Wednesday 14 June 2017

Enterprise Dramaturgy: Brian Parks @ Edfringe 2017

Americana Absurdum Productions Proudly Presents

VENUE: Studio Two - Assembly George Square Studios, George Square, EH8 9LH
TIME: 1:35pm
DATES: 3rd -28th August (not 14th or 22nd)
PRICES: Weekend £11-£10.  Weekday £10-£9. Previews @ £8
TICKETS: 0131 623 3030 /

Originality and ‘Enterprise’ abound this August as the Fringe sets itself for the UK premiere of Fringe First winner and internationally acclaimed playwright Brian Parks latest, fast-paced and surreal comedy.

With their corporation on the brink of collapse, four panicking businessmen have one desperate night to save their futures. Emergency proposals, email hacking, animal sacrifice – will any of it work?

Landry, Owens, Sanders, and Weaver arrive at their office on what seems to be an ordinary day in their corporate skyscraper. But their morning takes a dramatic turn when Owens starts to smell—literally smell—the collapse of the company’s stock price. Soon the Board of Directors is in meltdown, and the four middle-managers band together with twenty-four hours to rescue the company, and themselves. It’s a project that takes them deep into a bizarre night that involves espionage, hypnotism, and, perhaps, an imp. But what will all their fates be the next morning?

The hour-long play is told in forty-five quick-moving scenes and takes the office comedy in a wonderfully odd new direction. Enterprise is a play in the spirit of Parks’ comedies Goner and Americana Absurdum, the latter of which helped launch the New York International Fringe Festival in 1997, where it also won the Best Writing Award. It went on to win a Fringe First award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, and became the first play produced by London’s Menier Chocolate Factory theatre.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
I’ve always loved the way people in business suits look onstage – there’s something very clean and sculptural about it. So I decided a while back that I wanted write a play where all the characters are wearing business suits. That general original impulse eventually became “Enterprise,” a semi-absurd comedy about four business people trying desperately to save their collapsing company overnight. We’re performing it at Assembly George Square Studio 2. It’s the fifth project I’ve had at Assembly, and I’m eager to be back.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?
Of course. Though I’m not sure “Enterprise” is exactly burdened with ideas!

How did you become interested in making performance?
At some point I discovered that I had a certain facility with dialogue, plus theater allowed for a kind of strangeness that I like. I also really enjoy the energy that a good play can create in a room. That’s something I’m always after both as a writer and as an audience member. The first play I ever really liked was also an inspiration: a production of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” at Wayne State University in Detroit. Many years later I learned that the play was first staged at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, so there’s a nice connection there.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
My intention was to have the production by very simple physically, and then let the great comic actors have fun with it. This one is told in many brisk scenes.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
It fits in with one wing of the plays I write: fast-paced, surreal/absurd comedy. “Enterprise” is a bit similar in style to my plays “Americana Absurdum” and “Goner,” both of which we did in Edinburgh at Assembly. Both were well-received – “Americana Absurdum” won a Fringe First. Hopefully folks will like this one too. If not, well, it’s short.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
That they’ll come away changed people. No – scratch that. That’s creepy. Could get sued by their families if that happened.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
The theater’s shape is rectangular. The audience will have a good, rectangular experience.

BRIAN PARKS (playwright) is an American playwright whose work has been produced in New York City as well as several cities across the U.S. The plays have also been produced worldwide from London to Berlin to Adelaide and beyond. His other plays include American Absurdum, Goner, American Poodle (Splayfoot) and Imperial Fizz, all of which have garnered top critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival.
In New York City, he has worked with various theatre companies, including the Present Company and Clancy Productions and has had his plays published; Imperial Fizz  by Josef Weinberger, Ltd., London, and The Invitation in the collection Plays and Playwrights 2010 by the New York Theater Experience, Inc. He has also served as the theatre editor of The Village Voice in New York City, and as Chairman of the Obie Awards. He holds an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Brooklyn College and has been a playwright in residence in his own residences.

DAVID CALVITTO (director). 2017 marks David’s 14th Edinburgh Fringe since 2000, acting in 19 different plays and directing twice, including  seven Fringe First winning-shows at the festival; Americana Absurdum (2000), Horse Country (2002), Fatboy (2004), Screwmachine/eyecandy    (2005), The Exonerated  (2005), The Event  (2009-producer) and The Christians   (2015).
Besides his on-stage work, David has directed in the US, the UK and in Australia, including two site specific immersive theatre productions: The Hunchback of Notre Damn at 900 year-old Selby Abbey in Yorkshire, and Macbeth in London at the Clerkenwell House of Detention, which is haunted and where he recorded a ghost on film.  Other directing credits include The Half by Richard Dormer, Brian Parks’ American Poodle - Splayfoot, Specter, The Conversation, A Streetcar Named Desire, True West and American Buffalo.
As an actor at the Edinburgh Fringe, David has been nominated three times for The Stage Best Actor award and once for Best Solo Performer, winning best actor for his role in Horse Country in 2002.  In 2011, he was named the Best Theatre Performer of the Adelaide Fringe Festival for his performance in The Event by John Clancy and was given a statue and an envelope stuffed with $500 in cash and felt like the bride at a Mafia wedding.  In 2004, he starred in Guy Masterson’s production of 12 Angry Men, laughing a lot and in a bit in awe of Bill Bailey, Stephen Frost, Andy Smart, Steve Furst, Ian Coppinger, Jeff Green, Owen O’Neill, and comedian turned movie star, Dave Johns.
In 2013, David starred as Juror 2 in a completely different production of 12 Angry Men, this one in London’s West End at the Garrick Theatre with Martin Shaw, Tom Conti and the late great Robert Vaughn. 

BRIAN DYKSTRA (Landry) is an actor, playwright, and HBO Def Poet. He is the only person (other than Mos Def) to appear on HBO Def Poetry and Chappelle’s Show in the same season, appearing in the premiere episode as Dave Chappelle's “White Hand Man” in the infamous “Blind Hatred” sketch. Season one is still the biggest selling DVD in history. 
Acting credits include Americana Absurdum by Brian Parks, Johnny “Rooster” Byron in the first (and so far only) professional regional theatre production of Jerusalem in the U.S., Mark Rothko in Red, LBJ in All The Way, Eddie Carbone in A View From The Bridge, and Shakespeare’s Sir Toby Belch, MacDuff, Claudius, Capulet, and Benedick. He appeared on Broadway with Tom Hanks in Lucky Guy written by Nora Ephron and directed by George C. Wolfe.
As playwright, he wrote and starred in his play Clean Alternatives in four productions including the Edinburgh Fringe 2006 where the play was awarded a Fringe First Award. Other plays of his include Hiding Behind CometsThe Two of You, Strangerhorse, Forsaking All Others, A Play On Words and Silence! His latest play, Education is slated to open in NYC in March of 2018 at 59E59. He is a Lark Play Development Center Core Artist and awards include a National Theatre Conference Stavis Award, a Lester Bangs First Person Journalism Award, an End of the World As We Know It award for poetry, and was named a Distinguished Alumnus from California State University.
His political stand-up / solo-shows, Cornered and AloneThe Jesus Factor and Selling Out have been sold-out hits in NYC and LA.

JONATHAN FISHMAN (Owens) has performed in and directed numerous plays over his theatrical career across the US and internationally.  This production of Enterprise reunites him with Brian Parks, having appeared in the premiere production of Brian’s Vomit & Roses at NADA in New York City, and then multiple roles in Parks’ Wolverine Dream, the two one-acts that make up Americana Absurdum.  Born in England but raised in the US, Jonathan spent five years as ensemble member of the Present Co., a Manhattan based theatre collective started by multiple-fringe first winners Obie Winnerand John Clancy, along with his wife Nancy Walsh, where he starred in John Clancy’s The Paper Man and Don Nigro’s evening of one-acts Nigromantia, both directed by Mr. Clancy.  He is a founding member of the New York International Fringe Festival which recently celebrated 20 years as New York’s premier fringe festival. He recently appeared as Jerry in the razor-sharp black political comedy Spin by Robert William Sherwood (Women’s Theater Company, Parsippany Playhouse), Mickey in David Rabe’s Hurlyburly (UC Performing Arts Center), Charlie Fox in David Mamet’s Speed-The-Plow (Cranford Theatre) and George Hay in Moon Over Buffalo , for which he was nominated for the NJACT Perry Award Outstanding Lead Actor in a Play.

CHRISTOPHER CARLEY (Sanders) starred as ‘Father Janovich’ in the feature film Gran Torino opposite Clint Eastwood and appeared in 2/3’s of Martin McDonagh’s Leenane Trilogy; first in  the 1998 Broadway production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane in the role of Ray, and then off-Broadway in A Skull in Connemara in 2001. He has appeared on American television in The Crazy Ones (CBS), CSI: NY, House M.D (Fox), Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Sopranos (HBO), Veronica Mars and the recurring role of Jeff in the Aaron Sorkin NBC series Studio 60.
Christopher also performs stand-up comedy and will be appearing at different venues throughout the 2017 Edinburgh Festival.

This production marks Matt’s third collaboration with Brian Parks, having performed in the world premiere of his play, The House, and the ten-year New York Fringe Festival Anniversary production of his Americana Absurdum. He’s been seen in leading roles in most of the U.S’s top regional theatres, including the American premiere of Tom Stoppard’s The Invention of Love at A.C.T in San Francisco, the inaugural production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Water By the Spoonful, by Quiara Alegria Hudes at Hartford Stage, and the premiere of Donald Margulies’ adaptation of God of Vengeance at ACT in Seattle.  Most recently he originated the role of Shylock in District Merchants, a new adaptation of The Merchant of Venice by Aaron Posner at Folger Shakespeare Theatre. He was also kinda known as a child star, having appeared in over 70 episodes of the family classic Camp Wilderness  on the ABC network in the 70’s.  Since then he’s been clawing his way back into fame with roles on television in The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, Mysteries of Laura, Law and Order, One Life to Live and All My Children.

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