Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spotlight On...Eric Kingrea

Name: Eric Kingrea

Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Education: College of Charleston

Favorite Credits:
Dime Heroes is my first full-length, post-collegiate production and thus my favorite.

Why theater?: In college, I was a literature guy, but hung around the theater folks because they were fun and interesting and had the comfiest couches.  The more plays I read, the more interested I became in the form and its capabilities.  Having an actor and director interpret your work can either go great or be disastrous, but it's a fascinating artistic exchange--factor in the presence of a live audience and how they further affect the interpretation, and you have something unique to the arts.  That's the pat answer all playwrights give but it's the right one.  Why else would a writer want to put his work in the hands of others, to be reinterpreted night after night, than the thrill of the high-wire act, and the cathartic payoff--instant and collective--when it's done right?

Tell us about Dime Heroes?: Dime Heroes is the story of Kurt, an embittered comic book artist who lives a life of isolation and self-loathing since the death of his daughter.  The play takes place over the course of a day where his estranged, teenage son comes to him, desperately requiring help, and Kurt has to discover for himself whether or not he still has the ability to be a good father.  Also: fights!  Comic book trivia! It's a 90-minute show, so it's a short jab of a play, but it's one to the gut, or the heart.  Take your pick.

What inspired you to write Dime Heroes?: I had to put my encyclopedic knowledge of super-hero secret identities to use somehow. Other than that, I'm interested in people who give up, or who run away from their responsibilities.  It's a hard world, and I've been lucky enough to not have experienced the brunt of its hostilities first-hand, but it's easy to see how some people can break.  And people who were once whole being broken has been tragic since the advent of the notion.  Ideally, your parents should be your heroes, who should be helping you through this world.  So what happens when they're the broken ones?  What happens when you really find that out?  That's what Dime Heroes is about.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
Well, Dime Heroes is most directly inspired by Arthur Miller, to the point where I used his theatrical and tragical theories as a header while I wrote the thing.  American playwrights are the ones who inspire me the most, from the Big Three (Miller, Williams, O'Neill) to Albee, Shepard, Parks, and Letts.  Tarell Alvin McCraney is awesome, and if I ever write anything half as great as The Brother/Sister Plays I'd be sitting happy.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I'd get coffee for Sam Shepard, if only to see him work and pick his brain about the 70's punk scene.  There's a little section in Please Kill Me: An Oral History Of Punk that talks about Cowboy Mouth.  How fucking cool is that?

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Besides pissing in their ears about coming to see Dime Heroes? Horse Trade Theater's "The Fire This Time" series consistently has some great one-acts from black playwrights. I was lucky enough to catch the Sam Mendes Richard III at BAM, and everything about that show worked for me.  The atmosphere was stark and epic at the same time, and just turned into a tornado whenever Spacey was onstage.  Good times.

What's your biggest guilty pleasure?: I don't feel guilty at all about saying "Gilmore Girls".  For a long time there it was the wittiest writing on TV. I also know every lyric to every song from "Newsies".  I remember as an eight-year-old really hoping that Christian Bale would score some more work.

If you weren't in theater, you would be doing _____?: I'm barely in theater as is, so I guess I'd be doing what I'm doing now, bartending at punk dives like The Trash Bar and Don Pedro.

What's up next?: Hopefully a good review.

For tickets to Dime Heroes, visit