Rounding out our line-up of Unleashed playwrights are Greg Lam and Darren Canady,coming to us from Boston and Kansas. Their tales sit squarely in the tradition of cerebral science fiction, asking “what if?” questions and following the consequences in an exciting and thoughtful way.
Repossessed asks one married couple: if you had the power to edit your personality to “improve” it, would that be the ultimate key to happiness? And can two edited personalities ever really feel love? Reparations asks an African American family: if technology were able to unlock trauma seared into your DNA and bring to light acts of oppression against your ancestors, would you open that Pandora’s box? Even if it revealed shocking answers to secrets long buried?
Greg Lam (Repossessed)
Greg Lam is a playwright, screenwriter, and board game designer who lives in the Boston area. Greg was a member of the 2016 Company One Playlab for the development of Boston area playwrights. His plays are scheduled to be read at Fresh Ink Theatre, Pork Filled Players, and The Depot.
What’s Repossessed about?
A married couple discover that their seemingly happy marriage was actually manufactured and implanted in their minds via a new technology they can no longer afford. Through the repossession of the last five years of their lives, they discover the extent that they’re willing to buy and sell their identities.
What inspired you to write this play?
Believe it or not, this started as a 10 minute play inspired by early Radiolab podcasts. In the first seasons they were heavily invested in exploring the mysteries of the human mind, about perception and neurology, making the case that human consciousness was more fungible than we generally think of it. So I imagined the case in which people discover that major parts of their identity weren’t as they believed. I kept writing disconnected scenes set in this universe exploring the world building as I pleased without a grand plan. I did this until I felt I had enough material to make a full play, which is what you will see today.
What kind of theatre excites you?
I like theatre that takes advantage of the entire medium. The live performance aspect, the settings whether one set that you inhabit or whether they figure out a way to move nimbly from place to place, the heightened language, the crowd response. I want there to be a compelling reason that it’s a play and not a movie or a book, something you can’t get anywhere else.
What or who inspires you?
I’ve discovered that I like taking one type of media and mashing it up with another type of media. Playwriting, screenwriting for TV and movies, graphic novels, fiction, oral storytelling, podcasting, webseries, game design. Each of those have aspects that people think are its strong suit, but I think interesting things happen when you take the strengths of one medium and translate it into another medium.
What are your upcoming projects?
In addition to playwriting, Greg is the co-creator and host of a podcast called “Boston Podcast Players” which presents excerpted readings of new full length plays by and interviews with Boston playwrights. This podcast debuted in July of this year, and is available on iTunes and other podcast players. For more information, see bostonpodcastplayers.com
. He has also published a children’s book called In Other Words
which is stuffed with words that sound like other words but don’t mean the same thing at all. All of his projects can be seen atpair-of-dice.com
Darren Canady (Reparations)
Darren Canady’s work has been seen at the Eugene O’Neill Theatre Center, the Alliance Theatre, Horizon Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Fremont Centre Theatre, Congo Square Theatre, the BE Company, American Blues Theater, KC Rep, and Kansas City’s Barn Theater. Darren is an alum of Carnegie Mellon University, New York University, and the Juilliard School. He is a former member of Primary Stages’ Dorothy Strelsin New Writers Group, the T.S. Eliot US/UK Exchange, and the America-In-Play theatre collective. He currently teaches playwriting at the University of Kansas.
What’s Reparations about?
Rory’s life is a classic Great Plains dead-end: a job she hates, a sick grandmother who depends on her, and dreams that just can’t seem to materialize. However, a new technology developed to help humans harness the power of their own blood to re-live history promises to give Rory the chance to hit a major pay-day. But she’s completely unprepared for the shocking, divisive truth she uncovers, that stretches from society’s oppression of black people to the very personal injuries that families are forced to inflict on each other.
How did this play come about?
I wrote this play thinking about the instinctual ways my family members respond to violence or hardship. I would look around at my aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and think about how there seemed to be just this…*knowledge* that was in us about survival – about processing pain. I made the mistake of thinking it was just some sort of feature of our identities; then I really started interrogating my family members about our origins. There were wonderful things, yes, but there was some real trauma back there. Trauma that we all picked up and carried around, even when we didn’t talk about what the source was. I realized we were marked with it – marked down through generations. REPARATIONS is my way of working through where all of that comes from.
What inspires you?
Right now, I’m inspired by a whole slew of folks from all sorts of disciplines with creative energies. Some are girls of color in incarceration centers I’ve worked with, some are fellow playwrights, some are social workers, some are my own students. I think the thing that unites them all is that they use creativity to survive and push for radical change. Many of them inspire me because they challenge my complacency and call out my complicity by calling us all to do more and be more in whatever environment we’re in. I’m blessed and convicted by encountering people like that on a nearly daily basis.
What’s up next?
Upcoming projects: in November, a short play of mine will be produced in Kansas City as part of a festival of work inspired by dystopian literature. My play, ONTARIO WAS HERE, about the struggles of two front line social workers, will have its premiere production at Atlanta’s Aurora Theatre. There will also be a brief remounting of my play about girls of color in incarceration facilities, BLACK BUTTERFLIES, in Oakland, CA later this year.