Friday, June 13, 2014

Playwright Steve DiUbaldo's Boomer's Millennial Hero Story

 "Everything grows from the people."
- Steve DiUbaldo
Playwright

What is your play about?

Boomer’s Millennial Hero Story is about a down-home, piano-playing American Storyteller of the Boomer Generation who guides us through the "heroic" first twenty-five years of “Millennial” Montgomery Walter’s life.  From a childhood full of trophies and medical over-diagnosis and self-esteem building, to 9/11 to the market crash to Occupy Wall Street, this raucous vaudevillian journey takes a dark absurdist look at class, generational cause-and-affect, and American folklore in a world where ideas never truly die.   

What was its inspiration?

I moved to New York City in the throes of Occupy Wall Street.  I spent a lot of time going down there and reading about the movement from different perspectives.  It became a thirty page one-act, set in 2011, culminating in the movement.  Once I got this opportunity with TerraNOVA, I expanded the play to begin in 1986 and move through 2011.  I had begun reading a lot of literature about the generational divide between Boomers and Millennials, and found most of it to be rather funny.  I always felt there were blind spots in the assignment of blame and the blanketing of a group of people born around the same time.  From both sides, I found the points were often valid and short-sighted.  I also became fascinated by how we tell and digest stories, specifically American stories.  There’s a lot of satire about that, and a lot about money and race, along with lots of other zeitgeisty things that came up on New York City subways.    

What has its development been up to this point?

I wrote the first draft during my first year of the MFA program at NYU.  The play had golden toilets on stage and shit fell from the sky onto the poor people.  The metaphors were pretty on-the-nose and the play
Director Jenna Worsham
was pretty bad.  My friend in LA was looking to direct a one-act, read the play, and we agreed to really dig into the heart of what it was about.  So I developed that new draft with one of my favorite people in the world, Abby Pierce, who directed the play out there after rewrites, and we made big progress and got a lot of laughs.  A few months later, I submitted the one-act to TerraNOVA with a pitch to turn it into a full-length.  And they took me in and have helped me through the last 18 weeks of exploring and rewriting.  The reading is coming up on June 16th and Jenna Worsham, another favorite of mine, is directing.  And here we are!

How do you like to develop your work?

It truly depends on the play.  I love the daydream phase before you've started.  I love the solitary time of working through the first draft.  I’m not a “rush to share this with everyone” type of person.  Still, the great reward remains sharing it with actors and a director and working through it with a team.  If they are excited, I get really excited.  Actors are my favorite people and I want them to have a good time and tell me their thoughts.  Recently I’ve formed an annoying habit of putting extensive music into my plays, and am beginning the journey of collaborating with composers.  I find music to be the most rewarding and universal of forms for myself as a consumer, but that’s probably because it’s not the one I work in every day.  In terms of the writing, it always starts with character.  I've never written anything I liked that started with an idea and not with a character, or characters.  Everything grows from the people.

How do you like to work with your directors?

I feel like the best writer/director collaborations have an intimacy about them that allow both people to openly talk about the play stuff as easily as they talk about the life stuff. I like consistent face-to-face chats, and when those chats grow from being about art into being about life… that’s my favorite, and it always ends up enriching the play and the process.  Trust is crucial.  In the room, I try to be available as the writer but allow the director to execute the vision we’ve already been talking through.  I love directors with a dramaturgical eye who ask a lot of questions rather than offering a lot of answers.  And I’m always learning how to get better at communicating about the work, and I look for that in the directors I work with as well.  

Salty or sweet?

Salty.  I could eat Pistachios for days.

What is your writing schedule (if any) and where do you write?

DiUbaldo's Workspace
I usually write in the afternoons or at night, but dream of being one of those people who wake up really early to work.  I am nomadic writer.  I do the occasional coffee shop or bar, but I LOVE to write outside whenever I can - rooftops or patios or stoops or benches.  I’ve written outside all over Manhattan and Brooklyn.  The rest of the time, I write at the desk in my room.  Since that’s the only true consistent, that’s the picture you get!

What's next?

I am currently beginning the process of collaborating with a composer on a folk-blues album/score that will accompany my play, “Under The Water Tower.”  Next month, I’ll be going to North Carolina to hang out with my old AAU basketball team as research for a new play I’ve been working on about kids from varying socio-economic backgrounds who share a hotel room at a tournament while vying for division-1 college basketball scholarships, with the slimy backdrop of the NCAA recruiting world.  I am developing those with The Middle Voice – Rattlestick’s apprentice company – who RULE.   

Steve DiUbaldo's Boomer's Millennial Hero Story is directed by Jenna Worsham and is presented on Monday, June 16th, at 3pm at The Cherry Lane Studio Theatre, 38 Commerce Street (west of 7th Avenue). Subways: 1 to Christopher Street, A/B/C/D/E/F to West 4th.  $10 suggested donation at the door.

Boomer's Millennial Hero Story is part of  terraNOVA Collective's Groundworks New Play Series which runs through June 23rd.  For more information, visit www.terraNOVAcollective.org

The 2014 Groundworks New Play Series features the 6 new plays developed through the 2014 Groundbreakers Playwrights Group, and 2 new soloNOVA ARTS Workshops. This year’s playwrights work has been produced or developed with numerous prestigious theatres including The Public, Joe’s Pub, New York Theatre Workshop, The Old Vic, Roundabout Theatre Company, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, Edward F. Albee Foundation, Sundance Theatre Lab and Lincoln Center.

ABOUT GROUNDWORKS: Every year, terraNOVA Collective presents the Groundworks New Play Series - a week of staged readings of work developed through our Groundbreakers Playwrights Group, and new work being developed by solo performance artists associated with our collective. The purpose of the New Play Series is to give playwrights an opportunity to have their work seen and heard by a larger audience. Each playwright works with a director and professional actors over a 12-hour rehearsal period to give further life to their work.

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