Cold Blooded: Interview with Playwright Joel Greenhouse

Cold Blooded
“Cold Blooded” is a new comedic play that chronicles the adventures of Z-movie actress Renee Flame.

“Cold Blooded” is a new comedic play that chronicles the adventures of Z-movie actress Renee Flame. While on the run from a murder rap, Renee lands in the grips of an ancient religious cult who turn into alligators when they are sexually aroused. This anything-goes, 18-years-and-older, comedy features live music and was crafted as a zany homage to exploitation films of the 1950s and 1960’s. It is scheduled to run from November 10 – 27 at Theater for the New City (155 First Avenue) in NYC.

Playwright Joel Greenhouse recently discussed this play via an exclusive interview.

Meagan Meehan (MM): When did you first discover your talent for writing and what drove you towards playwriting in particular?

Cold BloodedJoel Greenhouse (JG): I started writing when I was in “The First Amendment Comedy Troupe,” I was a cast replacement and was given material that was specifically written for someone else, so began collaborating with another member of the group, Susan Borneman, and that was when I discovered that I could do this, Susan and I began writing our own material and eventually left the group and were pretty successful as a comedy team back in the late seventies and early eighties.  I soon discovered I preferred writing over performing and collaborated with Penny Rockwell (mother of actor Sam Rockwell) and wrote a musical version of “Bride of Frankenstein,” called “Have I Got A Girl For You,” which was first produced off-off and then Off-Broadway at the old Second Avenue Theatre which has sadly turned into a movie house.

MM: How did you break into the theater industry?

JG: I moved to New York to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and started auditioning like everyone else, I slowly began getting acting jobs in mostly summer stock, dinner theatre, children’s theatre and off-off Broadway, eventually got my Equity Card when one of the theatre companies I was working in decided to go Equity, however I didn’t find my niche until I began to focus on comedy and especially improvisation, working with a number of improve groups in the city, most notably at the time,  “Joan Crawford’s Children,” which performed  midnight shows at an East Village Theatre, the name of which escapes me.

MM: What is it about 1950s and 1960s B-movies that so appeals to you?

JG: Rough characters, wooden acting, cheap sets, ludicrous plots, aging stars stumbling through the worst indignities and plenty of stock footage, that’s my idea of entertainment.… and all on practically no budget not unlike off-off Broadway.

MM: How did those films help formulate the plot of “Cold Blooded”?

JG: The protagonist is a z movie actress, who’s life through a series of events is not unlike the lowest kinds of exploitation films she appeared in.

MM: What’s your favorite part of this show and why?

JG: What I love most about this show are the characters, all equally no matter how deranged they may seem.

MM: This piece features humans turning into alligators—why that specific creature?

Cold Blooded PosterJG: I based this play on a photograph from a B-movie, which had an alligator wearing pants and shoes terrorizing a blonde starlet.

MM: Would you say that experimental theater is your forte?

JG: I’d say camp and comedy is my forte, call it what you want.

MM: How did you come to work with Theater for the New City and have this play produced there?

JG: Through Joe Battista who’s directing the play and is affiliated with Theatre for the New City.

MM: What do you hope your audience remembers most about this show?

JG: How their faces hurt from laughing.

MM: What has been the best thing about working in the theater industry so far?

JG: The wonderfully talented and unique people, you get to meet and work with.

Joel GreenhouseMM: What projects are coming up for you soon and is there anything else that you would like to discuss?

JG: Are you kidding, I’m about a thousand years old, I just want to get through this without drugs!


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