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KAM: Tell us a little about Gay Guy/Fat Girl.
RP: GG/FG is about two best friends in high school in the mid-80s: Josie and Stewart. Josie is the fat girl and Stewart is the gay boy. At their prom, they pinky swear with each other that if, when they are 40, they are not married, they will marry each other. Flash forward to today. Josie and Stewart meet up again after 25 years and rekindle their friendship, which gradually starts to take on a romantic bent, much to the dismay of Lux, Josie's co-worker and roommate, and Maxie, Stewart's "drag illusionist" best friend. Not to give anything away, let it suffice to say that the show includes several raunchy musical theatre numbers, an apparition of Marie Osmond and a taste of the 80s as we see what happens when friendships are threatened and frightening prospects of an uncertain and unchartered romance shake up our foursome!
KAM: What makes you passionate about this idea?
RP: I see a lot of my gay friends who are in the 40s start to realize that sex isn't the biggest part of a relationship. At this age, we want companionship. We want someone we can laugh with, watch movies with, hang out and be ourselves (and if the sex is good, all the better). I just wondered what would happen if a gay man realized that everything he really wanted in a partner was there, but in a woman. I also love seeing what friends do when a friendship is threatened by outside forces, which is what happens with Lux and Maxie.
KAM: Does Gay Guy/Fat Girl align with your original vision for the work, or did it take shape as you went along?
RP: It is much more fun than I ever imagined it would become. Lots of things changed and the more I learned about how I write, I started cutting out the crap and going for exciting, honest and theatrical scenes. As an actor, I also wanted to be sure that all 6 actors would have some really fun, funny and juicy scenes to play.
KAM: How would you describe your writing to people who are unfamiliar with your work?
RP: I think I have learned this past year that I like writing about people who are "outsiders," who don't fit in to what a lot of the world thinks of as "normal." GG/FG happens to be a romantic comedy, but a lot of my other writing this semester deals with people with an edge. I like finding those people on the periphery of society and show how they are just like everyone else. Make the audience identify with someone they would at first think of as out there. I tend to write dialogue that is very quick, fast and full of pop culture references. One professor has described my style as "extremely lean and sharp," which I like, although of course I have also written a lot of very lyrical monologues for some shows. I like things that are theatrical -- something big needs to happen, somewhere. That's what excites me the most as an audience member--the "OMG" factor -- or better yet, the "WTF" factor.
KAM: What is the least likely thing you've gained inspiration from?
RP: I gain inspiration from the stupidest places, but usually it is either a person I see (or know) who makes me start thinking, or it is a line of dialogue I overhear or read or something. In GG/FG, I have Maxie singing musical theatre songs with lyrics changed, which is something I do all the time in my head. So it is fun for me to have him sing something like "Everyone is beautiful in the Fenway..." as opposed to "Everyone is beautiful at the ballet". So that was fun. I don't think any inspiration is too small if it propels you forward into writing something.
KAM: What’s next for you?
RP: On April 30, I am doing a reading of the new play 8 at the ART. A vacation in Italy, England and Switzerland late in May, then classes in late summer. And more writing. My fellow playwrights and I are hoping to self-produce four of our plays this June, all of which take place in a living room.