Playwright Matthew Ivan Bennett on RADIO HOUR EPISODE 13: TROLL

RADIO HOUR EPISODE 13: TROLL by Matthew Ivan Bennett receives its world premiere in a co-production with KUER’S RadioWest on December 13, 2018 featuring Olivia Custodio, Lily Hye Soo Dixon and Jay Perry, with original music by Dave Evanoff, eFoley by Jennifer Freed and direction and sound design by Cheryl Cluff. Click here on Thursday, December 13 at 9am to listen to TROLL live. So, the last episode I wrote for RADIO HOUR was called STAND. It was a dystopian thriller I began writing in the fall of 2017. Naturally, it absorbed issues of the day – from nationalism to racism to sexism. Each of those “-isms” continue to press down on our collective consciousness, but with TROLL I’ve latched onto sexism in particular and written a story about an internet troll who – presto chango – becomes a real troll. To free himself, he has to convince a feminist to fall in love with him. At the holidays. Unlike STAND, this episode uses (dark) comedy to get at something serious. The news has been so heavy lately that I made myself deal in humor, which I feel is critically needed right now to give us the emotional space to change. Laughing at yourself is, I believe, a first step in becoming a bigger person. Also, taking trolls too seriously is a bad way of dealing with trolls. Not that we should ever laugh at trolls. On the contrary, it’s important to first see them as fellow humans. But humor is connective. By itself it’s a sort of common ground. If two people can find something to laugh about – especially...

Mexican playwright Iris Salazar on creating “American Pride” for …OF COLOR

Playwright Iris Salazar was born in Gomez, Palacios, Durango, Mexico. She has lived in Salt Lake City since she was eight months old and became a citizen in 2000. A member of Plan-B’s Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop, she makes her playwriting debut this season with a very, very dark comedy about making America great again: “American Pride” is one of four short plays that comprise …OF COLOR, premiering in March of 2019. I knew when I signed up for the Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop that I wanted to write a piece that reflected my political thoughts. I am not a politician, and I have never been able to articulate or debate politics in any way. I went through a torrent of emotions as I watched Donald Trump attack groups of people and brag about his sexual predatory behavior during his campaign but I naively believed that we would never allow this man to preside over our country. My disappointment, anger, and sadness were far too large to measure and simply get over as some would suggest. I found myself posting everything anti-Trump that I could post on social media. In the process, I discovered that people who I knew, went to church with and even admired were supportive and defensive of this individual. One day I saw a picture of an acquaintance on social media standing next to Mike Pence. She is an educated, well-to-do and respected Christian Lady. She studied politics, is in-the-know when it comes to political policies and she is persuasive. That picture was the beginning of my short play. As a person of color, I didn’t think I could write...

Persian/Japanese playwright Bijan Hosseini on creating “The Frailest Thing” for …OF COLOR

Persian/Japanese playwright Bijan Hosseini has previously appeared in Plan-B’s (IN)DIVISIBLE. A member of Plan-B’s Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop, he makes his playwriting debut this season with a drama about the difference between wanting to live and not wanting to die: “The Frailest Thing” is one of four short plays that comprise …OF COLOR, premiering in March of 2019. I have no idea what I’m doing. Several people much smarter than me who do have all told me that this is okay. I [almost] believe them, intellectually. Emotionally … not so much. – Not yet anyway. This experience has been a thing, like a gun to my head that graciously forced me to do the thing I want to do but haven’t often done – write. And in writing I’ve been led through a process that bled me open and made me look at other processes inside: What’s in my control and what’s not? What do I want to hang on to, and what do I need? What can I let go of, and what can’t I? What do I have to let go of, and how long do I have to be dragged before I finally let go? I still don’t know. I don’t have any answers. – Not yet anyway. The play, for me; roots this universal existential angst about which one can become mired in intellectualization and puts it into a painful present with very little, if any, control – it puts the gun to the head and forces the reality not of thoughts, but feeling. Thank you Jerry for holding the gun, Julie for loading it, Plan-B et...

Latina playwright Olivia Custodio on creating “Drivers License, Please” for …OF COLOR

Latina playwright Olivia Custodio is a member of Plan-B’s Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop. She makes her playwriting debut this season with a dark comedy about bagels, rental cars and rednecks: “Drivers License, Please” is one of four short plays that comprise …OF COLOR, premiering in March of 2019. Writing a play is weird. Seriously weird. As an actor, I usually feel pretty confident when I walk out onto a stage and give a performance. But watching my play onstage?! Welcome to Insecurityville, population: me! It is a very strange thing to write words from your heart and know that people are going to hear them. It’s as though someone else gets to read your diary to a crowd and you have zero power to control how it goes. Personally, I think writing a play is far scarier than being an actor. I still can’t even use the word ‘playwright’ to describe myself. Writing “Drivers License, Please” has taught me a lot about myself, which isn’t something that I necessarily thought would happen during the process of creating a one-act play. It has taught me that yes, I do actually know what I’m doing and I have to trust it. I have to be okay with the fact that it will never be perfect and sometimes, as Julie Jensen says, you need to “just write the damn thing!” That other opinions matter, but ultimately I get to tell my story the way I want to. Sure, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but neither was the awkward and crunchy afro that I sported freshman year of college, and hey, I survived...

Playwright Elaine Jarvik on AN EVENING WITH TWO AWFUL MEN

Playwright Elaine Jarvik has previously premiered MARRY CHRISTMAS, BASED ON A TRUE STORY and RIVER.SWAMP.CAVE.MOUNTAIN. at Plan-B. Her latest, AN EVENING WITH TWO AWFUL MEN, premieres as part of our 2018/19 season. “How would you like to write a play about our first gay president?” Plan-B Theatre’s Jerry Rapier asked me in the summer of 2016. And so I began researching the life of a man I knew little about, one of those presidents who fall somewhere in the vague middle, one of those indistinguishable men with a high collar and a grim mouth. And what I discovered, of course, is that there is always more to the story. James Buchanan was the only president to live out his White House tenure as a bachelor. So there were rumors then and there are assumptions today. But the facts are slim: his best friend was Sen. William King of Alabama, who was also a bachelor, and they lived in the same rooming house in Washington; some said then that King was Buchanan’s “better half;” they were referred to as “Miss Nancy” and “Miss Fancy.” And, finally, Buchanan once wrote a letter to a friend in which he bemoaned the fact that Sen. King had been appointed minister to France: “I am now ‘solitary and alone,’ having no companion in the house with me,” he wrote. “I have gone a-wooing to several gentlemen, but have not succeeded with any one of them.” And that’s pretty much it: some innuendoes and a few letters, which we filter through our 21st century understanding of the way men act and speak. As I read more about...

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