Friday, May 18, 2012

Mike Aguirre's "Somewhere in this Favor'd Land" - 5/19 @ 6pm

Mike Aguirre is a graduate from Indiana University with a B.A. in Theatre and English.  A suburban Chicago native, Mike has worked with the Windy City Players, First Folio, Steppenwolf, The Wilma Theater (Philadelphia), and the Hexagon Theatre (South Africa).  Since arriving in New York, he’s worked with The Pearl Theatre (City Center), Wide Eyed Productions, has taken classes and worked with Anne Phelan, John Grabowski, and Chelsea Rep and Lab, and is a company member with Rising Sun.
  • Your play Somewhere in this Favor’d Land will be performed as a part of our Dark Nights series this week at the Richmond Shepard Theatre. Can you tell us about what inspired it?
I’ve always wanted to write an homage to baseball.  I’ve always wanted to write an homage to Wilder’s Our Town.  I think the play is a combination of the two (but don’t let those two subjects turn you away from the show!)  At its heart is a story about change in America and how change shapes a conservative town, a father and son.
  • You are part of Wide Eyed’s very first Apprentice Playwrights Program. Can you tell us a little bit about what the process has been like?
At the beginning of the process, I wrote a very different play that… I just didn’t think it worked for many reasons, so it’s had more changes that I can account for since the early stages of the idea.  But that’s been the beauty of the process with Wide Eyed.  I started in the theatre as an actor, and any actor will tell you that you never get it right at the first rehearsal.  It takes days, weeks, months.  You grow with a character even during performances, and I am learning that the same is true with writing a script.  Half the battle is getting it down on paper.  Then it goes through so many steps listening to actors and directors interpret your work, seeing what moments are good and more importantly, what moments need to be thrown away.  I remember reading an article about John Guare where he says that playwriting is a ‘blood sport’.  You have to be brutal with what stays and what goes, what moments are honest and what are contrived.  I’m very new to playwriting and it’s something I’m still learning how to do.  Tim Butterfield, the Artistic Director of Wide Eyed and the director for the play, is an expert leading a writer through the process, so it’s been a challenging but fulfilling one, and I’m grateful that there are programs like Wide Eyed’s Apprenticeship which invest the necessary time it takes in developing a script.
  • When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? What made you start writing plays?
I hate admitting this, but I think I had this grand idea of writing plays that I could act in after I was tired of auditioning and auditioning, begging people to put me in their shows.  It was selfish, at first.  But once I began studying the structure, taking classes, having discussions with other professionals and learning to appreciate this rich tradition of story-telling, I fell in love with it.
  • Who or what has been your biggest influence as a writer? What inspires you to get to the page?
Seeing any productions are the biggest influence: seeing what’s out there, what creative things are being done, and what I can do to add to it always gets my mind going and gets me motivated. Also, my parents used to tell my brother and I stories when we were very young.  They would make them up on the spot at bedtime, and they would always leave a cliffhanger of an ending for the following night.  Their story-telling and creativity probably had the biggest impact on pursuing a life in the arts.
  • In terms of your creative process, do you have a particular ritual when it comes to writing? If so, can you share it with us?
A glass of wine or a few beers always help. I also don’t own a computer, so I suppose part of the ritual is stealing my girlfriend’s laptop to do some writing (Thanks, Ali)!
  • Can you tell us about any other projects you’re working on right now?
A one-act I wrote entitled Almost a Fantasy has been accepted into the NY Fringe Festival this summer.  It’s being produced by Chelsea Rep and Lab and Rumination Theatre, and it’ll be very exciting to get back into a rehearsal room this summer.  It opens in August.  Hope everyone can come see it!

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