Saturday, April 1, 2017
Saturday Special - An Interview with Alan Hruska, Author of Ring Twice for Miranda
Where did you get the idea for the show?
AH: My life before theater brought me in contact with some unusually narcissistic people. One might expect this trait in “heads of state” and “captains of industry,” but it’s not that uncommon of those in charge of any group, such as a branch or department of an institution, public or private. Such individuals need power, which is doubtless what drives them to get it – and be ruthless in keeping and imposing it. In the playground, they were probably laughed at and shunned. Kids hate other kids who are “bossy.” But having achieved power, they’ve become “the Man” – and their once-preposterous pretentions are normalized. I thought a play should be written about such people and their effects.
Have you written any other shows and if so, are they all the same genre as Ring Twice for Miranda?
AH: I hope this one is a comedy – the laughs we get generally arrive at the right places.
Writers normally think their own work is inimitable, so resist any genre labels, but this play is being
called “absurdist” or “existentialist”, and I suppose those labels fit. What I care about is that the
characters do seem to matter to our audiences. Other plays I’ve written are NEW HOUSE UNDER
CONSTRUCTION (produced at 59E59, New York), THE MAN ON HER MIND (Charring Cross Theatre, London), and LAUGH IT UP, STARE IT DOWN (Cherry Lane Theatre, New York). And all would be classified in the same genre as RTFM.
Are you working on other shows now?
AH: Yes – I’m working on a play called A VISITOR FROM CHICAGO, which has been read at the Actors Studio (PDU) and hopefully will be produced soon. Also, there’s a group in London putting together the financing for a film version of RING TWICE FOR MIRANDA, so I’m working on the screenplay. If that goes ahead, I would co-direct with Bruce Guthrie, with whom I co-directed THE MAN ON HER MAN (Netflix), the film version of the play I wrote, and he directed in London.
What inspired you to start writing plays?
AH: Since I began at age 9, it’s a little hard to remember. But I’d say, more recently, after I wrote my first several screen plays, it did occur to me that I might be better suited to the longer scenes appropriate to the stage.
How did you transition from being a lawyer to being a playwright?
AH: Surprisingly easily. I was a trial lawyer, and, while I would expect my actors to remember their lines better than my witnesses did, there is less disparity between the two professions than might be
thought. A trial and a play are both productions. Putting each together involves telling a story. So does writing a brief or making an oral argument to a panel of judges. If you don’t tell a story, you will very likely put them to sleep.
What other playwrights inspire you and what plays do you wish you had written?
AH: Of course everyone learns from great playwrights, from the Greeks to the moderns. My
favorites among the latter are Shaw, Wilde, Beckett, Pinter, and Stoppard. But for inspiration, I’d cite
Samuel Beckett. I was privileged to direct Waiting for Godot off-Broadway in 2005. I like to think that, while Vladimir and Estragon are waiting for Godot, Miranda and Elliot (of RTFM) are working for him.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get into writing plays?
AH: Just do it, but do it seriously. Set aside one or two hours every day for doing it, and never – I do mean never – allow anything to interrupt that time. If you have natural talent, course instruction will likely get in your way. And whether or not you have talent, it will likely waste your time.
We thank Alan for taking the time to answer our questions. Ring Twice for Miranda will be playing through April 16, 2017. For more information and/or order tickets go to
http://ringtwiceformiranda.com/. For our view go to Theater Thursday: Ring Twice for Miranda
Tune in tomorrow for this week's Sunday Scoop.
Photo credit: All Ring Twice for Miranda production photos by Russ Rowland