Robbie Robertson is a playwright and screenwriter and a graduate of both the University of South Carolina and UCLA’s professional program in screenwriting. Robertson’s first play, Mina Tonight!, was published by Samuel French Inc. and has been consistently produced in regional theatres across the nation. He created the musical comedy The Twitty Triplets and brought '60s TV to life by directing a staged version of “Gilligan’s Island” at Trustus Theatre. Robertson’s screenplays have placed in several national contests, including his latest comedy, “Sweet Child of Mine” being named one of the top 12 comedy scripts in the 2010 Austin Film Festival’s Screenwriting Competition. He is currently developing several independent television and film projects and will be mounting a workshop production of Satan in High Heels this fall in NYC.
I recently attended a reading of Satan in High Heels presented as part of the TOSOS theatre company's Chesley/Chambers Playwrights Project reading series. I had such a good time that I had to talk with Robertson about the play and how it came to be.
So I'm guessing that you are a fan of B movies and exploitation films?
You know, it’s funny, I do love exploitation films but my tastes run wildly from camp to classics. And when judging these films solely on their screenplays, what many people consider B movies of the past have at lot in common with independent cinema of today. That said, I do love a fun, low budget trashy movie and “Satan in High Heels” is my all-time favorite. “Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill” is a close runner up. And “Kitten with a Whip.” Anything with Ann-Margret makes my list.
When did you first see the film "Satan in High Heels"?
What was it about the story that made you interested in it?
What I loved most about the movie is the lead character, Stacy Kane—a carnival stripper turned nightclub singer—is totally amoral, a sociopath with no redeeming qualities except she has a killer body and can carry a tune. The film almost plays like a horror movie in that Stacy, the sexual predator, takes out her victims— one at a time—as she bed bounces her way to the top. It’s just great fun to see everyone fall victim to her charms—repulsed and turned on at the same time.
Did you have a "Eureka!" moment when you decided it should be brought to the stage?
Absolutely. Upon repeated viewings, I kept shouting out lines I wished the characters would say. Then I started imagining new scenes and plot twists that would make for a more satisfying ending. As a comedy writer and a playwright, I knew the film’s theatricality and melodramatic tone would translate well to the stage. My adaptation definitely plays up the unintentional irony and humor of the original film but I also worked hard to beef up the overall story arc with new and rewritten scenes, character development and dialogue rewrites.
And who do you have directing?