Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Spotlight on...Fred Van Lente

Name: Fred Van Lente

Hometown: Chagrin Falls, OH

Syracuse U

Why theater?:
My wife is a bad influence on me.

Tell us about King Kirby: King Kirby is the heartwarming and heartbreaking story of the artist Jack Kirby, the "King of the Comics," who created or co-created some of the most famous fictional characters the world has ever known while remaining in relative obscurity himself. The play is about how that can happen, and what that means.

What inspired you to write King Kirby?: After having been a fan of Jack's work, particularly in Marvel Comics, since I was kid, and then subsequently learning of his amazing life story and how it spanned the 20th century and touched on so many issues of fairness and artistic struggle, I became obsessed with bringing it to a wider audience beyond the comics realm. A play is nice and far from the comics experience and seemed like a good choice. 

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: My wife and co-writer, the great playwright Crystal Skillman, has been my many inspiration for so many years. After I wrote the play sort of inspired by her work, I set it aside until the Brick Theater decided to revive the Comic Book Theater Festival, and she encouraged me to dust it off. With her help, we brought to the stage. With the help of our great director John Hurley, fantastic actors and amazing designers -- not to mention hundreds of Kickstarter backers -- we are bringing King Kirby to the stage.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Jack Kirby. As somebody who's written comics professionally for the last decade, how could I not?

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Crystal takes me to a lot of great theater (and a lot of bad theater). My favorite (non-Skillman) show I saw semi-recently, at least leaping to mind, was Bethany by Laura Marks at Women's Project. I am sure there are others, but I really admired that piece.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Soupy Sales stars in "Hotel Showers Baffle Me: The Fred Van Lente Story."

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Bubble wrap. Popping it, I mean. 

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?:
A comic book writer. Wait...!

What’s up next?: Our Kickstarter closes June 20, the same day King Kirby opens, and we have a lot of great rewards still available, including a digital comic, book of the play, prints, and a signed copy of my book The Comic Book History of Comics. Check it out: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/384572388/king-kirby-a-play-by-crystal-skillman-and-fred-van