Friday, April 26, 2013

The Myths We Live: Lynn Rosen's Goldor $ Mythyka: A Hero is Born

 "We're all trying to rewrite our stories so we can make people believe we're a version of ourselves that we're really not (or maybe we really are?)"
- Playwright Lynn Rosen

Goldor $ Mythyka is based on a true story about two seemingly innocent kids involved in fantasy role play that end up stealing $7.4 million from an armored car. How did you go about turning this news story into a play?

I happened upon this story one day on the internet. It captured my attention because it involved crime, a young couple very deeply in love, fantasy, and a desperation that so many people were and are feeling economically. (Hello, Bonnie and Clyde.) This one small story seemed to be a very American story. It spoke to the myth of the typical American outlaw, and the myth that in America "if you dream it you can be it", and that the streets should be "paved with gold."

It also spoke to the truths of America - the 99% vs the 1%. And I knew the fantasy role-playing element would lend it a theatricality that I always employ and enjoy. I read a few more articles about it, and even checked out the real guy's MySpace page before it was expunged. It was very Goth and poetic and, to my mind, represented the musings of his fantasy self, rather than his every day self. I took the basic facts of the story  - lovers in economic crisis, armored car, D&D fanatics - and then jettisoned the real story and made it my own.
Bobby Moreno, Garrett Neergaard and Jenny Seastone Stern

The story of these two kids and their heist is set against the backdrop of the Bernie Madoff scandal - what was interesting to you about these two highly publicized events?

I think one was connected to the other. The economic crisis, the housing crisis, the greed, the Wall Street shenanigans, the double standards for the Haves and the Have Nots - it trickles down to all of us, as we know. In my play, it definitely trickles down to my protagonists in a literal way, ie, the crisis causes their boss to fire them, thus adding to their fiscal and personal woes. But it also feeds into their pre-existing feelings of being left out, abandoned, unnecessary. They already feel this way in their personal life, but the larger economic crises intensifies those feelings.

One of the really compelling themes of the play is the idea of personal myth - that on some level we are all dealing with one (or a few) mythical versions of ourselves and our place in the world - can you expand on that?

In the play, the young couple is described as "meek, sweet, wouldn't hurt a fly", and this is true. But in their games of D&D - their escape from the world - they are powerful, sexy warriors. And when things get really bad for them, donning these alternate personas is what gives them the courage to rob the armored car and alter their reality. To some degree we all do this. We're all constantly shifting our identities in order to get through the day, the marriage, the job. We're all trying to rewrite our stories so we can make people believe we're a version of ourselves that we're really not (or maybe we really are?), so we can have the happy ending we all yearn for. Though, as my characters discover, it's very hard to fight the tide of reality.

What was the development process for the play? How did you and director Shana Gold collaborate?

New Georges thought we'd be a good match and they were right! As Shana and I like to say, "Best J Date ever."

We were paired up for the development of the first incarnation of GOLDOR $ MYTHYKA: A HERO IS BORN when we did a much shorter version of the play in The Germ Project, which New Georges produced in 2011.

After that we continued to collaborate on the play as I built it into a full length. I'd write a new draft, send it to Shana, get her notes, make changes, etc. Over the next couple years we were fortunate enough to have at least six readings and four short workshops of this play, thanks to New Georges. There's no way I could
Bubba Weiler
have developed it otherwise because it's very muscular and physical  - well, it's an adventure! - so we had to see it up on its feet to know what we really had. I was also lucky to have Jenny Seastone Stern and Garrett Neergaard as my heroes almost every step of the way. Getting their thoughts during this ongoing process was invaluable since they know the play so well.

Through all this Shana always had insightful and honest feedback for me, as did Susan Bernfield. She was willing to try anything I brought in and give my crazy ideas I had a chance. We were truly partners, depending on each other for insight, advice, and courage.

Most of all we make each other laugh, which I think is quite pivotal to a collaboration and to the rehearsal process. A fun rehearsal room means everyone is going to feel at ease, happy to be there, and willing to take chance.

You are doing a variety of projects including a web series called Darwin directed by Carrie Preston, and a new play being developed in the TerraNOVA Collective called In The Blue. How do you juggle multiple projects?

I also have two young kids! And other plays I'm developing and I've been commissioned by Women's Project to write the book of a musical. It's not easy, man. I definitely develop plays at a slower pace than most writers I know. This may be a function of the kind of plays I write and my process of writing as much
Rob Leo Roy and Kristin Griffith
as a result of my lifestyle. I kind of throw it all in there in a first draft and then rewrite and rewrite, relying on feedback and dramaturgy from collaborators, and cut and hone, until it feels right. But when I work, I am extremely focused, and I have to be very protective of my writing time. And I never go anywhere or see anyone or go shopping or anything. I don't think I've bought any new clothes in, like, a year and a half. I look great!

What is inspiring you right now?

I'm always intrigued by true stories and real people - usually working class people - who do extraordinary things to change their lives, for better or worse. I'm continuously inspired by "regular Joes" who struggle to live their lives with some sense of empowerment, dignity, and perhaps even with some magic or beauty.
What is your guilty pleasure? (or one of them?)

I am known to watch some reality shows on Bravo. They help me put my brain to sleep at night. I'm not proud of this.

Anything you'd like to add?

Goldor $ Mythyka: A Hero Is Born runs through Saturday, April 27th at The New Ohio! We have a stellar cast and amazing design. Check it out before it disappears into the ether.

Goldor $ Mythyka: A Hero is Born is produced by New Georges, to get tickets click here. The New Ohio is located at 154 Christopher Street between Greenwich and Washington in NYC.

Photo Credits: Jim Baldassare

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