Don Fried — Playwright & Author

Posts Tagged ‘London

Mia Zara PhotoThe response to Second Skin Theatre’s production of Blood Privilege in London has been absolutely amazing.

“Sexy cast, great scripting, and a brilliantly gothic venue. It finishes on 14 April so be quick (we saw it on Saturday and loved it).” Bizarre Magazine

“Second Skin is a regular on these pages. More so because the company’s plays are so carefully chosen, masterfully written and even better brought to life by their actors.”  “This play, masterfully directed by Andy McQuade and written by Don Fried, brings this story to the stage with a magnificent cast. Mia Zara makes for an amazing Countess Bathory.”  Theatre in London

“Second Skin Theatre continue their challenging and provocative work with a new play by Don Fried. ”  “Mia Zara absolutely dominates the evening as the charismatic and mysterious Elizabeth Bathory.” “The production is fast paced and atmospheric. We are drawn into a different world – forbidding and ominous. The lighting design (Anna Sbokou) adds to the otherworldliness, especially in the bookend scenes. Don’t miss this provocative play!”  UK Theatre Network

Mia Zara Photo 2“Don Fried gives us a clever and intelligent woman, an efficient operator and a prototype feminist battling against male and royal control.” “This is a picture of the way someone can be schooled into transgression, of how the law can be followed and yet manipulated, and how power can be concentrated in an elite, none of which has been limited to sixteenth-century Transylvania. Mia Zara’s Countess Elizabeth goes from oestrogen-driven girl to manipulative woman; when she is on stage things revolve around her.” “There is a layer of ironic humour that lies beneath much of McQuade’s production and Fried’s writing.” British Theatre Guide

“Fringe company Second Skin Theatre continue their run of theatrical hits with this chilling look at Elizabeth Bathory, a Hungarian Countess accused of murdering over 600 women.  The superb script by Don Fried deftly combines elements of horror, sex and political intrigue combined with a knowing tongue-in-cheek humour that never threatens to descend into parody.  On a technical level, it’s flawless with brilliant use of set and lighting effects maintaining an atmosphere of impending doom. It’s cast with a powerful ensemble who nail their various characters, most notably George Collie as Sigray who gives his initially bumbling character an unexpected sympathetic edge.  Centre of the whole play is the entrancing Mia Zara as Bathory, who delivers a complex and seductive performance.  She charts the character’s progress from naive young girl to crazed Countess with a flawless precision.  Her final moments on stage are a beautifully poetic touch. For theatre that chills, entices and tickles the brain cells “Blood Privilege” comes highly recommended.” Write Out Loud

“Chilling and atmospheric.” “Excellent use of the tiny black box theatre.” “Lighting … brilliantly done.” “Ross Mullan [as the king] mesmerizes.” “Mia Zara is also spellbinding as the murderous countess.” “George Collie [as the judge, Lorand Sigray] gave a great comedic performance.” “Second Skin Theatre is one of the few companies in London doing such intriguing work and the risks they are taking on stage are duly noted.”  Hackney Hive

A couple of weeks ago I crossed an important barrier.  Some time during my working career – I think it was about 1980 — I realized that I was getting a sick feeling in my stomach every time the phone would ring or my boss would call me into his office.  It was almost always bad news.  I’d done something wrong, or somebody else had done something wrong, or something bad had happened without anyone in particular being at fault.  But it usually meant that I’d have to work through the night and, more often than not, it signified that whatever I was involved with was in the process of going down the tubes.

Hope may spring eternal in the human breast, but by the time I retired, it no longer did in mine.  Which was just as well, because when I started writing, the trend continued.  Nobody was interested in my work, and most letters, emails and phone calls were to inform me that another one of my plays had been rejected.

Not that this was all bad.  Viewing the world through mud-colored glasses is a good thing for a playwright.  Being a curmudgeon makes for drama, and drama makes for – well – drama.

But then one morning about two weeks ago, the phone rang and I realized as I went to pick it up that I was saying to myself, “Maybe it’s someone who wants to produce Senior Moments.  And it was!  Good things had started happening often enough that, without realizing it, I’d crossed over from the Vale of Pessimism to the Hills of Positivity.  That was a good thing, right?

Not quite.  Crusty Old Fart-hood dies hard.  My first reaction was to bemoan the loss of one of the driving forces of my artistic inspiration.  If I’m not constantly pissed off at the world and everything in it, how am I going to come up with ideas for plays in which pissed off people overcome their problems.

Well, I needn’t have worried.  I’m in London at the moment for the opening of rehearsals for a production of Shakespeare Incorporated.  As soon as the plane from Denver took off, the woman in front of me put her seat back in my lap and stayed there for the next 9 hours.  Sweet!  At Heathrow, we landed at the brand new Terminal 5.  Rather than being an improvement on the abysmal Terminals 1 – 4, it’s even worse.  Delightful!  I got onto the Tube to go downtown; we went 5 stations and the train stopped.  After a few minutes, the driver came on and announced that a train following us was delayed, so in order not to have too much of a gap between trains, they were going to have all trains on the line sit in their stations until the faulty train was running again.  Wonderful!

And so it has gone for the past 3 days.  The weather is typical London grotty.   The air bed I was sleeping on in my director’s flat has popped half its seams, so the bed lies at a 30 degree angle,  and so did I all night.  The 5 year old son of the couple I stayed with last night decided that the world would be better if he head-butted me repeatedly in the groin.  Could life possibly get any better?

So I needn’t have worried about losing my inspiration for a world in which things are constantly annoying and going wrong.  I’m so relieved!

I heard yesterday that my “Postville” play was selected as one of the winners in the 2009 Playwrights Showcase of the Western Region playwrighting competition.  The competition was open to writers from the 23 states west of the Mississippi River.  During the Showcase (some time from August 5th – 8th), “Postville” will have a staged reading at the Curious Theatre in Denver.

The award is certainly comforting after the flagellation I got from the activists and superannuated playwriting professors at the reading at StageWest in Des Moines.  From the audience reaction I knew the play was better than that, but it’s still nice to get some recognition like this.

The other good news is that “Shakespeare Incorporated” is going to be produced in London, either this Autumn or early next Spring.

Last summer, when “(Not) At Home” was being produced at the Boulder International Fringe Festival, the Fringe folks contacted me to ask if I’d be willing to house some out-of-town artists.  I looked at the list and noticed that some of them were from the U.K.  Maybe I’ll make a contact that will help in marketing my work in the U.K, I thought.  So I agreed to house a Brit.

Sure enough, I made contact with Andy McQuade, a wonderful actor and the Artistic Director of the Second Skin Theatre Company in London.  I gave him a copy of “Shakespeare Incorporated,” and he loved it.  About 6 weeks ago he contacted me, and we’ve signed a deal for him to produce “SI” in London.  He’s looking for a suitable theater venue now.  I’ll post more when things are finalized.

Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?

In case you didn’t recognize it, this is my happy face.smileyface