A Brief Look at the playwright: Robert Francis Curtis
Brief Looks from the Afterglow is our next amazing production. Over the next 4 weeks Cold Basement Dramatics is going to be giving you a little more information about the artists behind the project. Where else to start but with where Brief Looks itself started – with playwright Robert Francis Curtis.
Hey Robert, in your words, what is Brief Looks from the Afterglow about?
There are lots of things the Brief Looks touches on. Mostly, the little moments between people are my way of commenting on the things in our world that I think are worth preserving. As far as what we are preserving it from, in the play it is the Apocalypse, but in reality it is our own world as tradition and culture is slowly replaced by the congestion of the next big thing. In the play, people talk about this disaster which led to this disaster, but it wasn’t as bad as the next disaster they describe. The problem with the world is that too many things are the most important things that will change the way we look at the world, but they are replaced in a matter of days. That is why Ipod’s have to have numbers after them. This is a simple element of the play.
Really, at its heart, the play is about faith and hope. We live in a world where hope was abundant a few years ago, but without swift delivery from the evils of our society, we lost it just as easily as it came. The argument I present in this play is about how faith impacts the level of hope people cling onto. What do we put our faith in? That is the question every person needs to answer for themselves. Some people place it in a sort of higher power. Others place it in more tangible things. Family, friendship, love, God, escapes, homes, etc. There is so much to trust your faith within and so much hope keep someone going, and yet few people have either of those things.
I wrote this play for my Great Aunt Lo, who clung to faith and life far longer in the face of death then I thought humanly possible. The simplest way I can say what this play is about is to say that this play is about her.
What inspired you to write this play?
I was inspired to write this play at 3 in the morning at a 24 hour diner as I drunkenly ate a Monte Cristo sandwich with my good friend Eric Sweeney. Being fans of horror films and novels and comics, particularly those about the undead, we began conceiving the idea of reinventing the idea of what a “zombie” was. The idea got kicked back and forth between him and I for about three years until I finally sat down and started writing this dark farce about people in a cabin trying to outrun the inevitability of Hell. After the deaths of my Grandmother and Great Aunt (two women who had a large hand in raising me as a child) more humanity started to come out and I began to see these characters as more than just stereotypical horror archetypes. I first submitted this script in a different form for a contest, which really pushed me to finish it by the end of 2010. I lost. So, I began to give up on the idea of trying to reinvent the “zombie” genre and began trying to write a good story that just happened to have an undead army involved.
How do you feel about this play in comparison with other plays you’ve written?
I am very proud of this play. Before this piece I had only written smaller stage pieces. 10 minute plays and staged comedy sketches. I had also written several short screenplays. I do have a bias towards nerd culture related material, so this started out as a very fitting topic. I think as I wrote it I realized how important some of the more abstract concepts were to me as well.
You are also an actor, how is that process different for you in comparison to being a playwright?
I was told in my first year of college by my theater professor that actors make the best writers. I don’t know how true that is but I do know how I enjoy writing. This has been the first time I have participated throughout the entire process as only a playwright. It is… interesting.
It’s probably some sort of writing taboo to ask this, but which character is your favorite?
That is not taboo at all. My favorite character is Atticus Finch from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. As far as characters go, he always seems to get more interesting each time I read the book. I have read it about 14 times.
What is your favorite play?
My favorite play is Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge for which this plays title is a parody of. As far as dramatists go, Arthur Miller is a person I greatly respect and admire. His ability to create complex relationships within what are seemingly simple circumstances is everything I strive for as a writer. Granted that some would argue Brief Looks is the gravest or most dire of circumstances, I disagree. Sure it has the end of the world and all, but it already happened. Now, its just people living in a cabin, running out of food trying to figure out how they will survive either together or alone.
What’s do you think is going to happen at the end of the world?
When the world dies, so will we.
Brief Looks from the Afterglow is to be produced by Cold Basement Dramatic on June 30 – July 2 in a limited 3 night run at Gorilla Tango Theatre. Tickets are $10 and are available at http://www.gorrillatango.com
For more information on Brief Looks from the Afterglow please visit Cold Basement’s Website
For more information on Cold Basement Dramatics please visit www.coldbasement.org