Posted by Literary Titan
Stage Door Comedies provides a cheeky glimpse into the quirky characters surrounding theater life. What has been your experience in the theater industry and how did that bring you to writing a collection of stories?
I trained as an actor in 1985 then undertook what would nowadays be called ‘an internship’ as an unpaid stage manager/lighting/sound operator on the London, England Fringe (professional Off-Off-West End). Fast-forward twenty years and I started writing plays. When I had an offer from two London Fringe theaters to premiere my first play Limehouse I knew I had broken into the business as a writer. That was my calling card.
The book is based in England and Paris, with each providing a unique backdrop that flavors the stories with each local’s unique atmosphere. Was there a reason why you chose these locations as the backdrops for your stories?
The story about my casting in Paris is true; I did approach theaters – including American outfits – for an English-speaking cast and did hit a brick wall. London is fortunate to have so many small-scale venues for new play tryouts and so many ‘pop-up’ comedy venues. I put Paris in Stage Door Comedies because my drama school Artistic Director studied there with Louis Jouvet at the Theatre des Champs Elysees. You could say it’s my school.
In this book you show us the underbelly of the theater industry and all the weird happenings and intricacies of the individuals who call the shots. Were there any characters that you especially enjoyed writing for?
Limehouse and A Suitable Lover are play-to-fiction adaptations of my first two plays which received offers of production on the London Fringe: others, I workshopped in rehearsal for conversational ‘say-ability’ (a comedic craft I honed in stand-up comedy). I directed and acted in Limehouse, an autobiographical twosome about quitting the theater, in a short run. It marked a return to a small-scale London venue. Would I direct again? No thank you, very much, at least, not for stage. In America you don’t have the British class system. What is success? Why do we pursue it? I guess as they say there is a bit of all the characters in the author of Stage Door Comedies.
What was it like to be an alternative comedy monologist at Steve Strange’s Cabaret Futura?
The 1980s was the era of the New Romantics and Karma Chameleon figure Boy George in the London clubs. At Cabaret Futura I did a one-person duologue playing both the comedian Jack Benny and his wife using two chairs back-to-back on the stage as props. I was also an MC at a comedy cellar near to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden.
I understand Stage Door Comedies is your first published book. Are you planning to continue writing? If so, when is the next book due out?
I have some more stories up my sleeve on the theme of the random nature of Fame – many are called but few are chosen. Why is one actor on the West End or Broadway while another is fated to ply their trade in a seedy, backstreet pub theatre? As Oscar winning actor Michael Caine said, it’s the years of rejection and humiliation they pay you for.
Author Links: Webpage
For the admirers of those entering the stage door, the attraction is in what they represent. In London’s Notting Hill, a BAFTA award winner is sick and tired of people using him as a stepping-stone or step-ladder to the the big time instead of putting in ‘the hard slog’. The hustlers find that talent is not enough – it is a serious game.
Posted in Interviews
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Posted by Literary Titan
Sally Roger, in her recent book Stage Door Comedies, provides a cheeky glimpse into the quirky characters surrounding theater life. The book is composed of several short stories revolving around people in the theater industry. Roger obviously has a lot of experience working behind the curtain and she gives us a feel for day to day life of the actors, writers, producers, and stage hands who are always trying to keep their careers moving forward – sometimes through very strange, and comical, means.
The book is based in England and Paris, with each providing a unique backdrop that flavors the stories with each local’s unique atmosphere. Characters wander through the West End of London and ring up the Globe Theater, or walk down Boulevard St Michel and get coffee at Montparnasse. But the stories are, in essence, character studies of a wide variety of entertaining people who are almost always trying to push forward obsessively in their careers. With the stories set in these world-renown metropolises known for their arts, we get the feeling that this is the way it really is. This isn’t some little town trying to put on a stage play – this is the weird process a Parisian must go through to find the perfect actor for the main role. In one of the first short stories, an over-the-hill director, tired of being used as a stepping stone by strangers looking to make it big, tries to figure out the meaning behind a bizarre waiter’s rantings – does he want something from the director or is he just crazy – as well as his long-ago connection to a middle-aged actress who has invited herself into his home. In a later story, trying to find an English-language company that will produce her play in Paris, an observant young woman visits the unusual office of a local production company, where American expats seemingly revel in the Bohemian lifestyle of Paris.
Roger shows us the underbelly of the theater industry – all the weird happenings and intricacies of the individuals who call the shots, as well as those who want to ride their coattails. And for this, I give Sally Roger’s Stage Door Comedies a 4 out of 5 stars. As a collection of short stories around a singular theme, it works rather well. She obviously has quite a bit of hands-on experience in theater and therefore she is able to take a biting look at those who work in the industry. However, there’s no real continuity among the different stories, and with some being only a few pages long – I felt like she could’ve gone deeper into the mind, the actions, or pasts of the characters. With that aside though, her writing style is quite engaging and I found myself quickly starting the next story, enjoying the quirky characters and being able to peek into an industry and all its inhabitants that most of us only see from other side.
Pages: 108 | ASIN: B01CBR20WA
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