EVERETT ROBERT: BEING AN ACTOR HELPS MY COMMAND OF DIALOG
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Everett Robert is an award winning author, playwright, actor, and director with over 20 years of experience. His last book Based on The… was published in February 2014. Our next guest is using his theatre education in his writings. Let’s hear from Mr. Robert more about his works.
– What is your book Based on the… about?
– BASED ON THE… is a collection of four (4) short dramatic retellings of famous stories either based on previously published material now available in the public domain. The first play in the collection is called THE REUNION and is based on Thomas Hardy’s classic poem “A Ruined Maid” and tells the story of two old friends running into each other on the street of a major city and they catch up. I put a modern twist on my adaptation, set it in modern times and made it about a Christian woman and her best friend from high school, who came out as a lesbian. Hardy’s poem is about how others view you isn’t always the way you view yourself and that was one of the ideas I was playing with. The second play, THE MYSTERIOUS CASE OF LOT 249 is based on one of the first “mummy” horror stories in literature, “Lot No. 249” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It is about a police detective interrogating his primary suspect in a recent string of murders. The play BLINK is based on the true story and many of the newspaper accounts of the infamous Newsboys Strike of 1899 in which a group of New York city newsboys, the “extra, extra read all about it” hawkers, went on strike against the two major newspaper publishers at that time and won. Those kids, there were boys and girls, were organized by a young man somewhere around the age of 13-15 nicknamed Kid Blink (because he had one eye). BLINK is a short monodrama style play that tells Blink’s story of leading the strike. The final play, MIRIAM AND ISA, is based on the famous Nativity story from the Bible but looking at it from a more historical context.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– I’m an actor and director in addition to being a writer so I love to read plays. I also like to work with young actors who are competitive drama and are always looking for new pieces to perform. I thought it would be fun to have a collection of short plays that these actors could do in competition. The fact that there were all “based on” a previous famous or not famous, story also made it an interesting challenge for me. I started writing these scripts in September of 2013 after sitting in a class at Fort Hays State University on English literature and studying A Ruined Maid. I thought it would be beautifully dramatic to adapt Hardy’s poem (something I don’t think has really been done with that poem). The Mysterious Case of Lot 249 was inspired when I was watching a movie and saw an adaptation of it done with Steve Buscemi and Christian Slater. I got to thinking about the police detective who would investigate this crime and a Law and Order type interrogation scene. BLINK was inspired while listening to the soundtrack to the musical NEWSIES. I knew that the original 90s movie and the recent Broadway Musical were based on a true story but I wanted to know the truth and found the truth much more interesting then the stage and film versions. MIRIAM AND ISA came when a friend contacted me asking if I would write her a monologue for her church’s Christmas pageant that would explore the historical Mary.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– The research into Miriam and Isa was probably the biggest challenge of the process.
– Tell us something more about your main characters? Are they close to someone from your real life?
– Each play has a different main character and since they are adaptations of toerhs works I tried to stay as close as possible to the original stories while giving them interesting or modern twists. However I wrote each script with certain actors in mind or that I would like to see perform.
– How much time did you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– I started the first play (The Reunion) in September of 2012 and finished the last (Miriam and Isa) in December of that year. From that point on it was about editing, revisiting, going back, and polishing. I submitted to the publishers in 2013, went into more edits and was published in February of 2014.
– Give us some insight about your other works Allie In Wonderland and The Absolutely True Story of Tom Sawyer As Told By Becky Thatcher?
– Allie In Wonderland is a revisiting of Alice In Wonderland. A sort of pseduo, modern day retelling/sequel. It tells the story of Alice, now a teenager calling herself Allie and who is obsessed with social media, computers, etc and has forgotton how to dream and use her imagination. As a result, Wonderland is dying and it’s up to the familiar characters to return Alice/Allie to Wonderland and to teach her how to dream again. The Absolutely True Story of Tom Sawyer As Told By Becky Thatcher is about perspective and is a fun send-up of the familiar Twain story, only this time told from the girls point of view. Tom and Huck don’t come out looking as smart or as clever as they do in the original.
– Who are you?
– I’m an actor, writer, director and at times producer of theater. I’m also a non-traditional student working at getting my degree in English Education and then in theatre education. I’m a lover of the arts, of books, of movies, and the theatre. I’m also a wedding DJ on the weekends.
– What are your writing habits?
– Honestly, I’m not as dedicated as I should be. Some of my favorite authors talk about how they wake up in the morning and treat writing like a job from 9-5 or whatever. I wish I was that dedicated. What I do try and do, when I latch unto an idea, is to write it out in long hand first. I didn’t do this for the longest time but found it feel helps me focus. Then I move from that, what I call “zero draft” to the first draft which is typed. Then I send that out to a friend and fellow writer, who will send me back his critiques. Then I go back and write some more. I do work my best when I’m facing a deadline. So either self-imposed deadlines or actual ones work best for me.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book?
– Theatre scripts aren’t known for climbing up the best seller charts LOL It’s a very niche market to be honest so that is a tough question for me. I’m happy with every sale but wish I had more.
– What are you doing to promote your book by the best possible way?
– Blog tours like this one! I’m active on social media, blogging, sharing, tweeting and interacting. I’m also actively submitting to theatre contests and performance opportunities to get my name out there. I recently did a classic “radio style” play as part of a podcast called “Sherri’s Playhouse” and am gearing up for the next season of that series (coming in April) where I will premire another show.
– When we will see your next novel?
– Soon I hope! I have an original 3-man comedy script called The Way Out West Gang Rides Again out to publishers right now that I’m waiting to hear from.
– You are a drama actor and director. How it helps in your book writing?
– I think being an actor helps my command of dialog and dramatic structure.
– If you may ask yourself one question in the interview what it will be? (Don’t forget to answer)
– What’s Next for Everett Robert? What’s next? Well the coming show in April on Sherri’s Playhouse, I’m also looking at entering a production into the Kansas City Fringe Festival, an upcoming Christmas show in December of 2015, and time spent on new plays, short stories, and hopefully a Middle Grade adventure book.
Take a look at his book
Based on The…