new play development

Writing: The Lumberjack’s Friends, a One Act by Ryan Bruce

I originally wrote The Lumberjack's Friends about 8 years ago when I was in need of an original monologue. I discovered it was hard for me to write the monologue without completing the world around the piece. So I wrote a play. It was pretty bad at first. I’ve learned in the past 8 years that’s how it works. Words need to be forced out and stringed into stuttered coherence until a refinement comes along in the way of editing and rewriting. I’ve always loved the idea behind the piece. And that’s what has stuck around in the years since inception.

Originally, the piece was set on an elevator, because, as I like to point out: everyone needs to write a bad play set on an elevator at one point in their artistic career. The biggest step in the right direction was when I moved the action into an office.

So what’s the play about?

Claudia claims she speaks to inanimate objects. Jessica works a boring day job. The already fading friendship suffered a blow when Jessica saw Claudia speak to a strange object outside of an engagement party. Claudia believes she needs to kill Jessica now. But will the voices stop her or urge her to complete the murder? Claudia arrives in Jessica’s workplace afterhours and holds her hostage while combating her own intentions, desires, and destiny.

I wanted to create a piece that 1) questioned assumptions and prejudice against schizophrenia, 2) had the possibility of gender bending in casting, and 3) provided laughter from pitch dark chasms. The gender thing eventually morphed into female characters and a note that they could be male. The schizophrenia, if produced well, will successfully question social norms on the disorder. If done badly, well, there’ll be a huge stereotype onstage. But that’s the sort of beauty in drama: interpretation, be it horrendous or fantastic.

I’ll be putting the play up on the New Play Network and a sample here on my site soon. 

Announcement: Directing Punk by Michael Harris at arciTEXT 2015

I am pleased to announce that I will be directing Punk by Michael Harris at Arc Theatre’s 10 minute play festival, arciTEXT 2015. The theme for the festival is mortal sin and an eclectic group of 12 plays have been selected to be produced this April.

Punk centers on a heterosexual man’s attempt to infiltrate a prison unit for gay and transgendered inmates. The piece is loosely based on an actual unit in the Men’s Central Lockup in downtown Los Angeles. It’s quite a progressive endeavor for a large and historically violent prison.

The production is cast and we have already had a first read and discussion. The piece will be presented along with the other 11 plays on April 11th and 12th at the Frontier Theatre in Chicago.

Speaking of the first read: one of my favorite activities is discussing and parsing a new play with a playwright and actors. I love sitting around a table and dissecting the play’s world while asking tough questions that gets blood flowing. It gets even better when we move into blocking and building the world physically onstage. As a director, I strive to never let go of this creative, world-building ideal in my process. It is rewarding both in process and product.