On Monday September 12th 2011
On The Square Productions presents the premiere developmental reading of the 2011-2012 season.
Suffer the Brink of Us
By Delaney Britt Brewer
Directed by Kara-Lynn Vaeni
Featuring: Elizabeth Audley*, Bettina Bilger, Chase Burnett, Charles Andrew Callaghan*, Emily Ernst, Wyatt Kuether*, Ari Rossen*, Logan Tracey*, Amanda Tudor*
*Actors Apprear Courtesy of Actors Equity Association
image above by: Giovanni Neri
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On a weekend of the biggest blizzard in years, 8 old college friends gather in a desolate log cabin in upstate New York for a weekend of careless debauchery and boozy catch ups. However, a well-kept secret and a hungry forest of supernaturally large deer-gone-rogue, turn this innocuous gathering into an unraveling of horrors. Using bourgeois activities like a high stakes book game and a loaded dinner party, society takes a deep turn into its dark heart.
Delaney Britt Brewer’s past works include Wolves (59E59). She is a former 2008 Dramatists Guild Fellow. Her work has been produced and work shopped at Center Stage, Ensemble Studio Theater, Theater at St. Clements (for the New York Musical Theater Festival), Theater Row, The Abingdon, Collective Unconscious, The Chernuchin at the American Theater of Actors, and The Wings Theater. In New York, she has directed and assistant directed shows at Chashama, Center Stage and Under St. Marks, and regionally for Triad Regional Stage and UNCG Summer Rep Theater.
She is also a member of Firework Theater.
Ms. Delaney was kind enough to let Logan Tracey of OTSP ask her some questions about her process and this new play.
Take a quick read and come to the reading on Monday September 12th
OTSP: Clearly, you have written numerous plays before arriving at the subject & characters in Suffer the Brink of Us. Can you talk a bit about your process of creating this particular story & these characters in your head?
DBB: I started this play in a writing class because I wanted to give myself the challenge of having many characters in one central location. I’ve had an almost cinematic approach to writing previously, with multiple locations, and I wanted to mine the claustrophobia of a single setting. I’m, also, fascinated with the break down of social constructs, having been obsessed with Lord of The Flies and Heart of Darkness when I was growing up. Mostly, it’s a preoccupation with hunger. What happens when we’re all stripped bare and starving, and what ghosts creep up through the floorboards after. Also, I wanted to start with something that looked like a parlor piece, and then exploded into a bit of a horror show. I’m interested in blowing apart expectations and meshing genres in the course of a night.
OTSP:What draft is this in your process? Do you expect there will be many more? Moreover, is a play ever totally finished?
DBB: This is the third draft. This play is a serious undertaking for me. For the most part, it’s been a hot mess of emotions, words and rough ideas. The plot and story have taken a bit of a backseat to the viscera I was striving for. That’s okay, though. I’d rather throw a bunch of paint on the canvas and let it drip before I know what the actual picture is. I knew I wanted this play to be a kind of a puzzle, and I’m lucky to be able to piece it together with the generous help of actors and directors who’ve been involved.
OTSP:Can you talk about how important it is for you as a playwright to hear the play read aloud? To see actors put life into these characters? Specifically, how seeing other people’s work on your play changes how you feel about it.
DBB: The way the actors craft and build this piece is vital to me. In a way, it’s a turned into a play developed by the various actors who have leant their talents to all the iterations of this piece. It’s, also, a character based piece. It involves very intimate friendships that fostered during a vulnerable time in college. These kinds of friendships require an intimate understanding. The work and feedback generated by workshopping this piece has been fundamental to the development of it.
OTSP:As an actor it can be really difficult to watch one’s performance. How do you feel about seeing your work performed before an audience?
DBB: I’m usually crouched in a corner rocking back and forth muttering things into my hands when I hear my work read out loud. But, that’s not really fair, or frankly cool to the folks who are putting the time into reading your work. So, I’m trying to get better at hearing and seeing my own stuff. I might show up at the reading this time in shades and tight pants, pointing and gesturing like the Fonz while laughing obnoxiously loud at not funny moments. That’s got to be better than hand muttering.
OTSP:Can you talk a bit about how you got involved with YoungBlood and a bit about how working with them has shaped your work as a professional playwright? Perhaps a bit about how the process has changed (or not changed) how you work.
DBB: I found out about Youngblood through my dear friends Edith and Ross, and they went to bat for me when I applied and I am eternally grateful to them for it. Youngblood was a huge part of my life as a playwright, and really a big part of my life in general. The program helped me immensely by seeing my work put on stage continually, and I met some of the best, most talented folks I know through the program. When you look at the roster of those who have come through that program, it’s pretty staggering. Also, there is something to be said for having a weekly meeting and home base as a playwright. It can’t be alienating sometimes to feel like you’re writing in a vacuum. Youngblood provided a touchstone to me for the years I was involved.
OTSP:As the Literary Manager of Firework Theatre company, how does it feel to read other people’s work? Does reading new work by other writers inspire you? Like, if something is amazingly good (or even amazingly bad?!) make you wanna go out and make something amazing…?
DBB: I know so many talented people whose work deserves to be staged. I wanted to act as a literary manager because I want to root for those whose work deserves a production. I read submissions with the hope that I will love and want to produce whatever it is I’m reading. I think that’s a great thing to recognize that hopefully and usually, the people that are reading your work want to like it. Ultimately, they want to help you, and that’s why they’re in the position they’re in. I feel inspired by this as a writer, knowing what it feels like from the other side.
OTSP: David Mamet has famous advice (and strong opinions) for the actor. Including, “It is the writer’s job to make the play interesting. It is the actor’s job to make the performance truthful….Here, again, is your job: learn the lines, find a simple objective like that indicated by the author, speak the lines clearly in an attempt to achieve that objective.”
What is your advice to the actor?
DBB: Know that the writer is usually just as troubled and unhinged as you might be by a difficult moment, or a difficult play. But, what you can bring to the table as an actor is so valuable. Theater is a living process. Don’t discount your role by needing answers, instead attempt to provide them for yourself.
OTSP:What’s next for Ms. Delaney Britt Brewer?
DBB: I already went to 6 Flags on Friday, so it’s back to the drawing board.
So… go! Get a ticket! And come see this fresh new piece in development with
On the Square!