Brian D. Walker's FRIEND FACTORY | Ingram New Works Festival
Ingram New Works Playwright Brian D. Walker on The Friend Factory
It's Theatre Thursday today and as promised our New Media/Marketing Coordinator Shane Burkeen sat down to chat with Ingram New Works Playwright Brian D. Walker about his upcoming festival play The Friend Factory.
Shane: Describe your new play The Friend Factory in one word.
What is your new play about?
It's about friendship. Jonas and Amy are best friends who've hit a rough patch. Jonas wants a boyfriend and Amy wants to make out with Jonas whenever they've had a few drinks. Jonas kicks Amy out of his life for a while and goes to a matching service called The Friend Factory. It connects people in their dreams while the client is asleep. Jonas meets the man of his dreams, but it's all just a little too perfect. Amy struggles to fix their friendship at all costs. Everything gets really crazy really fast and the lines between dreaming and waking life blur as the lines between friend and enemy become clear as day.
That’s a great description!
Where did the idea come from?
It came from a dream I had last summer. I had been tossing around this play about friendship that I wanted to write but was kind of searching for my entry point to it. One night I dreamed, and it was completely vivid, that I was sitting at a table with a woman that I'd never met before and she told me that we had been matched because we had personality traits in common and the potential for us to become friends was very high. So we sat and talked about our childhoods and political beliefs and it was one of those dreams that felt like it went on all night. At the end of it we thanked each other for the evening and we went our separate ways. I woke up and immediately jotted some notes down and found my entry point. The title was right there too, on the tip of my brain as soon as I woke up.
August of last year. I went into the first session in September with two short scenes and about five pages of notes. I had a first full draft by the end of October and heard it out loud for the first time in November.
One of the things we love about your play is how funny it is. Is it hard to write comedy? Because it seems like writing comedy would be kind of hard.
Yes and no. Comedy has always come pretty easy for me. I'm generally looking at the world with a sense of humor and translating it to the page feels very natural to me as it's initially coming out. For me, the revising of comedy is hard- going back and making sure things work, editing out things that make me laugh but don't serve the play or the story.
Who's in your cast?
I am very stoked about my cast! They are all fantastic actors and many of them have been instrumental in the shaping of this play through their feedback in our monthly sessions. Geoff Davin and Cori Anne Laemmel are Jonas and Amy. Patrick Waller plays Andrew, the man of Jonas' dreams. Laura Crockarell and Pete Vann are The Friend Factory employees who act as guides for the clients while they're dreaming. And then I have two actors who play various roles including Sigmund Freud, Princess Leia and Camper #2 and they are the versatile Chris Bosen and Evelyn O'Neal Brush. I am also very lucky to have someone who's been mentoring me and the play all season direct it, the multi-talented Nate Eppler!
What do you like about working in Nashville?
Nashville has a community of theatre artists who seem interested in incubating the talent they have, fostering relationships and making each other better. And the talent pool is huge! Everyone who's been involved in this process has just been so good at what they do. I feel lucky to have been able to be a part of it for a season. Working with these artists, and particularly my fellow playwrights: Garrent, Jennifer and Nate, has made me a stronger and better playwright and I'm so grateful.
What was it like working with 2013 Ingram Fellow Theresa Rebeck?
Theresa was awesome. She has such a direct, to the point way about her that I really respond well to. She's been one of my playwright gods since I started writing plays (I actually gasped with Renee first told me over the phone who the fellow was this year), so being in the room with her at first was very intimidating. But very quickly her cool vibe and love for the craft made me feel at ease and I soaked up every golden nugget of wisdom she'd throw out. She says things and it's like, yes! Why didn't I think of it like that before?
Did working with Theresa Rebeck change your play?
She asked me a simple question I hadn't even considered and it turned my whole play on its head. Answering the question gave my characters the wants and needs and drives I'd been working for. Theresa is also a master of dialogue that moves and snaps and crackles and just keeps you there. One afternoon, she did an impromptu reading of a scene from her new play with Brian Russell for us.
Yes! I was there. All of a sudden Brian Russell and Theresa Rebeck were doing a cold reading together of a scene she had written that morning, right?
It was pretty amazing.
She showed us what makes her dialogue work instead of trying to explain it and that moment helped me with the dialogue of my own play. Honestly watching her work will stay with me as long as I write plays, I'll always have this image of her and Brian Russell firing back and forth, driven by the fierce dialogue on the page. That was more useful than any class I've ever taken.
Brian D. Walker's The Friend Factory premieres May 10th and 14th, 2013 during Nashville Rep's Ingram New Works Festival. For reservations and more on the Ingram New Works Festival please click here.