Interviewed by Michael K. Potter; transcribed by Nikolas Prsa
Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down virtually with John Clancy, the playwright responsible for Fatboy, which Post Productions is bringing to The Shadowbox Theatre from Oct 9 – 24. John, who is now the President of Little Pharaoh Enterprises, in Mount Carmel, Illinois, shared insights about the play, theatre, and much more.
Read the video transcript below!
Tickets to FATBOY are available through this website on the HOME and 2020 SEASON pages.
To learn more about LITTLE PHARAOH ENTERPRISES, visit them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/littlepharaohenterprises/
MICHAEL K. POTTER: Alright. Well, hello John! Let’s start with some context to familiarize our audiences with you. So, tell me about yourself: who is John Clancy, and what has he done with his life so far?
JOHN CLANCY: Man, what a waste. What a waste. So much potential. Well, I grew up in St. Louis, Missouri, Midwest America. Studied as an actor at Oberlin College in Ohio, graduated. Spent a year in grad school in Dallas, Texas for acting where I met my wife, which was the only thing I got out of grad school. And, after a year, I went - I started writing, I wasn’t getting a lot of acting work. I was in L.A. for about a year, moved back to Dallas, Texas to be with Nancy, and started writing. We moved to New York City in 1990. She had a good agent, she was sort of a big shot - she did a lot of soap operas and commercials and that kind of stuff. So we moved to New York. I wasn’t getting the acting work, so I started writing roles that I want to play, and I had lots of success with that very early; won some national awards, had some productions in New York, and then I started writing very strange things. You know, you go back to the ‘90s in America, the only real schools of playwriting - big schools - were Mamet and Shepard.
CLANCY: So, you were either writing kinda bad Shepard imitations -- kinda, you know, kinda scroungy, angry, you know. We used to call it, like, ‘Guys With Guns And Girls Who Took Their Clothes Off.’ And you’d break a chair at some point during the play, knives, you know, this kind of shit, and trying to be poetic but usually just being incoherent. Or, Mamet, which was just, you know, just - [imitates staccato] staccato, you know, fucking fast, quick, mean, very much about America. And that was it! So, I wrote a bad ‘Shepard piece,’ I wrote a pretty decent ‘Mamet piece,’ and then I just started writing just crazy shit. ‘Cause my whole impulse was to write ‘theatre’ and not ‘drama.’ To write - you know, when I teach playwriting, it’s like - you know, there’s a huge difference between ‘theatre’ and ‘drama,’ and, basically, if you’re writing ‘drama’ you’re writing a piece of literature. Which is great, beautiful! You know, George Bernard Shaw, all those guys. If you’re writing ‘theatre,’ you’re basically writing a blueprint for a live event and you have to understand that it’s not - it’s just that; you have to write as clear as you can, exactly as if you were an architect and you’re gonna give it to a contractor, and it’s gotta be clear. When it’s all said and done, they have to build the thing, you know, to your specifications, and then they can decorate any way they want to. But you’re basically writing a blueprint. So, I started writing stuff and nobody wanted to direct that, at all, you know. Nobody wanted to produce it. So, I started directing it, Nancy and I started a company - The Present Company - back in ’94, I guess, in New York. And we had a lot of fun, we had a lot of - you know, some success, mostly just a lot of fun. We opened up a little theatre in Hell’s Kitchen. We got the idea for the New York International Fringe Festival in probably ’96, we did that in ’97 with a bunch of people. In that first year, in ’97, we had 175 productions in 21 theatres that were, you know, bars and basements and all this on the Lower East Side - I think one actual theatre - over eleven days. And we put on - if you add that all up - we put on over 1,200 individual performances.
POTTER: Oh, my God!
CLANCY: Each company had five, six, seven shows depending on the length of their shows, and it was nuts! It was insane! Did it with no budget. Did it with no staff, all volunteer. Nobody died, you know, so we kept doing it again, so we did that for - I think it’s still going on, I think, but Nancy and I did it for five years - and then we just kinda got bored because it began to run itself. It became a machine, so the excitement was kinda gone. So, we started our own company - Clancy Productions - took all of our shows that we had been doing over the years and toured the world with them. We had a lot of luck. We broke into the Edinburgh Festival Fringe our first year, and we just had - you know, through some flukes and some good relationships - we killed. We did really well. And so, we kept being able to go back. That’s the gateway - that festival is the gateway to all the other English-speaking festivals, big ones; all the promoters are there, all the producers are there. So, we did that for about eight years and you know, that first recession hit and work just went away. So, yeah, we just sort of jumped around for a little while and now we’re out in, of all places, southern Illinois- just this tiny little, beautiful ‘Mayberry R.F.D.’ county - and we, as of last week, now we’ve bought two big old buildings, an old bank and an old bar that are next to each other, essentially one complex, and it’s the Little Egypt Arts Center. So, we’re gonna try and do what we do out here.
POTTER: That’s excellent, yeah. Bringing together artists of all stripes, right, into sort of a community. Yeah, I love that idea. That’s something that we’re really interested in doing over here, too.
CLANCY: Yeah, yeah. It’s important. We really have to get with the local artists, not in any condescending way. You know, it’s like, wow! This is, - I mean, I’m telling you, man - some of the local musicians, and the local visual artists, and some of the theatre people, you know what I mean: top notch! They just never decided to run off to New York or anywhere, they stayed here. But then to cook them up, to be able to do (things) already with some artists from other places is really exciting. It’s just fun to watch, you know, the hybrid of it and the mutual sort of ‘oh, wow,’ and that’s inspired me to do this, you know?
POTTER: Yeah. So, Fatboy then. Let’s talk about Fatboy, that’s the show in question. What led to Fatboy becoming a reality?
CLANCY: Well, it was - it’s funny, I was thinking about this last night ‘cause I knew we were gonna have this conversation - it’s funny, the first maybe five, six pages, the first exchange between Fatboy and Fudgie in Act One, actually goes back to probably 1991. ‘Cause Nancy and I had just been married and I was sitting there and she was making money; I wasn’t making any money. So I’m just sitting there in the apartment trying to be a writer, and it was, basically, just a gag, you know? It was like, ‘Let’s just boil marriage down to its worst, most brutal reality,’ and it was like five pages that I just put away, you know? I mean, I do that a lot. You get a little inspiration, you make sure you write it down, you put it away. Years later, Nancy had - my wife is a brain tumour survivor - in 2002, she presented with a malignant brain tumour. And she had the surgery, she’s still alive, she’s a couple doors down, but that really pissed me off; that really got me angry. And then, of course, what had happened earlier with the attacks on the [Twin] Towers which happened about a mile from where we lived in New York City. And then, of course, we invaded Afghanistan, and that really pissed me off, you know. So I was really just sitting there in this stew of, not rage exactly, but really angry. And I remembered this piece of this lunatic, you know, shouting and yelling, pulled it out. [A] friend of mine, Colin Young of Reverie Productions, had a reading series and he was looking for short pieces and he said “Do you have anything?” and I said “Well, you know, yeah, I could write a short piece” and I wrote the first act of Fatboy and we presented a stage reading. And you’ve been through hundreds of stage readings and they’re usually fun, they’re cool, they’re interesting. This was . . . I’ve never seen anything like this, man. I mean, we rehearsed it for half an hour, right, and sat down in front of, you know, thirty people, folding chairs. And it just - the room blew up! And everyone was, like, yelling, “When are you gonna finish it?! What’s next?!” and I’m like, “Ah!”
CLANCY: So, I just kept writing and Colin actually was the original producer and he said “I want to do this.” So, damn, you know. So, it all just sort of came out. There was no plan to it, you know. It was really just sort of, you know joke-to-joke, outrage-to-outrage.
POTTER: Were you writing it with specific people in mind to cast?
CLANCY: Yeah, I knew - you probably know, one of the great things about having a performing company, you can - you know. I mean, Clifford Odetts wrote Waiting For Lefty with all the Group Theatre guys so he knew their rhythms, what they could do, could see them doing it. Yeah, I did. I wrote it for Nancy, I wrote it for a guy named Del Pentecost who we worked for forever, and Calvedo - most of that original cast, with the exception of Mike McShane, who premiered the role, in Edinbrugh, of Fatboy. We had never worked with Michael, but he was a big star, basically; he in on the original Whose Line Is It Anyway, the English version; he’s ‘the big, fat American.’ He loved the piece. I talked to him - really took a risk, because I had never worked with him. I asked somebody who worked for him - you might want to edit this out, you might not want to - I asked somebody, I said, “Mike McShane is interested in doing this.” The producers, of course, are like, “Cast him! Cast him! He sells tickets! You know, he’s a big star over there.” And I ask, “Have you worked with Mike?” and a mutual friend basically said: “Yeah, I’ve worked with Mike. Two things about McShane: he will always have the best drugs, and no one will be more professional.” And I was like, “That’s a good combination! You know, that’s pretty rare.”
CLANCY: And it was true! He was so great, but then he couldn’t do the New York premiere, so that reverted back to Del. Del did it a couple times, I think. But yeah, I had Joey, Matt Calvedo, I kinda knew they could pull it off. ‘Cause, as you’re finding out probably, it’s a deceptively difficult piece.
CLANCY: It looks pretty straight-up, but it’s very demanding on the the performers, very demanding.
POTTER: Yesterday, actually, we ran the first act with four different tones. I wanted to see what we might be missing, what had escaped our attention because we had been performing it a certain way. At first we did it as sort a zany, (Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker) Airplane! sort of comedy, then as a BBC drama, then we did it as a preschool show and then we did it as a horror. A lot of interesting things came out of that.
CLANCY: I would have loved to have seen that!
POTTER: But, what we found all through the rehearsal process is that it’s play of surprising moments of depth. There are points being made. The play is so outrageous, it’s so in-your-face, that, in a way, you think “This is not a play in which there is room for subtlety or nuance,” but there is! It’s hiding underneath the bluster; it’s underneath the brashness.
CLANCY: Exactly. And if you drop into that, pop right back out, but nail it and then go on, then the piece really builds into a very interesting thing.
CLANCY: Yeah. You know, I had the privilege, or the luck or whatever - when I first directed it, I had written it then, and then we went on tour - two tours actually, back-to-back to England and then to Australia for about eight or nine months - and then when we flew back from Australia, we had to go into rehearsal the next day to then take it to Edinburgh. We had a month and - bang! - over to Edinburgh, so I was just wiped. I thought, “You know what?” and I said, “Let’s just look at this script.” We all had the script, we were all sitting around, and I said, “Somebody else wrote this, man. I mean, I finished this a year ago; it was a different guy, you know? So, let’s just look at it; let’s just do basic script analysis on what we’re looking at before we even get into it.” I found all kinds of stuff where it was just like, “What is this?!” And a lot of it, I realized, there’s a lot of religious shit in it. In a dark, kind of agnostic way, but it’s there. I mean, to the tone of it, the subtlety or whatever, the difficulty of it, I’ve seen three or four productions across the country and it sometimes is heartbreaking. A company did it in a big, naval base town on the south - Newport News, I think - and she was so excited about the piece. She’d seen it and she did it in a tiny, little theatre and it was disastrous! She wrote back - I didn’t see it - but she was like, “I am so sorry, I didn’t realize how tough it was.”
CLANCY: And she cast, you know, good people, but she didn’t prep them for what it was gonna be and they couldn’t pull it off. And I’ve seen other productions where it’s just that; where it’s like you though this was just a farce or whatever, and it’s like - nah, man. It’s opera, in a sense. As far as the performances, also, you gotta be able to pull it and drop in a second and jump. Also, I don’t know what you guys are gonna clock into, but I saw [an] excellent production in Chicago - excellent company, great directors, great actors, great set - but it was too long, and at the end of it, it’s just too much. It’s like -
CLANCY: I say it’s like listening to The Ramones full-blast for a while, and after a little while - as great as it is - it’s like, “This is… turn this off, man!”
CLANCY: It’s a real - it’s a tricky bastard, and it’s a mean play.
CLANCY: It’ll say that about it, which is not really my style - or, I try not to make my style - but this is a mean play. It’s all set up as a trick.
POTTER: Right, and the protagonists themselves are mean people.
CLANCY: Yeah, yeah.
POTTER: They’re unprincipled people. One of our actors described one of the things that the play was demonstrating to the audience was what happens when you don’t see value in anyone else or anything else.
CLANCY: Yes, and one of the impulses I’m remembering now for Act Two - the trial - was Slobodan Milosevic and his war crime trial. I remember this insane image at one point - he was there, he was on, he was in the court - and for some reason, he was eating this big ol’ hoagie, this big ol’ sandwich. And he had mayonnaise all over his face, and it was like, “He’s on war crimes! This is insane!” So, one of the other things that the play taught me about us is, “We’ll allow you” - if you want, Mussolini, you can think about the current American president - “We’ll allow you to be a monster as long as you’re entertaining. As soon as you stop becoming entertaining, we turn on you.”
CLANCY: And then, you’re out, you know. So, sort of a trick for Fatboy and Fudgie is, make sure you’re always engaging with that audience - an actual audience. Keeping them on your side, making them think that, “You’re not talking about me! Ha, ha, ha!” until the end.
POTTER: You know, for me, one the things I really just love about the script is the relationship between Fatboy and Fudgie, right? This co-dependent, resentful relationship that they have. What are you telling us with that relationship allegorically? You can sort of pick up on the psychology of it, but, allegorically, what is that relationship communicating?
CLANCY: It’s really interesting, because - that’s a great question, I don’t know - I think, I know that Fatboy is just hunger, just desire, and it’s finally human; it’s not a political thing. That’s the first layer, that’s easy. It’s a human thing. It’s like - you ever have a child or watch a toddler, they’re monsters! They don’t care! “This goes in my mouth! This goes in my mouth!”
CLANCY: So, he’s hunger, but she is - this might really be reductive as all hell - but, she is “the brains of the outfit.” And there’s that whole classic, Western thing of the woman actually being in charge, the woman being wiser, the woman needing to play her lesser hand but winning the pot. So, there’s some kind of a lock between - she’s got that speech at the very end, “We watch you go off to battle and wait see who will return.” And I think that’s a very mean view of ‘woman,’ but that’s probably - I mean, the allegory’s not Adam and Eve, but it’s, I don’t know, Adam and Judith or something.
POTTER: A lot of people will say that a clown - for instance - clowns are defined and differentiated by their appetites.
POTTER: Fatboy and Fudgie, they have different appetites, right? Fatboy has this appetite for literal consumption of whatever happens to be in his presence, and Fudgie has this appetite for sex for one thing, but what they share and what I think underlies both those appetites is an appetite for power.
CLANCY: Definitely. ‘Cause you think about everyone that Fudgie conjugates with - dies! Fatboy kills the Tenant, but you can hear him shout offstage. She kills the Prosecutor. She kills the Slave at the end. I mean, these are - we assume these are lovers, we don’t really see that. She says, “My beautiful boy” and then she just snaps his neck!
CLANCY: She’s kind of the black widow, you know; it’s not consummated until I kill you.
POTTER: Again, you could see that as another kind of consumption: you consume the other until they’re spent and then you’re done with them. You move on.
CLANCY: Yeah, what worth are they to you?
CLANCY: I’ve been thinking about the two levels of how they fit together because Fatboy is intentionally, completely oblivious. He has no sense of what the hell is going on because of his blind ego. He does have a couple times where he’s just like, “I don’t understand what you’re saying,” even though someone’s saying something directly to him; he just doesn’t get it. I don’t think it’s an act. I think he genuinely is like, “That doesn’t fit with my worldview, so I didn’t hear it.”
POTTER: Right, right. Now, the Tenant strikes me, out of the supporting characters - the Tenant is the most interesting to me because he’s a mysterious figure. He enters their world and there seems to be a swagger to him; there seems to be this sense that he’s there playing what he thinks is the same game and he’s outmaneuvered. Where did that character come from and what did writing that character into the script allow you to do with the story?
CLANCY: Yeah. Again, the way they were written was sequentially, although Act Two and Three were kind of written together. But Act One, I saw this character and I knew who was gonna play it – this character as exactly that: as the young – and Matt, who had this stupid little blonde wig on, and when he pulled his pants down, had these ridiculous leopard g-sting thing, he was kinda dressed in this flowing white – he was the classic, male elite. I think that’s the setup. So you’ll see that confrontation between real power and real hunger and violence and danger against the cultured “I kill people for money.” It’s all romantic and shit, and Fatboy’s like, “Really? Let’s go!” And that fight - the way we staged it - it basically wasn’t a fight. He came at him, and Fatboy grabbed him and spent a long time killing him. Matt was just clutching and trying to get to him, but it wasn’t a fight.
POTTER: So the Tenant’s sort of the ideal male violence that you find in movies, right?
CLANCY: Exactly. There’s nothing sexy about murder. One of the hardest rehearsal hurdles we always had was - we called it ‘the murder speech’ - when Fatboy returns in Act One, and that’s a total tone shift. You’re going from this real ridiculous over-the-top, to this fairly long monologue with - I don’t think there’s a joke in there. Maybe one or two.
POTTER: Dark, dark jokes.
CLANCY: It sort of drops it down because that is the most realistic depiction of an event in the whole piece, I think. It happens really early. It’s also, intentionally, not America. The way he’s talking about it, it’s really, in my mind, it was a Western European capital. The old section, the quarter, it’s like, “Hm.”
POTTER: The architecture that he describes and so forth.
CLANCY: Yeah, everything feels like a city in Southern England or somewhere. But once we got that, you get over that and pop back in and you’ve kept the audience, then it should work. Have you had any - just to throw it back on you - is there anything in particular or in general about this script that surprised you when you were actually working on it?
POTTER: Yeah, quite a lot. Act One, I think we finally cracked it last night with the exercise of trying the different tones. I think we finally found the right balance for that particular moment you’re describing, that monologue. Everything else was working, in fact, that monologue was pretty good - it’s been good for a while - but you’re right, it’s out of place in the rest of the act in a way. Finally, I think we found the right balance of tones just through experimentation last night. One of the other things that surprised me about the script quite a lot, and continues to surprise me, is that it’s often billed as a satire of American politics and culture - which it is, clearly - but it’s also, I think, very, very universal in what is being satirized. What’s being satirized, as I understand it now, isn’t particular to the United States, it isn’t particular to any particular culture or anything like that; it’s human. It’s something about humanity. It’s something about human nature. It’s something about what human beings create and destroy that I’m seeing more and more.
CLANCY: Why we do it, why we allow it.
CLANCY: As a director, the way always looked at it, you gotta look at the end. You gotta study the end of the piece carefully and say, “In a way, we’re being detectives and we gotta work our way back; how do we get there?” That last speech is very direct: “Look in the mirror, look at your neighbour.” This is not about America, this is not about George W. Bush. A lot of the end of the second act, his speech, is lifted from the official defence policy - I don’t know what they call it - George W. Bush put out that doctrine. Premeditated - “As long as there’s a tiny little thing, we will act upon it.”
POTTER: The pre-emptive strikes, yeah.
CLANCY: It describes Cheney’s ‘one-percent’ doctrine. And that was a real shift. So much was going on that nobody really clocked it. But I remember reading it and going “Holy shit, man! This is a big, big switch in foreign policy.” Like you’re saying, it’s rooted in there, of course - I’m an American writer, of course we’re looking at the American empire - but there are breadcrumbs all through. End of second act, as well: “L'état, c'est moi.” That’s not America. I even put in, over a lot of people’s objections, I put in “Yes, we can.” Obama. I love Obama, but he was king of the drones, man. The drone strikes over the Obama administration - through the fucking roof. There’s trying to be a lot there - Churchill is in there - but yeah, I’m glad you’re seeing that, because the least successful productions I’ve seen have hammered the “American.” I saw one where, at the very end, the whole thing took place in this hillbilly shack and at the end of it they had a big thing where the roof of the shack rolled down to reveal an American flag. And it was just kind of like - here we go! - and it was funny and the audience liked it, it was fun, but you know.
POTTER: We’re leaning hard on the Americana aspect of it but what we’re trying to do is universalize through the particular. We’ve actually very - not at all subtly - added a Canadian element to Act Three; the Slave’s costume is a stereotypical Mountie costume -
POTTER: - because that’s the role I believe Canada tends to play with the U.S. But it’s all of us. And I think if you don’t find those threads in Acts One and Two, the speech at the end of Act Three comes out of nowhere. It doesn’t belong unless you’ve found those threads.
CLANCY: You and me can talk afterwards if you got a sense of it - I’m not that familiar with Canadian politics, but if there’s a line that you wanna pop into that speech at the end of Act Two that will resonate with Canadian audiences, that will sort of wake them up a little bit - go ahead, man!
POTTER: Okay, thanks!
CLANCY: Let me know what it is and I can pop it in -
POTTER: One of the things that I don’t think a lot of Americans realize about Canada is that we are voracious consumers of U.S. culture. We watch U.S. news - I was raised to practically worship the U.S. I had to memorize all the U.S state’s capitals and rivers before I knew any of the Canadian provinces. And especially here in Windsor, we’re just a stone’s throw from Detroit. You can walk to the river from my house. People from the rest of Canada find the accents here strange because they’re very influenced by Detroit. In Canada, our population is so concentrated on the border, and we consume so much U.S. media, that I think Canadians are fooling themselves when they draw firm lines, firm boundaries, between the cultures.
CLANCY: Here we are, my buddy C.J. Hopkins is a genius - he’s a playwright. He - years ago, years ago - I was talking about something and he said, “John, countries don’t matter anymore man.” And it’s, really, an almost 19th century way of thinking. It’s all transnationals. We’re all consuming the same media. Obviously, if you go to Zimbabwe or something, it’s a little different - but not that much! It’s amazing - you got to these tiny little places and they have the VCRs, they’re watching the same shit that we’re watching. The culture, it’s one - yeah, I hear you man.
POTTER: There’s this interesting cultural homogeneity that’s been growing for decades now, and now we’re also seeing a backlash against it with these assertions of national identity in various – but it’s a backlash that exists because of exactly what you were describing in many ways.
CLANCY: On our side, our course, it’s like how many Canadian actors and big stars in Hollywood - and nobody knows they’re Canadian. Everybody’s like “What?! Jim Carrey’s Canadian?!” No, he’s not American.
POTTER: Any Canadian actor has to move to the U.S., or else they’re spending their days working a day job because you can’t support yourself as an actor in Canada. [laughs] One of the things that I’m really fascinated about, that I find really unique about Fatboy too is the structure of it, and you’ve talked a little about it. In a superficial sense, you’ve got that Mamet thing where each scene is its own act, but it’s clearly not a Mamet sort of play. You’ve got even influences, as I see, from the old pantomimes; Fatboy and Fudgie’s sides to the audiences. And then you’ve got the Entr’actes. So, explain the structure of this to me: how did this come together?
CLANCY: Well, I’ve always been fascinated with vaudeville, which is really - with the exception of the 20th century musical - is really America’s only genuine contribution to world theatre. Vaudeville was - one, a minstrel show, that came out of vaudeville - but that sense of always acknowledging an audience, always acknowledging the artificiality of what’s happening on stage. I think that leads through almost anything I’ve ever written that I think is any good is, at some point, reminding the audience, “Hey! You’re sitting in a room with a bunch of other people watching me do this! Don’t fall asleep!” So, I think those two things, there’s a fun -there’s entertainment value - of telling people, “Here’s a big, red curtain, and we’re all dressed up. It’s a show!” Not really mocking that, but having fun with that. But also, the entr’actes and the bullshit about “We’re not getting paid, this is a bunch of shit, our public is sending us telegrams” is just, again, another way to break it down and, in a sense - this is a kind of a loaded phrase - keep the audience from taking it seriously, but also making them take it seriously. Making them go, “Oh!” When I teach, I try to tell the students that theatre is, first of all, a physical act. You have to be there, you have to breathe, you have to perform and be there. Secondly, it’s a social act. Even if it’s in a drawing room, even reading in your living room, it’s a social act. Then it’s a political act. And it takes a while for it to get to be a psychological act or emotional act; it’s kind of far down the list. I think the detour of American theatre is the primacy of psychological and emotion. That’s what we’ve been trained to think about, as writers, directors, performers, designers: “How do we make it real? How do we get that psychological depth and how do we tap into that emotion?” And it’s fantastic - Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill, and all their descendants - but I really feel it’s a detour. Once they invented film, once they invented photography, the serious painters realized, “We gotta do something different. We can’t keep making it perfect and making it look like a window; you can do that with a photograph, and much better. We gotta find our limitations; two-dimensions and colour, and how do we make that amazing?” And in theatre, you’ve got those limitations. If you wanna say - I mean, Shakespeare knew how to do it. Shakespeare was doing his stuff in broad daylight, on an essentially bare stage, in front of crazy, loud, drunken groups, so he knew how to do it. They’d walked out there and, “Well, here we are in Verona! Get it? Now we can move on.”
CLANCY: I say to the writers, “If you want to make beautiful, psychological drama, write a screenplay, man! Number one, you can do it better, and number two, you’ve got a chance to make a whole lot more money.
POTTER: Although, they aren’t being produced so much anymore, those types of films. So, it might mean that theatre can come back and fill that void.
CLANCY: One of the most moving experiences in the theatre I’ve ever had was Death of a Salesman on Broadway, with Brian Dennehy, and it was magic! And it’s not a realistic play, really, but the acting, and it was so - and I got to see Uta Hagen once, and it was like, wow, no words - so I value that, I respect it; I’m just not interested in it and spending my time doing it. So, to make a long answer short, I said “Let’s make it old school so it’s instantly recognizable… act, entr’acte, act, entr’acte…” It’s a three-act play in a short, short period of time, and those limitations, I think, help the audience along. You get a rhythm, you get to understand what’s gonna happen next, then it surprises you what happens in-between, but the structure is comforting.
POTTER: That vaudeville influence explains the inclusion of “Three Little Fishies” in Act Two. All of a sudden they break into song - we had to cut it because we aren’t allowed to sing with an audience - but we did find a fun little bit to replace it with. But, I’m curious, why that song in particular? Why “Three Little Fishies,” of all things? [laughs]
CLANCY: It’s such a silly, little song! It’s hard not to sing that song without smiling! [imitates ‘Three Little Fishes’] The words are stupid, the rhythm is stupid, so - depending if anyone knows the song - it’s sort of this discordant, “What are they saying?!” [both laugh] Yeah, we had a lot of fun with that. We had a lot of fun with that. We even did a bit where Jody - he played live piano a lot through it whenever he wasn’t on stage - so Del was, “And that’s my sooo-!” And he just kept on doing the big ending and Jody kept vamping and vamping and vamping. He kind of got lost in it, he was having so much fun. And so, Del runs out of breath, “-oooong!” and he’s just staring him down and finally just walks over to the piano and breaks Jody’s rhythm and Jody collapses onto the keys and - clunk!
POTTER: That’s perfect!
CLANCY: It was really very funny!
POTTER: I’m also curious about how this play has been received. How was it received when you first premiered it and then, over time, has that changed?
CLANCY: It’s interesting. Like I say, it’s a mean play. It’s meant to sucker punch you. The original production in Edinburgh, 2004, was a huge hit. Reviews, crazy reviews. I thought it was gonna transfer to London, I had a deal on the table but, like all theatre deals, it didn’t come through. [laughs] But it was interesting too because the profanity, we kept talking about that. So, opening night, I think - no, we had already opened. We were playing the - have you been to the Edinburgh Fringe?
POTTER: No, no.
CLANCY: You should go, it’s amazing. If we ever have the opportunity again. We were playing a fairly large theatre - a 300-seat theatre, big for the Fringe. I watched a lot of it. I had at least watched the beginning and then gone out just be able to listen and make sure it was working. I’m sitting down in the fifth row one afternoon and there was this nice, English gentleman sitting next to me. Curtain-up, pretty big house, and Mike screams out, “MOTHERFUCK! Cocksucking fuckheaded motherfucking fucks!” and this gentleman sitting there goes, “Nope, not for me!”
POTTER: [laughs] That’s amazing!
CLANCY: But I was so happy! We talked about how it was received - critically, through the roof - but it really split the audience. We didn’t have regular walkouts, we didn’t have one or two: we had fifteen, twenty people get up and walk out, and I’d have to tell my performers what a gift that was. ‘Cause number one: if they’re hating it, that energy is gonna be in the room and it’s actually gonna fuck up other people’s enjoyment of it. So, if you’re really hating it, I tell that to people directly, “If you don’t like this, get out, man! Life is short! What are you doing?” I’ll walk out of a theatre - I don’t storm out - but I’ll walk out of a theatre. I’ll be like, “Meh, I’m not enjoying this” - leave. But, the other thing is - clearly, it’s hard for a performer sometimes - you say, “Look, you’re doing something. You’re provoking enough. How rare is that to be able to do in the twenty-first century in theatre that moves somebody to the extent of that they’re like, ‘I can’t watch this?’”
CLANCY: Of course, the flip side is you’ll get people who cannot believe what they’re seeing. We had the most amazing - you’re reminding me of something in that performance. You had in the theatre like, thirty other companies playing - this was a multi-venue, it has six or seven different little theatres within one building - and so, we all had our little mailboxes. Every company had a little mailbox up front by the ticket office. So, I go in there one day and there’s just this little note - just a piece of notebook paper. It said, “Dear Fatboy, this is Skint Girl” - I didn’t know that word, ‘Skint,’ it’s a Scottish word which means ‘broke’ – “I won tickets to your performance on the radio and I saw it yesterday. I saw my landlord and my boss and my friends and myself. Thank you so much! Skint Girl.” I was like, “Wow, man! What would cause somebody to-?” You know, you like the show, you go home and tell your friends you liked the show, but to actually put in the effort to write a note and put it in - that was the best review we ever got!
POTTER: It’s so personal!
CLANCY: Well, I’ve had people who really hated it - friends, you know, people I respect - and they’re just like, “It’s just too obvious and it’s too repetitive. It just goes on-and-on.” I had a great critique - there’s a guy named Aaron Posener, who I’ve known forever, a very, very successful and talented American director and adaptor. He’s adapted a bunch of great Chekov shows - one of them he called Stupid Fuckin’ Bird - he’s directed a lot of Chekov shows all through his career so he knows them in-and-out, so he makes them modern. Anyway, he saw the premiere performances and he said “Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! You gotta work on the third act, because the second act, as a piece, works better than any of the other acts. It’s just a piece of Marx Brothers farcical - just as far as structure and craft, it really works. Then, you gotta top that.” In the original premiere, I really didn’t. He had all these suggestions, and that’s why there’s that Shakespearean bit at the top. I was trying to just, you know, take it to another place, but then that seemed like a gag that Fatboy wouldn’t put up with for that long; it’s too much work for him to think up all that shit.
CLANCY: So, yeah. And the language. I’ve had people just say - that’s the trick too, man, you talk about ‘mean’, I put that in there - and I got one person, I got my aunt who saw the New York production, and she said, “Yeah, John, it was great, but - [tuts] - the language, the language, the language.” I said, and this is mean, “Alright, ‘kay,” - she’s actually Nancy’s aunt - “just let me be clear on this: the fact that the character kills a Jew in the middle of a court, that’s not what you were offended by? You were offended by that he says ‘fuck’ a lot? That’s interesting. That’s, uh, hmm. Hmm!” And that’s being an asshole, but that is kind of built in there. It’s like, “What are you offended by?”
POTTER: Right, right. You know, honestly, my nightmare is quiet appreciation and polite applause. I want people to feel something and it honestly doesn’t matter so much to me what it is they feel as long as they feel it intensely. Ideally, I’d want it to be a sense of delight or joy -
CLANCY: Of course.
POTTER: - or fascination. But if it’s rage, I’m okay! You know, our most successful production so far was an original musical that we wrote called Another Fucking Christmas Play: A Fucking Musical - and yeah, we had a lot of walkouts!
POTTER: It’s in the title; what do you think you’re coming to see? But we also had a lot of repeats, a lot of people coming back to see it multiple times. The audience was split; there was absolutely no one in that middle zone that I hate. The audience was split. That’s what I want.
CLANCY: There’s an amazing play, if you can find it - I don’t think it’s in print - it’s called The Adventures of Nervous Boy. It was done - it was in a collection that I put together that never got published - James Comtois is the playwright. He worked with - this was done in the late ‘90s in New York - it’s an amazing piece, I can’t describe it.
POTTER: I would love to read it!
CLANCY: It’s amazing, and I was talking to these guys because I loved the play and I wanted to put it in this collection. I was like, “Tell me what the original impulse was, and what was it like?” and James says, “Well, we rehearsed it and got it up and it was opening night, and me and the director were standing there waiting for the crowd to come in” - maybe fifteen people - “and, suddenly, I got nervous. Not that people wouldn’t like it, but that people would think that we were emotionally deranged for even putting it up!”
CLANCY: And it is! It’s like, “Oh, my God!” But it’s fantastic; one of the stage directions is “Guy’s at a bar, and somebody kills the girl next to him and a demon comes in and drags her off,” and that’s the stage direction!
POTTER: Oh, I love that!
POTTER: Well, have you ever felt that Fatboy went too far at any point in the script, or didn’t go far enough?
CLANCY: Yeah, I‘m sure it didn’t go far enough. As far as content, no, nothing goes that far. I mean, to be in New York City, and have Fatboy say, to strike the testimony, “Your honour, the witness is a Jew!” and let that just sit there in New York City - amazing. It was a hip, downtown crowd, of course, and you could feel that - suddenly - it went too far. You could feel the tension, tension, and then the judge would do the thing, tension, tension, and then they’d do the laugh. At that point, the laugh had been Pavlovian enough that the audience would go, so I’m sure we could go farther. I really believe this man, everything’s funny if you can find the funny. A barbecue at Auschwitz is funny if you can figure out how to get there; I can’t!
POTTER: Maybe, some things, it’s just best for certain people not to try.
CLANCY: If you can’t pull it off, it’s terrible. you know, I admire stand-up comics more than I admire any other artists. I mean, Jesus, that’s it, man, if you can pull that off. Then you get the really great ones who are not lecturing or hectoring, but are going to places that no man or woman dare tread. I’m a big student of stand-up comedy and there’s a great thing called Talking Funny. Ricky Gervais is interviewing Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, and Louis C.K. - years ago, before C.K. got disgraced - and they’re talking about the use of the n-word. Louis C.K. and Chris Rock use it all the time because they’ve figured it out, they can make it work. Somebody said, “Can you imagine Jerry Seinfeld using that word?” and Seinfeld, very cleverly and correctly, says, “I have never found the funny in that, nor do I seek it.” He’s like “No, not my wheelhouse.”
POTTER: Right, right. He’s the wrong person for that job.
CLANCY: I’ve seen a couple specials where he says “fucking” and it was a little shocking! I’m like, “Jerry!” [laughs]
POTTER: It’s like the first time you see Bob Saget do stand-up, and he hasn’t quite figured how to do it without being just shocking because he’s Bob Saget. He hasn’t found a way to make it funny, I think.
CLANCY: Oh, him doing The Aristocrats -
POTTER: In The Aristocrats, that is a good bit. That’s - [laughs]
CLANCY: It’s like, that’s just the top of - it’s like, “Oh, my God.”
POTTER: He and Sarah Silverman steal The Aristocrats, I think. [laughs]
CLANCY: They really do!
POTTER: Would anything change if you were to write this play today?
CLANCY: Sure, sure. I don’t know what, but absolutely. To call back to what you were talking about earlier is the universal in the particular - great phrase, gonna steal that - I like to be writing for your actual moment. And your place, often, but certainly your moment. So, that piece was written, by and large, in the outrage of America’s War on Terror, America’s invasion of Afghanistan. No land army has ever taken Afghanistan, nor will they ever take Afghanistan; the Soviet Union, Genghis Khan did that. Donald Rumsfeld did not know that. And then, of course, Iraq is going on, so it just felt like the world was being run by idiots and clowns. So, if I were to write it today, obviously, I couldn’t avoid our current president but I think a lot of the rest - yeah, I don’t know how to answer that, but the short answer is “Yeah, of course it’d change.” It should change.
POTTER: Of course, it has to, too because you’ll be at a different point in your life and all of that as well. But, when you’re staging it, when you’re producing it, something we try to be conscious of especially with something like Fatboy is, “How do we make it ‘this production, of this moment?’”
CLANCY: Yeah, exactly.
POTTER: A good script can be adapted to sort of any moment in history - it can fit into all sorts of things - because there’s something human in it that, ultimately, you can relate to whatever’s going on. Here, some of the choices we’ve made in our production are precisely because of the state of things right now, and I hope they don’t embarrass you. (laughs)
CLANCY: I’ll be honest with you, it’s great to be in a place with this piece, but also - I’ve been writing for a while. I used to be very precious and very defensive and possessive of every syllable. I’ve written so much since Fatboy. I had a great experience of having a monologue of mine - The Event - become a big hit in Germany, a German translation. It was made, it was playing - I don’t think it’s playing right now - but it’s had a lot of productions out there. And I didn’t know this. Friend of mine - Mark Ravenhill, who is an English playwright, told me, “They’re doing it in Germany?” And I said, “Uh-huh.” And he said, “Well, get ready.” And I said, “What does that mean?” He’s had a lot of work done in Germany. Over here - certainly in America - playwright’s king. You take somebody’s play - well, man, you don’t change a word, you don’t change a syllable. It’s all perfect, and that’s how it is, or you get sued, man! Not so in Germany. Germany is a director’s field. And so, what they’ll do is - it’s just what it is, it’s cultural - they will option your script or whatever, they’ll say “We’re gonna do your production,” they’ll pay you, great. God knows what you’re gonna see when you show up! I’ve seen video - you can see it on YouTube - and it’s amazing! It’s like, “What the hell is happening?!” There’s these weird things circling around a thing, the guy is up - it’s a one-man show that is about the experience of performing a one-man show. It’s incredibly meta-meta-meta-meta, it’s all about that. I saw a production where they had five people on stage! [both laugh] And they’re all sharing the lines! I don’t know man, it sounds like you guys are on-point. Like I said, maybe adding a line makes it more pointedly, includes - Canada includes the audience, that could be helpful - but just have fun with it. It’s in the stage directions, the author’s notes or whatever, if you really stick to that - it’s really quite fast. If the actors will commit to the huge laughter - making it past the point of once you feel like it’s gone on too long, add another seven seconds. Really, really beat that in - and then it’s just shouting, lyricism, shouting, lyricism, keep the thing moving and it should work!
POTTER: It still makes me laugh in rehearsal when I’m watching it, so that’s probably a good sign [laughs]
CLANCY: That’s a good thing. Oh, I’ll still run lines in my head sometimes when I’m bored and I’m like, “That’s funny! That’s still funny!” [both laugh]
POTTER: Well, I think this is probably a good point to end it. Thank you so much John for your time, this is very generous of you.
CLANCY: Thank you. Listen, I don’t think you’ll find a writer who doesn’t enjoy talking about his work!
After several months of reading, evaluating, and deliberating, the judging panel for the 2020 Windsor-Essex Playwriting Contest has announced a winner: Dead Bear by John Gavey.
The script - a dreamlike film noir mystery - emerged victorious over four other finalists in an unusually close competition. "We had some difficult choices to make," says Post Productions Managing Director Michael K. Potter. "We entered the final round of deliberation divided, but not by much: all of the judges had the same scripts in their top slots, just in a different order. There was just something unique and exciting about Gavey's submission."
Guest judge Simon du Toit, who also served as a guest judge in 2019, agrees: "What really grabbed my attention about Dead Bear was the writer's use of poetry. It's not that the central character is a great poet. He's not. But the poems don't only reveal his inner world. They also advance the action of the play, and that is fresh and unexpected. The script is a moody homage to film noir with a detective who's haunted by this one case above all others. It works as a murder mystery with a twisty ending, but the journey to that place is original."
Gavey's was not a name known to Post Productions, as this year marked the first time he'd submitted to the contest, and he hasn't had any other scripts produced or published. The playwright describes himself as someone who's always dreamed of being a writer. "Ideas continually come to me like bugs on a windshield," he says. "The pandemic has given me the time to sit for hours and bang my head on the keyboard and finally write something". Although he's admired theatre since grade 13, thanks to his teacher Mrs. Courtland, and has always been encouraged by his wife, Joanne, Dear Bear is the first script he's ever completed.
John Gavey's Dead Bear will kick off Post Productions' fifth season in February 2021. Stay alert for more news about the show - including audition dates!
As its four-year anniversary approaches, Post Productions is pleased to announce that Nikolas Prsa has accepted an invitation to join the theatre company as a full partner. Prsa’s relationship with Post Productions reaches back to 2017, when he auditioned for a role in True West. Since then, he has appeared as Alan Strang in Equus, Teensy Tim in Another F#@$ing Christmas Play (both 2018),and is slated to appear in Negatunity (August 2020) and Fatboy (October 2020). Prsa has also worked with Post Productions many times as a front-of-house volunteer.
As he is gradually mentored into producing and directing responsibilities, Prsa will serve as Post Productions’ Outreach Director, focusing on building, maintaining, and strengthening relationships between Post Productions and other organizations and artists in Windsor-Essex. “Over the years we’ve grown steadily, finally reaching the point where we needed another person to help us fully realize one of the core tenets of our mission: relationship-building and collaboration. Nik Prsa is the perfect person for the job: driven, intelligent, creative, friendly, curious, and reliable. We couldn’t be happier that he accepted our invitation.”
Beyond his work with Post Productions, Nikolas Prsa is a familiar face to theatre audiences in Windsor-Essex from the seven years he spent in community theatre – including six productions with Windsor Light Music Theatre, and one with Korda Artistic Productions. He is slated to return to Korda for Something Rotten in 2021. Outside of the theatrical world, Prsa is a budding scholar who is completing a Master of Arts in Political Science at the University of Windsor.
According to Prsa, he’s still processing his new opportunities, and he’s excited to find out where they lead: “Who would have thought that a chance meeting with the Michaels at a wildcat basement production of True West in 2017 would have led me here? Not that I'm complaining, of course. I vividly remember seeing Post Productions’ Oleanna at Shō in 2017. You could feel that it was the beginning of something special and the years since have proven just that. Having been both an audience and cast member with Post, I know there's a genuine sense of community at the forefront of the company's mission. They've sculpted out a distinctive vision of theatre in a city that already had an eclectic variety of stagecraft woven into its cultural fabric. Creative risks aren't just taken at Post; they're embraced. It's addictive. Jordan Tannahill's book, Theatre of the Unimpressed, really encapsulates my philosophy: risk aversion in theatre makes it seem like outdated tedium stifled by stuffy standards. Theatre's 'liveness' needs to be embraced because that’s what makes it an essential art form. I firmly believe the onus is on every theatre company to raise their audience's pulses and expectations. As Outreach Director, I want to find talented people who may have never had the opportunity to be involved in theatre, and I want to make sure The Shadowbox Theatre continues to be a space where projects are brought to life not just by Post Productions, but by other voices as well. The principle of free-agency that Post lives by is one that should encourage new and emerging artists to explore opportunities with us and fellow creators. And, long-term, I want Post Productions to grow with the city itself; I think the best of Windsor theatre is yet to come.”
dylan macdonald as jerry
Dylan is an actor and improv artist trained by The Second City (Toronto). His most recent theatre credits include True West (Lee) and Equus (The Young Horseman) with Post Productions. Recent film and TV credits include Chase in Seek (Splice Productions), Ray Chapman in Curious and Unusual Deaths (Discovery Channel), Blane in Nara (Splice Productions), and Gerry in Leaving Town (Mimetic Productions). His favourite theatrical credits include Vince in Tape, Bassanio in Merchant of Venice, Bobby in American Buffalo, Lucentio in Taming of the Shrew and Spike in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. In addition to acting with various companies, and performing sketch comedy and improv as the founder of Windsor Improv Theatre, Dylan teaches improv workshops and courses at The Shadowbox Theatre, among other venues.
fay lynn as emma
Creative Director at Post Productions and co-owner of The Shadowbox Theatre, Fay is never far from a stage. Her last theatrical endeavour was as director for Edele Winnie's Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands. As an actor, she was recently seen on the Shadowbox stage as Detective Ariel in The Pillowman, and Ines Serrano in No Exit. Prior to that, she had the tremendous honour of portraying the title character in Korda Artistic Productions' Macbeth at the Kordazone Theatre. Her next role with be as director for Matthew St. Amand's latest play, Negatunity, this upcoming June. Her next onstage role will be in John Clancy's Fatboy, presented by Post Productions in October 2020.
michael potter as robert
Michael is Managing Director of Post Productions and co-owner of The Shadowbox Theatre, where he also produces and directs plays (Equus, The Pillowman, Stop Kiss, True West). He still finds time to act occasionally – most recently as Cradeau in No Exit, Willie in Another Fucking Christmas Play: A Fucking Musical, Reinhart in Shelter in Place, Wesley in The Worst Thing I Ever Did, John in Oleanna, and The Enforcer in season 3 of Space/SyFy's Killjoys. Before co-founding Post Productions, he performed locally with Korda Artistic Productions, Cardinal Music Productions, and Windsor Light Musical Theatre. His next projects: starring in Matthew St. Amand’s Negatunity (June 2020) and directing John Clancy’s Fatboy (October 2020).
an interview with edele winnie - author of 'pry it from my cold dead hands' and winner of the 2019 windsor-essex playwriting contest
Edele Winnie is many things: enigmatic, visionary, hilarious, and utterly unique. Recently she agreed to an interview with Post Productions Managing Director Michael K. Potter and, well, here are the results . . .
POTTER: How would you summarize Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands? What's it about, what happens, and what makes it unique or interesting?
WINNIE: Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands is a wild ride through someone else’s mind. Giselle is a sweetheart, but she’s trapped in a glass cupboard of her own making. Everything has its place. Things are neatly put away. She’s even divided herself into different versions – her work persona, her subway persona, her home persona. All to protect her and help her to survive and succeed in this unfriendly world of ours. Then something happens – something funny and horrible – and all the glass shatters and Giselle must find out who she is all over again. It's a frog in a frying pan story. How much do you know about frogs? If you put one (I would never do this, I read about it) in a frying pan the frog adapts. They can hop, right, frying pan's have low sides and frogs can really jump. They could just hop out but they don't. When you turn the heat on, the frog keeps trying to adapt- altering its body temperature and respiration, because that's how it deals with things. It could hop out at any time. And then it gets too hot and the frog dies. Just like Giselle, like most of us. She would never jump out of the frying pan of her life. And then something happens that forces her to. It’s unique and interesting because, although everyone is different, no one is quite as weird as Giselle. (I don’t actually mean that of course. Giselle isn’t weird, she’s herself. I’m like Giselle in many ways. I’d prefer being called unusual to weird. Evolution makes lots of different versions of people for different reasons, or perhaps by just random shit luck. We glimpse one another on the street, passing by. You don’t know what’s in my head, my heart, my soul, my basement or my freezer. I always want people to be as interesting as I am, but I keep getting disappointed.
POTTER: What led you to write this script? Was it an idea that just popped into your head, an experience that made you reflect, something else entirely? And once you started, what was the writing process like for you?
WINNIE: It’s actually an adaptation of one of my stories. Short story writing is really my forte. I write dark speculative feminist fiction. That just means it’s about weird shit that happens to women. I spend a lot of time in Toronto and for some reason I’m a magnet for deranged people. Maybe that’s where this story came from. It’s like peeing, you know? In the morning you drink coffee, then tea, then apple sauce, then Diet Coke and when you pee what is it? Some of everything, filtered through you.
For me I write to entertain myself. I’m a tough audience. If it’s boring I have to throw it out. Also I’m addicted to truth. If it doesn’t sound true, I can’t write it. Sometimes I break keyboards by pounding on them because they won’t write the truth. Okay, so I only did that once. I know the problem is actually me, not the keyboard.
POTTER: You won the second annual Windsor-Essex Playwriting Contest. Tell me about that experience and how it affected the approach you took to developing your script.
WINNIE: I really wanted to impress the people at Post Productions. I’d seen a couple of their shows and I appreciate that they are working on darker, more hyper realistic pieces. So much of theatre and fiction is fairy stories where everyone gets a rainbow in the end. I like shows that challenge me, I like fairy stories about the police where everyone gets a rainbow in their end. I wanted to craft a show that was startling, interesting and rang completely true. It’s just a bonus that it’s funny too!
It was awesome winning the contest. They gave me a lot of feedback that I used to shape and sharpen the play. I couldn't have done it without them.
POTTER: You also, at our request, wrote a little "appetizer" play – First Cut – that audiences will enjoy before the main event. What can you tell us about that script and how it sets audiences up for Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands?
WINNIE: Oh First Cut was too much fun. I think it’s hilarious. It moves like a runaway train and there’s no way a person can guess where it’s going to stop. You just have to hold on. And then it’s done and you think was that dark, or funny, and the ending is complete but nothing that you would imagine. Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands also moves like that, but it’s deeper and more complicated. First Cut is like sampling the goat before you order the rest of it to be served. Though it’s not about goats. And I’m a vegan. A bad vegan.
Both of the protagonists – women of course – are safe in their frying pan when something very different changes everything and they have to jump on the tiger!
POTTER: Which stories and storytellers – in whatever genre, format, or medium – influence your writing? What inspired you – and continues to inspire you?
WINNIE: I like stories that make me squirm when I read them. Not squirm because it's yucky but because it's startling. I also like them to have satisfying endings. That’s really important. I grew up reading O Henry and Alfred Hitchcock collections, Shirley Jackson and some weirdo science fiction. I also read all of the James Herriot books. And Harry Potter. In Harry Potter everything seems nice but it ends up being wild and wonderful and that is cool. There are bad people hiding all around behind smiles.
I want stories that could be about me, but then really wild stuff happens and it goes to places I can’t even dream of and it’s really entertaining and I’m glad that it didn’t happen to me, but you know it could have if the right weird things had happened first.
POTTER: A lot of things appealed to the contest judges about the Pry It From My Cold Dead Hands script—it was unique, funny, endearing, somehow both dark and whimsical. But I'd say what most impressed us were the fully-realized character of Giselle, and your strong authorial voice. You don't "sound" like anyone else – and neither, as a result, does Giselle. What advice could you give to aspiring playwrights about developing their own voices and creating unique, fully-fleshed, characters?
WINNIE: I have a friend, Nandi Comer, who's a great poet (look her up!) She told me one day- better than I could put it – everyone says all her books seem to have a different voice. She said it's because they're all about different people and she tried to write in their voice. And succeeded!
When I started writing short stories they were all about a woman named Sheila. I realized I was writing about the same person, a version of me. Then I wrote about a woman with three arms who was definitely not me, who experienced a life completely different from mine and there was no turning back. If you're going to write about different people, be them. Be different people. Our worldview is so narrow and small. Step in someone else's heels. Fall down their stairs. Sleep outside in the dead leaves. Lick bugs. The world is so huge and we are tiny specks.
Stories are really just about what people do when stuff happens to them. Invent your people – pee out a person that's a collection of many things filtered through you – and then let and make things happen to them. If it doesn't seem real don't break your keyboard. The problem is you. Keep working. Time to go outside and sleep in the dead leaves. Look up. There's an awful lot of stars up there. Ignore the girl in the owl pajamas.
the playwright - edele winnie
EDELE EUGENIE WINNIE (playwright) hates all of her names and half of the people she meets. She sees things that other people don’t and she writes about them. She’s a house sitter, a dog walker, and was once hired as a chef in a fancy restaurant and then fired at sunset. Honestly, it wasn’t her fault. All the bodies are still hidden in the basement. Windsor Feminist Theatre produced her creepy play Nurdles and Waves in 2018. She’s written a large pile of short stories, some of which have been collected as books: Sometimes A Girl Just Has To Kill You, That Feeling In Your Stomach is My Knife, Sorry For Killing You So Many Times, and several more. Don’t ask about the Queen of Forks.She is not currently dating anyone.
REBECCA S. MICKLE is a singer, actress, and horror film enthusiast from Amherstburg, ON. She received her Bachelor of Music in Classical Voice from The University of Windsor and her Master of Music in Classical and Operatic Performance from Wayne State University. Her favourite roles include The Beggar Woman [Sweeney Todd] with Cardinal Music and Korda Artistic Productions, and Nancy [A Haunting in E Flat] with Post Productions. She is excited to be performing another fabulous new work with Post Productions. When she isn’t performing you can find her broadening minds at The Detroit Institute of Music Education, working on her debut album, and hanging out with her fluffy bunny, Mustache Sally.
STEPHANIE CRAGG is making her Post Productions debut. She has been acting in community theatre productions for the past 20 years. Favourite past roles include Ariel in The Tempest (Theatre Intrigue), Bilbo Baggins in the ‘Obbit (Korda Artistic Productions), Moth in Loves Labour’s Lost (Ghost Light Players), Lisa Simpson in Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play (Korda Artistic Productions), and the Owl in the Birds (Korda Artistic Productions). She also plays the Lady in White for the Spirits of Windsor bus tours (Encore Productions). Stephanie would like to say thank you to all the amazing cast and crew involved in this production; it has been an amazing experience! She would also like to thank all her family and friends for their unwavering support and encouragement.
CINDY PASTORIUS is thrilled to be back for her 4th show with Post Productions. Previous roles include: Flauvia/Belinda (Noises Off, The Bank Theatre), Mom (True West, Post Productions), Ms. Winsley (Stop Kiss, Post Productions), Witch 2 & Lady MacDuff (Macbeth, Korda Artistic Productions) Frances (Jenny's House of Joy, Theatre Ensemble), as well as playing chorus in many productions, including Les Miserables (Theatre Alive) and Aida. She has been active both on stage & behind the scenes in community theatre for nearly 20 years. She is a proud wife, mother, grandmother and high school teacher when she is not performing on stage.
COLIN ZORZIT is making his first appearance at the Shadowbox Theatre! Colin, a recent Master of Education graduate, has used theatre over the last seven years as a way to forget about his crippling student debt. Colin usually prefers to work behind the scenes, but has recently taken bringing silly roles to life more seriously. He most recently appeared as Robin Hood in Korda Artistic Production’s Robin Hood: The Panto. Other credits include Horatio/Romeo in Cheer Up, Hamlet!, Ensemble in Mother Courage and her Children, Seyton in Macbeth, and the Spartan Ambassador in Lysistrata, all with Korda Artistic Productions. He has also served as music and/or vocal director for Extension-Korda, Windsor Light Music Theatre, Holy Names Players, Villanova Players, and A Shot in the Dark Productions. If he’s not in a theatre, you can usually find Colin working at Zehrs. He would like to thank the wonderful folks at Post Productions for the opportunity to work with them and for adding even more silly characters to his resume before he moves away to Vancouver in July. Cheers!
GREGORY GIRTY is best known for playing villains: Bamatabois in Les Miserables (TheatreAlive), Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd *Cardinal Music Productions), Orin Scrivello in Little Shop of Horrors (Cardinal Music Productions), and Wolf in Into The Woods (Cardinal Music Productions), and Lawrence in Girl In The Goldfish Bow l(Korda Artistic Productions). His most recent appearance,was as Elliot in A Haunting in E Flat (Post Productions).
LUKE BOUGHNER is 257 months old. Here are a list of things he can do: He can eat food all by himself He can use the stove. He can get all dressed up by himself. He can count to ten without using his fingers. He can run so fast. This is his first play. He has always been passionate about film and the performing arts. As long as he can remember he’s loved entertaining people through every type of performance he discovered. Come watch this play or he’ll tell his mom on you.
MATTHEW BURGESS (Set Designer) has been involved in the local theatre scene for six years, trying his hand at nearly every element involved in bringing imaginary locations to life, though he specializes in scenic painting and design. He has been a crucial part of the Post Productions team since its third show, True West, and has since been the visual master behind ten Post Productions projects –most notably Equus, Stop Kiss, American Buffalo, and Another Fucking Christmas Play. In 2017, he was asked to design the masks and props for Walkerville’s WCCA production, Trojan Women, which was built in Stratford as part of their Off the Wall program. Some of Matt's work includes creating the Moose puppet from Korda Artistic Productions’ Evil Dead, and the scenic painting for both Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike and Company. He also does figurative sculpture of pop culture icons and did all of the chalkboard artwork found at Rogues Gallery Comics, located downtown. Matthew is now a Props Apprentice at the Stratford Festival Theatre.
CARTER DERSCH (Lighting Designer) is an active member of the Windsor theatre community who has worked on several Post Productions shows, most notably The Pillowman, Equus, Autopsy & A Haunting in E Flat, and Another Fucking Christmas Play: A Fucking Musical. You may have seen his work as lighting designer for Footloose (Arts Collective Theatre), Cabaret (Korda Artistic Productions), and MacBeth (Korda Artistic Productions). When he is not lighting up the stage, he can also be found doing various production work at venues such as the St. Clair Centre for the Arts, Foglar Furlan, Ciociaro Club, and Caesar’s Windsor. Carter is also the sound technician and overall roadie for the award-winning Detroit based band The Sun Messengers.
KRIS SIMIC (Poster & Program Designer) is a graphic designer with 10 years of experience in graphic/web design and print and social media marketing. She studied Drawing and Painting at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto before returning to her hometown of Windsor to earn her Graphic Design diploma at St. Clair College. Kris has been involved in Windsor-Essex theatre on stage as an actress and behind the scenes as a stage hand, set builder/decorator and marketing/graphic design since 2013. She’s enjoyed working with the Post Production team since their first production, Oleanna, designing their posters and programs. If you are interested in viewing samples of her work, all of her past posters with Post Productions are featured in the hallway of The Shadownox Theatre.
eric branget as katurian
Eric is an actor and educator. He has appeared in commercials for companies such as Visa, Oxford Notebooks, and Schick. In the television world, he has appeared in programs such as See No Evil, Scariest Night Of My Life and Evil Encounters. In the local theatre community, he has been most recently seen as Fr. Flynn in Doubt (Post Productions) Morris the gargoyle in Raise The Stakes (Larry Silverburg), and Jimmy McCrea in For The Love Of Late Night (Tall Tale Theatre Co). He is also a co-founding member and acting Artistic Director of Tall Tale Theatre Company. In his spare time Eric co-produces the horror/thriller style original radio play podcast, Night Terrors.
simon du toit as tupolski
Simon started out playing bad men and policemen years ago, so it’s fun to return to that territory! Sometimes there’s not much difference between the two. Simon’s theatre career has included stints as actor, director, designer, professor, dramaturg, historian, published theorist, adjudicator, light and sound operator, floor sweeper, van driver, etc. – a typical life in the theatre! Simon is delighted to be working for the first time with the talented Post Productions team. “Of all that is written, I love only what a person has written with his blood.” FWN.
joey wright as michal
Joey is thrilled to be back on the Shadowbox stage after an already exciting 2019 season starting with Korda’s Reefer Madness and the spooktacular Autopsy with Post Productions. Reuniting with Eric after 10 years has been a rewarding and exciting experience. Michal has been a difficult but rewarding character to bring to the stage, and he hopes you’ll find the entire show compelling and entertaining. Sit back and enjoy the dark comedy that is, The Pillowman.
fay lynn as ariel
Creative Director at Post Productions and co-owner of The Shadowbox Theatre, Fay has spent the better part of the last 20 years acting, directing, producing, stage managing, and filling in just about every other role she can in the Windsor-Essex theatrical community. Recent performance credits include Scattered Ecstasies 2019 – Vocalises at SHO Art, Spirit & Performance; Devil's Night (Trish) with Uncanny Visions; No Exit (Ines Serrano) with Post Productions; and Macbeth (Macbeth) with Korda Artistic Productions. Her next onstage endeavour will be as Emma in Harold Pinter's Betrayal at The Shadowbox Theatre in April 2020.
matthew burgess - set & Prop design, special effects & more
Matthew has been involved in the local theatre scene for six years, trying his hand at nearly every element involved in bringing imaginary locations to life, though he specializes in scenic painting and design. He has been a crucial part of the Post Productions team since its third show, True West, and has since been the visual master behind ten Post Productions projects –most notably Equus, Stop Kiss, American Buffalo, and Another Fucking Christmas Play. In 2017, he was asked to design the masks and props for Walkerville’s WCCA production, Trojan Women, which was built in Stratford as part of their Off the Wall program. Some of Matt's work includes creating the Moose puppet from Korda Artistic Productions’ Evil Dead, and the scenic painting for both Vanya, Sonia, Masha and Spike and Company. He also does figurative sculpture of pop culture icons and did all of the chalkboard artwork found at Rogues Gallery Comics, located downtown.
dave nisbet - composer / graphic designer
Dave has always been a creative person. Visually and musically he’s paved a path all his own over the past 10-ish years creating professionally -- from his years as the bombastic “Dave The Bassist” in a locally loved/hated band called Falling With Glory, to his current status as the freakshow they call DTB and “Junior: The Muscle” in the bank-robbing band called Case The Joint. You could say music is ingrained in him deeply. When it comes to graphic design he started with “Narrow Gate Designs” in 2010, designing t shirts and album covers. It has evolved into Narrow Gate Media, the one stop shop for graphic design, music production, music distribution, and more.
kieran potter a.k.a RAMENSPLOOSH - co-director & animator, animated shorts
Kieran is an up-and-coming artist extraordinaire. At 21 years young he has been creating art longer than he's been able to read. Currently a Visual Arts, and Communication, Media and Film double-major at the University of Windsor, this handsome lad has had a long history with Post Productions: having created the ShadowBox Theatre logo, many online ads, and contributing to a few posters. Kieran's artistic endeavors can all be seen through his slowly growing social-media empire under the pseudonym “RamenSploosh”, where he creates animations, drawings, sculptures, paintings, comics and even music. For comments, concerns, and business inquiries Kieran can be easily contacted through a Twitter direct message to @RamenSploosh, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.
mitchell branget - co-director & editor, live-action shorts
Mitchell is a graduate of the University Of Windsor’s Communications Media and Film program, and is currently studying for his masters degree in film production. Mitchell has eight years of experience in the fields of writing, directing, and editing multimedia for film – primarily in the horror genre; his most recent film, Dreamer’s Journey, won Best Horror Film in the 40-minute category in its international debut at the Horror Of The Damned Film Festival in Milan, Italy. Mitchell has also won awards for his work in sound mixing and special-makeup effects.
sadie alejandria - stage manager
Sadie has been involved in theatre since the age of 6 when she joined the chorus in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. She also played one of the royal children in Windsor Light’s The King And I which was the first time she worked with Michael Potter and Michael O’Reilly, two of the founders of Post Productions. Sadie got her first stage-managing role during Annie Of Green Gables Get Your Gun - a holiday panto at the Kordazone Theatre in 2017. Next came Post Productions’ Stop Kiss where she shared those duties for this well-received thought-provoking drama. That was followed by three more shows in the same behind-the-scenes role at the ShadowBox Theatre working with Fay Lynn and friends old and new. Her next project will be Shrek The Musical, opening in February 2020. It is a show dear to her heart because she played Young Shrek during its run 5 years ago and will be its stage-manager this time around. Sadie is grateful to be given the opportunity and experience at age 16 by the Post Productions creative team and she hopes you enjoy their offering of The Pillowman.
carter dersch - lighting designer & operator
Carter is an active member of the Windsor theatre community and is excited to be back at Shadowbox Theatre after designing and operating for the sold-out performances of Autopsy & Haunting in E Flat in October. He was thrilled to be a part of the production team for Shadowbox’s -----------, Equus, Another F** Christmas Play. You may have seen his work recently as lighting designer for Footloose (ACT), Cabaret (Korda Artistic Productions), MacBeth (Korda), ----------. When he is not lighting up the stage, he can also be found doing various production work at venues such as the St. Clair Centre for the Arts, Foglar Furlan, Ciociaro Club, and Caesar’s Windsor. Carter is also the sound technician and overall roadie for the award-winning Detroit based band The Sun Messengers. would like to dedicate his life’s work and this bio to his mother.]
kris simic - poster & program designer
Kris is a Graphic Designer with 10 years of experience in graphic/web design and print and social media marketing. She studied Drawing and Painting at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto before returning to her hometown of Windsor to earn her Graphic Design diploma at St. Clair College. Kris has been involved in Windsor-Essex theatre on stage as an actress and behind the scenes as a stage hand, set builder/decorator and marketing/graphic design since 2013. She’s enjoyed working with the Post Production team since their first production, Oleanna, designing their posters and programs. If you are interested in viewing samples of her work, all of her past posters with PP are featured in their hall. She hopes you enjoy The Pillowman!
AN INTERVIEW WITH THE PLAYWRIGHTS BEHIND AUTOPSY AND A HAUNTING IN E FLAT: ALEX MONK AND JOEY OUELLETTE
Interview by Michael K. Potter
POTTER: How would you summarize your play? What's it about, what happens, and what makes it unique and/or interesting?
ALEX MONK: Autopsy is very much about how toxic our surroundings can be on our emotional and physical well-being. Our life choices and career choices, although they may seem like the safe options, can have effects on us – especially if we're not honest with ourselves. In this play we follow Gary, who's lost himself along the path of life, and now it's far too late. When you start talking to dead bodies and seeing yourself in them, the similarities can be quite horrific.
JOEY OUELLETTE: Thomas Nett is a paranormal investigator. When his niece Charmaine assists on a pair of investigations they uncover more than they had expected in a terrifying way. Why do people get
haunted? Why do other people investigate these things? A Haunting in E Flat answers these questions
but mixes the boos with laughs so it's both spooky and fun.
POTTER: What led you started writing this script? Was it an idea that just popped into your head, an
experience that made you reflect, something else entirely? And once you started, what was the
writing process like for you?
MONK: At the time I was working at an animal hospital where we experienced pet death every day. And
it was the safe choice for me, full time with benefits. But it was really wearing on me, and I really drew
parallels between my life and the play. When I started writing it almost flowed from my fingers, but
after re-reading I found it needed a lot of editing. The most important part was getting it all down, then
polishing it to the finished product that it is.
OUELLETTE: I've been haunted. It really freaked me out. Once you open that door, once you know that
door is there, many things are possible, most of them scary. I began to study the paranormal, and how
people – between hunters – confront it and deal with it. I'd written a series of Thomas Nett plays that
were produced years ago and the ideas and themes were still haunting me, so I opened the door again .
POTTER: You both won the first annual Windsor-Essex Playwriting Contest. Tell me about that
experience and how it affected the approach you took to developing your script.
MONK: It was nice writing it within the time constraints that the contest held because I really need a kick in the pants when it comes to writing. I have about 4 unfinished scripts at home that I get halfway
through then have an idea for another that I begin to pursue under the idea that I've got lots of time to
finish the first script.
OUELLETTE: I was very happy to win. Not so that I can brag, but because I love to tell stories and work
in theatre. There's nothing greater than that. The act of creating something – gathering random
meaningless strings of experience and ideas and weaving them into a moving story – is the most
powerful personal experience I've ever felt. Sharing the script— having it produced – is the ultimate
giving and sharing. It's an incredible feeling.
POTTER: Which stories and storytellers – in whatever genre, format, or medium – influence your
writing? What inspired you – and continues to inspire you?
MONK: I couldn't really narrow it down to one medium. I take it many different genres and formats, but
I think my favorite is when, whatever the show or production is, they incorporate improv into the
scripts. Allowing room for flow and new ideas coming in and out of what's written is so much fun for
creators and for audiences.
OUELLETTE: Oh my. I read a lot. I like the work of KJ Parker most of the time. There's really too many
influences to list. I think theatre, for an audience, is to experience things that make them feel. When I
walk down the street I am bombarded by intense experiences. I try to hold onto a few of them and
share them. They're like ghosts that only I can see. Hopefully an audience at one of my plays can
somehow see them too.
POTTER: You're an actor (and/or director, producer ...) as well as a writer. How do the different
positions you've filled over the years in the worlds of theatre and comedy intersect? How do they
inform - or even interfere - with each other?
MONK: Being involved in all those different parts helps a show that I work on in the way that I can see it
from many perspectives. I may think a certain joke is hilarious on paper, but on the stage it isn't very
practical to do. Or when I'm acting, something in the script might bother me, and I'll be able to come up
with effective solutions or see the reason for the trouble spot. When you're only an actor you may have
a hard time seeing the full picture. Just as in comedy if you produce the show, it changes your view on
the overall success of the show and you're more capable of critically evaluating the show, and your own
performance. The diverse roles I've filed have helped me develop into a better comedian/actor/writer.
OUELLETTE: Life is a strange journey. I'm intensely private and shy. In school I'd take a mark of zero
rather than speak in front of a class. From there I became an actor. That's a bit of a jump, I know. As an
actor I was hungry for experience but found many scripts were either not of interest or too expensive.
So I began to write. Not well. It's essential to take ego out of the equation. I began to direct so that
others could interpret what I wrote. Hopefully, over time, I've become better at all three. Theatre is a
team event. For me, writing, acting and directing can all help influence the journey in the best direction.
ALEX MONK (Playwright, Autopsy) is a new writer. Autopsy was one of the first two plays he wrote simultaneously. Usually an improviser, over the past few years he has become more involved in the theatre scene through acting, and now playwriting. The idea for this particular work came to him while he worked at a job surrounded by death - but he'll leave you to guess what that was. Alex is excited to see his vision come to (un)life and hear the thoughts of family and friends about his play. He is a pisces and enjoys tennis.
DAVID DUCHENE (Gary) has been involved in theatre for over fifty years. He was last seen on a Windsor stage in the title role of Korda Artistic Production’s Doctor Faustus. Other Korda credits include Pisthetairos in The Birds, Dottie Primrose in Devil Boys From Beyond and Father in Eurydice. He has performed extensively on several Michigan stages, done theatrical tours of both the US and Canada and has been seen or heard in commercials for television and radio. He has also voiced numerous titles for the Blue Diamond Audio Books series. He is delighted and honored to be performing for the first time with Post Productions!
JOEY WRIGHT (John Doe) is thriller to be making his Shadowbox debut with the cast and crew of Autopsy. Fresh off directing Reefer Madness at Kordazone, Joey has been a member of the theatre community for eight years performing in over 20 productions. Previous roles include Austin in True West, Ed in Evil Dead the Musical and The Man in Hard Hearts. He didn’t earn his nickname as Korda’s favourite corpse for nothing and he looks forward to expanding that monicker to Post.
DREW BEAUDOIN (Michael) has been an actor for his entire time in Windsor, joining the theatre scene relatively late in life. Since moving here from Toronto, he's performed with Korda Artistic Productions and Cardinal Music Productions, and is thrilled to be making his debut with Post Productions. Past credits include Paul in Company, Clopin in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and Gabe in Next to Normal. Aside from theatre, Drew spends most of his time surrounded by his three cats.
REBECCA S. MICKLE (Marie-Louise) is a singer, actress, and Oxford comma enthusiast from Amherstburg, ON. She received her Bachelor of Music in Classical Voice from The University of Windsor and her Master of Music in Classical and Operatic Performance from Wayne State University. Her favourite roles include The Beggar Woman [Sweeney Todd] and Rapunzel [Into The Woods] with Cardinal Music Productions and Korda Artistic Productions. She is excited to be making her Post Productions debut with these fabulous shows! When she isn’t performing you can find her throwing hammer and caber, and hanging out with her two fluffy bunnies.
JOEY OUELLETTE (Playwright, A Haunting in E Flat) is super excited to release some ghosts at the Shadowbox with the premiere of his play A Haunting In E Flat! He researched this show by interviewing and accompanying different ghost hunters and groups, as well as including some of his own paranormal experiences. With over 200 produced plays to his credit, Joey’s words have been spoken all over North America. Boo!
JAMES STONE (Thomas Nett) is extremely proud to be performing with the remarkable cast of The Haunting in E-Flat. James, who also teaches high school drama, has been performing in various community theatre productions for over 25 years, including Cabaret, Noises Off, Jitters, and The Teahouse of the August Moon.
CARLA GYEMI (Charmaine) is thrilled to be back at the Shadowbox Theatre in this spooktacular show and channel some spirits! Carla made her Post Productions debut as Sister James in Doubt, and also had the pleasure of being part of their wild Christmas show last December. Joining the theatre community at an early age, Carla has enjoyed playing with, and learning from, many casts and companies. Past roles include Kathy in Company, Roz in 9 to 5, The Baker's Wife in Into the Woods, Demeter in Cats, Tiger Lily in Peter Pan(to), and Agnes in The Divine Sister.
REBECCA S. MICKLE (Nancy) is a singer, actress, and Oxford comma enthusiast from Amherstburg, ON. She received her Bachelor of Music in Classical Voice from The University of Windsor and her Master of Music in Classical and Operatic Performance from Wayne State University. Her favourite roles include The Beggar Woman [Sweeney Todd] and Rapunzel [Into The Woods] with Cardinal Music Productions and Korda Artistic Productions. She is excited to be making her Post Productions debut with these fabulous shows! When she isn’t performing you can find her throwing hammer and caber, and hanging out with her two fluffy bunnies.
GREGORY GIRTY (Elliot) is best known for playing villains: Bamatabois in Les Miserables, Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd, Orin Scrivello in Little Shop of Horrors, and Wolf in Into The Woods. His most recent appearance, as Lawrence in Girl In The Goldfish Bowl, was his first departure from musical theatre. He joins Post Productions for his second non-musical role.
Copyright © 2017