By Byrne Harrison
Name: Ian Rowlands
Play: Marriage of Convenience
Relationship to play: Writer and director
Though resident in Wales, Ian Rowlands is no stranger to NY. His play Blink ran for three weeks as part of the Brits Off Broadway Festival in 2008. He is a Lark Alumnus and his last play, Desire Lines was developed in conjunction with The Lark and read for two nights (with John Doman of "The Wire" in the lead) in 2009. That play will be fully staged and toured in Spring 2011. In Wales, he writes and directs, both in tv and theatre. His plays are published by Parthian Books (Marriage of Convenience is published in the volume "One Man, One Voice") and he has an entry in the Dictionary of Literary Biography.
Your previous work, Blink, played here in 2008 in an Off-Broadway production at 59E59 Theatres. What can people who only know your work through that play expect from Marriage of Convenience?
I am largely an autobiographical writer in that I tend to take moments of life, compound and juxtapose them in order to heighten dramatic potential and create, what I term, 'hybrid' histories. What's on stage is not my life, rather aspects of it. Both Blink and Marriage are therefore based on real events but fly off tangentially from them.
What led your to write it?
In essence, exile. I was living abroad and saw my nation, and my formative experiences living within it in a different light -- 'By measuring the distance we come home' wrote the Welsh academic Raymond Williams. Marriage of Convenience was a way of measuring.
You're an alumnus of the Lark Play Development Center. How did their program help you?
I cannot thank The Lark enough - not only support but friends. Whilst at the Lark I wrote a new play, Desire Lines, which was read as part of a studio retreat last April. This play will go into full production and tour UK next Spring (though the contract has yet to be singed!).
What are your hopes for this reading?
Severalfold. Amongst them, a further chance to be a part of a reading process and an opportunity to continue a dialogue with a city that I have come to love. My work is culturally specific and it will be an opportunity to measure how transferable the nuances of my experience are - an exercise in cultural equivalence.
What is next for you after undergroundzero?
Over the coming few months I will embark upon a new writing project - On Script / Off Broadway. I am fascinated by the dominance of rehearsed reading in the theatre ecology of NY. On Script / Off Broadway will be a play within a play; a play about a rehearsed reading of a contemporary version of The Trojan Women set in Troy, Ohio. I'm off to Ohio in the morning to spend some time there as part of my research process. I will write the play within the play in full (even though only a few minutes of it might appear in the body of the main text). This will be developed in conjunction with The Lark and Daniella Topol (who is also great). This will be read several time in NY this coming Fall and in the Spring and the experiences of this reading process will feed into the development of the main play. As a byproduct of this process, I have also carried out research in Britain and the Netherlands (courtesy of Wales Arts International and the Netherlands Theatre Institute) into comparative practices. The fruit of that research will be a series of tailored essays upon the roles rehearsed reading fulfills in the theatre ecologies from New Amsterdam to Old Amsterdam. The Welsh essay goes to print next week and hopefully I will hit Caridad Svich's August deadline for the American essay.
Marriage of Convenience
Written & Directed by Ian Rowlands, Wales
Performed by Christian Conn
150 First Ave at 9th St.
Sat July 10 @ 2pm - Downstairs Venue