Our first Northpoint Voices Inside Playwright-in-Residence was award-winning, Brooklyn-based Mac Rogers. Last summer, he led master classes and offered his playwriting insights to the 12 prisoner-playwrights at the Northpoint Training Center in Burgin, Kentucky.
During his residency, Mac spent his nights writing part of his upcoming THE HONEYCOMB TRILOGY; the first segment — Advance Man — opens Thursday night at the Secret Theatre in Long Island City, Queens. Rogers has been a hit on the New York theatre scene for a decade, winning ITBA’s Best Off-Off Broadway Play two years in a row for Universal Robots and Viral; garnering New York Innovative Theatre Awards nominations as a playwright and actor; and penning multiple New York International Fringe Festival award-winning plays and musicals.
Mac took time out of his busy schedule — helping build the audacious set for Advance Man — to answer a few questions about his upcoming play.
#1) Advance Man is part of a trilogy of plays. How do you dream up a trilogy? Did you have a story idea and just know that you couldn’t tell everything in three acts or did it grow organically?
MR: Originally I had the idea for the second part, a play – set inside a suburban home – in which the audience would gradually realize that the world outside had radically changed. As I developed that idea, I realized I also wanted to depict how this radical change had come to pass. Around this time, I saw Johnna Adams’ wonderful Angel Eaters
, produced by the Flux Theatre Ensemble
, and it emboldened me to the idea that an epic story told over several plays was possible. So I sat back down and reconcieved my idea as a three-part saga, THE HONEYCOMB TRILOGY, of which Advance Man
is the first part, telling the story of how the world came to catastrophically change.
#2) You were working on the trilogy while in Kentucky for the Northpoint Voices Inside prison program. What was that like? Did the residency influence the trilogy or did the trilogy influence the residency?
MR: I wrote the lion’s share of part 2 in Kentucky while working with the playwriting circle at Northpoint. The director, Jordana, told me she feels like the work I wrote in Kentucky was more efficient and urgent that some of the stuff I’d written previously. For me, my work with the Northpoint playwrights reminded me what a great joy and solace and privilege it is to write plays, so there was a sense of recommitting to the discipline that I felt.
#3) What are three things people should know about ADVANCED MAN?
MR: 1. It’s a genre mashup – science fiction thriller meets family drama. With a strong side-helping of comedy.
2. It’s the most ambitious production my theater company, Gideon Productions
, has ever mounted. The director, cast, design, and building teams are all exceptional.
3. IT WILL NOT BE BORING. I can’t stress that enough.
Advance Man runs January 12 – 29, 2012. Tickets are $18 ($15 Students/Seniors).