28 Jul F30 Countdown – Eric Marlin
With nine days left until the OOB Festival begins, let’s get to know finalist Eric Marlin and his play Breakfast Scene.
Eric Marlin is a NYC-based playwright. His work has been presented by Exquisite Corpse Company, Dixon Place, Play Date at Pete’s, Wildclaw Theatre, Manhattan Repertory Theatre, Metro Arts Initiative, PTP/NYC, the Public Theatre (Bennington College Alumni 24 Hr. Plays), Rhapsody Collective, Buffalo United Artists, Between Us Productions and Left Coast Theatre. His play Bad Things Happen Here was a finalist for the 2017 O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. He is a co-founder of the Healthy Oyster Collective, and wrote their debut production, If the Saints Arrive in Germany. His piece Pastoral Play is currently in development with the Healthy Oysters. He was an inaugural member of the Exquisite Corpse Company’s Writer Lab and a 2013-2014 Core Member of Rhapsody Collective. He is currently pursuing an MFA at the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. B.A.: Bennington College.
When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
I’ve always written, because I was a standoffish homosexual child and writing was a natural outlet. I became a playwright because of Sherry Kramer at Bennington College. She taught me how to break down plays in a way where the prospect of writing them myself became feasible. Her approach is highly formal, yet has no preconceptions about what constitutes a “good play.” There’s no playwriting rules with Sherry, but there is a lot of rigor; you learn to let the play teach you how it wants to work. Sherry was the first person who told me I was a playwright. So, I’m here because of her.
How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
Breakfast Scene was originally written as a contribution to a project called The Enchanted Realm of Rene Magritte. The Enchanted Realm was a site-specific performance developed by Exquisite Corpse Company. It examined the life of the painter Rene Magritte, and his wife Georgette, and was performed in a house of Governors Island. Six playwrights, including myself, contributed to the show. Breakfast Scene is the standalone version of that material I contributed. I was interested in exploring Georgette – what was the emotional labor she had to put in to a relationship with an artist like Rene? And I was curious about how to translate Magritte’s aesthetic into theatrical language. His surrealism has a very controlled, almost clinical quality to it. I wanted to figure out what that looked like on stage.
What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Funny (???), queer, structural, inexplicable, Jewish.
What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
Caryl Churchill, Howard Barker, Tony Kushner, Elevator Repair Service, Sarah Kane, Maria Irene Fornes, Will Eno, Brecht, Taylor Mac, Harunalee Theater Company, Griselda Gambaro, Roland Barthes, Mac Wellman, David Greenspan, Claudia Rankine, Ray Bradbury, Sondheim, Howard Zinn, Target Margin Theater, Richard Maxwell, Anne Carson, Suzan Lori-Parks, Lorca, Sherry Kramer, Beckett, The Debate Society, Naomi Wallace, Italo Calvino, Nicola Gunn, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Jean Genet, Young Jean Lee, Jackie Sibbles Drury, Sybil Kempson, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, Anne Washburn, Charles Mee, Pinter, Luas Hnath.
What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I have a shoddily-earned black belt in taekwondo.
What are some of your favorite plays?
Far Away, Tragedy: a tragedy, Cleansed, The House of Bernarda Alba, Angels in America, Information for Foreigners, Vinegar Tom, Scenes from an Execution, Fondly Colette Richland, David’s Redhaired Death, A Beautiful Day in November…, The Christians, The Maids, Big Love, The Homecoming, Galileo, The Scarlet Letter Plays, One Flea Spare, The Shipment, I’ll Never Love Again, Three Sisters (begrudgingly), Murder of Crows, Jacob’s Jenkins’ An Octoroon, The Castle (by Howard Barker), We Are Proud to Present a Presentation…
Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
Working on a new play about the cultural consequences of globalization called AirSpace (it’s funny! I promise). Continuing to develop a pastiche comedy based on the pastoral tradition with my company The Healthy Oyster Collective. And I’m in grad school, so if you’re in the Midwest this fall, you can come see my play Bad Things Happen Here at the University of Iowa.
His play Breakfast Scene will be performed on August 8th at 8:30pm. Rene and Georgette Magritte are making breakfast. Outside their kitchen is a cowboy, slowly approaching. Over a few dozen cups of coffee, husband and wife try to avoid discussing their recent infidelities.