Monday, June 21, 2010

Planet Connections Interview - Mark Jason Williams of Recovery

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Mark Jason Williams
Play: Recovery
Relationship to production: Playwright

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I went to college for playwriting at NYU. I had never written a play before, and had no idea what I was getting into. But I loved it, especially the community aspect theatre brings, so I decided to keep going.

Who are your biggest influences?

Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Paula Vogel, Tony Kushner, Robert Anderson, Margaret Edson.

What is your show about?

Recovery explores the human capacity for love and survival under the most challenging circumstances. It's about forced encounter between a man and a woman with leukemia, who unexpectedly turn to one another for companionship, adventure and redemption during what could be the last days of their lives.

What inspired you to write in it?

I had leukemia as a child, and the experience has always dwelled in my subtext. I wanted to write a show about people with leukemia that is upbeat and positive, while dealing with a heavy subject matter. I was also inspired by one of my favorite college professors, who sadly died of leukemia a few years ago.

What made you want to perform in an eco-friendly theatre festival like Planet Connections?

Planet Connections embodies the notion of a community. The way the festivity encourages artists to share resources, support one another and be good to the environment defines the term "artist collective" for me. I'm thrilled to be part of a festivity that is truly theatre for a cause.

Planet Connections is fairly unique in that a portion of the box office for each show is donated to a charity. What charity have you chosen and why?

I have chosen the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. As a leukemia survivor, it's a cause that I am deeply committed to, and like LLS, I want to do all that I can to help children and adults with leukemia get the same chances I had.

What's next for you after Planet Connections?

To keep writing! I've recently put the finishing touches on my first novel, and am shopping that around. But my main focus is theatre, so I'd love to develop more productions of my work.

And finally, if you could go back in time and meet yourself as a kid, what advice would you give your younger self?

"One day, Mark, these experiences are going to teach and inspire others. Remember them well, and write everything down! Oh, and stop being so bitter about being different, it's going to make you a better person when you're older."

Written by Mark J. Williams
Directed by Alex Mallory

Running time: 60 minutes, no intermission

Venue: The Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street

Performance dates:
Thurs 6/17 @ 7:30pm
Mon 6/21 @ 4pm
Wed 6/23 @ 9pm
Thurs 6/24 @ 7pm
Sat 6/26 @ 5:30pm

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