Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Planet Connections Interview - Mark Jason Williams of "The Other Day"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Mark Jason Williams
Play: The Other Day
Relationship to production: Playwright
Website: http://www.markjasonwilliams.com/

How did you first get involved in theatre?

By total accident! I used to write a lot of stories when I was a little kid, mostly about Hulk Hogan and Godzilla, and by the time I was ready to go to college, I knew I wanted to write for a living. I applied to NYU’s Dramatic Writing Program not really knowing what it was, and when I went to visit, the professors said, “If you come here, you will write plays and screenplays, and never have to take another math class.” That was all I needed to know. I wrote my first play when I was 18, and it was terrible! But I’ve been hooked on theatre ever since.

Who are your biggest influences?

Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, Paula Vogel, Tony Kushner, Margaret Edson, Tina Fey.

What is your show about?

The Other Day is a funny, poignant and authentic look at the complexities of intimate relationships, both gay and straight. It follows the story of Mark and Santo, who fall in love after a chance meeting, and do their best to make things work over the years, until Mark’s friend Dina rips away the shiny veneer covering the men's fragile relationship. With the hope of moving on, Mark takes Santo and Dina on a vacation to Amsterdam, where each faces an emotional journey that redefines their relationships in surprising ways.

What inspired you to write it?

I’ve always been intensely fascinated with the insecurities, humor and nuances associated with dating and significant others, and I started to ask myself, “are relationships hard in general, or do we just complicate things, and do we stay with someone who isn’t right for us because it’s easier than getting back out there and starting over?” I thought this would make for a compelling drama. I also felt it was important to write a play about gay men who are authentic, human and break stereotypes.

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

Planet Connections is simply a joy to be a part of, and the fact that its eco-friendly makes it even cooler. We waste so much in general, so why not do things like share props and other resources, recycle, keep printing to a minimum? It just makes sense, and helps to build a great community of artists.

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

We chose the Hetrick-Martin Institute. I was very interested in connecting with them because we share similar ideals that all young people — regardless of sexual orientation or identity — deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to thrive. This is critical in today’s society, especially with all of the bullying going on.

What's next for you after Planet Connections?

My play, Recovery (which debuted last year as part of Planet Connections) will be part of the 2011 Minnesota Fringe Festival and then come back home for the NYC International Fringe Festival. I’m super excited!

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

Pizza. Probably deep-dish, with extra cheese.

The Other Day
Thursday, June 02 at 8:00PM
Saturday, June 04 at 7:15PM
Sunday, June 05 at 3:15PM
Friday, June 10 at 9:00PM
Saturday, June 18 at 12:00PM
Tuesday, June 21 at 4:00PM
Wednesday, June 22 at 8:00PM

The Robert Moss Theatre
440 Lafayette Street

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