This is Eavesdrop, a series of conversations between artists, playwrights and audience members. Below, we listen in on a conversation between Playwright Andrew Rosendorf and Director Rachel Fowler as they talk about the emotional toll of war, and the heart of Andrew's new play.
Local Theater Company is proud to present the staged reading of Andrew's play, Paper Cut, on Sunday, April 22 at 1pm at Dairy Arts Center. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for Under 30, and $20 for adults. Limited seats remain. Buy online here.
Andrew, I can’t wait to head to Boulder to work on this new play with you. It is a stunning, beautiful portrayal of life after war. Recently, you shared with me that, as a playwright, you have an interest in questions of sexuality and identity—and a desire to reframe stereotypes as a gay man.
As you’ve approached this new work, what have your characters taught you? And what do you hope to provoke in the audience as they hear your play for the first time?
I’m going to admit, Rachel, that this is a hard question to answer without being emotional—emotional in that that’s where I write from and the only way I know how to give language to those questions.
This story has been a long journey for me and I think that’s because the play, while not directly about my life, in some ways is very directly about my life, to the raw honest core. I’m talking about the loneliness of being a gay man in a world that tells you that you are less than, to the cold and emptiness of technology being the main avenue today for people to connect, to struggling with understanding what it means to really live as yourself and not as you think society wants, which is so ingrained down to the subconscious.
My characters have taught me that everyone is deserved of being loved no matter the ways we try not to be—or those dark moments where we feel we might not be worthy of being loved.
My hope is that an audience will experience a story that is bare… a story that doesn’t hold back. And that they might receive a story that challenges them and moves them at the same time. That they leave asking questions about the nature of love, and the nature of how we as a country treat our veterans, and looking anew, or again, at how detrimental polices of the United States are when it comes to sexuality are still causing pain today.
Rachel, does any of the above resonate with you? Or are there other things you think about?
This is what I love about your writing, Andrew, that you offer up moments that have stayed in the shadows, moments that perhaps have been obscured by shame or simply because they typically happen when we are alone. We get a chance to see, to feel, and to know that we are all tethered by the same things—all worthy—regardless of our makeup.
There is something quite bold and scary in the vulnerability you ask of us, and of the audience. We have to hold space for Kyle’s recklessness, Chuck’s love, Jack’s anger, and Harry’s immaturity. By holding the space for them, we can hold that space for ourselves, and widen it. We are capable of so much compassion, so much empathy, and I think at times we can forget that in our busy online lives. I hope there will be recognition of the kindness we are all capable of.
Paper Cut, as well as some of your other work, puts on stage moments of intimate exploration of the body. How have you found audiences reacting to these moments? How have your actors responded to what you’ve asked of them?
I’ve found actors have embraced the challenge and I think that’s because the exploration of the body is rooted deeply to our humanity and needs and desires as human beings. The work definitely asks for nakedness of emotion as well as physical nakedness, which just always feel, for me, connected.
And this is never about the need for nakedness on stage but an attempt to explore that which we in our lives don’t often talk about. And which I feel like we’d all be better for talking about.
I have a feeling I’m going to learn quite a lot in Boulder about this play. As you bring actors to the piece, Rachel, what are you most looking forward to learning about the play?
Oh, a lot. What is it that drives these men to continue to try for connection? What does courage look like for each of them? Where is the tension highest, tautest, and where are the releases? Are the releases like a rubber band snapping, a bone breaking, or a deep sigh or crashing of a wave?
We’ve got four very different actors, and I am excited to see how they complement each other, and how they will challenge each other. I am very interested in exploring the sexuality of each character and how that impacts their actions and interactions.
I am also really interested in the audience’s experience—the emotional and physical nakedness (the later of which will be left to their imaginations for the sake of the reading!), and the sharing of the same air. I’m interested in the awesome terrifying wonderful vulnerability of being in the room together.
How do you tend to experience your own plays, Andrew? They are all deeply personal! I think my heart will be racing Sunday of Lab, watching the audience take in your new play.
I’m not someone who tends to have the script in front of them when the reading is happening. There’s a magic that occurs when actors get in front of an audience—even in a reading. There’s a whole other life to the characters and the story that you don’t get in other situations. And I want to experience that. And experience how everything is suddenly new and go on the journey and discovery with the audience.
You started this conversation, Rachel, noting that this work is deeply personal. And I think that coupled with the stories I’m interested in telling, I know the work is challenging. And sometimes scary. So I never take it for granted when people and organizations respond to a play and want to help continue its journey.
That is one of many reasons I’m so excited to be a part of Local Lab and to work with you, the actors, Pesha Rudnick and the entire artistic team. I’m excited to see what we learn together and what happens next Sunday.