Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Spotlight On...John Enright

Name: John Enright

Hometown: Chicago

Education: Playwriting classes at Chicago Dramatists. English degree from U. of Illinois at Chicago.

Favorite Credits: I have a special fondness for StageQ's Queer Shorts Festival production, in 2013, in Madison, Wisconsin, of my short play, Playing With Matches.

Why theater?: Instant gratification. An audience's response is immediate, and immediately felt in the theater. There's no waiting around for friends to read your book. Also, I must admit to finding a peculiar narcissistic pleasure in listening to actors speak my words.

Tell us about O'Brien & O'Brian: It's a romantic comedy about homophobia, Irish-phobia, and finding your heart's desire. A guy walks into a law office, looking for a lawyer named O'Brien, but there are two of them there, a woman and a man, and the guy doesn't know which one he wants. He's being sued about an overflowing pond, by a woman lawyer who, as it turns out, is an old flame of Darlene O'Brien's. And from there the complications start to overflow as well.

What inspired you to write O'Brien & O'Brian?: The musical inspiration was a Katy Perry song, “The One That Got Away”. It's a play about people who scheme and struggle to reconnect with someone who got away. As for the setting, an office full of squabbling lawyers, I have to credit my family, which is also full of lawyers. Sometimes neighbors mistakenly think that I'm a lawyer too, but I reassure them that I'm not – that I'm the white sheep of the family.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I like theater that combines suspense and emotional intimacy. On a personal level, I have been particularly inspired by Jeremy Menekseoglu, the playwright who founded Dream Theatre in Chicago. He really pours his soul into his work, and has a great sense of the theatrical.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Laura Linney. I just like watching her face, it's so delicately expressive.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: In the festival? I've been recommending Hard Day's Night to all the Beatles fans I know. In New York? I want to see Hamilton, because I know him from the ten dollar bill, and the idea of a sympathetic portrayal in hip-hop style sounds incredibly creative.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I want to play my great-grandfather, who came over from Ireland. I loved the man, and I would love a chance to do his accent, which had a lovely lilt to it. The name of the movie will be "Rocky Jam", about life throwing you rocks and then handing you sweet jam on bread, while you try to improvise your way through.

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: The original opening night of The Importance of Being Earnest.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Fritos, and lots of them. I particularly crave them when writing.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be ___?: Spending even more time on Facebook, I imagine, where I like to post humorous rhyming couplets to accompany nenws stories.

What’s up next?: I'm working on a play called All Mixed Up, about a couple of women who are having a baby together, and who are in danger of breaking up with each other just as the baby is due to arrive.

For more on O'Brien & O'Brian, visit and