Eric Samuelsen interviews Matthew Greene about his new play Adam & Steve and the Empty Sea

Playwright, retired BYU professor and literary critic Eric Samuelsen interviews Matthew Greene about his play Adam and Steve and the Empty Sea.

Salt Lake City’s Plan-B Theatre Company is staging the world premier of Matthew Greene’s Adam & Steve and the Empty Sea at the end of this month. The play opens Jan. 31 and runs through Feb. 10.  Tickets and details are available at planbtheatre.org or 801.355.ARTS.

Here is the description of the play from Plan-B:

Adam is LDS. Steve is gay. Set against the backdrop of the passage of Prop. 8, these childhood friends grapple with religion, sexuality,politics and adulthood.
 A world premiere by LDS playwright Matthew Greene. Featuring Logan Tarantino as Steve and Topher Rasmussen as Adam, directed by Jason Bowcutt.

AMV readers may recall that I interviewed Greene is about his play #MormoninChief. LDS playwright, retired BYU professor and literary/cultural critic Eric Samuelsen recently interviewed Greene about Adam and Steve and the Empty Sea. Greene attended BYU during the time Eric taught there so that also is discussed. Enjoy!

One Playwright to Another: Eric Samuelsen’s Interview with Matthew Greene

I guess it would have been five years ago now that Matthew Greene showed up in my beginning Playwriting class at BYU. Mild-mannered kid, obviously exceptionally bright, but rather quiet. I assigned the kids to write a ten minute play, due the next class period—jump right in and start writing something, anything. And his play was smart and funny and real. I knew I had someone special in that classroom. He’s had his New York debut, with #MormonInChief. And now Plan-B Theatre in Salt Lake is producing his play Adam and Steve and the Empty Sea. Continue reading “Eric Samuelsen interviews Matthew Greene about his new play Adam & Steve and the Empty Sea”

Interview with playwright Matthew Greene, author of #MormoninChief

Mormon playwright Matthew Greene discusses his play #MormoninChief and life as a NYC-based writer.

Matthew Greene is a BYU-trained, New York City-based playwright whose play #MormoninChief will premiere at this year’s NYC Fringe Festival. He pitched me on a blog post, and I decided what would be most interesting is an interview. Here it is:

Let’s start with the thing that led to this Q&A: the fact that your play #MormoninChief will be premiering at Fringe NYC in August. What is the play about?

#MormonInChief tells the story of Connor Jorgenson, an unassuming guy who goes to church with Mormon presidential candidate, Mack Benson. After he Tweets some comments allegedly made by Benson in a testimony meeting, he find himself at the center of a media frenzy as republicans and democrats alike clamor to hear more from this newfound inside source. The play centers around Connor’s struggle to deal with this newfound notoriety and the difficult issues that come up when religion and politics intersect. Continue reading “Interview with playwright Matthew Greene, author of #MormoninChief”

Tonight in Provo

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Tonight in Provo, New Play Project begins a series of shows featuring five of their most popular plays:

“A Burning in the Bosom,” by Melissa Leilani Larson
“Foxgloves,” by Matthew Greene
“Gaia,” by Eric Samuelsen
“Adam and Eve,” by Davey Morrison
“Prodigal Son,” by James Goldberg

I have a vested interest in these revivals as I helped publish, through Peculiar Pages, the volume Out of the Mount which features these and fourteen other excellent plays produced by NPP over their short yet remarkably fruitful existence.

Currently, you can get two-for-one tickets to the first weekend’s shows if you invite ten or more Provo-local Facebook friends to the Facebook Event. They are also doing straight-up ticket giveaways to tonight’s show on their website and Facebook page.

I’m quite jealous of anyone close enough to see the show. I’ve gone on and on elsewhere about how much I love “Gaia” (1) and “Prodigal Son” (1 2) but all five of these plays are excellent and worthy of your attention (1 2 4 5 6). (Seventh witness via William Morris.)

Go and witness for yourself (Sept. 16-20 and 24-27, 7:30pm; $7 general admission, $6 students with ID).

And pick up a copy of Out of the Mount.

Then return and report.

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Looping through the Mormon Arts, from me to me

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Though this post is by it’s very nature heavily self-indulgent, I am going to try to spin it as more altruistic than it is. Continue reading “Looping through the Mormon Arts, from me to me”

“Bread of Affliction” and Cultural Self-Consciousness

Note: “Bread of Affliction” is being judged this week for the American College Theatre Festival. It’s playing this Saturday, 7:30-8:15 p.m., in the JFSB Little Theater (Room B192) at Brigham Young University. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and admission is free. They need a good audience, so if you live in the area, consider taking this excellent opportunity to see the play.

The BYU Experimental Theatre Company was invited to write a play for the Society of Jewish-American and Holocaust Literature, which held its national symposium in Salt Lake City in September. “Bread of Affliction,” written by Matthew Greene, was the end product of the invitation, and a very entertaining one, to be sure. The play is about a Jewish professor and his Gentile wife who are planning to have Passover with the professor’s family. While the professor lectures at a university, his wife is at home with his family, who are preparing the Passover feast and telling Jewish jokes. Much of the tension in the play comes from the professor’s disapproval of his family’s Jewish jokes, which, he feels, make light of a very serious, sensitive subject.

According to Matthew Greene and director Landon Wheeler, the play began first as a concept (finding humor in the face of persecution and suffering) that was built around an amalgamation of Jewish jokes that they pulled from a variety of sources. The concept was simple but effective, and Matthew did a good job of weaving the jokes into the narrative. I enjoyed the performance quite a bit. One of the things that interested me in particular about the play was its reception. From all accounts, the play was received very well at the Society of Jewish-American and Holocaust Literature symposium, and some of the most shocking jokes got the most laughs. When shown to BYU and Provo audiences, however, the reactions were a little reticent. Non-Jewish audience members weren’t sure if they should be laughing at Jewish jokes, several of which referenced the Holocaust and anti-Semitic stereotypes in rather bitingly ironic terms. Most seemed to lighten up after a while, though, once they got used to the style of humor and realized it was okay to laugh. Continue reading ““Bread of Affliction” and Cultural Self-Consciousness”