Welcome back to the Fresh Produce’d Blog! We’re excited to continue our monthly interview series “Behind the Pineapple” with our second interview with August playwright John Greiner-Ferris.
We are so excited to have John back for a second time here at Fresh Produce’d NYC with a new piece called The Master Switch of the Universe.
If you came to our April show you saw his show Plank performed and if you are anything like us, we were hungry for more work by this talented artist.
We were lucky to get to sit down with the Boston playwright and learn more about the man behind the words!
FPNYC: So John, tell us what was the moment that got you into writing?
JGF: Well I’ve been writing since I was a kid. I was 8 years old and that’s what I wanted and had to do. I was one of those kids who always got their paper read in front of the class and if I didn’t I would be angry and make sure the next one was read aloud. It was always just one of those things I could do. It’s always been something that makes me feel good about myself. I have always identified myself as a writer. It’s who I am.
FPNYC: Tell us then, what the writing process is generally like for you…
JGF: I don’t really have a process. It’s always different. Every piece is different from the next. But I suppose I generally write in the afternoon. The ideas start in the shower and then by 2:30pm, give or take, I just have to dig it out. A brain dump, which is odd to say but I work up ideas in my head during the day and then I sit down and just let it out.
FPNYC: Oh man…brain dump…that’s awesome! Alright let’s talk about The Master Switch of the Universe which is going up this week at Fresh Produce’d. How did the idea come to life?
JGF: Well I was at my daughter’s apartment and in her bathroom there was this pipe just sticking out of the floor and I thought “What the heck is that? What does it lead to?” A lot of my work is written about the class system. I grew up working class. If you had told my younger self that I was going to be working in the theatre, I would have thought you were crazy. Every time I am standing in the wings or in rehearsal, I just feel so privileged that I am working in the theatre but I truly never thought that my life would lead to here. So with this show, I saw this pipe and I thought what would two people from two different classes do with the Master Switch of the Universe?
FPNYC: Well, we shall find out on Thursday, won’t we?…So you live in Boston, do you have a group of theatre artists that you work with regularly out there?
JGF: We’re called The Accomplices which is a branch of playwrights in a group called Interim Writers. We meet twice a month and the first Sunday of every month we read a new show that one of us wrote. There are about nine or ten of us. We’re all friends and we got to know each other very well. It’s a very nuturing, supportive, very open group. We’re not afraid to write about anything. Nothing is off limits. We’ve gotten to know each other’s voices pretty well too. We can go “Oh this is a John play or a Jim play or a Cassie play.” I really believe that you need support when you are an artist. So along with that group I have my wife. Every play I’ve ever written I couldn’t have done without her. I tease her. I call her my Carlotta. Carlotta was Eugene O’Neil’s third wife, who supported him and allowed him to truly devote himself to his writing. Anybody in the arts needs a Carlotta. When you’re despondent and you’re struggling, you need someone to tell you to keep going and in my case, to keep writing. When I’m worried about how I’m gonna pay the rent she tells me to “just keep writing, just keep working on your own stuff. Don’t worry about money.” She’s my Carlotta. Without my wife and the accomplices I wouldn’t be able to be an artist. You just gotta have those people who are your support system. It’s tremendously important.
FPNYC: Oh man, John…that’s beautiful.
JGF: I keep saying, I am a very lucky human. Because like I said, when I was in high school I thought I was going to be changing oil for the rest of my life and then I went to school and learned about theatre and I saw William Inge’s The Dark at the Top of the Stairs and I was like “Oh my god these people are just like me.” And I realized that this wonderful world of theatre is accessible to everyone and it’s accessible to me and I feel just so dumb lucky to be a part of it.
FPNYC: Well John, we couldn’t be more thrilled to have you back this month and look forward to your many successes.
To come see “The Master Switch of the Universe” come check out FRESH PRODUCE’d this Thursday at 8pm at 250 W. 40th St. (Downstairs at the Drama Bookshop).
To learn more about John’s group in Boston The Accomplices click here