The Founder of the New York Theater Festival returns with RISE OF THE PHOENIX: The 2017 Spotlight-On Festival, running April 17 – 30 at The Wild Project, 195 East 3rd Street, NYC. Frank Calo, founder of Spotlight-On Festivals, the first organized theater festival in New York City, pre-dating the New York Fringe Festival by one year, was a leader in presenting new and exciting works, rarely seen plays, and even classical presentations during the late 1990s and early part of the 21st Century. Its high production values and locations in areas such as Times Square made Spotlight-On a popular facet in the NY theater scene. Spotlight-On returns with a series of works from some of its prominent alumni. RISE OF THE PHOENIX features works from previous participants who have gone on to great things and who are thrilled to return to where it all began.We spoke with a few [more] of the playwrights and producers (and members of their casts) about their inspirations and why Independent Theater is so valuable to them … and to us:
Warren Paul Glover, all the way from Australia, shares his views on NY Theater. His works have gained notoriety of late at the Midtown International Theater Festival and now at the venerable SPOTLIGHT-ON. ELLEN and TROY and ELOISE will be revived during the festival. Look for details at SpotlightOn.org
What inspires you as an artist?
I don’t know really. I’ve lived a full and interesting life and, if I don’t necessarily write about myself or my experiences, I bring my own perspective to bear on what I write. But what inspires my stories? It could be anything! A snatch of a conversation, just one line of dialogue overheard in a pub or a cafe or a carpark, can inspire a whole play. A photograph. A news report. Something that’s happened to me or someone else. There’s no end to where I mine the inspiration for my material. I tend to write dark comedy, but I’ve also written drama, thrillers, psychological mystery and historical fiction. I just tag along wherever my flights of fancy take me!
Why independent theatre?
As an artist you want your work to be seen (I do, at least). So whether that’s my fiction, poetry or playwriting, I’m always seeking an audience for it. In theatre, there just aren’t enough venues for all the productions, so as much as I would like my plays to be staged in front of 1,000 people sitting in a plush auditorium, that ain’t gonna happen (anytime soon anyway). And that’s the beauty of independent theatre. You can still find an audience – much smaller than you’d ideally like, admittedly – for your work, and it can be as good as or better than a big production you’d pay over a hundred dollars to go and see. Independent theatre is where you cut your teeth, learn your craft, gain from the wisdom and generosity of other creative minds and souls, and where you can realise your ambition of presenting your work to an audience. And you get to meet some fantastic people and make magic. What could be better than that?
Adding his clever 2 cents is longtime New York playwright and all-around theater-guy is Duncan Pflaster. A true journeyman, Pflaster is a fixture in the New York independent art scene. He and distingusihed director, Aliza Shane, present “A Touch of Cinema,” a play that blurs the line sbetween stage and screen and reality and fantasy.
Look for details at SpotlightOn.org
What inspires you as an artist?
I stopped acting and became a playwright years ago because the theater I wanted to be in didn’t exist, and I felt it was up to me, with my unique life experience, to create the art I wanted to see.
Why Independent Theater?
Having trained as an actor for years, and having been in and of the theater since I was a kid, that always seemed the best and most vital expression for my work. I’ve dabbled a bit in screenplays, prose, music, and visual art, but I keep coming back to being a playwright; it’s the most comfortable for me.