During Civic Theatre of Greater Lafayette's Staged Reading Series, at least one play written by a local playwright will receive its world premiere. This season's play is "The Subtle, Sublime Transformation of Benny V." by Steve Martin.
Q: What is "The Subtle, Sublime Transformation of Benny V." about?
Steve Martin: It's about being open to possibilities, and the repercussions that result. It's about taming the voice in the back of the head that tears you down. It's about art and food and the stars and language and opportunities.
Q: What inspired you to write the script?
S.M.: My wish to have the power to levitate. An issue of "Astronomy Today." The Color Field style of painting. A bowl of mrouzia. The Hubble Space Telescope. Being unable to speak a non-English language. My desire to travel to Alaska. Writing other plays.
Q: What do you hope is revealed - for you and/or the audience - through the staged reading of "Benny V."?
S.M.: I hope to learn if I've created a cohesive, coherent story and cast of characters that other people will find interesting and be able to empathize with. It's meant a lot to attend a few rehearsals led by director Julie Doan and see how she and the cast relate to the story, to know the script connects with others.
Q: What happens after the staged reading? Where does it go from here?
S.M.: There will be revisions and a few sessions with a dramaturg, then more revisions, after which I'll submit the play to theaters that might be interested in producing it.
Q: Why do you write for theatre as opposed to some other medium?
S.M.: There is nothing more powerful than watching a person in front of me struggling or experiencing joy or realizing a new personal truth. It's very humane.
Q: What are your thoughts on the state of American theatre?
S.M.: It seems vibrant, when I read articles in print and online. There's a lot of work being done to tell new stories and examine old ones. There needs to be more conversations about theatre, though, so people can have an even stronger view of what's happening.
Q: What’s so great about a new play? Are they important?
S.M.: You're getting someone's perspective on a subject they find interesting and worthy of exploration, which means you're getting an insight into that person as well. New creative work - regardless of the medium - also helps address new situations and experiences or those that perhaps have been overlooked for a long time.
Q: How does Civic Theatre's staged reading of "The Subtle, Sublime Transformation of Benny V." help your development as a playwright? How does it help the development of American theatre?
S.M.: The script will not be in a vacuum, I'll be able to hear and see how audiences, actors and others respond, which will influence how I write other plays. Perhaps attending world premiere staged readings at Civic Theatre and the annual 10-Minute Play Festival will encourage others to write and to tell the stories that are meaningful to them.
The staged reading of "The Subtle, Sublime Transformation of Benny V." will be Tuesday, May 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Monon Depot Theatre, 320 N. 5th Street in downtown Lafayette – the corner of 5th Street and North Street in downtown Lafayette. It is a Pay What You Can event.
There will be a question-and-answer session immediately following between the audience, the cast, the director and the playwright.