2015 Salon: Q&A with “Fake-Ass Mickey…” playwright Kevin R. Free

We are beyond excited to be working with playwright and performer extraordinaire Kevin R. Free  – a longtime friend of the Salon! While Kevin is making waves at Humana, his short play “Fake-Ass Mickey and “Fake-Ass Minnie Take a Real-Ass Break” will be performed TONIGHT on the Wild Project stage, directed by Christopher James Weihert and performed by Mandi Masden and Kareem M. Lucas. 

Check out our Q&A with Kevin below, and join us tonight! We have a full house but it is very likely that we can get the whole waitlist in.

Q. In writing for the Directors Salon, how did you interpret the prompt “To Serve and Protect” and how did it inspire your play?

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Inspiration for “Fake-Ass Mickey and Fake-Ass Minnie Take a Real-Ass Break”

A. In my play, Fake-Ass Mickey and Fake-Ass Minnie Take a Real-Ass Break, Mickey and Minnie, who are street performers (who are dressed like Mickey and Minnie Mouse in Times Square), argue about how to comport themselves on the job. Here is a picture that inspired the play:

Q. What personal significance does the phrase “To Serve and Protect” have for you?  

A. I am an army brat. I was raised to always wear a belt, to never turn my hat sideways, to never wear sweatpants in public, and to say “yes sir and yes ma’am.” As an adult, I have found myself – embarrasingly so, at times – using those things as markers of character. And now, with the new/old/new/age-old trend of killing young black men, I have argued against the respectability politics of “If-only-they’d-pull-their-pants-up-they-wouldn’t-be-in-this-predicament,” while simultaneously realizing that my own judgments have been in line with those same respectability politics. Couple it with my own codependence, and – after some gnashing of teeth – Fake-Ass Mickey and Fake-Ass Minnie Take a Real-Ass Break was bornI have had an eye-opening year.

Q. What are some key elements of a successful director/playwright collaboration?

A. I am in rehearsal now at the Humana Festival (as an actor) in Colman Domingo’s Dot. Watching Meredith McDonough (our director) and Colman Domingo collaborate on this play has been such a beautiful learning experience. Meredith McDonough encouraged the actors to learn the text word-for-word, so that we can hear if the words Colman wrote work, before we start changing or adding or cutting from the play. Second, and I’ve never heard a director say this: Use the logic of the play to enter its world.

The play is FIRST, and all of her suggestions for changes are based on making the play work. She makes the playwright feel safe, regardless of the needs of the actors (who also feel safe under her direction).

The director really must be a good leader in the room for all the artists – To set the tone for safe collaboration and to put us all on the same page about the story we are telling.

Kevin R. Free

2015 Salon Playwright Kevin R. Free

Q. How can emerging directors meet and develop a relationship with a playwright?  What has been your experience?

A. I started working with a director last year who reached out to me and asked if he could read some of my work. I was flattered, and I sent him a couple of plays and I asked him about his work philosophy and his past work. He wrote back with answers to my questions and offered some thoughts about my work. That sealed the deal with me.

Q. What are you up to next?

A. Lots of exciting stuff! I am about to open as Donnie in Colman Domingo’s new play, Dot, at The Humana Festival. After that, I’m directing a solo show at City Tech in Brooklyn and I’ve just begun developing a new play with the Flux Theatre Ensemble as one of their Flux Forward playwrights.

Kevin R. Free’s short play “Fake-Ass Mickey and Fake-Ass Minnie take a Real-Ass Break” will be performed on Sunday, March 22nd at 7:30pm at The Wild Project. For more information, visit our Facebook event. Tickets are suggested donation online or at the door – click here to RSVP!

Kevin R. Free is the 2014 Recipient of the Doric A. Wilson Independent Playwright Award. Full-length plays includeFace Value (Henry Street Settlement Playwrights’ Project; Mill Mountain Theatre New Play Festival Semifinalist); A Raisin in the Salad; Black Plays for White People (Recipient, New Black Fest Fellowship, 2012; Semi-Finalist, Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights’ Conference, 2013); The Crisis of the Negro Intellectual, or TRIPLE-CONSCIOUSNESS (The Fire This Time Festival, 2013), and Night of the Living N-Word!! (National Black Theatre KSA Reading Series, 2014).  His short works have been performed in NYC at JACK, The Bowery Poetry Club, Loft 227, The Moth, The Soundtrack Series, and in Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. An accomplished actor, he has narrated over 100 audiobooks, is a recurring voice on the Welcome to Night Vale Podcast, and is now appearing as Bellomy in The Fantasticks Off-Broadway. Twitter: @kevinrfree http://www.kevinrfree.com

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