All Things Considered, It Was Probably the Most Productive Meeting The Escondido Unified School District PTA Ever Had
The last three remaining members of The Escondido Unified School District PTA meet over Zoom.
Attendance is taken.
Motions are proposed.
A.J. Ditty is an actor/playwright/slash-mark enthusiast currently living in Brooklyn. His plays include B.B.’s Inferno (The PIT, dir. Tom Costello and Felicia Lobo), Eloise Parker Goes to the Moon (Crashbox Theater’s Read. Play. Write. series, dir. Kristin McCarthy Parker), Heart of Duckness (Pipeline Theater Company’s Bonfire series, dir. Kevin Hourigan), and “Rubiella: A Ghost Story” (Pipeline’s Matchstick series, dir. Felicia Lobo). He is a proud alumnus of Pipeline Theater Company’s PlayLab and is currently a member of Decent Company, which is a collective dedicated to the advancement of the theatrical writer/performer.
A BIT ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
I started writing plays in high school, which is a great time to start writing plays because so few people will see them. We were lucky enough to have a student-produced festival and all the seniors I looked up to were writing plays, so, I just assumed playwriting was something all actors were supposed to do as a right of passage. I started writing in earnest in college when my professors lamented that there just weren’t any plays written for young people (of course, there WERE plays written for young people but my particular program thought all playwriting ceased in 1973) and I realized that I could maybe write something for my friends to do in scene study that wasn’t Days of Wine and Roses for the 800th time. I’ve been writing for them ever since.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
“All Things Considered, It Was Probably the Most Productive Meeting The Escondido Unified School District PTA Ever Had” originally started as a play written for Virtual Rule of 7×7, because, like a lot of writers, I crave structure. I had been searching for a concept that would make a good “Zoom play” because doing a script on Zoom that had originally been written for the stage felt like trying to wrestle a rhino into a milk carton: extremely complicated, logistically unsound, and anyone looking for milk walked away extremely disappointed. Like a lot of people at that time, I found myself doom-scrolling through Twitter and there was this bizarre couple of weeks around mid-June of 2020 where news outlets started running stories about the horrors of having kids in quarantine and parents, for reasons beyond me, started going on national television and talking about how much they hated being around their kids. I found this phenomenon FASCINATING and wanted to put these parents into a Zoom room together to try to hash out the incredible stress that quarantine put on them and, ultimately, find some hope through their connections (Zoom or otherwise) to other people.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
History, big feelings, and ducks.
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
I think my writing is what would happen if Chris Miller and Phil Lord got together with Tony Kushner and wrote earnest epics about deeply flawed people trying their best to do good (and mostly failing horrifically).
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I can do a perfect Michael Cerveris impression.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
I really want to use this time to talk about my friends’ plays, mostly because I think they’re great, but also because I don’t think Shakespeare or Chekhov necessarily need a hype man. Every one of Charly Evon Simpson’s plays are beautiful poems about love and loss; Freddy Edelhart writes plays that break down all my preconceived notions of what plays can be; Matt Barbot’s work always blindsides me with an emotional reckoning I somehow never see coming; Matt Cox is the best joke writer in the business, bar none; Maya MacDonald writes plays that brutally and honestly dissect toxic masculinity and identity; Matt Minnicino makes me look at plays I thought I knew with stark and startling clarity; and Jesse Jae Hoon achieves the seemingly impossible task of making the apocalyptic feel personal and vice versa. I think everyone I just mentioned is on NPX, so, go give their plays a gander and, for the love of God, produce them!
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
The Bøyg, my adaptation of both Ibsen’s Peer Gynt and From Day to Day by Odd Nansen, will be going up in New Hampshire later this year with the company Theatre KAPOW. As for non-theater things, I’ve spent the past year and a half making an episodic horror story “Lost Horizons” on my Instagram (@thefuzzymaskedman) which uses assets from Animal Crossing: New Horizons to tell the story of scientists trying to play God, the calamity that follows, and the weird staying power of Eric Carmen’s “Hungry Eyes”. I also recently started creating video essays for the internet as part of The Worst of All Possible Worlds (youtube.com/c/TheWorstOfAllPossibleWorlds) where my two real-life friends and I tackle subjects as diverse as the PR marketing machine behind the Covington Catholic controversy to the prophetic horror of the Japanese horror film Pulse (2001) to the glorious mess of Quest 64. I am also very excited to work on the project of becoming social again because, quite frankly, a year and a half inside has made me feel very much like a rhino in a milk carton.