Bring a Weasel and a Pint of Your Own Blood
Bring a Weasel and a Pint of Your Own Blood
East 13th Street Theatre
136 East 13th St.
Thurs. Aug 4, Fri. Aug 5, Sat. Aug 6 @ 8pm
Tickets: $18/15 students, reserve tickets at firstname.lastname@example.org
Award-winning playwright Alexandra Collier has her play "The Red Letterbox "staged in Bring A Weasel And A Pint Of Your Own Blood, an experimental festival that's fast becoming an exciting platform for America’s downtown playwrights.
Inspired again by the genius of scribbler Mac Wellman, this year's 6th annual Weasel festival features talented playwrights Caitlin Brubacher, Alexandra Collier, Sara Farrington and Ariel Stess with director Sarah Rasmussen. This experimental festival is fast becoming an exciting platform for America's downtown playwrights who are taking over from Broadway's blandness. This year's plays take inspiration from a 1943 hard-boiled detective novel by Norbert Davis, with a whiskey swilling detective and his disapproving Great Dane sidekick, numerous corpses, and a desert road trip under the watchful eye of wise-talking vultures. All framed by the philosophic musings of Wittgenstein, the festival promises to be three nights of rapid-fire plays by wholly original playwrights working outside the canon. We talk to award-winning Australian playwright Alexandra Collier about her play "The Red Letterbox."
Q. Tell me how you came to write this play.
Mac Wellman chose this year's Weasel festival inspiration/adaptation text in the form of a 1940s hardboiled detective novel called "Sally's in the Alley." The novel is hilariously dry, and was written by Norbert Davis, who was being outdone in life by his wife (who was a much more successful writer). Wittgenstein, a favorite philosopher of Mac's, loved Norbert Davis' work. Sadly, Norbert Davis never heard about this and committed suicide. So Davis' novel is being adapted by three playwrights (Sara Farrington, Ariel Stess and myself) and the framing device is Wittgenstein's musings about language (in a play that interweaves throughout the night by Caitlin Brubacher). Typically, given Mac's love of the esoteric and experimental, the unlikely pairing of abstruse philosophy and wisecracking detective fiction are being mashed together.
Q. Can you describe what your play "The Red Letterbox" is about?
I have taken a section of the play where the detective (Doan) and his sidekick (Carstairs, who is a Great Dane) are on a road trip and they pick up a sexy hitchhiker by the name of Harriet Hathaway. This section keeps looping in my play and playing out in repeated ways with unexpected results. There is some gender bending, a lot of power play, a dog being played by a woman, some musing about love and Kanye West's "Gold Digger" in the mix.
Q. What else inspired the play?
It's inspired in some way by the playwright Sheila Callaghan's work -- who cheekily challenges ideas about gender in a way that I love. We are four female playwrights using dead white males as a source and I wanted to show that up, so I made the sidekick character of the Great Dane a woman and fleshed her out as the most three dimensional of all the characters, with the most to say.
Q. What sort of other pop culture works is it in the vein of?
I've borrowed a lot from Davis' book and I definitely reference those 1940s noir films (which Sara Farrington heavily references in her play even more than I do, and does it in a very funny way) and there's an Andrew's sisters type song that I wrote (with the genius musical styling's of Pearl Rhein, who is the actress playing Carstairs, the Great Dane.)
Q. Can you tell me a funny anecdote or nerve-racking moment from the rehearsal process
Well there's some awkward crotch grabbing going on -- we're still trying to nail that down! But really, the rehearsals are constant hilarity -- the actors are like these charming little wind up talent machines, who are so fun to watch (don't tell them I said that.) I seem to spend a lot of time in rehearsals with a desire to kneel on the floor and watch the action -- I don't know if I'm praying that my words will make sense or if I'm devolving into a three-year old in playgroup, but that's where I want to be most.
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