Sunday, August 2, 2015

Spotlight On...Brian Kraker

Name: Brian Kraker

Hometown: Pompton Lakes, New Jersey

Education: B.A. in English and Computer Science from Fordham University

Favorite Credits: Staging Sex and Revenge, taught by Professor John Ziegler

Why theater?: It might be better to ask theater, “Why me?” I was never a huge theater fan growing up (the only plays I ever read were Shakespeare’s, which were always over my head). I never connected with a play until reading Waiting for Godot my senior year of high school, which was really the beginning of this whole adventure. Then, my first semester of graduate school, one of my classes was cancelled and when I went to register for a new one, the only class that fit my schedule was a playwrighting workshop, where I wrote this play.

Tell us about Father Kennedy: Father Kennedy is a comedy about this curmudgeonly priest who embarks on an epic quest to sabotage his sister’s engagement. As a result of his journey, which may involve a priest purchasing women’s underwear and then framing the church gravedigger, Father Kennedy changes the lives of all those around him as he grapples with the question, “What does it mean to call a place home?” It’s the first play I ever wrote. It started as a quirky idea of a short story. But whenever I’d sit down to write it, I’d get stuck and just put it aside. One day in my playwrighting workshop, my professor gave the class a prompt to “write something you’ve been stuck on.” I wasn’t working on any plays at the time, so I tried converting this story into a play. From the moment I started, the story was so much clearer to me, and I never looked back. Now, three years later, it’s making a world premiere in the Fringe Festival!

What inspired you to write Father Kennedy?: The heart of this story is definitely based on my life growing up in a small town and going to church every Sunday. (No, I don’t have extensive history purchasing women’s underwear, only when costume shopping for this play.) My family never took church too seriously, which is definitely where the comedy comes from. For example, one of the priests in the play suggests having a condiment bar during communion, which is an inside joke with my father. One Sunday as a kid, my dad whispered to me during mass they should serve peanut butter with the communion bread and I had to leave the church because I couldn’t stop laughing.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love watching and reading the work of Martin McDonagh. He has an uncanny ability to mix these absurdly comedic scenes with poignant moments. He finds comedy in the most unusual of places. Also, James Joyce. There isn’t a single word used in Joyce’s work that doesn’t serve a purpose. I admire his attention to detail and the countless layers always at work in his stories.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Marisa Tomei. Her performance in "My Cousin Vinny" is second to none.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Swipe Right by Allison Young. The concept sounds hilarious and the writer is a big Harry Potter fan. What more could you want?

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I would be played by Christopher Mintz-Plasse (McLovin) and it would be named “Straight Outta Pompton”

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I would see Penelope by Kurt Vonnegut when it premiered on Cape Cod.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: I don’t really have any guilty pleasures because I openly admit to all the silly things I do. But of the things I should be more embarrassed about, there is a tie between religiously watching "The Bachelor" and dancing to BeyoncĂ© songs when they come on at a bar.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: the newly hired Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts before meeting my untimely end as a result of Harry Potter’s misadventures.

What’s up next?: I honestly don’t know. I’m so incredibly lucky to have this play in the Fringe Festival. I’m doing everything I can to live in the moment and enjoy every second of producing Father Kennedy that I don’t want to think about life after this production.

For more on Father Kennedy, visit www.FatherKennedyPlay.com

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