Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Interview with a Playwright: Jon Bernson

We caught up with Resident Playwright Jon Bernson to ask some questions about his latest play, Third Eye Moonwalk.  
It's the third play in our Rough Readings Series, which is always PAY WHAT YOU CAN!
Eventbrite - Playwrights Foundation ROUGH READINGS Series
What sparked the idea for Third Eye Moonwalk? 
This piece brings together some threads that I've been knocking around for awhile, but the catalyst was an invitation to write and record a guided meditation for Crash Symbols (a label that I released an album with in 2013). We discussed whether they wanted a traditional situation -  to help people quit smoking or lose weight - or if it could be more of a creative prompt. Thankfully, the latter.

Tell us a little more about your play. What is the "Order of the Moonwalk?"
Along the lines of horoscopes and weather reports, I understand that we want to know what we are getting into before we get into it, but as with several of my plays, figuring out exactly what is going on is a significant part of this journey. I've already said more than I should. My safety has been compromised.

In addition to be playwright, you're also a musician and an interdisciplinary artist. How does having experience in multiple fields influence the work that you do?

My mind is a three-party system. Language, music and video all vie for influence. One party might gain dominance for a period of time, but never for long. Unlike most political situations, they do their best to cut deals with one another. Even work together at times.          

Since most of your work tends to be interactive and site-specific, how do you approach playwriting? Does it differ at all from a more traditional two/three-act structure?
What I love most are compelling stories. I've written some plays with traditional structures, but what I'm drawn to as a storyteller is the multi-party approach I alluded to above. Even before I had the skills to work in an interdisciplinary manner, I felt that I was wired to create and communicate that way. I think that the physical space is a major voice in any performance. In theater, the director and the set designer are usually the main artists to address this, but when given the opportunity, I love incorporating a space directly into the story.

What are you looking for or hoping to develop further with this reading?
Hearing the play in real time and space. By design, Third Eye Moonwalk is open to interpretation. I'm looking forward to seeing what Director Jon Tracy and this talented cast decide to explore and emphasize. The reading will allow us to focus on the story, intention, language and the potential for physicality.   

What are the future plans for Third Eye Moonwalk? You mentioned that there is a commissioned audio recording of the piece. Would it be possible to get a snippet of it to share?
I have thoughts about future rewrites and sound / video to integrate, but I am keeping an open mind and waiting to see how the readings go. A recorded version will definitely be released on Crash Symbols later this year. I won't begin recording until I have a final draft. The performance and installation components are also very much in development, which is great. I love the process and look forward to seeing how it all unfolds.

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