This week I’m helping to promote the upcoming Plays and Players Theatre production of Sex, Drugs, and Rock n Roll (to get half off tickets, use GOODTIMESEX as your promo code). This comedy, written in 1990 by Eric Bogosian, will star Eric Scotolati and is directed by occasional quizzo player Allison Heishman (of the Specific Jawns). I talked to Allison a bit about the play and the state of the local theatre scene.
JGT: Tell us a bit about your theatre background.
Allison: I moved to Philly in 2003 and have been working as a director, actor and new play developer around the city ever since. I’ve been an Artistic Associate at Azuka Theatre since 2006. I most enjoy working on new plays, world premieres, and collaboration with playwrights to bring their words to life, but I also dig the classics and am actually directing Macbeth for Revolution Shakespeare in the Fall, which I’m really excited about.
JGT: Why did you decide you wanted to direct this particular play?
Allison: I’ve been a fan of Bogosian since college. I performed some of his monologue pieces with Madhouse Theatre a bunch of years ago. I love his voice, I love his f*ck you attitude. I also kind of despise his characters, but that’s the point for me. The challenge with the particular piece has been how to find some kind of common ground with characters that on paper seem the complete opposite to me.
JGT: The play was written in 1990. Is this a piece that is going to take us back to that time period?
Allison: In a way. The sad part is a lot of the issues that are central to his rants are still mad relevant today: poverty and the homeless, misogyny, the lives of the obscenely rich, the obscene reality of health care and coverage, so much more. It’s insane how much still really hit home for us going through the show.
JGT: What kind of performance can people expect from the show’s star Eric Scotolati (right, photo courtesy of phindie.com)?
Allison: An awesome one. Seriously, Eric has proven himself an incredibly dynamic performer. We’re finding the heart of the heartless and having a lot of fun.
JGT: Does “sex, drugs, and rock n roll” pretty much define the Philadelphia theatre scene? Give us the exciting behind the scenes scoop.
Allison: Ha. Yes and no. It’s actually a lot of hard work believe it or not. Very little glamour. The “success stories” tend to be artists who work 60-80 hours a week just to creep over the poverty line, working on multiple shows and other jobs at the same time. More often than not, these theatre rock stars are also caterers, and standardized patients, bartenders, dog walkers, that chick working the farmstand or your barista – likely a combination of those ‘day jobs’ to help supplement our work as artists. Funding has dropped significantly – we’re all feeling the pull. But we do it because we’re a little crazy, and we love it. I guess until that’s not enough.