Review Fix chats with playwright Alexander Carney, who lets us know what makes his newest production a life-affirming one for him.
About the Production:
HENSLOWE! Tells the story of Phillip Henslowe, the Elizabethan entrepreneur who built the Rose Playhouse – where Shakespeare’s early plays were first performed.
Henslowe struggled to find meaning and recognition in life. Alexander Carney’s fascinating depiction of REAL life in the days of the great masters like Shakespeare, Jonson, Marlowe, and Kyd. Be prepared to rethink the renaissance. This remarkable in-depth portrait of a deeply driven man had an astonishing 14-year gestation filled with readings, workshops, and endless hours of research. One might say that Carney is as driven as Henslowe!
Mr. Carney also used Henslowe! as a major jumping off point of his theatre company, Raised Spirits Theater, which creates theater “by, for and with ALL sorts of people” with a focus on the classics. Thus far, RST staged Shakespeare’s Macbeth; a radio drama version of Coriolanus; and a workshop where A Midsummer Night’s Dream was explored. Now RST is producing its first original piece, HENSLOWE!
Donations to RST help open the door to the classics – new and rare – in ways not-yet-seen. Donations an be made at the following link: https://fundraising.fracturedatlas.org/raised-spirits-theater?fbclid=IwAR2ygZAHeScVZTHTgnfgYVav9cDg-QX-WK2bN1oa2koIqcTA1jeWC5vjBhg
Checks can be made payable to Raised Spirits Theater c/o Alexander D Carney and sent to 35-13 31st Avenue #2-2, New York, NY 11106 (Checks should be made payable to Fractured Atlas, with Raised Spirits Theater in the memo line.)
“Theater by, for and with ALL sorts of people” INFO ABOUT RAISED SPIRITS THEATER, the producing entity: http://raisedspiritstheater.wixsite.com/raisedspiritstheater
Review Fix: What was the inspiration for this project?
Alexander Carney: This piece is the product of fourteen years of work. During my studies of Elizabethan and Renaissance Literature in Performance at Mary Baldwin College’s MFA/M.Litt. program during which I studied Henslowe’s Diary (our only record of how the “show business” was conducted in Elizabethan times), I had the privilege of doing an internship at Shakespeare & Company where I served as the Bankside Coordinator for their outdoor programming, which encompassed the “Rose Footprint” an outdoor performance space named after the playhouse Phillip Henslowe owned. At some point in that incredibly hectic summer the work I was doing for S&Co and my studies collided in my head to create the first draft of this piece. I did a reading there and continued to work away on the piece as time went by.
Review Fix: What is your creative process?
Carney: Developing this piece opened up a new level of creativity for me. I’d never been written anything before I embarked on HENSLOWE! My process for this piece involved writing an hour a day no matter what, come rain or shine. There were periods where I didn’t do that, but that was because I consciously decided to back away to give the project time to “cook”. Since I knew I would be acting the piece, I was always speaking it out loud. I think that helped me to find both the character’s rhythms and the piece’s flow.
Review Fix: What did you learn/are learning about yourself through this process?
Carney: That I am capable of tremendous follow-through. Fourteen years to get from A-Z is not for the faint hearted. Frankly, I’m very proud of myself. Creativity comes from discipline. I’ve demonstrated that to myself quite thoroughly.
Review Fix: What are your ultimate goals for this piece for the future?
Carney: An off-Broadway production on Theatre Row.
Tour the piece both nationally and internationally to colleges and festivals.
To present the piece at the Rose Playhouse archaeological theater site in London.
Review Fix: What’s next ?
Carney: Two days off. Then working on the website and publicity materials in anticipation of booking the tour. I am also writing a four hander that intrigues me; I’ve suspended work on that while HENSLOWE! Is in its birth process. I’m looking forward to getting back to it. Plus auditioning as much as I can.