Friday, August 03, 2007

Fire Baby

I usually describe this as a "horror" play.

I mean it in the sense of BURIED CHILD is a horror story and ERASERHEAD is a horror story.

And I explain it this way because most people don't understand it, though those who get it, really GET IT.

The year I was a finalist for New Dramatists I was told the play caused major rifts. The people who loved it, LOVED it. The people who hated it, HATED it.

I wasn't sure what side of the fence I was on when I was writing it. Half the time I wanted to hide under the bed from it. The other half I was, well, on fire over it. A close friend told me not to worry. "It's great," he said. When he saw the reading with Estelle Parsons, Billy Crudup and the late John Seitz, he hated it.

Others loved it.

One producer told me they wanted to produce until they saw its effect on an audience. It was very unsettling - though no one left.

Another said, "But the only character I have any empathy for dies in the middle. Why don't you write him back into the second half? I'll take another look."


A lit manager for one of the big New York non-profits known for producing new work by new writers met with me after reading it and said "You have to get this produced." She then told me that her artistic director wouldn't like it. "The mother and father are about the age of our audience and they wouldn't be able to take it."

That comment tells us a lot about what's wrong today.

If it ever gets done (which, in truth, I've pretty much given up on the idea of), it does need just the right people. In fact, allowing an audience to have any kind of empathy for the parents in this one is a huge mistake - which requires a fearless lead actress.

Want a copy? You know where to reach me.

Fire Baby

Drama/Horror, full length, one intermission.

A Christmas holiday: Callaghan and Aideen have been married too long. He claims that she stinks of horses and hounds. She blames him for thwarting her life's ambitions. Callaghan thinks if he only had a gun he could "live as he really wanted." It would just take a shot to the back of her head. Into this "festive" atmosphere walks Michael, their 35 year old son. A failed screenwriter, Michael has a darkly threatening habit of singing an old Bing Crosby song "Mono Maleke Maka" in a voice that makes Callaghan suspect he's homicidal. Has Michael returned home to kill his parents? Does Aideen know what's in the black plastic trash bags? A bloody, darkly comic struggle for power ensues. Who will hold the reins and who will wear the bit?

CAST: 2 M, 1 F

Semi-finalist for the Princess Grace Award – 2005

NJ Rep – staged reading, directed by Matthew Arbour - 2005

DR 2, NY - staged reading with Billy Crudup, Estelle Parsons, John Seitz, directed by Trip Cullman - 2004

Magic Theatre, SF - reading at monthly Lit Committee Series - 2004

Nominated for the 2005 Cherry Lane Mentor Project by Eduardo Machado, NY – 2004

Semi-finalist for the Princess Grace Award – 2004

John Golden Award for Playwrighting - 2004


Timothy Braun said...

I really like this post. Sadly, I think this issue is becoming the norm for many playwrights. I have had a similar issue with most of my work; readings and nominations at the same joints and foundations.

Don't give up on your play. Do it yourself if you have to.

Malachy Walsh said...

Hey, Tim - great to hear from you. I don't think you know, but I watched your thesis reading at the Blue Heron TWICE, I liked it so much.

And thanks for the upbeat words.

I'm definitely trying to figure out how to produce it - and other things.

So I apologize if I seem defeatist. Part of it is just plain Irishness.

But I ain't giving up. On anything.