Interview with Buddy Farmer, playwright of "Joey & Mare"
Q: As your bio mentions, you played football for Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama. Very few playwrights seem to come out of top-ranked college football programs. Were you even into theatre at that time, or were you thinking NFL?
A: I was not into theatre during my years at Alabama. And after three concussions, one cracked rib, and a torn groin muscle I had no aspirations to play in the NFL nor was I talented enough. Hence, I just focused on getting a degree in business.
Q: It turns out you were a working actor in L.A. in the 1980s and 1990s, you had under-5s on a number of TV shows and appeared in quite a few major-studio films and TV movies. And then eventually, you turned to playwriting. Was there a particular "aha" moment where you knew you were ready to do that?
A: For the record, I never did any under 5s. Albeit, some of my credits are listed without a character name, they were all under SAG and AFTRA regular contracts. I turned to playwriting in the mid-1980s. I wrote and performed a one-man show to jump start my acting career titled COACHES - OFF THE BENCH WITH KNUTE, VINCE & THE BEAR. I wasn’t very good in it as an actor but the piece got very good reviews for the writing. That was my "aha" moment. I then began to focus on writing and directing.
Q: What did acting teach you about playwriting?
A: It taught me how to collaborate and leave certain aspects of my writing up to interpretation by the actors and directors. I have had instances where actors completely escalated my writing to a level beyond what I ever imagined. I shouldn't admit this but sometimes in the rehearsal process an actor will come up with a better line than what I have written and of course I will steal it from them and get credit for it. On the other hand sometimes they come up with a line that I don't feel should replace mine.
Q: You have also written some very intense dramas in addition to spoofs and pointed satires. You've even written the book for a Jeff-award-nominated musical in Chicago. Do you approach different genres of playwriting with different mindsets?
A: Absolutely. Writing the book for a musical is more of a supportive role. The story is told basically through the music. The dialogue is a set-up for the song. The song is the emotional moment or the crest of the wave. Of course your structure is important and for me it really helps to have a dramaturge. In writing intense dramas, spoofs and satires I try not to belabor or dwell in one specific genre for the entire play. For instance in an intense drama, I like to give the audience some moments of relief with comedy. Let them exhale for a moment before things get serious again. And in spoofs and satires, I occasionally like to have sobering moments to allow the audience to see an underlying message in the piece. My overall mindset is to mix it up enough to keep an audience interested and thinking, "Oh, I didn't see that coming."
Q: Joey & Mare won 1st place in the Show-Off International Playwriting Festival (San Juan Capistrano, CA) earlier this year and now gets its second production at OC-Centric. What is it about this ten-minute play, in your mind, that makes it a hit with audiences?
A: It takes a situation of "biblical proportion" (pardon the pun) and it explores in a more contemporary frame of mind. We don't really know how these two individuals reacted to their situation other than what has been written but not witnessed. Two thousand years ago, people were more influenced by their dreams, weather phenomena, natural disasters, etc. They regarded them as signs or omens. I am trying to explore the human condition and reaction to the situation from both characters in the play without getting too philosophical or prophetic. And I like to convey that in hopefully a humorous way. Hopefully audiences are more receptive to that.
Buddy Farmer's Joey & Mare opens at this season's OC-Centric on August 18, 2018.
To reserve your tickets, CLICK HERE or call 714-902-5716
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