Review Fix chats with Playwright Anthony J. Piccione, who discusses his latest production, an Energy Tale.
About the Production:
Playwright Anthony J. Piccione send us to the year 2184. The world is far different than it is now. While juggling rocks, a young child encounters the mysterious Dr. Science who transports them back to the past … our present. There, the two learn what we did to create such a bleak future … from fuel sources to politics.
The play was conceived and developed in Eastern Connecticut State University’s Script-writing and Presentation class while Mr. Piccione was a student there. In 2016, the play was a runner-up in the CT statewide “Wright the World” play-writing contest. This production will be the show’s official world premiere, and will be directed by Holly Payne-strange, who has written and directed shows throughout the US and UK.
About the MITF:
The Midtown International Theatre Festival returns for another summer of quality stage works. New York’s oldest continuing theater festival will present 100 plays in 23 days.
One of the leading reasons to visit New York in the summer is the theater – from Shakespeare in the Park to the best of Broadway. New York is also known for its amazing theater festivals. This year, the venerable Midtown International Theatre Festival takes its place as the oldest continuing summer arts festival in New York. To usher in this honor, producer John Chatterton presents nearly 100 new and fascinating live stage works – plays, musicals, variety acts, short plays, solo projects, and so much more. Visit www.midtownfestival.org for further info.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Anthony J. Piccione: I usually start with a specific subject or basic scenario envisioned in mind. Sometimes, it might be something inspired by an event I witnessed in my own life, but other times it might have been inspired by something I read or saw in another show, or in a film or on the news. It can be completely random and hysterical, while other times it might deal with a very serious or even controversial topic…or maybe a combination of both! Then, from there, I usually write out some sort of outline for how I want the play structure to go. and then there’s time to go back and change dialogue, potentially reorder scenes, and for longer plays, maybe even cut scenes. After all that, my process probably isn’t that much different from that of any other playwright: All that’s left to do is hope that a great director and great actors come along to take what I wrote, and turn it into great theatre.
Review Fix: What makes this different or special?
Piccione: An Energy Tale takes the very real issues of energy production and climate change – issues that are very serious and affect the future of humanity – and I think it does a good job at explaining the subject matter to audiences of all ages, without coming across as too dull. That’s not necessarily the easiest thing to do with a play such as this. Yet I think with this play, there’s a good balance between being enjoyable and accessible to a wide range of theatergoers, while also tackling the real substance of the issues.
Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself through this process?
Piccione: Honestly, I think I learned a lot about how to write a play that deals with serious social or political issues, but also has a story with entertaining characters – such as the two leads, Sally and Dr. Science, as well as the various ensemble characters – that can keep audiences engaged and interested. I’ve cared very much about what goes on in the world for about as long as I’ve been interested in theatre, but it really wasn’t until this play that I figured out how to merge my love of theatre with my deep interest in current events. I think the way I did it this time is definitely something I will keep in mind as I write my next plays, going forward.
Review Fix: How does it feel to be a part of something like this?
Piccione: It’s very exciting. I just moved to New York from Connecticut this past September, and while I’ve produced three 10-minute plays with other festivals since then, this is the biggest production of any of my plays to date. I wrote and developed this play while I was still in college, so to see it go this far and be accepted into one of the most reputable theatre festivals in New York is incredible. I’m also very grateful to have a wonderful director, Holly Payne-strange, along with a very talented ensemble of actors involved in this production, and I hope that audiences will enjoy this play as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this production and for the future?
Piccione: Hopefully, after watching this play, people both young and old will keep in mind these issues concerning the environment and energy production, and perhaps be inspired to go out and do something about it. I really do feel that this is a very important problem that doesn’t seem to be getting as much attention as it needs and that now more than ever, artists – in theatre and elsewhere – need to do everything they can to try and get people talking about issues like this. That’s why I chose to produce this play this summer, as opposed to potentially waiting to produce it later. People of all ages, but kids especially, deserve to know as much as anyone about climate change, if not more so, given how it’ll ultimately impact them far more than it’ll impact myself or anyone my age or older.
Review Fix: What do you think your audiences will enjoy the most?
Piccione: Not only is it educational, but it’s also funny! I don’t want to give away too much, but as Sally and Dr. Science travel through time in this play – from the future to our present and back – there are a lot of other characters in this play that have lots of lines and interactive bits that still even make me laugh a bit. Hopefully, they’ll make our audience laugh, as well. There’s also a lot in there that’s very detailed, in terms of how certain types of energy production work, and why some are worse for the environment than others. But hopefully, that dose of humor that’s in there will keep it just as delightful as it is didactic.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Piccione: I’m planning to present a staged reading this fall of A Therapy Session with Myself, a new full-length drama I’ve written that touches on issues such as social anxiety and depression. I’m especially excited about this one because I started writing the first draft of it two years ago, and it’ll also be the first full-length play I’ve presented in New York. After the reading, I’m hoping to produce the official world premiere at some point next year or the year after, as well as a few other one-acts before then.