The Improv Class
A rigid, type-A Player must use his lessons from improv class to find a way connect with his challenging, elderly Scene Partner.
John Connon is a writer/producer/director based in Orlando, FL. His short plays are a staple for the annual Play de Luna at Art’s Sake Studio in Winter Park, FL and his trio of plays, Massage a Trois, earned a Patron’s Pick in the Orlando International Fringe Festival. As an actor, he can be seen in It: Chapter Two and in numerous commercials and comedy sketch shorts. He performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2016 with the fully improvised, interactive show Joe’s NYC Bar. He is an ensemble improv player at SAK Comedy Lab and a seasonal member of the Show Direction team at Universal Studios Florida. He has two short films, which he scripted and produced, currently in post-production, and he is working to complete his debut novel. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies from the University of Michigan.
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 have always wanted to write. Since I was a child I have been coming up with stories. I mostly write in a screenplay format though. In 2012, I started writing stage plays for Art’s Sake Studio in Winter Park for the annual Play de Luna student showcase. The showcase gives the students the opportunity to shine for agents, casting directors, and other industry professionals with a line-up of outrageous edgy comedy pieces.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
I saw a news magazine piece about adult children dealing with their parents with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The piece was focused the frustration felt by the care-givers and best practices to combat that. The experts were pointing out how upsetting it was for the patients to be criticized or corrected when they, in a sense, were waking up to a new reality at any given moment. The piece suggested that the sooner the care-giver could get on board with those changing realities, the better for all involved. One particular care-giver talked about the weight that was lifted when she finally just bought into the reality her mother was presenting and “played along.” As this scenario started hitting closer to home for me, I thought of the skill set one would need to accomplish this. The most basic of improv lessons…always saying “yes”…struck me as the critical shift in thinking for the care-giver. From there, it was about finding improv games that could best illuminate that situation.
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Surreal; Satirical; Fun; Empathetic; Optimistic
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
Carrie Fisher; Ricky Gervais; Caryl Churchill; Lanford Wilson; Steve Yockey; Heather Raffo; Mark Brown
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I spent my teenage years on our naval station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
Cloud Nine; Fifth of July; Pluto; 9 Parts of Desire; The Trial of Ebeneezer Scrooge
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
Two short films I am producing are in post-production and will be making the festival rounds once they are finished. One is based on The Improv Class, directed by Rus Blackwell (Cinemax’s Banshee) and the other is a horror short called Puttering.