Review Fix chats with Dennis Bush, who discusses his production at this year’s Fresh Fruit Festival in New York City, detailing the creative process and letting us know what to expect.
About …Where You Eat:
Thursday 7/19 8:30 pm, Friday 7/20 7:30 pm, Saturday 7/21 4 pm (118′) World Premiere
Does our sexuality define us? Does it enhance us? Is our sexual expression limited by society, the people in our lives, or by us? Eight men and women (straight, gay, and up for anything) combine and uncouple in this edgy comedy about sex, love, and identity. By the writer of the audience-acclaimed, multiple Fruitie Award-winning play (MARY)TODD. *note: nudity, adult situations*
Review Fix: What was the inspiration for this project?
Bush: A conversation with a friend about his emotional disconnect, especially during sexual interactions. It began with some specific actors in mind. My favorite way to write is to create pieces on specific actors or ensembles of actors. In my career, I’ve had the great good fortune to work with some extraordinary actors who inspire me. I also have a wonderful group of people who are my work-in-progress readers. Their responses to my work, as its being created, makes the process more productive and rich.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like?
Bush: Most often, in the beginning, I hear dialogue in my head. It could be a single line, a few lines or an extended conversation – sometimes with multiple characters “talking in my head.” I write in two primary forms. …Where You Eat is mixture of traditionally-structured scenes and monologues that shifts from location to location and character to character in ways that have a cinematic fluidity. My award-winning play (Mary)Todd is a solo-actor play, as is my play Mouthy Bitch.
I also write in the ensemble-style mode most notably mastered in the early work of A.R. Gurney, Jean-Claude van Itallie and Lanford Wilson at Cafe Cino in the 1960s. Those works form a kind of tapestry or puzzle that gradually comes together as a complete picture. In those plays, the narrative is often non-linear. Examples of my plays in that mode are Asylum (with more than 500 productions in the United States and around the world), …and others, Below the Belt and Drift (all of which have had hundreds of productions in the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and elsewhere).
Review Fix: What makes this different or special?
Bush: …Where You Eat is an eight-character (4f/4m) play that takes audiences on a pants-dropping, bed-hopping adventure through a world of dildos, deodorant, hummus, Whole Foods, trimmed armpits and cupped balls (as our synopsis describes). It begins as Rusty, a gay man in his early 20’s gets an up-close look at Meredith’s vagina and declares, “It’s not what I was expecting.”
A reviewer once said that my work, “lives at the intersection of hilariously funny and heartbreakingly tragic.” …Where You Eat is definitely an example of that.
Review Fix: What did you learn about yourself through this process?
Bush: I saw parts of myself in characters where I wasn’t expecting it. I discovered things about my work-in-progress readers, as they resonated with characters that others found to be heartless or sexually opportunistic. That, in turn, made me examine where I drew ethical and moral lines.
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this production and for the future?
Bush: I want audiences to be open to take this journey with the characters, to be open to see themselves where they may not expect to or want to, to be open to reflect on how they define themselves sexually and emotionally.
I always try to stay in the moment about productions, rather than to project it into some kind of idealized experience in the future. I’ve had very good luck with having my work produced and published, so the likelihood of life beyond Fresh Fruit Festival definitely exists. In the meantime, I am absolutely thrilled with the cast of …Where You Eat that Fresh Fruit Festival audiences will get to experience, and the director (Meggy Lykins) is wonderful. Having Rebecca Lampiasi and Golden Nugget Theatrical on board as producer has been a pleasure.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Bush: Aside from …Where You Eat, I’m currently working on two new plays and two screenplays, along with my work as a script/dialogue consultant. Later this summer, I have a new play and a new monologue collection being published and available for performance licensing. This pair of releases mark my 39th and 40th published theatrical texts, which I’m very excited about, proud of, and grateful for the support of my publishers and other reps.