Something a little different today! Instead of a fellow independent author, I present to you an interview with an independent playwright, my friend Scott Kegler, who recently realized a career dream and had his play WHACKED! published by JAC Publishing & Promotions. WHACKED! is also available on Amazon.com.
A bit of background: Scott and I met in 2007, when I was on the writing staff for the Connecticut Renaissance Faire and Scott was portraying the Green Knight in that year’s production (you can check out a key scene featuring the Green Knight here). We didn’t really connect as friends until a few years later, when we were both performing in the New England Pirate Faire, and we bonded over our respective statuses as happily married men (which I say without any irony or sarcasm. We both have awesome wives).
Okay, Scott, introduce yourself to the readers, and tell them what else have you done outside of writing this particular play.
I began writing when I was in high school and found that my stories were best told through dialogue. I wrote screenplays and by the time I was through college had almost a hundred different shorts, with only a couple of full length scripts.
I have had the advantage of being able to have performed on the stage and directing for the stage. These opportunities have really helped me have a larger understanding of theater, and how to pace a script.
What are your professional influences?
My writing style is definitely fast paced and almost always plays within the absurd. I think a lot of this comes from my childhood, and what I watched. While my friends were usually watching Saturday morning cartoons, I was filling my mind with rerun episodes of Whose Line is it Anyway?, MST3K, and Blackadder.
I do enjoy however the styles of comedies from the 30’s and 40’s, where you see these very straight laced protagonists thrown into settings filled with insane, broad characters.
Now, onto WHACKED! What inspired you – or perhaps I should say, what possessed you to write a sex farce?
Ha. Well, I was actually in rehearsals for the Scottish Play. Yes, Macbeth. I was backstage with one of my cast members sitting on a couch, and we were talking about comedies. We were talking about the classic sex farce and how they are usually all over the place, and the sex is just a general theme. I commented how it would be interesting to focus on one sex act, and more importantly a socially taboo one. When I made the claim that an entire play about masturbation could be interesting. My friend stated it couldn’t be done. So, I opened my laptop and started while waiting for my cue. The first draft was done in 6 days.
You’ve mentioned that there are some elements in the show that were inspired by real-life people or events. What were those real-life inspirations (feel free to change any names to protect the not-so-innocent)?
In general, I always have some actor’s voice in mind when I write anything. But with WHACKED, I had one character in particular that was if at the very least a parody of my father. The character David in the play is a combination of both my father, and how I see my own voice in a few decades. The biggest influence for the show being my father’s ability to speak primarily in factoids. I can’t argue with the results.
Most of the show is pretty grounded in reality, but there are bits in the show that are completely over-the-top (Jesus Bill comes to mind). In retrospect, do you wish you’d pulled those wilder moments back a little? Or made the rest of the show crazier? Or are you happy with the balance?
A lot of my comedies depend on the absurd and often the fantastic. So, it was fun to tease the idea of the show going for a “fantastic” ending, only to end up being just another ludicrous turn. Jesus Bill was never an intended part of the show when I set out. Maybe it was the lack of sleep, but I remember just snapping at one point and saying, “The hell with it. Jesus appears in the door way.” Since I am a recovering Catholic, I couldn’t resist bringing Him into this show.
What made you decide to submit this particular play for publication? Did you ever worry it was too risqué or weird to be accepted for publication?
I think it was the response. I have written a lot of the years, but this show just seemed rocket propelled. At the first table read I had at a local pub, the actors were practically demanding I get this produced. The rest happened pretty quickly.
Chances are some people reading this are familiar with the process of submitting a novel for publication, but what is the process for submitting a play?
The process is similar once the show is a proven commodity. The biggest difference is that almost any publisher/agent would like to see that the show/script has been performed in front of a paying audience.
If you have a script with which you are looking to move forward. I would recommend getting some actors together for a table read, and then getting a location for a stage reading. See what sort of response you get and then pursue a production. Once you have been able to that, you should be able to write your query letters and proceed.
What’s up next for you, writing-wise?
I am putting the queries together for two shows that were produced earlier this year. A full length show and a one act, which are about ready for that next step. I am working with a group on a web series currently as well, which I have gotten through about 3 episodes. I would like to find the time to finish two new works that are written, but needing some edits and reading, but there is this thing I have been involved with since the beginning of July. New baby or something? The wife says he is mine, and she is usually on the up and up. I figure I should raise him either way. You know…for appearances.