“The Antelope Party” is a new play about five friends who meet each week to discuss their undying love for the classic toy line turned series, “My Little Pony.” Yet the friends soon discover that their seemingly innocent Brony role playing game has a dark edge under the surface.
Playwright Eric John Meyer’s creations have been either developed and/or presented Playwrights Horizons, Theater Wit, The Lark, Clubbed Thumb, Vineyard Theatre, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Flea, Dutch Kills Theater Company, and The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, among others. “The Antelope Party” was nominated for the 2018 Weissberger Award and is available from Broadway Play Publishing; a Russian translation of the play is also in the works. Eric is also the co-founder of the Human Head Performance Group, known for performing original works inside Budget rental trucks.
Eric recently discussed this play and more via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your love for the arts and why do you gravitate towards the theater?
Eric John Meyer (EJM): I was obsessive about creative projects from early childhood, and I was always pretty theatrical. But I was also lucky to have parents who brought me to plays on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes they were plays I was definitely too young to understand – I still remember seeing my first Pinter play when I was in sixth grade, having no idea why people were behaving in these strange ways, but also being fascinated by it all.
MM: What was it about “My Little Pony” and the Brony culture that most inspired this play?
EJM: The whole Brony phenomenon is a lot of fun, and inherently theatrical. But I also love that it is a fandom for a show that is explicitly about how to navigate friendships–which is a central theme in “The Antelope Party” also, though approached from a different angle.
MM: What were the challenges of getting this piece staged and how did you find a venue?
EJM: I’m fortunate to know the company Dutch Kills very well. They are a great downtown company and I have worked with them on a few of my plays. After Artistic Director Alley Scott saw the world premiere in Chicago, we started talking about the possibility of a New York production.
MM: What’s your favorite segment of the show and why?
EJM: Oohh–I have one but I can’t tell you or it would spoil the surprise!
MM: What do you hope audiences take away from the performance?
EJM: I generally hope people leave feeling excited to discuss what they just saw. Having watched this one in front of a number of audiences in different forms–including the production in Chicago as well as public readings in New York, Moscow, and Saint Petersburg–it has been so gratifying to see how it resonates differently with different people, and yet there are always so many animated conversations about it as people exit.
MM: Why and how did you decide to stage this play in Russian and what were the challenges of translating it?
EJY: “The Antelope Party” was chosen to be part of a program jointly organized by The Lark Play Development Center in New York and the Lubimovka Festival in Russia in which new American plays are translated into Russian and new Russian plays are translated into English. I got to work with a great group of theater artists in Moscow who wrote the Russian version based on our work – which was as much about bridging cultural differences as it was about understanding the story itself. It was a truly fascinating experience.
MM: You are the co-founder of the Human Head Performance Group, so how does that company work and what sorts of plays does it put on?
EJY: HHPG is a company I run jointly with my favorite collaborator (and wife) Jean Ann Douglass. It is devoted to works we co-create and is perhaps best known for The Truck Project, a series of shows we perform inside Budget rental trucks (with very intimate audiences). We also co-wrote and directed a full-length play called “Due to Events” and are currently at work on our next one.
MM: What projects are coming up for you soon and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
EJM: I have a project residency at The Lark to work on a new piece I’m developing, but it’s a bit too new to say more about it than that.