Review Fix chats with The Encounter playwright Nolan Patrick Frontera who discusses his inspiration for the project and how it feels to be a part of the New York City Winter Festival Theatre Festivity.
Review Fix: What inspired this play?
Frontera: There are two things that primarily inspired this play. The first was The Twilight Zone and the second was Ernest Hemingway’s short story Hills Like White Elephants. In a lot of the twilight zone episodes, the climax is usually at the end, and that gave me the idea to structure the show in a way that has people guessing again and again of what is going on. Hemingway, on the other hand, inspired most of my dialogue for the show. I always found his style and his short and crisp sentences to be very effective. Though simplistic on the outside, he offers such an array of subtext. — And that what this show is primarily about… Subtext. The way Hemingway wrote his short story and utilized his “Ice Berg Theory”, really gave me the inspiration for the show. The subject matter of Hemingway’s short story also inspired this play– as it’s about that “white elephant” you usually expect in 9 months.
Review Fix: What’s it about?
Frontera: The Encounter is about love and Forgiveness. It’s about a mother and child encountering each other for the first time. From the beginning of the show, the audience is left with nothing but two nameless characters chained to a cold metal table. However, as the story progresses, the two characters become human beings. In the play, I have their names listed as Boy and Lady until they reveal their names to each other. I did that to have the audience in their shoes as if they’re meeting these characters for the first time too. I use charactonym heavily. Later we find out the Boy’s name is Anthos– which in ancient Greek means “Flower”. While the women’s name is “Madaline” which is a name stemming from Saint Mary Magdalene. What does a flower symbolize and who is Mary Magdalene? That’s for an audience to think about.
A lot of people ask me if this is a play about abortion. I always answer No. It’s neither pro-life nor pro-choice. It is pro-existence.
Review Fix: What inspires you?
Frontera: I always try to read as many things as I possibly can read. I read novels, newspaper articles, comic books, blogs, tweets– you name it I read. I think in order to be a good writer, you need to become a good reader. You can learn not just the good stuff, but the stuff to avoid. So I guess what inspires me a lot is other people’s ideas. You can formulate characters, plots, narratives just by reading a or a newspaper while sitting in the toilet.
Talk to people. I ask deep questions to try to get fruitful information. Be kind to people, and have conversations. You never know what kind of amazing things people can say. Someone out there may have a story that is worth telling.
I also only write about what I know. I don’t force myself to think of things I’m unfamiliar with; it’s usually counterproductive.
Being young and only 21 years old, It can be tough to find inspiration. Inspiration doesn’t always come, be patient. Us youngins have a lot of time.
Review Fix: Who will enjoy it the most?
Frontera: People who like to think will enjoy it the most. I would not say this is a play for everyone. It’s a play that is going to require a lot of thinking. People will leave with more answers than questions. So, anyone who wishes to contemplate the philosophical dilemmas of the world, this is a show for you.
Review Fix: What are your goals for it?
Frontera: My goal is to simply have it on the stage. I’m grateful that the New York City Winter Festival gave us this opportunity. I do, however, want to have people thinking. In my opinion, no one really THINKS about anything. We all just walk aimlessly in this world without purpose and desires. Hopefully, this show will do just that– provoke thought.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Frontera: Once I’m done with my Undergrad, I want to work on a full-length 2 or 3 act play. Also, I have plans in filmmaking and screenwriting. right now I’m working on a play about a family and the effects of substance abuse. We’ll see what the future holds. After all, I’m only in my 20’s.
Review Fix: Anything else?
Frontera: I just want to thank my parents for their help and inspiration. My mom for her unconditional love and support. My father for his honest criticism and great knowledge of cinema and literature.
Also, shoutout to Wes Goodrich, the director of the show. He’s one hell of a director and I do not know what I would do without him.
*Poster art by Maria Koffman