29 Jul OOB Final 30 Countdown – Mark Staufenberg
It’s day twenty three of our Final 30 countdown, so let’s welcome Mark Staufenberg!
Mark Staufenberg is a graduate of the Tulane University Department of Theater and Dance, and the recipient of the Janice T. Perky Award for Excellence in Dramatic Writing for his play Death and Tacos: A Love Story. Post-Graduate work includes the NYU Summer Intensive Course for Playwriting and Screenwriting, and his work as script supervisor and staff writer for the web-series The Professionals. In addition to his writing, Mark has also been known for his production work on such FringeNYC shows as Some Editing and Some Theme Music and The Zebra Shirt of Lonely Children, as well as the Off-Off Broadway premiere of Matthew Freeman’s Why We Left Brooklyn.
1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
I’ve been writing pretty continuously since elementary school, where a composed a series of short stories about being attacked by squirrels on my way home from school. I began writing plays in college, first for a general fiction class, and then when I took playwriting classes as part of my theater degree. It was the first time I’d found an outlet for my love of writing that really clicked with my sensibilities. In other words, I finally found a way to write all that sweet, sweet dialogue without having to describe people’s faces.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
My OOB play was actually written specifically for the festival. I’d been kicking around the idea of writing a play about a married couple delighting in the violent death of their neighbor for a while now, but it wasn’t until I settled on writing a short farce that the story crystallized into Max and Beth. As for the inspiration, it would have to be my relationship with my hilariously aggressive fiancee, and our unabashed hatred for every neighbor we’ve had since we moved in together. Pretty common NYC stuff, really.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Structure-focused, unhinged farce robot.
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
I’d love to say Tom Stoppard because his writing inspired me to pursue mine, but we have entirely different sensibilities at the end of the day. As far as artists whose work I feel a direct impact: Michael Frayn’s mastery of structure in Noises Off, David Ives commitment to comedy in All In The Timing, Drew Goddard’s playfulness with genre in Cloverfield and The Cabin In The Woods, Shane Black’s commitment to his insane over-the-top characters in Lethal Weapon, and odd british tv comedies like Snuff Box, Blackadder, Black Books and, of course the intelligently moronic comedy of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I run ultramarathons for fun. No, really. I have the belt buckle to prove it.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh, All In The Timing by David Ives, Arcadia, Hapgood, and The Real Inspector Hound by Tom Stoppard, The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow by Rolin Jones, Godzilla by Yasuhiko Ohashi, Metamorphosis by Mary Zimmerman, The Lion In Winter by James Goldman, Loot and What The Butler Saw by Joe Orton and, I dunno, Hamlet?
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
Well, I’m currently producing an adaptation of my play All The President’s Monsters for the Kaleidocast Podcast Network, that should be up in June or so. It has the completely rational premise of Godzilla running for President, which no longer seems absurd, unfortunately. I also have a full-length play floating around mixing Lethal Weapon and the works of H.P. Lovecraft, tentatively titled Cthelthal Weapon: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. We’ll see who’s crazy enough to put that up.
His play The Mysterious Life, And Even More Mysterious Death, Of That Guy Who Lived Below Max And Beth will be performed on August 9th at 8:30pm. Set when their hated neighbor dies under mysterious circumstances, Max and Beth will stop at nothing to snoop around for juicy gossip. NOTHING.