Hello Hello loyal readers…It has been busy busy around Blue Damen preparing for shooting that begins NEXT WEEK!! Unbelievable how fast the time flies…Actors have been chosen, sets have been built, schedules have been set and there has even been meetings with the costumers! The magic is all coming together and soon you will be able to see what all this work is for.

BUT for now, as promised, I present to you the interview with fabulous Mattress World writer Laura Lynn MacDonald…

How did you get into writing?

I had my first poem published in Threshold, the literary magazine of DePaul University where I briefly attended. The first time I ever spoke my own words on stage was in the summer of 91’ – at Man Rays in NYC. A friend of mine, Sandra Haller, was invited to read some of her work and she got me on the program. I had “Poet” under my name. It was really thrilling. A wonderful alchemy of writing and performing. For years I wrote poetry. Occasionally, I found outlets to perform my poems in NYC with Talking Jazz, or open mic nights around the city. Screenplays and stage plays came much later.

How did you come to work with Blue Damen?

A friend of mine, Conrad Lawrence, knew Gwydhar Bratton and invited me to Blue Damen’s first brainstorming session for THE INSOMNIAC CHRONICLES. When the protagonist, (a young woman with insomnia who shares her nocturnal wanderings with the world on her blog), was first described to me, I immediately had scene ideas playing in my head. At first my ideas involved having the young woman slip into rabbit-holes around Chicago, like a modern-day Alice in Wonderland. When Gwydhar asked me to explore writing a vignette that’s observed by the young woman, I got the idea of having her drawn to a Mattress shop like someone on a diet is drawn to a patisserie. Gwydhar and I collaborated back and forth on the early drafts. She kept encouraging me to allow the story to get more and more surreal and magical. Now, in MATTRESS WORLD, the mattresses come to life!

You have an extensive background in theatre; do you prefer working in film or theatre?

I will always be a theatre person who writes plays and movies. Maybe someday I’ll write the book for a big musical, or the story that weaves an intriguing biography together for A&E! I’d love that. I started out in the theatre; studying acting at The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, and privately with Janis Powell. Theatre has been part of my life since I was fifteen. I didn’t act in a film until I was in my mid-twenties. I find the world of filmmaking very approachable on the indie-level, but ridiculously illusive beyond that. I look forward to when that changes – when I forge more relationships in the industry. I’m really inspired by some of the smart, mind-blowing TV and cable series we’ve seen over the last 5-10 years. Shows like The West Wing, Six Feet Under, Weeds, and The Wire. It’s encouraging to know that many of the writing teams for those shows included playwrights. In the end, it’s spinning an enduring yarn. That’s what I’m after.

You were just asked by the American Theater Company to write a ten-minute-play for their first 10×10 festival. What can you tell us about that?

The American Theater Company’s inaugural 10×10 Festival, is a new festival of tenminute plays created by Chicago writers to address the core question of ATC’s mission statement: “What does it mean to be an American?” The other playwrights in this years festival are: Tanya Saracho, Nambi E. Kelley, Laura Eason, Kristiana Colon, Andrew Hinderaker, Laura Jacqmin, Doug Post, Josh Rollins, and Justin Palmer. I’m really honored to be included among them. The play I’m writing for the festival is called, THE BLOOD LINES OF ISAAC DIGGS. It’s about a black man named Isaac Diggs who needs something from his distant relative… a white man named Isaac Diggs. The Festival runs on Sunday, July 19th at ATC. atcweb.org.

Any other projects in the works?

In August, Gorilla Repertory Theatre is producing my adaptation of Ibsen’s PEER GYNT in Central Park, directed by Christopher Carter Sanderson. Peer will be played by Roger Grunwald. A phenomenal cast of nine other actors will be taking on the other forty roles in the play, incorporating mask work and puppets. Then in September, Elena Skye will be performing in my two-person musical review titled HIGH ON THE MOUNTAIN, about the life and music of bluegrass pioneer Ola Belle Reed. HIGH ON THE MOUNTAIN, will debut at Banjo Jim’s in the East Village, NYC.

Do you plan on continuing writing indefinitely or do you see yourself pursuing something else?

I imagine I’ll always be drawn to expressing myself with words. I’d like to find a little pot of gold so that I can explore some larger altruistic projects someday. I designed a large sculpture that involved clay art and a short film of American Indian children reciting a poem that would play on a circular screen in the center of this massive, engraved clay frame. The idea was a response to the staggering statistics of how few American Indian languages are going to be spoken by this young generation and what it can mean to a culture to lose their language. Regarding acting, I don’t miss it until I get up on stage or before a camera and get to play make believe again. Then I remember how bizarre and rewarding acting is. I don’t need to act, though. I need to write. In May, I directed sixty children in an African folk tale that I adapted. There was live scenery, beautiful animal masks, drumming and chanting. Every good idea that was proposed to me I said yes to. So, we had a cultural display table and sold beads and free-trade coffee and chocolate for Heifer International. Anybody that wanted to participate, I said, “Join the party!” It was psychically exhausting, but incredibly rewarding. Don’t know if I’ll do it again. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some fabulous directors who seamlessly, fearlessly and creatively make every aspect of a production sing together in eight-part-harmony. I don’t know if that’s in me, but a stock-yard of words and ideas are.

In case you would like to learn more Laura Lynn MacDonald’s website is http://www.lauralynnmacdonald.com 

As for Blue Damen a read through and some fittings are in the future for this week’s work so stay tuned to hear all about it…

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