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"The Road to Odessa." written by Cameron Mckenzie. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “The Road to Odessa.” written by playwright Cameron Mckenzie.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Cameron Mckenzie: The Road to Odessa.

MC: What is it about?
CM: Its about loneliness in men and the subversive types exploitation we commit to women. For me it started with a thought “Wouldn’t this be easier if I just went and got a mail order bride” and the show is an exploration of that. Its also about lost love and family.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
CM: To tell the truth I was looking for a topic to write a show about and when I had the thought about mail order brides it seemed like a good idea. I started writing it and my brother Richard who is a comedian read it and said he just wanted to watch a show about who I am when it comes to love and loss. And then I really started questioning who I was as a man today and that’s when the play genuinely started for me.
It really sparked question of what is loneliness in the male condition and what does it do to me and the people around me. It tells the story of a journey towards getting a mail order bride but to me its really about love and family and humanity and seeing the good and evil in me and other people.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
CM: There has been so many its hard to find a place to begin. Technically its a very ambitious show. I built a camera that shoots video in 360 degree which I was going to use to interview women in the Ukraine but I could find anyone to talk to so I have integrated it into the show in another way which looks like it is working, fingers crossed.
Also making the story an actual cohesive story and not just a indulgent rant about me has been very challenging. Finding something to say about the topic from a unique perspective has required a lot of work. Its funny because I spent so much time trying to plot this story out when all it really required was for me to talk from the heart about my life as a man. I was very concerned that this was all just a self indulgent wank about which is why getting picked up by the NYC Fringe has been such a boost in confidence that I am on a good path with it.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
CM: All of it, absolutely all of it. I have been an actor for a very long time and that process to me has always felt like work. Work that I have a passion for but work none the less. Writing, particularly writing this has just been such a stimulating thing that even the challenges have been nothing short of fun a kind of anxious stressful fun.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
CM: So much! Its given me such a great sense of validation. Its made me believe that I have something to offer as a performer and a writer. I think when someone goes though the process of applying to do something in the arts it seems like such a long shot and it drags up memories of when people said that you weren’t good at things. I always think these thing are a long shot because a primary school teacher of mine said that I couldn’t spell Christmass like the other kids. So when I got the acceptance email from Elena I kinda jumped for joy literally in my lounge room.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
CM: There is the fringe website but I also have a website for my theatre company which is www.goodlittletheatre.com. I don’t know how to use twitter. I think I’m a 80 year old man trapped in a 33 year olds body.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:
What is your idea of perfect happiness? Going surfing on a cold day and then sitting down in the shower.

What is your greatest fear? Becoming paralysed and also anything else that can hurt me.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I do get scared about all the bad stuff that can happen in life. It tries to stop me from living and trying and sometimes I let it.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Narrow mindedness and violence. I also can’t stand slow walkers.

Which living person do you most admire?
My best friend Pat who never thinks of himself and is always there for me when I get scared.

What is your greatest extravagance? Having really long showers. I can’t help myself. The second water its me I just go to a happy place and come out the other end loving life a bit more but its a massive waste of water.

What is your current state of mind? Anxious stressed and happy so I would say Anxstressappy.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Australian larrikinism (a type of charm) which should be a virtue but often justifies bullshit behaviour.

On what occasion do you lie? When the truth will hurt someone but then the lie ends up hurting them.

What do you most dislike about your appearance? I think my jaw is a bit crooked also I can’t grow facial hair which is horrible.

Which living person do you most despise? My best friend Pat who is an economic girly-man that sucks at playing Halo and annoys me about crumbs.

What is the quality you most like in a man? Friendliness.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Kindness.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Bam! and Geez Louise and Holy Shit Balls!

What or who is the greatest love of your life? This is going to sound cheesy but I would have to say surfing and the ocean.

When and where were you happiest? When my niece called me Uncle Cam for the first time.

Which talent would you most like to have? Writing and Performing.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I have a massive fear of dancing that I want to get over.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Making it past 30 with my mind intact.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A really smart rescue dog who saves people and has also found a way to open cookie jars.

Where would you most like to live? On the coast in the Netherlands with a fireplace and a dog and a wife and kids and the rest of my family and Pat.

What is your most treasured possession?
My camera that films in 360 degrees because it took such a long time to work out how to make. Also my car and surfboards.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? When I thought I had MS and when my dad passed away.

What is your favourite occupation? Writing and performing particularly when it takes me on an adventure.

What is your most marked characteristic? Forgetfulness and an obsession with sugar.

What do you most value in your friends? Help and companionship.

Who are your favorite writers? I don’t really read a lot but I love Robert Graves, Edward Albee and Arthur C Clark.

Who is your hero of fiction? It has to be Batman or the dog from UP!

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
When I was in high-school my teacher told us about this guy in ancient China who wouldn’t give up on trying to get an education. He was finally accepted into that Dynasties version of university when he was an old man. I love the fact that he never gave up on what he wanted for himself.

Who are your heroes in real life? My mum who is the absolute boss! And my dad.

What are your favourite names? Cameron, Richard, Scott, Jess, Eva, Adam and Pat.

What is it that you most dislike? Hurtful people and when I’m a hurtful person.

What is your greatest regret? Not getting back on a train.

How would you like to die? During interstellar travel.

What is your motto? Fuck it!

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras at thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com & dirtydurty.com.

"Confessions of Old Lady #2" written by Joan Shepard. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is
“Confessions of Old Lady #2” written by playwright Joan Shepard.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Joan Shepard: Confessions of Old Lady #2.

MC: What is it about?
JS: My life in show business— 74 years so far.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
JS: For many years my friends had been telling me to set my story down on paper. I took a writing class in solo performance. The 12th Night Club asked me to tell the story of my life as an evening’s entertainment at the club. I decided it was time to make it into a one woman show.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
JS: Selecting what stories to tell and making it sound spontaneous, rather than literary.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
JS: How easy it was once I got started.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
JS: Honored to be asked.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
JS: On twitter (@joanhshepard), on my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/joanhaydenshepard), on google (as both Joan Shepard and Joan Shepard Thompson), and soon on my website.

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:

What is your idea of perfect happiness?
To do a terrific show and go out afterwards with family and friends.

What is your greatest fear?
Being physically unable to perform.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Putting things off— procrastination.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Blaming.

Which living person do you most admire?
Barack Obama.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Taking taxis.

What is your current state of mind?
Worrying over everything. As I once told my husband, “I have to worry, it’s my hobby.”

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Honesty as in “let me be honest”, usually a cover-up for a hurtful personal remark.

On what occasion do you lie?

On all occasions when the truth might hurt and do no good anyway.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My big bloobully stomach.

Which living person do you most despise?
George W Bush.


What is the quality you most like in a man?
Humor.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Humor.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

“I have a story about that”.

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
What: The Theatre. Who: Evan Thompson.

When and where were you happiest?
In 1951 I was a student at the Preparatory Academy for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. For the first time in my life I was totally accepted by my peers, and at the same time immersed in English theatre. In 1959 I was appearing in a hit show and getting married to Evan. There have been many, many happy times since but these two are standouts.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Computer skills.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To stop holding grudges and resisting change.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Playing a major role in saving the Ivoryton Playhouse in Connecticut from the wrecking ball.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
A boy player in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Where would you most like to live?
Where I am right now, in Manhattan’s East Village, but London wouldn’t be bad and there’s also Commerce Street in the West Village.

What is your most treasured possession?
My Steinway parlor grand piano. My father bought it for me before I was born, so it is 82 years old.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The Holocaust. I still feel guilty when I read the dates and remember how happy I was then.

What is your favorite occupation?
Being in a play.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Others have said it’s my energy but it is somewhat diminished.

What do you most value in your friends?
Humor.

Who are your favorite writers?
Shakespeare, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Norah Lofls and Alexander McCall Smith.

Who is your hero of fiction?
Jim Hawkins.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?
Abigail Adams.

Who are your heroes in real life?
Real life? Never heard of it.

What are your favorite names?
For girls: Emily, Charlotte and Jennifer. For boys: Owen and Jeremy.

What is it that you most dislike?
Being out of work.

What is your greatest regret?
Being mean to my mother the night before she died.

How would you like to die?
To give a terrific performance on stage, go to my dressing room and lay my head down on the table.

What is your motto?
Try and stop me!

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras at thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com & dirtydurty.com.

"Dragon’s Breath" written by Michael C. O’Day. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “Dragon’s Breath” written by playwright Michael C. O’Day.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Michael C. O’Day: Dragon’s Breath.

MC: What is it about?
O’Day: It’s about a YA paranormal romance writer who accidentally creates an evil cult.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
O’Day: Short answer: the election of Pope Francis.
A more elaborate answer: Despite not being Catholic, it drove me nuts when all the commentators who were surprised at the election of the current Pope kept wondering what the choice could possibly mean. (Lookin’ your way, Chris Matthews.) In South America, the chief rival to the traditional Catholic church is the conservative envangelical movement. And the whole tenor of Francis’ papacy so far – a return to a classically liberal, socially-oriented, common-sense approach to religion – makes sense in that context. As a response against the excesses of religious fundamentalist movements that re-write the holy texts they claim to worship. And I realized all that at the time of his election. And as I watched that coverage, a thought struck me – what if that exact same schism happened, not with the Bible, but with the most ridiculous book imaginable? With, for example, a YA paranormal romance series? Featuring dragons?

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
O’Day: Since the play is about the writing and promotion of a series of YA novels, I had to figure out what the plot of the books were and weave that plot into the play without overwhelming the story I was actually telling. And I had to do all that with my cat lying on my keyboard the whole time.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
O’Day: Having an excuse to binge-read fantasy novels for three months straight. For “research.”

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
O’Day: Given the insane costs of producing theatre in New York, and the ridiculous levels of bureaucracy and development involved in creating new work, the Fringe is the last truly democratic forum for getting your artistic voice heard. I feel honored to be included in it.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
O’Day: Our website is www.dragonsbreathplay.com. You can also find us on Facebook (“Dragon’s Breath”) and Twitter (@Drag0nsBreath).

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being able to create something and know that it matters.

What is your greatest fear? That it was all a waste.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Indecisiveness.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Willful ignorance.

Which living person do you most admire?
Arthur French. He’s a founding member of the Negro Ensemble Company, he’s still a working actor and director and has taught just about every actor in New York City, and I don’t know anybody with more talent or a greater work ethic, or who’s a better role model for an arts professional.

What is your greatest extravagance?
I’m an actor! Pizza that costs more than a buck a slice is an extravagance!

What is your current state of mind?
My brain feels like oatmeal these days. Is oatmeal a state of mind?

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Patience. Sometimes shit just has to get done.

On what occasion do you lie? Only if my life’s on the line – I’m really bad at it.

What do you most dislike about your appearance? At my age, I can’t answer that without crying.

Which living person do you most despise?
Who’s on the news right now?

What is the quality you most like in a man?
The ability to resist the temptation to prove they’re the alpha.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
An indulgent sense of humor.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I object to the question. It’s not possible to overuse “awesome-tastic.”

What or who is the greatest love of your life?
Ludwig van Beethoven. In a totally hetero bro-mance kind of way.

When and where were you happiest?

Waiting in the calm blue light backstage of the shows I did in college.

Which talent would you most like to have?
At the moment, the ability to stop time would come in pretty damn handy.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d be better with people. Whatever the heck that means.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Getting out of the 1980s.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? An octopus. They’re going to inherit the earth, mark my words.

Where would you most like to live? A parallel-universe New York City that was actually affordable.

What is your most treasured possession? My grandfather’s Gibson Black Special guitar. He bought it in Madison, Wisconsin at the height of the Depression, and it survived the twentieth century. It’s scratched up and I can only play two or three chords at best, but it was my grandfather’s, and now it’s mine.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Having nothing meaningful to do, and an endless expanse of time in which to do it.

What is your favorite occupation? Ancient Celtic bard. They were the lawmakers and lorekeepers of their world, and if they made up a satire about you, you dropped dead if you heard it. We need an MFA program for that.

What is your most marked characteristic?
Geekiness in all its forms.

What do you most value in your friends?
A high degree of tolerance.

Who are your favorite writers?
Dostoyevsky, Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Ray Bradbury, Christopher Durang. (Crap, that’s a whole bunch of white guys. Sorry.)

Who is your hero of fiction? Sherlock Holmes. The REAL one.

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Is it too early to consider Joe Biden a historical figure?

Who are your heroes in real life? Whaddaya mean the Ghostbusters aren’t real?!?!

What are your favorite names? In the interest of self-promotion, I’m going with “Tabitha Wonderley.” (Come see the show and you’ll understand.)

What is it that you most dislike? Garden slugs. Seriously. YUCK.

What is your greatest regret? That it’s taken so long for me to understand things that should be intuitive enough for a child to grasp.

How would you like to die? Incinerated by a nuclear device that I’m flying away from a heavily populated area in order to save the population, like at the end of The Dark Knight Rises. (That lousy coda doesn’t count.)

What is your motto? “One of us! One of us! Gooble gabble, one of us!”

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras at thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com & dirtydurty.com.

"The Truing" written by Joe Norton. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “The Truing” written by playwright Joe Norton.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Joe Norton: The Truing.

MC: What is it about?
JN: Six AIDS Ride cyclists and crew members encounter obstacles on their second day, causing them to realize that they must work together to get back on the route and finish the ride.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
JN: I am positive 22 years. One of the first things I did after my diagnosis was go to work for the Rides. That experience and those people changed my life forever.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
JN: Trying to keep it about the characters, and not about the logistics of the ride; also, making it current, so that it relates to the issues positive people and their supporters face today. Living with HIV/AIDS is very different today from when I was first diagnosed (in 1992) and worked on the Rides.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
JN: Getting to know my characters. They surprised me.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
JN: I’m honored. I love NYC downtown theatre, even though I work on B’way (in another capacity). Everyone I’ve already met whose involved in the Fringe this year is so excited. I love that.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
JN: thetruingplay.com, @thetruingplay

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Peaceful nights with my husband and dog, or sitting around a dinner table with friends and family.

What is your greatest fear? That time is moving too fast. I worry about that.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I doubt myself as an artist, so I procrastinate.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Bigotry and intolerance.

Which living person do you most admire? There are many more than one. Really, I admire a lot of other people. My friends and family, especially.

What is your greatest extravagance? Taking cabs around the city.

What is your current state of mind? Crazy.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Good looks.

On what occasion do you lie? To save someone else from embarrassment.

What do you most dislike about your appearance? My flat butt.

Which living person do you most despise? Hard one. It takes a lot…


What is the quality you most like in a man? A gentle pace.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Confidence.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Shit.”

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My husband, Jason.

When and where were you happiest? Hard to say, but now’s pretty good.

Which talent would you most like to have? Playing piano.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wouldn’t procrastinate so much.

What do you consider your greatest achievement? Sobriety.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A theater or a bird.

Where would you most like to live? Besides NYC? Maybe San Francisco? Or Tuscany? There are many places I’ve yet to go.

What is your most treasured possession? Probably my iPod.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? The day before I got sober.

What is your favorite occupation? Teaching.

What is your most marked characteristic? I guess my smile. I smile a lot.

What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty and laughter.

Who are your favorite writers? It’s a very long list. Martin McDonaugh, Sam Shepard, Raymond Carver, and my friends: playwrights, poets, novelists. They inspire me the most.

Who is your hero of fiction? Hmmm. Is John Snow too recent?

Which historical figure do you most identify with? That’s a hard one. I’m a pretty regular guy.

Who are your heroes in real life? Teachers, people living with diseases, nurses, parents, children.

What are your favorite names? I like all names. Names are cool.

What is it that you most dislike? Intolerance fueled by ignorance.

What is your greatest regret? Not sticking with the piano lessons.

How would you like to die? In my sleep, I guess.

What is your motto? Hang in there.”

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras at thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com & dirtydurty.com.

IndieGogo Campaign ends in 3 Days! Can you spread the word?

"Ryan Is Lost" written by Nathan Wellman. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “Ryan Is Lost” written by playwright Nathan Wellman.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Nathan Wellman: Ryan Is Lost.

MC: What is it about?
NW: Ryan is Lost is a two person play about brother and sister Frank and Avis, who have lost their nephew in the middle of a busy mall. The whole play takes place around the bench where they said they would meet if they got separated, in which they quickly become embroiled in their own selfish fears and disappointments, lashing out because it’s the only way they know how to connect with each other. By the end of the play they’ve practically forgotten all about Ryan, the only truly pure part of their lives, and we see that they are just as lost as he is.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
NW: Probably the initial impetus stemmed from the desire to write about siblings. You don’t have to try to be a better version of yourself in front of your brother or sister. You can scream at them and even hit them and that bond never goes away. In some ways, they see the ugly parts of you that nobody else gets to see. So dramatically, exploring a relationship like that is ripe with exciting opportunities to make some pretty wild statements about human selfishness.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
NW: The whole 70 minute piece is one scene, and features two actors who never leave the stage. It was certainly an obstacle to keep that compelling for an audience, finding consistent conflict and new actions without it collapsing into just two people talking or observing for an hour. But through that difficulty I was delighted to find new paths for storytelling that I’d never considered pursuing before. The play became an insane juggling act, in which I’d throw up a new theme or idea on page 24 and just move onto something else until p.58 when you finally get the payoff. It’s almost a bit of a puzzle in that regard. You never know what offhand remark is going to come back and have a heavier significance later.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
NW: The language. Ah, the beautiful profanity of Frank and Avis. A large majority of the play are quick one line jabs going back and forth, and it was a joy to cruise through a page so quickly. They’re fairly hilarious characters, in a sad way, in that they never seem to know what is going on or what the other one is talking about, because they never really listen to each other. So you get a lot of confusion and repetition permeating the script with plenty of exchanges like “What are we talking about?” “What did you say?” “Why are we stay here still?” “I don’t know!” “You never know anything!” “I know enough.” “About what?” “What are we talking about?!”.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
NW: We got our start at the Hollywood Fringe, which was a blast. Now it kind of feels like we’re entering into the big leagues, considering that FringeNYC has a longer history than the still-young one in LA. It was a joy to be accepted and also of course equally terrifying because we want to be on top of our game among so many other incredible artists.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
NW: We just launched a twitter account that I encourage everyone to follow for info, discounts, and the occasional mindblowing cat video.
https://twitter.com/RyanisLostNYC
And of course our Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/RyanIsLostPlay

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras on DirtyDurty.com or “Maya’s Blog”
on TheBloodlineofShadrickGrace.com

Ian Curtis’ handwritten lyrics for Joy Division’s single most iconic song, “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” xo Maya

Ian Curtis’ handwritten lyrics for Joy Division’s single most iconic song, “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” xo Maya

"No Visible Scars" written by Deon Denton. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America.  It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “No Visible Scars” written by playwright Deon Denton.  

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show? Deon Denton: No Visible Scars.

MC: What is it about? DD: The show is about a troubled young woman (Myranda) battling demons from her past. She struggles with “daddy issues”, carries a large black box, measures her life by dying things and has already set the date for her next suicide attempt.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?DD: I went through a period of tremendous loss and struggled with depression for a period, as a way of therapy I decided to script some of the emotional elements of my experience. It was a very cathartic experience that resulted in some sense of freedom and liberation as I gave myself hope once I saw my experience on paper.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?DD: Suicide and depression is not a popular topic in the black community and especially in the Church. I was hesitant to identify with the character at first because of the taboo placed on mental illness in our society.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?DD: The creative process of starting out a story with a problem and at the end not having the problem completely resolved but having hope that new strengths was gained to go a little further. 

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?DD: To have my work read and accepted in the New York Fringe is a major milestone for me. I’ve entered the Toronto Fringe a few times before but this is different. The jury based selection process lends a lot of credibility to your work.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?DD: www.promsieproductions.ca, https://www.facebook.com/NoVisibleScarsFringeNYCwww.promsieproductions.ca, https://www.facebook.com/NoVisibleScarsFringeNYC
https://twitter.com/PromProductions

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras on DirtyDurty.com or “Maya’s Blog”on TheBloodlineofShadrickGrace.com

"No Visible Scars" written by Deon Denton. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “No Visible Scars” written by playwright Deon Denton.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Deon Denton: No Visible Scars.

MC: What is it about?
DD: The show is about a troubled young woman (Myranda) battling demons from her past. She struggles with “daddy issues”, carries a large black box, measures her life by dying things and has already set the date for her next suicide attempt.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
DD: I went through a period of tremendous loss and struggled with depression for a period, as a way of therapy I decided to script some of the emotional elements of my experience. It was a very cathartic experience that resulted in some sense of freedom and liberation as I gave myself hope once I saw my experience on paper.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
DD: Suicide and depression is not a popular topic in the black community and especially in the Church. I was hesitant to identify with the character at first because of the taboo placed on mental illness in our society.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
DD: The creative process of starting out a story with a problem and at the end not having the problem completely resolved but having hope that new strengths was gained to go a little further.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
DD: To have my work read and accepted in the New York Fringe is a major milestone for me. I’ve entered the Toronto Fringe a few times before but this is different. The jury based selection process lends a lot of credibility to your work.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
DD: www.promsieproductions.ca, https://www.facebook.com/NoVisibleScarsFringeNYCwww.promsieproductions.ca, https://www.facebook.com/NoVisibleScarsFringeNYC
https://twitter.com/PromProductions

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras on DirtyDurty.com or “Maya’s Blog”on TheBloodlineofShadrickGrace.com

"Forgetting the Details" written by Nicole Maxali. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “Forgetting the Details” written by playwright Nicole Maxali.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Nicole Maxali: Forgetting the Details.

MC: What is it about?
NM: Family, Filipinos & Alzheimer’s. The show tells my story of being raised in San Francisco by my traditional Filipino grandmother, yet influenced by my free-spirited father, and the struggles we face as a family when my grandma is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. It’s a powerful story that reaches beyond the Filipino American context and touches upon powerful elements of the human experience. Described by Dave Chappelle as “funny, heartwarming, and funny again,” my one-woman show will make you laugh, cry, and remind you that, in the end, it’s not the details that matter.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
NM: I started writing this piece in 2006 during a solo performance workshop I was taking taught by W. Kamau Bell (Host of the FX show “Totally Biased”). During that year, my grandma was diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. It was a difficult time for my family and for me, especially since my grandma provided unconditional love and stability during my formative years. What do you do when your rock begins to shift into sand? I chose to write. Writing was my coping mechanism—a positive outlet for the pain. After our class final, Kamau told me that it was some of the best writing he has ever seen me perform.
The piece evolved as I performed it in venues around San Francisco. Soon people began approaching me, sharing their own stories about loved ones with Alzheimer’s. They related to this story in a special way due to their experiences with Alzheimer’s. I realized that my show had become something more than just a source of healing for me. It was a way for people to connect to a piece that spoke to their own issues of caregiving, guilt, shame, mental health, and family dynamics. It became a way for other people to heal as well. My desire to add to healing and light in an otherwise dark and painful world of Alzheimer’s disease was my source of inspiration.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
NM: The death of one of the real-life characters in my show occurred suddenly in the middle of the writing process. It was unexpected and devastating for my entire family. I was set to premiere my show November 2011 and this person passed away in July 2011. It was necessary to re-write the entire ending of my show. In those final weeks of rehearsals, I sobbed and balled my eyes out during the last five pages because the feelings of loss were so raw. Unsure if I was going to be able to actually perform without breaking, I told myself that it was okay to be vulnerable because the show must go on. Because of that vulnerability and integrity in the writing, I received standing ovations for my entire run and rave reviews. Yet, all I wanted was to make the person who passed away proud.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
NM: The memories that flooded back to me about my family. The good and bad.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
NM: This is a huge accomplishment! It’s been a dream of mine to get accepted into this festival. I’d love to say one day that FringeNY helped me propel my story and career forward. Former Fringe Participant Mindy Kaling is such an inspiration to young women of color writers out there. She certainly has inspired me to follow down the path she’s paved, while at the same time giving myself space to create my own.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
NM: Website: www.NicoleMaxali.com Twitter: @NicoleMaxali

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Writing on the coast of Big Sur and then months later seeing my words on stage/screen.

What is your greatest fear? Getting stuck in a subway car with a dozen rats.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Writer’s Procrastination.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Rudeness.

Which living person do you most admire? My mother.

What is your greatest extravagance? Traveling and living a bi-coastal existence.

What is your current state of mind? “Everyday I’m Hustling!”

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Aggressiveness.

On what occasion do you lie? When my livelihood depends on it… Team Tyrion!

What do you most dislike about your appearance? That dairy/gluten causes me to bloat two sizes up.

Which living person do you most despise? Miley Cyrus

What is the quality you most like in a man? Confidence.

What is the quality you most like in a woman? Self-Love.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
HELLA!!! It’s hella Bay Arean. “California Love”.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? My art.

When and where were you happiest? Camping in Yosemite with my father.

Which talent would you most like to have? Adele’s or Alicia Key’s soulful singing voice.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I wish I was a little bit taller…

What do you consider your greatest achievement? My children…and by “children” I mean my creative projects.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? A UNICORN!

Where would you most like to live? Paris, France.

What is your most treasured possession? My faith or my vibrator…it’s a close tie since I’m in a long distance relationship.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? The break-up after your first love.

What is your favorite occupation? Solo Performer.

What is your most marked characteristic? Ambition.

Who are your favorite writers? Dr. Maya Angelou & Dave Chappelle.

Who is your hero of fiction? Today, Khaleesi! But when I was growing up, Inigo Montoya!

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Audrey Hepburn.

Who are your heroes in real life? My mother and both my grandmothers.

What are your favorite names? Estrella, Luna & Sol.

What is it that you most dislike? People’s projections of failure and fear put onto others.

What is your greatest regret? Not moving to NYC ten ago.

How would you like to die? At the age of 80, leaving a legacy of art and innovation for those that come after to me…oh yeah and in my sleep.

What is your motto? When I’m passionate about my work, I am devoted to it. Writing is not hard work when it’s heart work.

For more interviews by Maya Contreras go to dirtydurty.com or “maya’s blog” on thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com

"Love at Home" Written by Mary Webb. Interview by Maya Contreras.

The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC) is the largest multi-arts festival in North America. It takes place annually in August over the course of two weeks on 20 stages spread across several Manhattan neighborhoods. FringeNYC (unlike other Fringe Festivals) uses a jury-based selection process to pick it’s 200 shows. One of those shows is “Love at Home” written by playwright Mary Webb.

Maya Contreras: What is the name of your show?
Mary Webb: Love At Home. It’s the title of an LDS hymn and embodies the soul of this show.

MC: What is it about?
Webb: A lesbian and a Mormon. Two sisters, two paths, a family divided. Love At Home follows the lives of two sisters from their early teens in the 1990’s to the adulthood just after Proposition 8 was passed. We journey with them as the struggle to find a loving space between faith and family in this insightful play that questions the complexities of a unique religion in the face of massive social change.

MC: What made you want to write about this particular subject?
Webb: The time for building a bridge of understanding between the LDS faith and the LGBT world is now.

MC: What was the biggest hurdle for you writing this piece?
Webb: Avoiding stereotypes of both the LDS (Mormon) faith and the LGBT world.

MC: What did you enjoy most about the process of writing it?
Webb: The dynamic between the two sisters. This play is really a love story, when you come down to it, between the two sisters. The process they each go through to navigate the expression of their love for each other is my greatest joy of this piece.

MC: What does it mean to you to be a part of the New York Fringe Festival?
Webb: It is an incredible honor to be included in this year’s New York International Fringe Festival. To be a part of festival with such a rich history and phenomenal reputation is mind blowing to me. Sometimes I still feel like the girl from the trailer park who used to write stories in the back of her notebook. My dad would always tell me to work hard and some day my ship would come in. I feel like my ship is coming in.

MC: Where can we learn more about you and your show (e.g. website, twitter)?
Webb: Indiegogo:
Website: www.loveathometheplay.com
www.facebook.com/LoveAtHomeMaryMatoulaWebb
Twitter: @loveathomeplay

PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE:

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Being near some sort of body of water, with my husband, the incredibly talented writer and actor, Richard Harrison Webb.

What is your greatest fear? To pay the bills, I work as a nurse at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City. My greatest fear is not having the man power, equipment, or facilities during a city wide massive disaster.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
My weakness for dark chocolate.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Their inability to share dark chocolate.

Which living person do you most admire? There are many, and I don’t know all their names. Working in the hospital, I see people in many states of heightened emotional states. I am touched deeply and admire those people I see who face pain and suffering with hope and dignity.

What is your greatest extravagance? Flying home to see my family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

On what occasion do you lie? I truly don’t attempt to deceive anyone purposefully.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
My hair, but only during extreme humidity.

Which living person do you most despise? There isn’t one person in particular. However, I despise the anyone who tries to take away another human beings’ free will and autonomy.

What is the quality you most like in a man?
Patience and laughter.

What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Patience and laughter.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? I would be me again, ready to see and hear and feel a whole new life time.

Where would you most like to live? Somewhere I could geographically drive to an ocean, a forest, the mountains, and the desert, in 30 minutes from my house. And someplace where driving to Newcastle, England and Crete, Greece would only be a day trip.

What is your most marked characteristic? I was an incredibly shy kid, so I would laugh silently. Now, when something strikes me as really funny, I’ll laugh loudly. It kinda comes out of no where and can take people by surprise.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse? “Take a big breath and bear down like your pooping.” I say this every shift I work at the hospital. Every. Shift.

What or who is the greatest love of your life? The incredibly talented writer and actor, Richard Harrison Webb. We met when we were seventeen and I remember thinking, “I hope this lasts until prom, because we’d make a cute prom couple”.

When and where were you happiest? The most happiest? Probably in mother’s womb, but who knows, I can’t remember that far back. I’ve had many “happiest” times, most of them with Richard, and I plan on having many more. Having my play accepted to the New York International Fringe Festival is definitely at the top of the list.

Which talent would you most like to have?
Broadway level singing and dancing.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? I think I’d be an inch taller.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Having my play, Love At Home, in two fringe festivals this year! I’m so excited to have it seen in my two favorite cities. Get ready New York City and San Francisco.

If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? I would be me again, ready to see and hear and feel a whole new life time.

What is your most treasured possession? My hopes and my dreams.

What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty and patience.

Who are your favorite writers?
There are so many. Anyone who makes me evaluate the way see the world.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
The inability to forgive oneself.

What is your favorite occupation?
Acting and Writing.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue? “Goodness”. It seems vague. Not as specific as the other virtues (righteousness, morality, integrity, dignity, rectitude, honor, decency, respectability, etc)

What is it that you most dislike?
Red cockroaches.

What is your greatest regret?
No regrets.

How would you like to die?
Painlessly.

What is your motto?
“If not now, then when? If not me, then who?”

Check Out “Love at Home” at FringeNYC in August 2014.

Read more interviews by Maya Contreras
on dirtydurty.com and “maya’s blog” on
thebloodlineofshadrickgrace.com. Thank you.