parts of being a human being.

I almost missed out on a year and a half of very productive writing time at Donkey. Athens itself is a place of contradictions as an environment for writing. A lot of great writers – Laura Jacqmin, Dana Formby, David Mitchell Robinson , to name too few -- have come out of Charles Smith’s program at OU lately, but the workload in terms of writing is intense (3 full-lengths and 60 short plays written and staged in 3 years + all the classes on structure and theory + teaching). You’re really getting your Malcolm-Gladwell-10,000 hours- thing, but the location can be very isolating, for good or ill. Winter in rural Ohio can get pretty depressing and I remember I had one of those graduate student therapists because I was having trouble leaving my house.

She said there must be somewhere else you want to go to do your work. And I said there is one coffee shop I like, but I can’t work there anymore because everything I’ve ever worked on there – every essay, every lecture, whatever -- is a piece of shit. It was a pretty pathetic show, but I completely believed it, and walking through the door just brought all that back and it was all very distracting and sad. Finally the thing that happened – Winter ended and I stopped being foolish and in a kind of Saved-by-the-Bell Scheme, I started writing there to get close to another more talented playwright that I had a crush on, who’s now my girlfriend.

I haven’t really found a place in NY yet. A lot of them are lit like a Wal-Mart. I like that CafĂ© Grumpy location in Greenpoint, but it’s very far away. Ditto Flying Saucer, but they won’t take any cards. Did you see that Joan Rivers documentary? I want to work in a coffee shop that looks like Joan River’s apartment. That’s what I want. Where you can transition from coffee to beer when the time is right. Also it takes credit cards. And has a little lamp on every table.

AH: You do know that your last name rhymes with another Youngblood's last name, right? How do you feel about that?

RD: Darcy Fowler is actually the first Youngblood/er/y that I met. There shouldn’t be much confusion. She’s much more socially adept and bright than I am. She’s the one I’d choose first to be on my softball team, based on what I imagine leading/being on a softball team might be like.

There’s actually an actress in L.A. with my full name. She’s much more googleable than me. Old friends sometimes contact me to congratulate me on my plays and on playing “Pregnant Girl #2” on The O.C.