By Byrne Harrison
Duncan Pflaster has won awards for his plays “The Tragedy of Dandelion,” “The Empress of Sex,” “Prince Trevor Amongst the Elephants,” “The Thyme of the Season,” “The Starship Astrov,” “Sweeter Dreams,” “Eternity: Time Without End” and “The Wastes of Time.” Other plays include “Suckers,” “Admit Impediments,” “Sleeping in Tomorrow,” and “Ore, or Or,” as well as a panoply of one-acts (many of which have also won awards). “Prince Trevor Amongst the Elephants,” “The Thyme of the Season,” and “The Starship Astrov” are published online at Indie Theater Now. He also writes sketch comedy with the video troupe Laughing Swingset, whose work can be seen on YouTube and Funny or Die. He is also an award-winning actor and theatre reviewer. His play “The Taint of Equality, or I Want Your Sex” is part of the Planet Connections festival.
How did you first get involved in theatre?
My mother was an actress, and organized community theatre in my school. My first acting experience was as Fritz and a Chinese Dancer in a kid’s adaptation of “The Nutcracker.”
Who are your biggest influences?
Always always Charles Ludlam. Christopher Durang, Israel Horovitz, Harry Kondoleon. Sondheim.
What is your show about?
“Adrian and Javier are a gay couple who don’t believe in marriage- but everyone assumes they’re married. When they realize they’ve never actually opened up their “open relationship”, they decide to each go out and get laid, with hilarious and erotic results.”
What inspired you to write it?
I was inspired by a turn-of-the-previous-century one-act called Another Way Out. It’s a cute piece about a heterosexual couple who don’t believe in marriage. I had been considering adapting it, and when marriage for same-sex couples became legal in New York, my own conflicting feelings about it led me to explore the idea in drama. My piece borrows very little from the older play; it really became a piece of its own.
Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?
I’ll be working with a few old friends on this piece; Alan McNaney and Mark-Eugene Garcia who play the leads Adrian and Javier I’ve worked with extensively. Mark-Eugene was recently in my play “Six Silences in Three Movements,” and has been in all the readings of “Taint” since the earliest drafts. Alan was in my play “Suckers” (Nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor), appeared on video in “Sweeter Dreams” and is also part of Laughing Swingset, the film company we recently founded with Christopher C. Cariker (who’ll be doing the fight choreography for “Taint”). I’ve been working with Joe Fanelli the longest; he won a Spotlight On Award for Best Featured Actor for my play “Eternity: Time Without End” when he was a teenager back in 2004, and also appeared in “Suckers” and my award-winning skit “Bill’s Threesome.” Shawn McLaughlin has been in several of my plays through the years (The original production of “The Wastes of Time,” “Suckers,” “The Thyme of the Season,” and “Ore, or Or”), and is always a joy to work with. Adam Samtur has been in and/or directed several of my plays. The rest of the 13-member cast is made up of new faces and friends I’ve wanted to work with for a while.
Why was it important to you to be part of Planet Connections?
This is my 4th year in Planet Connections. It’s a pretty neat festival.
Planet Connections donates a portion of the box office for each show to a charity. What charity has your production chosen and why?
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. ‘Cause it’s very gay.
What's next for you after Planet Connections?
Actually, I have TWO shows in Planet Connections, this one and also “The Empress of Sex,” which is produced by G$ and directed by the festival producer, Glory Kadigan. Both plays are being published online by Indie Theatre Now, in concert with these World Premieres.
At the end of June (actually overlapping a bit with the PCTF), my short sci-fi play “Pocket Universe” will be in the 2012 Gay Play Series (GPS) at The Ringwald Theatre in Michigan.
After that, my lesbian superhero one-act play “Dark Night of the Russet Rascal,” directed by Aliza Shane, will be in All Out Arts’ Fresh Fruit Festival in July. My play “The Tragedy of Dandelion” is slated to have a reading with On The Square Productions (after winning Audience Favorite in MTWorks’ NewBorn Festival this February), but that’s not yet been officially scheduled. Interested persons can sign up for my e-mail list or just check in periodically at http://www.duncanpflaster.com/
If you could work with any famous actor, living or dead, who would it be?
Jonathan Groff. He’s a delight.
For more information about “The Taint of Equality,” visit: planetconnections.org/the-taint-of-equality-or-i-want-your-sex