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<  Announcements  ~  Shotgun Players present QUILLS

shotgunplayers
Posted: Mon May 31, 2004 11:15 am Reply with quote
New Member Joined: 31 May 2004 Posts: 1 Location: 1901 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley
SHOTGUN PLAYERS PRESENT
THE BAY AREA PREMIERE OF
PULITZER PRIZE WINNING PLAYWRIGHT
DOUG WRIGHT?S

QUILLS

BERKELEY? Nothing can stop the Marquis de Sade, locked away in the Charenton lunatic asylum because of his licentious habits and scandalous literary works. He continues to write against all odds. Deprived of his pen, paper and ink, De Sade resorts to more desperate stratagems with dreadful and peculiar results. Doug Wright wields his own lacerating pen to cackle fiendishly at the self-righteous gatekeepers of morality. By turns witty, ironic, shocking and lyrical, QUILLS is feverishly Grand Guignol, a highly theatrical exploration of love and art and the responsibility of self-expression. Quills previews June 5 & 6, Opens June 7 and runs Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 7pm until July 3rd, at the Julia Morgan Theatre, 2640 College Avenue in Berkeley. For Reservations go to www.shotgunplayers.org, or call 510-841-6500. All shows are FREE ADMISSION with a pass the hat donation after the show.
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Russell Blackwood
Posted: Thu Aug 12, 2004 11:34 am Reply with quote
Moderator Joined: 18 Sep 2003 Posts: 125
I did this Q&A interview with QUILLS playwright, Doug Wright, which appeared in the June '04 issue of Theatre Bay Area magazine as a side bar to my column, which dealt with special effects for Shotgun Players' production of QUILLS (which I'll eventually get around to posting on the GG.com Special Effects forum).

I recently directed the West Coast premiere of Doug's one-act chiller Wildwood Park for Thrillpeddlers. It's quite a play!

Russ


Aside from your exhaustive research about the life and times of the Marquis de Sade and what he wrote, what other research was essential to your writing QUILLS?

I loved reading the Grand Guignol texts included in Mel Gordon's book on those wicked little plays; I found their blood-soaked, anarchic spirit--as well as their hoary stagecraft--very germane. I also read Laclos and some obscure pornography attributed to Oscar Wilde, of all people. And--of course--to ensure that I had a balanced view of all things perverse, I wound my way through Sacher-Masoch's VENUS IN FURS! Some of my chosen research had obvious reference to the play, and other selections merely fed my fevered imagination.

When you're working on a play, what tips you off that research not writing is your best next step?

Whenever I found myself departing from historical fact in QUILLS, I would rush back to my books. I never did so in order to correct my literary license (and QUILLS takes many liberties with stringent fact), but so that I could more rigorously justify my flights of fancy. I always told myself, "If you're going to spin fiction into fact, you'd better be doubly aware of the history you've chosen to embellish, distort and altogether discard." I use Sade as an icon in the play; it's not intended as biography. Nevertheless, an author always has a responsibility to learn the truth, even when he's inventing his own!

Are there warning signs that you've done enough research and that you had better start writing?

Usually, the voices in your head take over, and you're powerless to stop them. They start chattering at such an impassioned, reckless rate, you've nothing left to do but transcribe. And that doesn't leave much time for reading.

What is the scariest element of this play to you? Does it still scare you?

The two scariest dramatic moments, I think, have nothing to do with the play's gory effects. I'm always horrified when --after the Abbe has accorded the Marquis his own humanity and says "Your terrible secret, revealed: you're a man after all"--the Marquis answers by spitting in his face. In that moment, Sade truly renounces all things decent, and becomes a purely malevolent force. And I'm not less unnerved when the Abbe makes the decision to raise the axe; his voluntary choice to wield it is, I think, far more upsetting than its impending crunch.

Your stage directions for QUILLS move the play forward with the same style and urgency found in the character's lines, always concise. Each act ends with events that are crucial to the play and the stage directions description of them are so vivid and exact, do you intend these moments to be played "note for note"?

If not precisely, then certainly in the spirit which I prescribe. Writing plays is a little like writing recipes. When you write a recipe for lemon bundt cake, cooks all over the globe are going to make it. You won't be present, so your instructions had better be good! Otherwise, it may not be the bundt cake you intended ...you might wind up with chocolate souffl?.

The film version of QUILLS ends differently than the play. What aspects of the play are most important setting up and sustaining that last scene?

When we shot the movie of QUILLS, the outlandish stagecraft--particularly the graphic dismemberment which occurs onstage--curdled on film when it became literal. So much of the theatrical life of QUILLS comes from its cheesy, gleeful, even unsophisticated stagecraft...and that simply didn't play on celluloid. So we had to calibrate the story accordingly, to render a more powerful and persuasive film. I don't think we tempered the severity of the play's message on film---or even its graphic nature--but we did have to make new choices to suit the medium.

In the play, it's loopy style and grand guignol effects create a production vocabulary that strongly contributes to the show's last, over-the-top sequence. That said, the last moments of the play should still come as an impudent shock.

Quills received the 1995 Kesselring Prize for Best New American Play from the National Arts Club and a 1995 Village Voice Obie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Playwriting. Wright?s play I Am My Own Wife, currently on Broadway, won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
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worber
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New Member Joined: 13 Sep 2017 Posts: 7
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