“American Fables” is a collection of one-act plays by Eric Fallen that will be presented at Manhattan’s HERE Arts Center beginning October 13. Developed at Naked Angel’s [email protected] and directed by Clark Morgan, the five unique plays focus on life in America. According to the official press release, the plays are described as below:
- Perfect Weather: When a strange man interrupts Jim’s meditative morning ritual, what begins with small talk about the weather devolves into a bizarre interrogation.
- Basic Plumbing: A small town library is the setting for a stand-off between an uptight librarian and the town crank.
- Friendly Fire: When a grieving mother demands the truth surrounding her son’s death in combat, the shocking details only deepen her pain.
- Paradise: The relationship between an interrogator and his foreign subject take several strange turns as suspicion and cultural differences merge with human desire.
- The Fixer: After the FBI raids the office of a powerful lawyer, fixer Ben Gold arrives with his uniquely American brand of Trump-era damage control.
Recently Eric Fallen granted an exclusive interview where he discussed these plays and his career as a playwright.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get into writing and what drew you to playwriting in particular?
Eric Fallen (EF): I was initially drawn to the acting side of theater. There was a great summer theater program for kids in Hamilton Ontario where I grew up. I loved the improv classes and doing comedic scenes. The big playwriting moment for me was when I took a modern drama course at the University of Toronto when I was in my 20s. We read “Hedda Gabler” and “Krapps Last Tape.” I thought they were both brilliant and that kind of opened a door.
MM: How would you describe your style and what most inspires your plays?
EF: I’m drawn to the short form. Love the clarity and efficiency of a miniature play…a dramatic situation. My plays tend to open with an easy – small talk – tone, then an unexpected turn takes the action into darker territory. My plays are inspired by issues and events that are usually outside my experience. I rarely “write what I know.”
MM: Where did you get the ideas for these plays and do you have a personal favorite?
EF: Some of these plays began as very simplistic formulaic writing exercises that I was working through as a member of a writing workshop at HB Studio in NYC. For example, one exercise required two characters, and Character A wants a book from character B. That’s it. That’s the prompt. So, I ended up writing a play about a clash between a delusional man and a librarian at a small-town library in New England during a blizzard. It was based on a library and characters I knew from time I spent in Massachusetts. Another play – “Paradise” – is based on an NPR interview I heard during a long car ride. Terry Gross was interviewing Canadian/Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari. He told the story of his experience with an interrogator whose humanity would often break through his brutality in the most absurd and perverse ways. I think “Paradise” is my favorite play.
MM: What was it like to write these plays via Naked Angels?
EF: I was introduced to Naked Angels’ Tuesdays at 9 by Joe Danisi after meeting him at a Samuel French play festival in 2009. He ran the show back then. Tuesdays at 9 is this brilliant reading series that allows actors and writers to collaborate every week. The experience helped me develop my craft…and I got to meet some incredible talent.
MM: How did you go about getting this play cast and staged at HERE?
EF: I was recently hired as a freelance copywriter at an ad agency up the street from HERE. I’d been wanting to produce a show, and happened to just walk in during my lunch break one day. I asked about space/time/cost etc. They had just had someone drop out of an October spot, and I grabbed it. I have produced shows like this before. My strategy is: lock down a space, give yourself a deadline, everything comes together…because it has to. The casting was easy because of all the great folks at [email protected] Also, the director, Clark Morgan, is a good friend who is also part of the [email protected] community. That was the easy part.
MM: What do you hope audiences take away from these plays?
EF: I just hope they work. Hope the audience is properly mesmerized and pleased. Not sure about take away.
MM: What other plays have you written and what are they about?
EF: Most of my work is short form. Samuel French published a collection of my short one-acts in 2011 called SMALL TALK. They are similarly random and kind of existential. I guess you could say I do have a preoccupation with might be called the wilderness/civilization duality. The clash of those two worlds/impulses. Chaos vs order etc. For some reason dieting and food makes its way into my plays quite a bit. I like to eat.
MM: Do you have other theatrical or writing projects coming up that you would like to discuss?
EF: I kind of shifted into TV writing recently. Have been working on a spec script for the show “Snowfall.” I also have an original pilot that is quite flawed. TV writing is all formula. Stories need to conform to rigid guidelines.