Split into three parts, each written by a different playwright, Holly’s Dead Soldiers was one of the highlights of last year’s Fringe Festival. Two of the playwrights are back this year with shows of their own: Chris Davis returns with Anna K., a hilarious reinterpretation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Douglas Williams is back as part of the writing team for Safe Space, a darkly funny play about environmental science students and their live-action role-playing global warming game. In this special Phindie feature, Chris interviews Doug about safe spaces, role-playing, and the playwriting process. (Read Doug’s interview of Chris!)
Chris Davis: When you say ‘Safe Space’ do you mean a place where people can talk about their emotions or a place where we hide from a global meltdown, or both?
Douglas Williams: Both! The idea behind play is that a group of students are playing a live action role playing game in which they brace their house to survive the impending apocalypse, thus creating a physical Safe Space. But as they play and get more into the game their relationships with each other start to change. Who you are in a LARP is not who you are in real life and we’re trying to take a look at that division. Who do you decide to be when you get the opportunity to play as someone else? Does your relationship with someone still remain “safe” when you are pretending to be someone else?
CD: We collaborated a year ago on Holly’s Dead Soldiers, this year you’ve found two new collaborators, both very talented playwrights, my question is why am I not involved in your project? How do Emily Acker and Emma Goidel bring something new to the table? What is it like to work with them?
DW: It’s been incredible working with Emily and Emma. We all know each other from the Foundry (an emerging writer’s play-lab headed by Michael Hollinger, Jacqueline Goldfinger, and Quinn D. Eli) and have been developing this project for the past nine months. The process is very different than how you, me and Bruce wrote our show last year. We wrote Holly’s Dead Soldiers in pieces meaning I was only really responsible for the first third of the play. With Safe Space we have written almost all of the text together. It’s a completely different way of working.
And you and I are seeing other people because you asked Leo Tolstoy to be your writing partner this year. But don’t sweat it, there’s always next Fringe.
CD: Does your play involve audience participation? What should we prepare for when we come to see your show?
DW: The play takes place in several different spaces in my house. Some central scenes take place with all characters in one room together, but many scenes take place with characters breaking off and strategizing their next move within the game. The audience is invited to move through the space and follow certain characters as they plot against each other.
CD: I can’t wait to see what a live-action global warming game is like… but could you describe it for me? Are there dice involved? A Global Warming Master? Do we have character names?
DW: Dice, no. Character names, yes. Global Warming Master, no. Santoku knives and baseball bats, yes. I don’t want to give everything away, but we spent a lot of time developing a game that these characters could actually play. The game takes place in the future where the detrimental effects of global warming are now a reality — and not everyone in our game survives…
CD: Can you give me a ticket to your show on September 12th at 10pm please?
DW: No you have to give us money first Chris. Although tickets to both of our shows is only $15 so maybe we can work a trade.