Tell us a bit about Expecting (The Worst) at Rattlestick.
"Expecting (the Worst)" is a fundraiser for my play "Raising Jo." My dear friend Chris Bellant is producing both the fundraiser and the play, he's also going to play Calvin, the lead in Raising Jo. Julie Kline who's directing asked Rattlestick if they'd be interested in housing the fundraiser since we've both worked there. I think I started working at Rattlestick when I was 26 or 27 as an assistant and that was actually where I had my first reading of Raising Jo, so it feels right to have the fundraiser there. Chris came to me with the idea for an evening of one acts and we sorted out the details of what we would want that to look like with Julie over the phone. We landed on an evening of original one acts instead of extant ones because we're fundraising for a new play.
The line-up of writers is fantastic. How did they come to be involved?
They're fucking awesome. I'm lucky that all of these guys are involved, I guess I'll attack it alphabetically. Kara Lee Corthron is someone I know from doing a playwrights conference, she writes really quirky, dark, visually riveting work, and I just enjoy her immensely, I think everybody should get to hear her laugh at some point as well as see her plays. When the idea came to be for the evening she was one of the first people I thought of. Jessie Dickey is someone I got to know through the company I'm a part of, Rising Phoenix Rep. We were commissioned at the same time by the company and I just adore her voice, it's really forward and strong and funny, she's also a kickass actress so I'm thrilled that she's going to be in her play as well! Brett C. Leonard was my first writing teacher, I think I took two or three 6 week writing classes with him when I was 22 or 23, I've always been such a big fan of his writing, it's got a relentlessness to it even when it's quiet, we've kept in touch over the years so I asked him. Daniel Talbott is one of the folks I met at Rattlestick when I was assisting, I have know idea how to describe how I met Daniel because he's one of those people that's there suddenly and it's like he was always there and also like you've never met anyone like him (because you haven't). When he's a friend he's family, and he's inclusive and generous and just puts us all to shame with his ravenous work ethic and his writing balances what's sweet with what's sharp and rough and dark, he's one of my closest friends so it was a no brainer to ask. Finally, Ren Santiago is a writer I know through the MCC Youth company from years ago, I directed one of her plays at the Fresh Play festival there, I hadn't taught before and I hadn't worked with teenagers before and I hadn't directed before, and then I didn't really end up doing any of the three because she showed up and did the work. She has a voice that I don't think I've heard before, it's distinctly New York and female and of her generation, hers is a huge voice and it's been so exciting to watch her grow into it.
What is your new play, Raising Jo, about and what is the plan for its production?
Raising Jo is about a young couple that breaks up and then shortly thereafter finds out their pregnant. It's mainly about growing up, I think a lot of people in my generation have a hard time with that, and not in a "I need to learn to cook way." I mean in the "XYZ makes me feel like shit, but how do I take responsibility for my actions and move forward and not treat other people like shit?" My dear friend Chris Bellant called me a few days before I moved to Los Angeles last year and asked if we could do a reading of the play, we did, privately, no director and then a few months later he called me and said he really wanted to produce this play. He's such a wonderful, talented, dear person, I've known him for years and he's been in two of my plays now, excited to work with him on a third. After we settled on a space we liked we started director hunting. Julie Kline is someone that I've known through the channels of Rising Phoenix Rep and Rattlestick, we've worked together a couple of times on some of my solo show stuff, she's super fucking smart and easy to be around and has a great ear. We're planning on a production in first week of June. I'm excited that I get to work with them on "Expecting (the worst)" now and then "Raising Jo" later, they're the best.
If you can't make the fundraiser, you can still donate here: https://www.fracturedatlas.org/site/fiscal/profile?id=16588