Southern Playwright Talks Dark Side of His Work, Connections to Marietta
A former Cobb County resident and Osborne High School graduate talks about his upcoming and recently produced plays, which will be presented on Marietta Square.
Southern playwright Raymond Fast is gearing up for a production of two of his new plays, "Scorned" and "Touched," to open at Out of Box Theatre in Marietta, the Alley Stage of the former Theatre in the Square.
Fast began writing for the stage in 2005. Since then, his plays have been produced throughout Metro Atlanta, and from the American Midwest to New York City.
He grew up in Cobb County, graduating from Osborne High School in 1981. He currently lives nearby in Dallas, Georgia.
Q: These plays are both very dark. Are they typical of your work?
Fast: A lot of my plays deal with subjects that most people would probably consider dark, but "Scorned" and "Touched" are both way outside my normal box. Where many of my plays involve death or tragedy, the plays themselves are light and would hardly be considered macabre. "Scorned" and "Touched" are both definitely macabre.
Q: Then what inspired you to go so far outside your box to write these plays?
Fast: Well, "Touched" is a play I'd been wanting to write for several years. I came up with the basic premise while listening to the seventies pop song "Angie Baby." That was the basic inspiration, but then I mixed a little Sweeney Todd and a little Norman Bates, and then gave it my own little psychotic twist. In fact, it's actually very twisted, and it's come a long way from it's original inspiration. To see the play now, you'd never think of that song.
"Scorned" was a little different. I actually sat down to write a sister play for "Touched" - something that would share some common thread and be suitable to run with it as a double feature - but I wanted something that would have it's own unique story and themes. I started out with three people in a confined space and the play just kind of grew form there.
Q: You've mentioned that these plays are not your usual fare, and they aren't typical for live theatre. Are you a fan of horror? Is that something that has helped to bring them about?
Fast: Actually, I'm not a big fan of horror. But I do like the macabre style of bringing a story with a purpose or message. I am a big fan of Hitchcock, for example. I like his work. In fact, when I was working on the first draft of "Touched" I took time out to sit and watch the original version of "Psycho" for inspiration. These plays are horrific, but that's because what they are about is just how wrong things can go. It's not horror for the sake of horror. It's real life - or potentially real life. It's the sort of things one can imagine really happening.
It's not horror for the sake of horror. It's real life - or potentially real life. It's the sort of things one can imagine really happening.
Q: You're having a pretty good year as a playwright. How many of your plays have been produced this year?
Fast: 2012 has been a terrific year for me. So far, I'll have seven world premieres and eight total productions, plus a couple of public readings of my work. One play was nominated for a Metropolitan Atlanta Theatre Award. One will go up in Omaha, Nebraska next month. Another was performed in Virginia. So this year has really rocked. I just hope it's not a flash in the pan. I'm still waiting for something to come in for next year. But it's still early.
Q: One of your plays has already been produced in Marietta this year. This will be your second production. Is that special for you?
Fast: Definitely. I'm originally from south Florida, but I was raised in Cobb County and graduated from Osborne High School. Several of my plays are set here, including "Bonneville Love" that was produced in May by the Polk Street Players. That play actually mentions a lot of local landmarks. I have roots in this community and a lot of friends here. A lot of history. So it's exciting to see so much interest in my work here.
I have roots in this community and a lot of friends here. A lot of history. So it's exciting to see so much interest in my work here.
Ray is a member of Atlanta's Working Title Playwrights, The Playwrights' Center of Minneapolis and The Dramatist's Guild of America. He is a fellow of The Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences and sits on the board of directors for Onion Man Productions in Norcross.
Out of Box Theatre's production of "Scorned" and "Touched" opens September 28th at Next Stage Theatre's Alley Stage off Marietta Square. It runs through Oct. 6 and tickets are $10 and available at outofboxtheatre.com.