Interview with Craig Holland, playwright of "LOL"
Q: You turned to playwriting recently and have enjoyed steady success, with productions in Orange County, LA and elsewhere. What brought you to theatre, and how did you decide to become a playwright?
A: I caught the theatre bug in high school. I did four years of drama, acting in and directing several productions. Once I was in college, I studied English Literature and learned more about structure, plot, and dialogue by reading the classics. My Shakespeare class was probably the highlight of my undergraduate academic experience.
Even though I had careers in advertising and video games, after many years I decided that I would start back at the beginning and write for the live theatre. I tried my hand at screenwriting (and still do some now), but I've put more focus on theatre the last few years.
I figured that there are fewer people involved in saying "yes" to a play production than to a movie production. It can take years to get a movie made, and few scripts that are purchased ever make it to the screen.
What I love about playwriting is the immediacy. You can hold a reading of your play with some actors and instantly get a feel for how it is going to play on stage. And moving from reading-to-live-performance takes a lot of effort, but not nearly the effort (and money) involved as the script-to-screen process in movies and TV.
Q: In your synopsis of LOL, you describe it as a story about two young people struggling to do the right thing in a moment of crisis. Is this play as much about ethics and morals as it is about comedy?
A: I think LOL is about involvement. When we see someone in trouble, how involved do we want to get? Do we stop and help someone who is struggling? Or do we keep on looking straight ahead, minding our own business? We've all been guilty of wearing blinders as we make our way through life. Sometimes, the right thing is to step out of your comfort zones and help someone in need.
I think the humor in LOL comes from looking in a mirror. Even though the characters say outrageous things and behave badly, we can all see ourselves in their words and actions.
Q: Do you think comedy is harder to write than drama?
A: That's a funny question. It really depends on how you look at the world. I see things that make me laugh every day that others might not find funny at all. I find it difficult to write a good drama if it doesn't have a comedic premise. So, I'll set out with the intention of writing a drama and it ends up being light hearted and funny.
Also, I feel like comedy allows for the absurd. And sometimes the only way to examine a topic is to take it to the extreme.
Q: What should a good play do, in your opinion?
A: Entertain. You should experience some kind of emotion, whether that means laugh or cry. You should feel something. At the same time, the best plays enlighten me while I am entertained. It's hard to do both.
Q: What kind of playwriting inspires you when you read it or see it onstage?
A: I enjoy so many types of plays. I love musicals. A gut-wrenching drama. A laugh-out-loud comedy. I guess the best kind of playwriting keeps me entertained, but also enlightens and surprises me along the way.
Craig Holland's new comedy LOL debuts online via OC-Centric this mid-September.