Monday, August 3, 2015

Spotlight On...Patrick Cleary

Name: Patrick Cleary

Hometown: Wakefield, Massachusetts

Education: Bachelor’s Degree, Art History, University of Massachusetts

Favorite Credits: I produce a yearly holiday festival in Reading, Massachusetts called “Suburban Holidays,” which features new works by New England playwrights. We are in our fourth year.

Why theater?: I have been fascinated with theater since I was in grade school. Though I didn’t study it in college, I returned to the stage as an improv. comedian in a troupe in Boston, then began writing. First skits, then full plays. I direct, produce, write, set dress, and occasionally act in community theater year-round.

Tell us about Parthenogenesis: Parthenogenesis is the story of three generations of women, each of whom is a mother by choice or happenstance. One, Theresa, was left on the ice of Lake Quannapowitt at four years old by her father, abandoning her. Her Aunt Ginny took her in and raised her as her own, and her daughter April, (who Theresa had by artificial insemination) is now home for college break, eight months pregnant by her college professor, who is also meeting the family for the first time. To complicate things further, the father who left Theresa wants to reconnect, for reasons we will learn could break apart everything the family thinks they know about themselves, and each other.

What inspired you to write Parthenogenesis?: Two incidents came together in my mind to form this play. One of my relatives was left by her father on the ice of a frozen lake when she was a child, and that story has always haunted me. An unrelated story about a friend who had a daughter via artificial insemination, and was given a cassette tape of the donor’s voice to listen to, made me wonder what her child would think about that small bit of information. I realized that both of those stories, about fathers who leave and fathers who were never there, could coalesce into a single drama, with a few more family secrets thrown in for good measure.

What kind of theater speaks to you? What or who inspires you as an artist?: I love theater that surprises me. Nothing makes me happier than a play or a show where I am taken aback by a plot or a performance or a piece of theater magic that is unexpected and delightful. I like puzzles that unfold in front of the audience.

If you could work with anyone you’ve yet to work with, who would it be?: I write a lot of short-form plays, and I produce short-form festivals, and one of my heroes is the playwright David Ives. His short plays are masterpieces, and I would love to work with him in order to perfect my own writing.

What show have you recommended to your friends?: Hand to God was the last one I raved about.

Who would play you in a movie about yourself and what would it be called?: Some character actor who you know from a lot of commercials, but whose name you forget. I think it would be called, “It’s a Process, Not Perfection.”

If you could go back in time and see any play or musical you missed, what would it be?: I saw it on TV, but I would have loved to see the original staging of Nicholas Nickelby

What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?: Reality competition series on TV. I love "Project Runway", and "RuPaul’s Drag Race" and the sillier ones where you make cupcakes or donuts.

If you weren’t working in theater, you would be _____?: My full-time job is a corporate librarian, so I suppose that!

What’s up next?: I am producing a festival of plays called Suburban Holidays for a community theater in Massachusetts, then directing Almost, Maine for the same theater in January. I’m writing two scripts, one short and one longer, for production in the wintertime.

For more on Parthenogenesis,