Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Spotlight On...Zeke Blackwell

Name: Zeke Blackwell

Hometown: Fort Worth, TX

B.A. Cognitive Science, Yale University

Favorite Credits: Writing - This Show, Still Life! (FringeNYC), Directing - Three Days of Rain (Yale CPA),  Acting - an adaptation of T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland (Yale CPA), Set Designing - Bunkerville: A Post-Apocalyptic Musical (Yale Dramat)

Why theater?: I like making things. And theater begs you to make things in a number of different media. Theater was kind of like a can of Pringles for me; once I started, I couldn't stop.

Tell us about Still Life: Still Life is a 90-minute peek into the lives of two best friends who just happen to be grapes. They've lived their whole lives together swinging from the same vine, and we get the opportunity to overhear their hopes, fears, and extreme jealousy of the ability of ants to walk.

What inspired you to create Still Life?:
I wrote a two page scene featuring two grapes, named 1st Grape and 2nd Grape, for a class about a year and a half ago. The theme was Hunger, and of course I was thinking about grapes. And then I kept hearing the two of them talking to each and I had to write it down. Donald and Orley (aka 1st and 2nd Grape) inspired me.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?:
I like my theater interpersonal - I want to see how people affect each other. We come to theater to see people doing things we can't do or won't do. I also adore language and communication, and so I love a witty dialogue. So, as a writer I take inspiration from Richard Greenberg, Tom Stoppard, Samuel Beckett, Sarah Ruhl, Stephen Adly Guirgis - the kind of writers who lavish in language. More generally, I'm hugely inspired by really good improvisational comedy - these performers are creating worlds and listening honestly to each other and collaborating in truly remarkable ways. TJ & Dave are two of my favorite playwrights, though their plays aren't written.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: Lin-Manuel Miranda. For sure. He's brilliant, and in person he's extremely warm.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Violet the Musical. I generally prefer plays to musicals, but I really love the bluegrass/folk music in Violet, and I think it's a show with a lot spirit that not that many people are familiar with.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: I would love for Michael Caine, Walter Matthau, or Gene Wilder to play me in a movie set near the end of my life. It would be called "The Big Chill 2: 2 Chill" and it would be like Big Chill put together with Step Up and maybe a hint of the original Pink Panther. I would be dead for most of the movie.

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Poptarts. Though I don't know how guilty I feel about them.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: Farming!

What’s up next?: It's still very much in development, but I am working on a kind of follow up piece to Still Life; the story doesn't seem quite finished to me.

For more on Still Life, visit www.thegrapeplay.com and www.twitter.com/TheGrapePlay