An Interview with Chad Beckim

Indie Theater Now asked Chad Beckim a few questions about this upcoming event.

Who were the key figures who made this production happen—could be other artists, people who inspired the story, producers/producing company, etc.

Blake McCarty reached out to me a while ago and asked if I was interested in writing a short play that needed to meet some pretty specific parameters. This is actually something I really enjoy doing, as the demands immediately shape the world. I haven't met anyone else from the production team, but I will say that they have their stuff together. Pretty impressive - I've been self producing (and just plain producing!) for over thirteen years now and am really enjoying the ride thus far.

Why is this a play, as opposed to a film or a web series or a novel (or anything else)? And what is it about live theater that attracts you most, that keeps you revved and jazzed to work in this form?

I think that my idea is a little too compressed to be anything other than a scene in a film or tv series or novel. It toes the line of SNL sketch a bit, without being too caricaturist or farcical, but is the perfect bite sized piece of fun entertainment. It's light and sweet and silly and nutty all in one. As for live know it's trite, but the simple truth is that with live theater, you're there. You can't escape it (unless you're an a-hole who walks out in the middle of the show, in which case you shouldn't be there anyway). When theater really, really works, it's gut punching and magnetic and keeps you riveted in a way that TV or a flick or a book cannot - you can always hit pause or put a book down. With theater, you're there for the duration and you're seeing something with a group of random people and because it's live and because every single performance is different, you're seeing something that will never be seen in exactly the same way, ever, ever again. It's magical. Just magical.

Who taught you how to be a playwright? This could be specific teachers, or role models whose work you’ve seen or read, or of course any combination.

Robert O'Hara (thanks, by the way, dear Robert, for allowing me to borrow parts of your work in this upcoming short play!) In 2001 I was an actor who was writing privately, for myself. Robert read some of my short stories and a playlet or two and said, "You should write." When I told him I didn't know how, he had me write a monologue. Then frame that monologue with other characters. Then bookend that scene with another scene. And another scene. And another. And when that was finished, he organized a private reading for me at his apartment, which was wonderful but excruciating. He taught me to revise and edit, to not be afraid to surprise myself, to kill my babies, so to speak, and not get attached. Even now when I write and I'm stuck I reach out to him and he helps me work it out. Always and forever. I'm wholly indebted to him. Also: Molly Pearson, my partner at Partial Comfort. John Gould Rubin, who directed my first two plays and showed me the producing ropes. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Harris, and my third grade teacher, Ms. Beaulieu. And everyone in bw.

What have you learned about this play as it has evolved from first draft to the present version? And what has surprised you in this current production-what did you discover in the work that you didn’t realize was there?

Ha! This is a "second draft," which means that I wrote an entirely different short for this production that didn't work, scrapped it at the advice of the producers, and wrote another version. And while I haven't seen it yet, I'm always surprised - for me, writing is kind of like blacking out. You do it in this weird fog haze, and you might remember tiny spurts of where and when you came up with something, but i've found that I largely do it and then think, "How the hell did that happen?" I reread this a few times after I wrote it and found myself laughing out loud - that doesn't always bode well in front of an audience, but it makes me happy.

Without giving away any important surprises—what moment or moments do you most look forward to when you see this play being performed?

I look forward to being surprised. To forgetting what I wrote and seeing it there in front of me. This has been a fairly hands off process for me, so I'm looking forward to immersing myself in it and having a laugh. I'm also psyched about the site specific aspect of this - seeing a play in a bar with other plays going on at the same time is going to be a real treat. Pretty dope stuff.

posted June 5, 2014