A world premiere by Eric Samuelsen
December 3, 2013 | 7pm
Jeanne Wagner Theatre @ Rose Wagner
138 W 300 S, SLC
No late seating
Running time 60 minutes, no intermission
Click here for 2013/14 Mini Season Subscriptions and/or Single Tickets
Click the RadioWest logo below to stream the recording!
A holiday show about a holiday show (performed as a radio show) about the writers of a children’s television show possessed by their own characters. Also broadcast live on KUER’s RadioWest.
You are the live studio audience!
Featuring Jay Perry, Teresa Sanderson and Jason Tatom. Original (live) music by Dave Evanoff with (live) foley by Michael Johnson. Sound engineer Eric Robinette. Directed by Cheryl Ann Cluff.
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Who’s Who | Playwright’s Statement
PLAYWRIGHT ERIC SAMUELSEN has written for Plan-B since 2004, where his plays MIASMA, AMERIGO, BORDERLANDS and NOTHING PERSONAL received their world premieres. He has had twenty-five plays produced across the country (most of them in Utah, but also in New York, Louisiana, Idaho and California). A three-time recipient of the Association for Mormon Letters award for best play, several of his plays have been published by Plan-B and Sunstone. His Ibsen translations have been produced in Utah, California and elsewhere (including A DOLL HOUSE and GHOSTS as part of Plan-B’s Script-In-Hand Series). RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA is his first radio play. Also a critic and stage director, Eric blogs at MormonIconoclast.com.
Jay Perry* (Stan), a native of Salt Lake, has appeared in Plan-B’s productions of TRAGEDY: A TRAGEDY, THE ALIENATION EFFEKT, three SLAMs, all seven installments of RADIO HOUR, FACING EAST in Salt Lake, San Francisco and Off-Broadway in New York, GUTENBERG! THE MUSICAL! in Salt Lake and at the Egyptian in Park City, SHE WAS MY BROTHER, LADY MACBETH, the Script-In-Hand Series readings of THE NORMAL HEART, A DOLL HOUSE and STANDING ON CEREMONY: THE GAY MARRIAGE PLAYS. He most recently appeared in Plan-B’s PETER AND THE WOLF in partnership with Gina Bachauer International Piano Foundation and THE SOLDIER’S TALE in partnership with NOVA Chamber Music Series.
Teresa Sanderson (Viv) received the 2013 City Weekly Arty Award for “Best Local Theatre Performance” for Plan-B’s ERIC(A), which is currently on tour (stops 1 and 2 were last month at Good Company Theatre in Ogden and the United Solo Theatre Festival in New York; stop 3 is next month at Theatre Out in California). Teresa has also appeared in Plan-B’s PUSHING THE ENVELOPE: AN EVENING OF ONE-ACTS, ANIMAL FARM, TRAGEDY: A TRAGEDY, THE ALIENATION EFFEKT, EXPOSED, DI ESPERIENZA, MESA VERDE, five RADIO HOURs, several SLAMs and the Script-In-Hand Series readings of STANDING ON CEREMONY: THE GAY MARRIAGE PLAYS and 8.
Jason Tatom* (Max) has been involved with Plan-B for quite a few years now, having appeared in EXPOSED, LADY MACBETH, SLAM and RADIO HOUR EPSIODE 7: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE BLUE CARBUNCLE. In 2013 he has appeared Script-In-Hand Series readings of REYKJAVIK and Eric Samuelsen’s new translation of Ibsen’s GHOSTS; THE SOLDIER’S TALE in partnership with NOVA Chamber Music Series and now RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA. Jason is a graduate of the dearly departed National Theatre Conservatory, and is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association.
Cheryl Cluff (Director/Sound Design) co-founded Plan-B in 1991 and is the company’s Managing Director. She has directed all of Plan-B’s RADIO HOURs (most recently EPISODE 7: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE BLUE CARBUNCLE) as well as MESA VERDE, THE SCARLET LETTER and SUFFRAGE. Cheryl has also designed sound for nearly every Plan-B production since 2000.
David Evanoff (Original Music) has partnered with Plan-B on three productions of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, several installments of AND THE BANNED PLAYED ON and two previous RADIO HOURs: FRANKENSTEIN and ALICE. He has been entertaining audiences for a lifetime. Owner of Sound Design Studios, David has produced and written award-winning music and soundtracks for film and television and special events including Disneyland, Universal Studios and the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Jennifer Freed* (Stage Manager) is incredibly grateful to be a member of Plan-B and has literally loved every show since joining the company in 1998. A stage manager for more than 25 years, her credits span from Utah to New York and California to Canada.
Michael Johnson (Foley) is excited to be in the second year of his Plan-B internship. He has done dramaturgical research for the last seven productions and performed foley for last season’s RADIO HOUR EPISODE 7: SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE BLUE CARBUNCLE. Michael is a junior in the University of Utah’s Actor Training Program, where he recently appeared in ROSENCRANTZ & GUILDENSTERN ARE DEAD under the direction of Jerry Rapier.
Jesse Portillo (Lighting Design) has lit Plan-B’s EXPOSED, AMERIGO, SHE WAS MY BROTHER, MESA VERDE, BORDERLANDS, THE THIRD CROSSING, ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA, ERIC(A) and NOTHING PERSONAL, among others. He has also designed lighting for Pioneer Theatre Company, Salt Lake Acting Company, Pygmalion Theatre Company, Grand Theatre, Mobile Opera, LOOK Musical Theatre, Baylor University Opera and Millikin University. Jesse teaches lighting design for the University of Utah’s Department of Theatre.
Randy Rasmussen (Set Design) has designed nearly every Plan-B set since the company’s inception. “I do the same thing, year after year, and still love it. I must be crazy. Oh – and I painted a huge-ass painting for the Rio Grande Café.”
Eric Robinette (Sound Engineer)
KUER 90.1’s RadioWest is an hour-long radio conversation where people tell stories that explore the way the world works. Listen weekdays at 11am and 7pm MT. RadioWest has been the audio home of Plan-B’s RADIO HOUR since 2005.
*Member, Actors’ Equity Association.
STATEMENT FROM PLAYWRIGHT ERIC SAMUELSEN
I am a life-long fan of hard-boiled detective fiction: cynical, world-weary cops and private eyes scratching out a living in a tough-as-nails urban environment. Carroll John Daly started the genre in the 20’s, handed it over to Dashiell Hammett, and on to Raymond Chandler. But I first encountered it in two writers who I couldn’t get enough of, growing up: Elmore Leonard and Donald E. Westlake. And Westlake was my favorite of the two.
I especially loved Westlake’s Dortmunder novels. Over the course of fourteen novels, I followed the adventures of John Dortmunder, a small-town New York crook, who was a brilliant planner of capers, but plagued with bad luck. His gang always included Kelp (who got the stuff they needed) and Murch (the driver), and often included a motley group of sidekicks, including strong man Tiny Bulcher, Judson (the Kid) Blint (utility infielder), Arnie Albright (the fence), and Rollo the Bartender, who ran the OJ Bar just off Amsterdam Avenue, with the back room where all their jobs were planned. The Dortmunder gang never got caught, but they never made much money either, mostly coming away with about the same scratch they would have had if they’d had honest jobs.
I loved everything about these novels. I loved the wry and cynical commentary on New York life, the amoral world of crooks and victims, the carefully planned jobs and the almost miraculous ill fortune that derailed them. I also grew to love the language of the characters, the pitch-perfect ear Westlake had for hard-boiled diction. Plus, they were just laugh-out-loud funny.
I always wanted to see if I could capture at least something of their language and attitude in a play, and I began fooling around with various ideas. But then, flipping through the channels one day, I found an episode of Barney. Okay, so, when my oldest son was tiny, he absolutely loved a video called “Barney’s Sing-Along Adventure.” It was colorful, moved fast, had lots of songs, and was absolutely the only thing on earth that could get my son to nap, and so I got to watch it fourteen billion times, developing along the way a loathing for Barney that will outlive the sun. So, accidently re-exposed to (shudder) “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family,” I started to imagine the horrible, horrible people who wrote Barney. On Youtube, I’m not kidding, you can find a video where you can watch Barney singing “I love you” fifteen times back to back. I thought that was prohibited by the Geneva Convention.
Anyway, I began to think of these people, characters from a Dortmunder novel, writing for a children’s television show like Barney. But I thought maybe it should be, not Barney, but something even worse, even more treacly and awful. Something with fairies, I thought, and then it came to me: Fairyana. Three cynical, alcoholic, misanthropic people writing a children’s television program even worse than Barney. With a main character even more unbearable. Really, the whole thing came to me in a flash—Max, Stan and Viv, writing for Princess Amber, interacting with Snoogums. Boom. RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA was born.
It was so fun to write. I was writing characters out of Scorcese movies, out of Goodfellas and Raging Bull and Taxi Driver, but without the F-bombs, onnacounta, you know, for kids. I exaggerated for comic effect. Max is the kind of guy who can’t say “I need to get a bicycle.” Instead it’s “I need to get one of them bicycle-type deals.” Stan, the untalented hypochondriac. And Viv, the broad with the heart of gold, in a loser relationship, but also with a tattered sense of honor.
And the play (and eventually, the radio version of it), has a serious point to make. Children need to know about villains. They’ll learn, soon enough, about bullies—they need to be prepared. I remember what a shock it was as a kid, to discover that grown-ups weren’t all looking out for my best interests, that some grown-ups were mean on purpose. That there was a grown-up world and a kid world, and while the grown-up world cared about me sometimes, it was also obsessed with other things, like mortgages and car repairs. And that kid world was scarier, a violent and dangerous place, but also alluring-because-forbidden, one you didn’t dare betray, but one that could, and would, do you harm.
In grade school, I was a member of the school Safety Patrol. We wore a white and red sash, and walked around the playground at recess looking for kids who were breaking the rules, who we were supposed to turn in to the authorities. Although I was never dumb enough to turn anyone in, I learned, soon enough, that the coded meaning of the Safety Patrol sash was ‘beat this kid up. Often and relentlessly. He’s a fink, a narc, a rat. Beat him.’ But I also couldn’t not wear the damned thing—my Mom was so proud of me. Her son, on the Safety Patrol! My first conscious Catch-22.
The meaning of Snoogums is that villains are cute and cuddly. Because we don’t want to frighten children, we tell them that the world is basically benevolent and safe. It’s a lie, a vile and vicious lie, and a lie that’s damaging to children. Children need to be told the truth—that life can be tough and violent and mean and damaging. I mean, look at Barney. He’s snuggly and cuddly and loves everyone. And he’s a dinosaur. A T-Rex! A predator! As Calvin and Hobbes once pointed out: “Barney should be eating more of those kids.”
Growing up in Indiana, WTTV, a local independent station, showed IU basketball, lots of cartoons, and Sammy Terry. Sammy Terry wore ghost-y make-up and hosted a midnight horror movie show. I wasn’t allowed to watch it; too scary. But from time to time a lenient baby-sitter would let us stay up, and I was completely entranced. I grew to love schlocky horror flicks, and I think in some respects they were healthier for me than the wholesome-and-educational fare my Mom would have preferred.
I liked disreputable movies, and also loved disreputable fiction, especially Westlake, where crooks were decent enough joes, who made you want to root for them. I found I liked reading stuff that I wasn’t supposed to read. That it was good for me.
RADIO HOUR EPISODE 8: FAIRYANA is a fantasy, of course. I don’t know anyone who writes for children’s television, but I’m sure they’re estimable and virtuous folks, even the lady who wrote Barney. I don’t think they’re all cynical or alcoholic. (And above all, FAIRYANA must not be understood as an attack on Mr. Rogers. Fred Rogers is a saint.) Mostly, I was trying to be funny. But I do think the radio show says something that may be of value. Maybe we should rethink cute and cuddly. And Christmas. Maybe we should re-think that too.