So I was sittin’ around, staring at the computer, thinking once again that it might be nice to talk with someone about something to do with the theatre, when, out of the blue, I get an email from Italy asking if I’d do a Q&A. Don’t get alarmed: the Q&A isn’t in Italian. It isn’t even with an Italian. Or with anyone in Italy. The email only came from Italy because… aaah, who cares?
Writer/director Ron West and composer Phil Swann co-authored the musicals The People Vs Friar Laurence, which debuted at Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, and Musical Fools, based on the play Fools by Neil Simon; both are now available from Samuel French. West’s recent directing credits include Welcome to Your Alternative Reality, which he co-wrote with Catherine Butterfield, for Open Fist Theatre Company at Atwater Village; Life Expectancy for the Hollywood Fringe; The 39 Steps at the Malibu Playhouse; and Twist Your Dickens at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, where he also appeared as Ebenezer Scrooge; and at the Portland Center Stage. West has also written and directed many shows for The Second City including the Jeff Award-winning Curious George Goes to War, Sex and the Second City, and Disgruntled Employee Picnic, which toured internationally. His adaptation for Chicago Shakespeare of The Comedy of Errors, set in London during the Battle of Britain, won Jeff Awards for Best Adaptation and Best Production. West was a consultant to the improvisation TV series Whose Line Is It, Anyway?; a writer for Politically Incorrect; and a producer for the syndicated KwikWitz.
Dan Berkowitz: In thirty seconds, can you tell us what deLEARious is about?
Ron West: Three second version. It’s a funny King Lear. Eight second version. Hate, greed, power, loneliness, fear, lies, and cruelty. And a crazy king. Twelve seconds. The play is comprised of three interdependent time periods: 60 AD, 1601, and 2017. In each of the time periods, one thing that is universal is that the person you depend on most – your father, your partner, your spouse, your offspring, your employer – is going to let you down. So with that sunny thought in mind, we wrote a funny musical.
RW: I don’t remember why we made the choice to put ourselves in as characters. We were just trying to link everything together. We knew we were doing 60 AD and circa 1601, so there was a kind of rule of three requirement. Phil isn’t playing himself this time; his role is acted by Jan Roper.
RW: The short answer is why not? The longer answer is if someone says, “Hey, I want to produce your play,” I am not going to question their motives. I am going to show up for work.
DB: You’ve co-written this show, and are directing it as well, and you’ve done a lot of both writing and directing. Do you prefer one over the other? Which is more fun for you? And what’s it like to direct your own work – does the director in you ever criticize the writer in you?
DB: What’s a fun thing about you that no one else knows? (And we guarantee not to tell…)
RW: Although I appear intimidating, I am a big softie.
Through December 16
Open Fist Theatre Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90039
Tickets: 323-882-6912 or www.openfist.org