Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Planet Connections Interview - Rick Leidenfrost-Wilson of "The Declaration"

By Byrne Harrison

Name: Rick Leidenfrost-Wilson
Play: The Declaration
Relationship to production: Playwright/Director
Website: www.offsides.org/thedeclaration

How did you first get involved in theatre?

My mother died when I was fifteen. Some friends of mine needed me to play piano, all of a sudden, for some back stage “pre-show” music - madgrigals, ballads, show songs. The show was A Company of Wayward Saints.

Who are your biggest influences?

O’Neill, Shepard and Sara Ruhl.

What is your show about?

The Declaration is about a gay, high school teacher who runs for the New York Senate because he’s outraged that the Senate voted against marriage equality. The show follows the political and personal journeys he undergoes over his year campaigning.

What inspired you to write it?

I was outraged – hurt to the core, really – that the representatives of my state, which I’ve called home for over twenty years, decided that my marriage and thousands of other marriages across New York were not worthy of recognition. From January to March of 2010 I actually mounted a campaign for the Senate myself; so the story is somewhat inspired by that as well (although the characters and story lines are fictitious).

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

My husband, Christopher, was an actor in the Festivity last year and he had such a positive experience that we decided to submit for this year’s Festivity. Personally, we try to be as eco-friendly as we can in our everyday lives, and to channel that cause into our passion for theatre was both challenging and enlightening. We also feel very strongly about PCTF’s outreach and charitable affiliations and definitely believe in “theatre for a cause.”

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 Marriage Equality New York because they are timely, front-line soldiers in this war, right now, and we want to recruit as many as possible for their cause.

What's next for you after Planet Connections?

I have three projects I’d like to return to: one is a full length play called Good Friday, which is about an Oklahoman family and its struggles with addiction, and another is called Meteors in the Night Time, which is a play about a man’s struggle with cancer. Another show we’ve previously mounted and are continuing to develop is Hockey: The Musical! http://www.hockeythemusical.com/

And finally, if your play was food, what kind of food would it be? Or if you'd prefer something a little less oddly whimsical - If you could get any person, living or dead, to see this show who would you choose and why?

Well, I’ll give you both! Hands down, the show would be pasta puttanesca.  The show features 12 actors who play a wide spectrum of very different characters which come together and work in delicious, theatrical harmony.

I wish Harvey Milk was still alive and able to see this show. He was a groundbreaking figure for the LGBT movement in politics. The tragedy that took his life is a figurehead of the problems that LGBT Americans face everyday, but also a reminder of how far we have come as a community. I know if Mr. Milk was alive today, he’d be on the front lines of the Marriage Equality battle, and that is what “The Declaration” is all about.

The Declaration
Wednesday, June 01 at 6:30PM
Monday, June 06 at 6:30PM
Sunday, June 12 at 8:00PM
Sunday, June 19 at 5:45PM
Thursday June 23 at 6:10PM
Saturday, June 25 at 8:00PM
Sunday, June 26 at 1:00PM

The Robert Moss Theatre
440 Lafayette Street

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