Review Fix chats with playwright Antony Raymond who discusses his creative process and goals for the World Premiere of APARTMENT 301 August 3rd – 18th at 8:00 pm at Access Theater.
About Antony Raymond:
Antony Raymond (Playwright/Director) has managed to build an assorted, wide-ranging body of New York theater in the last decade. He is a classically trained actor turned playwright and director. His written works produced in New York City include Gin and Milk (CSV Flamboyan), The Autobiography Of A Guy Who Knew Me, Part One (LaMama), Elsinore County (Theatre Row & Cherry Lane Studio Theater), Lustyness: Plays About This Guy Named Lou (UNDER St. Marks), JULIO! (Kraine Theater), Pretty Babies (13th Street Rep), yeah, i met this girl (UNDER St. Marks), and The Title Should Be Spoken Out Loud Around Three-Quarters In (Dream Up Festival). Additional directing credits include the one woman show, Bette Davis Ain’t For Sissies (59E59), and Bluff (Provincetown, MA). As an actor, Raymond has appeared in several Off Broadway shows, including: Fools In Love, The Tempest, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He has studied with Uta Hagen, Austin Pendleton, Reed Birney, and Robert Perillo. Before turning to the theater he was a professional wrestler who wrestled WWE legends, such as The Iron Sheik, Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young, and The Honky Tonk Man.
Review Fix: How was this play created?
Antony Raymond: Four years ago, I lived in Brooklyn for a bit and met these two girls who lived down the street from me. They were roommates and the two of them would constantly go from one extreme to the other. They either loved each other or hated each other. One day, one of the girls confided in me and admitted she suffers from a personality disorder that causes an intense fear of abandonment and loneliness. I figured everybody in the world has a degree of those feelings and thought it would be interesting to explore a love triangle of sorts exploring different positions on that spectrum.
Review Fix: What makes this play special?
Raymond: I think what makes any of my plays special is that they are always intense labors of love. I don’t receive a lot of money to produce any of the plays that I write so I often need to surround myself with the most talented people I can find that are willing to volunteer their time, passion, and energy. On top of that, we have to come up with clever ways of storytelling without the luxury of play development, professional set design, so on and so forth. We work our butts off to create entertainment with very minimal to start with. I’m proud of that.
Review Fix: How have your relationships with Uta Hagen, Austin Pendleton, Reed Birney, and Robert Perillo helped this production?
Raymond: I don’t have a college education in theater but I was very fortunate to study with some incredible people of the theater. Every time I am working on a scene, I feel them, hear them and often hear myself saying the teachings they had once bestowed upon me. Steal from the best, you know.
Review Fix: How was the professional wrestling industry an influence on your playwriting?
Raymond: Professional wrestling taught me audience psychology. We would call it heat. I was trained by Mr. Showmanship Rik Ratchet. There was nobody on the independent circuit at that time who could get more heat than he did. He’d have the crowd in the palm of his hands. When directing a scene, one can manipulate an audience in a similar way. For example, put an actor’s back to an audience during a scene for a few minutes while he or she is speaking about something emotional and it can create a real uncomfortable feeling or a yearning for an audience. Kind of like having the heel put the face in a sleeper hold for a few minutes. The best matches in wrestling history, the ones with the likeness of Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage at WrestleMania 3 are filled with taking the audience on a rollercoaster ride emotionally. To some degree I aim for those highs and lows with the characters’ journey in a play.
Review Fix: What’s your favorite moment in your wrestling career?
Raymond: There are two. One, wrestling The Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young in a tag team match with Rik Ratchet. Moolah put me in a shoot Boston crab. The other is wrestling Blue Meanie in a steel cage. There was this one spot where I had to put him in a figure four leg lock, but I didn’t really know how to do one at the time, but I did it anyway and it was so bad that as I was performing it he looked at me and said, “I can’t believe I have to sell this shit!”
Review Fix: How did you get into theatre?
Raymond: I saw a play as a kid and I said to myself, “that’s what I need to do!” Then wrestling happened for a bit. But, I hate the gym and I’m not into needles, so theater won.
Review Fix: How is pro wrestling similar to theatre?
Raymond: It’s live. It’s in your face. The sweat and the spit. Anything can happen. Anything can go right. Anything can go wrong. Happy accidents galore. The audience can influence the action. There’s nothing like it. You can watch a television program, but that’s been controlled down to such a degree that what you see is all you’re ever going to get. In theater or in wrestling, there is this one song and dance. And this is the only dance we are going to do to this song at this time and this place. And it will never be like this again. We are going to share this one moment at this crossroad and then part ways. There is something romantic about it all.
Review Fix: Bottom line, why must someone see this production?
Raymond: Because if you don’t I’ll vote for Trump again at next election.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Raymond: Honestly, I just want to be held and told that everything is going to okay. But after that, back to the drawing board. Hopefully write something that is simple, truthful, and resonates with the audience. I’d like to keep exploring NYC life. We shall see.