“Mac Wellman: Perfect Catastrophes, A Festival of Plays” is a show being produced at The Flea Theater that were all written by the theater’s famous founder, playwright Mac Wellman. Mac has gained popularity for his works that do not follow the theater’s traditional standards for plot and characterizations. This evening will also mark the World Premiere of his full-length play titled “The Invention of Tragedy” and the premiere of his new one-act (which was originally printed on a T-shirt) titled “The Fez.”
As a part of the festival, The Flea will hold a symposium examining Mac Wellman’s profound impact on the American theater. The plays run from August 24 to November 1. The symposium will occur between October 4 and 6.
Recently, Director Meghan Finn discussed this forthcoming show and her long association with Mac Wellman.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your love for the theater and how did that lead you to The Flea?
Meghan Finn (MF): I think it was some synthesis of being raised Catholic (the ritual, the costumes) and watching a Barbara Streisand in “Funny Girl” about 150 times when I was 11 years old. Also, my house growing up had a bay window with a curtain that closed that I turned into a stage when I was little. I had the great pleasure of meeting Niegel after directing Mac Wellman’s “The Offending Gesture” in 2016. And here we are.
MM: When did you start working with Mac and what’s most rewarding about your collaboration with him?
MF: I attended the directing program at Brooklyn College and kind of marched over to his class one day to try to get the writers to let the theater students direct readings of their plays. I think I was irreverent enough. Eventually (years later) he asked me to direct “3, 2’s; or AFAR” and we had a great time. He makes plays that create a kind of optimum space for performers because there is no singular interpretation beat by beat. And for directors he gives you lots of space to play within the text.
MM: What were the challenges of directing one of his plays?
MF: There is always something insanely challenging. Like the show is about a concept that doesn’t exist in western thought or none of the lines are assigned or a string of single words that lasts multiple pages. But that’s also what make the plays the absolute most fun ever to do and watch.
MM: What are your favorite scenes and lines in this play and why?
MF: There is immensely silly scene in the beginning between the Answerer and the Enforcer where the latter is threatening to cut of the former’s tail with an axe. Lots of plain old silliness. I think the delicate poetry though in the Hare’s monologue is my favorite.
“I’ve always liked to follow people about. You can never know the future without following it about for a long time, observing his habits, her foot prints. How many toes here, for instance, and the shape of the tracks there, whether made by sharp talon or soft plush pad and yes yes the question of distance between each step, which of course indicates the slowness or rapidity of the amble gait or run. For the distance between each is also a mark. Each step considered as a mark in the fabric of time, not to mention the mud and dust through which we struggle on our travels. Whether these be short jaunts to the 7/11 or endless migrations across the vague red dusty wasteland of an immense desert the color of brick. Migration punctuated by sharp panics and the thrill of animal joy and rage. The thrill of the hunt and of being haunted, hunted I meant to say, so silly of me.”
MM: What are you most excited about regarding the forthcoming show?
MF: I started working on it in Omaha at the Great Plains theater conference two years ago and I think we started getting it then but I think I understand so much more now so I am excited to have the whole thing on stage full throttle. Oh and there is a cat dream ballet.
MM: What are your ultimate career goals and what additional projects are on the horizon for you?
MF: I am the Artistic Director of The Tank on 36th Street and right now I am really working to make that theater the best it can be. It is fun to get to work at The Flea they have such a killer team there. I am learning from them.
MM: Is there anything else that you would like to mention or discuss?
MF: It’s a comedy about the period of time between 9-11 and the Iraq war. Did I mention there’s a cat ballet?