Friday, June 10, 2011

Planet Connections Interview - Christina Quintana of "The Recession Club"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Christina Quintana
Play: The Recession Club
Relationship to production: Playwright

How did you first get involved in theatre?

The 8th grade play was a prospect I looked forward to for most of my middle school existence. We got to write our own play and perform it for the entire school. I took the lead and we wrote an oh-so memorable piece about George Bush's meeting of celebrities at the White House. From that kooky experience, I was hooked.

Who are your biggest influences?

I'm going to take a cue from Stephen Adley Guirgis here and say, "everyone." I'm honestly inspired by every single person I come into contact with. If you're dying for me to get specific: Paula Vogel made me want to be a playwright, Complicite rocks my world fully, and this past year I've really fallen in love with Wallace Shawn's work.

What is your show about?

Yolanda Atkinson loses her job as a petroleum engineer and forms a support group through an ad on Craigslist. The unlikely cohorts, including a former college professor, a former retail employee and a woman of questionable background, each cope with an identity crisis that pulls them, at times, back into their five-year-old selves. Together, in the face of an unlikely affair and a death scare, they learn that what you do is not who you are.

What inspired you to write it?

I read an article in The New York Times about a woman who lost her job as a petroleum engineer due to the recession. At the time I was working a retail job with a bucket-load of quirky individuals who were all facing their own economic hardships. Meanwhile, friends who were recent college graduates were having a hell of a time finding work, and I continually heard horror stories about people losing positions they'd held for decades or more. Mix all of that together in my brain and you get The Recession Club.

Why was it important to you to be part of an eco-friendly theatre festival?

I think as theatre artists, and artists in general, it is our responsibility to give back to the community-- and the environment! As a writer I often think to myself: all of this paper, all of this ink! It's refreshing and important to enter the mindframe: what can we reuse? Because there's plenty we can!

Planet Connections donates a portion of the box office for each show to a charity. What charity has your production chosen and why?

We've chosen Dress for Success. Since our show features a number of characters, including three women, who have lost their jobs, what better organization to team up with than one that, "promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life." We will be holding an in-kind donation drive on behalf of Dress for Success on the day of our reading, and will be collecting nearly-new women's professional clothing.

What's next for you after Planet Connections?

I'll be a playwright in The Movement Theatre Company's third annual GO GREEN 24-hour festival, Saturday June 11, 2011 at La Plaza Cultural Community Garden in the Lower East Side. Also, a workshop production of 177th and Audubon: Two One-Acts, Three Actors, One Apartment will open in early September. The piece is a combination of my one-act Cornflakes Con Leche and Alessandra Hirsch's The Incomplete Ones, two plays about the immigrant experience set in the same Washington Heights apartment. And, I'll performing as Verges/Messenger in the ExtantArts summer production of Much Ado About Nothing.

And finally, if your play was food, what kind of food would it be?

I think it's a peanut butter and jelly sandwich -- the perfect packed-lunch companion from kindergarten upwards, the poor man's staple and something everyone can enjoy (unless you're allergic to peanuts).

The Recession Club
Wednesday, June 15 at 4:00PM

The Gene Frankel Theatre
24 Bond Street

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