By Byrne Harrison
Cross-posted from StageBuzz.com
Playwright Duncan Pflaster's Six Silences in Three Movements is being presented as part of Manhattan Repertory Theatre's Winterfest 2011. I was able to discuss the play with Duncan, and he provided the video below.
One of the things I enjoy about your work is your clever and creative use of language. I understand that the language and structure in Six Silences in Three Movements is a bit of a departure for you. Tell me a little bit about it and what inspired you.
I've gone very minimalist with this piece. The "Silences" of the title are essentially scenes where people talk but don't say anything that they really want to talk about, it's all about their subtext. I attempted to allow the audience to infer the story with as little actual content as possible. I was highly inspired by Edward Gorey's work (especially l'Heure Bleu) for this piece. I've always admired how formal and spare with story he dared to be; even while filling the page with wonderful visions, many of them remain enigmatic.
What's the play about?
It's about two couples, one straight and one gay - the straight man is having an affair with one of the gay men, unbeknownst to their partners.
In addition to using poetry and non-sequiturs in the play, there is a whole lot of nudity. Which gave the actors a harder time, the language or the nudity?
The language, really. I've always found that randomness is always the hardest thing to memorize. And of course I strove to make the nudity comfortable for the performers; we rehearsed for nearly a month before any clothes were shed. They also insisted on going out for drinks as a cast just before the first naked rehearsal - I always say that a couple of drinks can do more for cast bonding than any theatre exercise. Sexuality and nudity feature in many of my plays, and I've found many performers really love a chance to let loose and be wild and sexy. If given the proper atmosphere, respect and understanding, it can be freeing and quite exciting. I never want to force anyone to do anything that's uncomfortable for them. Back in my acting days, I appeared naked onstage a few times myself, so I know what it can be like.
Tell me a little about your cast. Have you worked with them before?
I've worked with both Adam Samtur and Susan Slotoroff before on previous projects; they're fantastic. Mark-Eugene Garcia and Marc Graiser have both worked with acquaintances of mine in the past, but this is our first time working together, though it seems now I've known them for ages. And Matthew Applebaum, our wonderful composer, wrote and performed the music for The Thyme of the Season, my award-winning sequel to A Midsummer Night's Dream, which premiered in last year's Planet Connections Theatre Festivity.
What do you want to say to your potential audience?
What's next for you in 2011?
My multimedia play Sweeter Dreams will premiere in the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity this June. It's about an independent filmmaker torn between the two men she loves: her husband and her frequent leading man. I have a few other projects cooking, but nothing I can announce officially yet.