John J. King is a Boston area playwright who has covered everything from post-apocalyptic societies to James Bond inspired Shakespeare.  It seems that there is no subject that falls under his radar.  He spoke to Rich Burns from Dream Weird to talk about his latest project:
Picture
John J. King, Playwright and Ship Captain
What has been the inspiration for your latest play?

Whistler in the Dark commissioned five groups to each adapt a different act of Hamlet.  I was assigned Act II, which has a lot of intrigue and spying in it - Polonius sends a spy to look in on Laertes; Ophelia "tattles" on Hamlet; Claudius sends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on Hamlet, etc.  My grandfather had just died and some of my favorite memories with him were of watching James Bond films, so those were fresh in my mind.  I thought of doing Act II of Hamlet as a James Bond thing and the pieces just fell into place after that.  We did it just as Act II for the Whistler event, but the response was so positive I decided to do the full story of Hamlet as a James Bond adventure.  Thus: From Denmark With Love.

Did you collaborate with anyone on this piece?

Not directly from a writing standpoint.  But I worked with two actors on the original "Act II" version: Georgia Lyman and Daniel Berger-Jones.  They were a huge help in tweaking some of the details and style of the piece.  When I began to expand and do the full version, I did so very much with the two of them in mind to play the leads, and I had their interpretations of the roles very clearly in my head as I was writing.  I also had a sense of who I wanted to direct the piece and wrote with him in mind - essentially knowing that if I could make him laugh I had gold.  That's always been the most important collaboration for me: having a few key people who's noses I trust, and if I can get the reaction I'm seeking from them, I tend to be going the right direction.  Lastly, I have to mention Shakespeare and every single James Bond movie, because I watched them all just for this, and since the play is a parody of both Hamlet and the Bond franchise, a lot of its style, characters, and humor, are directly inspired by/riff off of moments from those pieces.  

How is it different from your last project?

It's a much better story.  And much closer to what I wanted to do.  

Who have been your influences in play-writing?

Charles Ludlam, Ryan Landry, Monty Python, Tennessee Williams, Rimbaud, Picasso, Mark Twain, Jesus Christ, and Willy Wonka.

How long does it take you to write most of your plays?

This is arbitrary but I tend to feel that if it takes me more than a couple of weeks to do a first draft, I need to throw it out.  Meaning if I'm not so excited by it that I can't stop working on it and finish it, it's probably not worth an audience's time.  That said, there's a good bit of pre-writing work (brainstorming, sketching, outlining) that I'll do to build up to that, and obviously rewrites.  Those periods are pretty unpredictable.  But in terms of straight writing the piece, I get itchy if it takes me more than 10 - 15 days.

What’s your next project? 

I have a few that I really want to work on and they are currently battling to see who'll come out first.  One is a piece based on The Emperor's New Clothes but takes it in a slightly more political/class direction, the idea being that we're in a world where the disparity of wealth goes to an extreme: the play starts with the 1% owning 95% of the wealth and ultimately ONE PERSONE (the Emperor) owning 95% of the wealth.  He competes with other blue bloods to get fancier and more expensive clothes, ultimately having a gown "made out of human souls" (which is why he appears naked to everyone else).  Meanwhile others can't keep up and end up in poverty until he's the only wealthy man left and is surrounded by a world full of very poor, very angry people.  It's about the economic issues in the world right now and the direction we seem to be going, as well as a question: how long will it take people who've been screwed by the system to take action?

A second project is an adaptation of Huck Finn, but in a world where women are treated as objects, so it's about gender wars as opposed to race.  

And most importantly what is your favorite food?  

Bacon cheeseburger.

You can learn more about John’s plays here: http://www.j-rexplays.com/  and here http://www.vaqueroplayground.com/  

Thanks John!
– Rich Burns

*Please consider donating to our fundraiser to "Conquer Berlin and Beyond" at:  Dream Weird: Europe.  We need and appreciate every bit of help along the way.  Thank You!

 
 
Silvia Graziano is a not the kind of playwright that writes for one-dimensional characters.  As co-artistic director of the Fort Point Theatre Channel and resident playwright, she reaches deeper than the average scribe.  She has graciously given an interview to Dream Weird:
Silvia, how Is This Play Different From Your Other Work?
Indiscreet Discretion is different from my other work because it mixes reality with surrealism and it's a story within a story - this is the first time I've used this literary device in my writing.  The play also combines traditional theatre with original dance by Contrapose Dance and live music composed by Brendan Burns.  I have never collaborated with dancers and musicians on a play before, it's been a lot of fun working with different artistic mediums. 


What Made You Interested In This Subject Matter?
Indiscreet Discretion explores the battle within each of us between our human potential and our animal impulses.  I was inspired to tell this particular story after reading "Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence" by Dale Peterson and Richard Wrangham.  Human evolution and our attraction to violence are two subjects that have always fascinated me.  I am also an avid reader of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung's writings and have incorporated Freud's structural model of the human psyche (the id, ego, and super-ego), specifically dealing with the id vs. the ego and the conscious vs. unconscious mind.


Has It Been A Long Writing Process? 
This story has been living in my head for about three years.  I actually started putting my thoughts onto paper two years ago. The few scenes I created turned into a 20 minute play called "Heads or Tales?" that was part of the Small Theatre Alliance of Boston's Feverfest in 2010.  Shortly after that, I decided to turn the 20 minute play into a One Act called Indiscreet Discretion.  I only had the first few scenes written when I started the writing workshops with my actors.  I didn't have an ending and had no idea where the story was going to go.  The actors helped me create the rest of the story by improvising scenes I had envisioned in my head.  Then I would go home and see if I could incorporate the scenarios into the play and have them read or act out the new material at the next workshop.  Nothing helps a writer more than hearing his/her words spoken by someone else because the translation from page to stage isn't always easy.

And have I mentioned how stupid in love I am with my actors?   I could not get from point A to point B without them.


How Have Your Collaborations With This Project Been Going?
The meetings with the design team - set designer, composer, lighting designer, choreographer, costumer, make-up artist, etc. have been so inspiring.  I'm honored that these artists believe in my work and want to use their talent to help build the play with me.


When Will The Show Go Up and Where?
Click on this link for info!

Thanks Silvia,
– Rich Burns


*Please consider donating to our fundraiser to "Conquer Berlin and Beyond" at:  Dream Weird: Europe.  We need and appreciate every bit of help along the way.  Thank You!
 
 
Coming Soon:  We will be interviewing artists in the Boston area about what they're doing, with whom they are doing it, who they think you should know about, and anything else they compel us to put into print.

Boston is our first mission city; it is also our home base.  As such it should be easy to do this blog section, right?  Well, YOU try picking a couple people to focus on from the hundreds of talented and gorgeous stars in the scene you are completely in love with...  Artistic polyamory at it's most bacchanal!

Come back soon, for we WILL pick, AND deliver.

Vive la Liberté dans l'Art,
-UnAmerika's Sweetheart Karin Webb