Sunday, June 17, 2012

Planet Connections Interview - Gabrielle Fox and Mark Jason Williams of "Acts of Love"

By Byrne Harrison

Gabrielle Fox is a New York-based playwright. Recent works include: Blackout (The Barrow Group Theatre), Independents Day (Richmond Shepard Theatre), Gin Joint (Roy Arias Theatre, Looking Glass Theatre), The Talk (Where Eagles Dare Studios), and Fox Tales: An Evening of One Act Plays (Planet Connections Theatre Festivity). For more, please visit

Mark Jason Williams is an award-winning playwright whose work has been produced in New York, Chicago, and Minneapolis. His play, Recovery, was recently seen in the 15th Annual New York International Fringe Festival, 2011 Minnesota Fringe Festival and 2010 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. His play, The Other Day, was staged in the 2011 Chicago Fringe Festival and the 2011 Planet Connections Theatre Festivity, for which it received the award for Outstanding Playwriting of a New Script. For more, please visit

How did you first get involved in theatre?

Gabrielle: Running lines for my mother as a child and sitting in on rehearsals.

Mark: I chose “Dramatic Writing” as a major when applying to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. I didn’t even know what that meant, nor did I have any idea I’d be setting my future in stone.

Who are your biggest influences?

Gabrielle: My mother and father…and Eugene O’Neill…in that order!

Mark: Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller, the Muppets.

What is your show about?

Love! All five shows explore the joys, heartbreaks and hilarity of personal relationships. Finding kindness in the face of loneliness and grief is a big theme that runs throughout.

What inspired you to write?

For years, we’ve been tossing around the idea of doing an evening of one act plays together. Both of us have a great history with Planet Connections so it seemed like the perfect fit to choose the festivity as the place to do it.

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

Many of us involved in this production have worked together in theater groups, and in several productions, over the years, so this production feels like a big reunion and is a lot of fun. The production features many returning Planet Connections artists including: Elena Zazanis, who directs Smiles to Saturn; Misti Tindiglia and Jess Erick, who appear in The Reincarnation of Doe Doe; Amadeo Fusca, who appears in Smiles to Saturn, and Margie Ferris, who appears in Midnight Musings. New faces this year include: Danny Hilt, Suzanne Lenz and Kat Ross (Smiles to Saturn), Kathleen Boddington (Darcy & Duke), David Berman (Darcy and Duke and The Reincarnation of Doe Doe), Mary Roberts and Jenny McCray (Goodbye Party) and Anthony Valbiro, who directs Darcy & Duke, Goodbye Party, The Reincarnation of Doe Doe.

Why was it important to you to be part of an eco-friendly theatre festival?
If we don’t do something soon, we can look forward to more blizzards on Halloween, and other climate problems.

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

The Arc of Westchester, which empowers children and adults with developmental disabilities to achieve their potential based on personal choices, abilities and interests. Both of us have a history of working with the population, and Smiles to Saturn features a character with aspergers syndrome, so once again it seemed like a perfect fit.

What's next for you after Planet Connections?

The Tony Awards!

And finally, if you could work with any famous actor, living or dead, who would it be?

Elaine Stritch

For more information about "Acts of Love," visit

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