Thursday, August 6, 2015

Spotlight On...Zack Friedman

Name: Zack Friedman

Hometown: Philadelphia, PA

Education: Brandeis University, BA in Theater Arts & English Lit

Favorite Credits: As actor: Laramie Project, A Grimm Reality: NYC Fairy Tales, Midsummer Night's Dream

Why theater: It's the only place a human being can go to watch another human being share what it's like to be a human being.

Tell us about Fathers & Sons: Fathers & Sons is a play about Al Marshall, a divorced, middle aged PR rep who can talk to anyone.  That is, until he welcomes into his home his aging father and his depressed son, the two most important people in his life with whom he does not know how to communicate.

What inspired you to write Fathers & Sons?: The seed of the play came to me three years ago for a playwrighting class at the Einhorn School for Performing Arts, working with playwright Eddie Sanchez.  I wanted to write about my father's experience in the early '90s, when I was a depressed adolescent and my grandfather was approaching the slow, difficult end of his life.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I enjoy theater that demands something of me.  Theater that forces me to give something as an audience member.  Whether it's my imagination or critical thinking.  I like working.  I want to say, "What, what?" at some point during a show.  Like I'm back in Chemistry class, trying to connect the dots.  I also liked On The Town. I just read The Pavillion by Craig Wright.  That really inspired me.  I love Sarah Ruhl's writing.  I love sinking my teeth into the neurotic fiction writers of today: Nick Hornby, Jonathan Tropper, John Green.  In New York City, you never know what's going to inspire you.  An overheard conversation on the subway or in the park.  Eavesdropping, basically.  A true artist steals from everything.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: If I could work with anyone, it would probably be David Cromer.  I've seen a few of his producitons, and the work is so grounded and heartfelt, it just knocks me out.  I wouldn't mind interning for Aaron Sorkin, either. Are the Lunts still working?

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Most shows are good, but they don't stay with you for days and days.  The last piece of theater that really lingered with me was Peter and the Starcatcher.  It was fantastical and whimiscal, but most of all it was attainable.  My friends and I could make a show like that.  We've tried in many ways.  But it reminded me of the whole 'Let's put on a show' mentality that nine, ten, eleven year olds have.  That is something that appeals to people, and, if the timing is right, it will land with the public.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: The first person that comes to mind for an actor to play me is Matthew Broderick 20 years ago.  Charming, occasionally cool, silly, sincere.  And nerdy.  Those are the actors I loved growing up from the '80s-'90s.  John Cusack, Michael J. Fox.  What am I going to say?  Channing Tatum? And the title: "Come Here and Leave Me Alone"

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I would go back in time and see Brando and Tandy in Streetcar.  I've heard that people in that audience sweated it was so intense and titilating.  All the theater in the '40s and '50s was iconic, you can really pick any show from that era.  Arthur Miller, Rogers & Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein, O'Neill.  Also, any original production of any Neil Simon play: Odd Couple, Prisoner of Second Avenue, Brighton Beach, Biloxi Blues.  Those lines are tattooed in my brain, but to see the first incarnation would be someting.

What your biggest guilty pleasure?: My biggest guilty pleasure is Youtube.  And buzzfeed.  It's my junk food.  I should stop writing on a laptop and just use a typewriter.  I also love whiskey and candy.

If you weren’t working in theater you would be ____?: If I wasn't an "arteest" I would be a teacher.  It's in my blood.

What’s up next?: Next up, rewriting a novel.  Writing is creative.  Rewriting is a problem-solving pain in the ass.  Can I say "first" novel?  Is that pretentious or optimistic?  A novel is much harder than a play.  A novel is to a play what directing is to acting.  Big picture, every detail versus a more narrow scope.

For more on Fathers & Sons, visit