Interview with Local Playwright: Eric Anderson

TAG is proud to be hosting the world premiere of Coyotes local playwright Eric Anderson, directed by Swaine Kaui.

Al Lanier
Al Lanier

As our blogger, Rebecca Lea McCarthy, is rehearsing for Coyotes, TAG family member Al Lanier has been kind enough to step in and interview Playwright Eric Anderson:

Al Lanier:
I thought we should begin with a basic precis,  a summary of your new play Coyotes. What is the play essentially about?

Eric Anderson:  
In Coyotes, a middle aged woman deliberately leaves her husband and home , meets many people and has many adventures, and eventually finds the home she will never leave.  But it is also an interior journey:  she finds what she has been looking for.  Although I am fond of this play and its characters, I am reluctant to say what it’s about.  For one thing, it takes away from the actors, director and designers—and the audience.  It limits their choices.
Al Lanier:
How does Coyotes differ from your previous work for the stage?
Eric Anderson:  
Each of my plays is different from the others—I don’t like to repeat myself—but most of them seem to revolve around the theme of being an outsider:  self-imposed or imposed from without, an artist or activist or dreamer.  The only way, right now, I can think of Coyotes being different is that I wrote it originally for a particular actor/friend to reflect her particular skills.
Al Lanier:
What important themes resonate in this play that might impact an audience?
Eric Anderson:  
These are several themes:  freedom—to be oneself, whatever the cost;  the search for a home for oneself as well as one’s heart; society making room for oddballs and loners; the options for women.
Al Lanier:
I’m curious as to what it is like to be a playwright in Hawaii. How would you characterize working in local theatre from a playwright’s perspective?
Eric Anderson:  
There are strict limitations but within those limitations great freedoms.  And collegiality.  For one thing, there simply isn’t enough theater here:  few opportunities for playwrights to get their work produced and seen, let alone actors and directors.  There are so many kinds of people here and it would be wonderful if more of their diverse voices could be heard on the stage.   On the other hand, we’re out here in the middle of the ocean:  we can do any damn thing we want!  So much less competitiveness and bad feeling.
Al Lanier:
What is your view of local theater overall?
Eric Anderson:
Overall the quality and the standards are very high.  If you extend the theatre scene to include music and dance, the bar is set even higher.  I continue to be amazed by the standards observed and adhered to here in Hawaii in the arts community.
Al Lanier:
Coyotes features a central character who is a middle aged woman. One thing I often hear at times as an actor is the lack of roles for actresses in the middle years and perhaps older years. Why was it important that your major character be a mature woman? And do you have any opinion as to why there are less roles for women as they get older in theater?
Eric Anderson:  
The answer to the first question is, for the very reason you mention:  there aren’t very many opportunities and there ought to be more.  Second, as I mentioned above, this play was written for my friend Wendy Lehr in Minneapolis, showcasing her enormous range as a performer.  (And now I get the pleasure of watching Rebecca McCarthy display her considerable talents in the play at TAG.)  And lastly, there are fewer opportunities for women in theatre because there are fewer opportunities for women in everything.
Al Lanier:
What would you say the role of the male characters serves in the play such as perhaps the husband?
Eric Anderson:  
It would be very easy to think that the play’s protagonist, Eva, represents All Women.  And it would be too easy to think the male characters are Types of Men.  There are, as you know, supporting characters who are women. This is not a one-woman show.  And both sets of characters are out to constrain our protagonist, in one way or another.  The men in the play, regardless of age or status, represent in some way the notion that men and women belong together, must be together.  This is another of the social expectations that Eva questions.
Al Lanier:
Would it be fair to say that the lead character goes through changes in the course of the play?  If so, how is she different at the end of the play as opposed to the beginning?
Eric Anderson:  
In a very real way, she does not change at all.  She becomes more and more what she essentially is.  She blooms.  What does change is that after a long search, she finds true love, which she did not have at the beginning.
Al Lanier:
What served as the catalyst for writing this play?
Eric Anderson:  
The theme was first suggested to me many years ago by my husband Roger and suggested to him by a short story he read once.
Al Lanier:
Finally, what do you like and enjoy specifically about this play?
Eric Anderson:  
I very much enjoy writing for women, and I really am very fond of Eva.  I would like her if I met her in real life, even though she is unpredictable and mysterious.  But I am just as drawn to the other characters:  one’s heart goes out to them because they are drawn to Eva as much as I am.  We like her.  But she eludes all of our grasps.

Coyotes is running at TAG March 10 – April 2. 2017. Get your tickets today!


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TAG-The Actors’ Group
The Brad Powell Theatre
The Shops at Dole Cannery
650 Iwilei Road, Suite 101
Honolulu, HI 96817
Information: 808-741-4699/tag@hawaii.rr.com
Reservations: 808-722-6941/tagtickets@hawaii.rr.com

Order tickets online: http://www.taghawaii.net

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TAG is honored to be a member of Hawaii State Theatre Council. The mission of HSTC is to promote live theatre in Hawaii and encourage excellence in its management, performance, and production.

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