Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fringe Q&A With John Pollono of Lost and Found

By Byrne Harrison

Name: John Pollono
Show: Lost and Found
Relationship to show: Playwright, actor
Website: www.LostandFoundPlay.com

How did you first get involved in theatre?

I moved to Los Angeles ten years ago after finishing college and film school; I wanted to work in film as a screenwriter. I had dabbled in acting and began taking acting classes at Howard Fine Studio with Laura Gardner, and we worked solely on theatre scripts. This was the first time I was really exposed to theatre. The quality of writing blew me away and I realized that my favorite kind of stories -- character driven, dialogue driven, performance driven -- were coming out of theatre. I really fell in love with theatre very quickly and started writing and acting in plays almost immediately. I realized that it was what I was meant to do. The theatrical process helped me develop a voice as a writer, collaborate with actors and directors and find myself on stage as well.

Who are your biggest influences?

I grew up obsessed with movies and television. Martin Scorsese is a huge influence... we're both Italian, although from much different backgrounds. I always connected to how personal he makes his films. Denis Leary is a huge influence... especially "Rescue Me," where he took his talent and aesthetic and applied it to a very personal story that he writes and acts in. Since I didn't get into theatre until somewhat recently, all the classics that everyone studies in "Theater School" are still new to me. Our Town and Death of a Salesman blew me away. I honestly knew nothing about them when I sat down and read them. I also read everything that Mamet, Martin McDonagh or Kenneth Lonergan write.

What is your show about?

Lost and Found is an intimate look at a working class Boston family forced into great change when very influential people step into their lives. It's really about family, passion and anger and about how complicated and crucial love is in our lives.

What inspired you to write it?

A little more than ten years ago I discovered that I had an older sister who had been put up for adoption when my mother was a teenager. I met her and the entire process was emotionally devastating and fascinating. Made me look at everyone in my family in a completely different way. I used those emotions and experiences as the raw material to craft this story. It's not autobiographical... but all of the emotions the different characters are feeling, I very much went through. So I had authority when creating those moments.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?

I've known the director, Andrew Block, for years. We were founding members of Rogue Machine in Los Angeles and we've collaborated on a lot of stuff in the past. Andrew and I really click. The guy is incredibly passionate when he works on something and, as a writer, that's the most important thing. I trust him and he takes my work and infuses it with an amazing life and vitality. This is our fourth collaboration as a writer and director. We recently won the Network One Act festival here in New York and that was a blast. So we're pretty big deals right now!

The rest of the crew worked with Andrew a lot in the past and they are amazing. Katy Burns, our AD, flew out here from Houston, TX to work on the show. She has an incredibly personal connection to the material and her presence is hugely inspiring. Tony Lepore, our lighting and sound designer and stage manager, I worked with recently at the La Lupa Italian American Festival. I acted in a great one act play he wrote and we hit it off. He's a real Italian... he returns favors! Christa Kelly is our production designer, and I've known her for over twelve years. We're good friends, and lucky for us (maybe not her), she was laid off recently and dove right in to our show. The production needs of the show and of Fringe are astronomical and she has worked tirelessly and with insane skill. Anne Lommel, our costumer, I just met for this show and she could not be more helpful or accommodating. She is pulling a lot of strings to make things work! Rodney Ladino, our other producer, pretty much does everything that's needed. He's amazing and tireless. Elizabeth "Boomer" Hawks is our graphic designer, and her design work for our marketing materials has truly influenced the entire look of the show. Joe Trentacosta is our publicist from Springer Associates, and he's really hit the ground running and used his expertise to spread the word, getting NYC ready for us. Rounding it out Steven DeLuca from Martian Entertainment... he’s a childhood friend of Andrew’s, and he has championed the play from day one. There is so much heart and dedication in this show that it’s kind of mind blowing. Also, not sure if you noticed, but there's a lot of vowels in these names... love that too!

The cast is phenomenal... they are authentic and super talented and a blast to work with. Geraldine Librandi and Reiko Aylesworth are definitely our most recognizable and there’s a reason they work so much. Both are a joy to work with and they make such iconic choices with the characters. The rest of the cast are superb as well, even if you might not immediately recognize them. Dana Domenick, Joey Gambetta, Jon Krupp, Jonathan Bock and Casey Predovic. Every one of them is spot on and so dedicated and talented it’s silly. Fringe is a tough gig... you have to do guerilla-type theatre. And this cast is jumping into it with gusto and really using our limitations to inspire themselves in their performances.

If you could have one wish come true about your production, what would it be?

I'd love for this play to move on to another theatre and find a bigger audience. It's really a play that was created for an audience... it speaks passionately and truthfully and often very profanely about themes and people that an audience can relate to, root for and empathize with. Everyone is so great in it... on every level... just want to connect with that audience and show them what we got.

What's next for you after Fringe?

I have a few plays I'm working on. Razorback, which was produced at Rogue Machine in Los Angeles, and is a super dark, scary and very funny play, would really do well in NYC. I'm also finishing my first period piece... another dark tale this one set in Boston in the mid 1800's. I'm very excited to see where that goes. Truth is, the more I work with new and talented people, the more it inspires me to write!

And finally, if you could work with any actor, director or playwright, living or dead, who would you chose and why?

I would love to work on stage with Ian McShane. In fact, I’ve already written a few plays that he’d be perfect in!

Lost and Found
Rogue Machine Theatre
Writer: John Pollono
Director: Andrew Block

VENUE #14: The Cherry Pit

Mon 16 @ 2
Sat 21 @ 7:15
Mon 23 @ 10:15
Thu 26 @ 9:15
Fri 27 @ 3

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