A Gruesome Romance? - Director John Hindman's Thoughts

A talented director, screenwriter, and television producer, John Hindman started out in show business as a stand-up comedian. In 2004, he was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize in drama at the Sundance Film Festival for “The Answer Man,” a romantic comedy which he wrote and directed. Since then, he has continued writing, consulting on scripts, and directing. Most recently, he directs a new production of playwright Rajiv Joseph’s GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES, which opens on Friday, May 20, 2016 at the Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles. 

Multi-talented John Hindman was interviewed on April 25, 2016, for his thoughts and reflections on GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES, currently in rehearsal. He provided some interesting and intriguing observations on the play and his views about live theater more generally.

 

John Hindman

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THIS PLAY? WHERE DID THE TITLE COME FROM? 

I love theater for so many reasons. Chief among them is that it’s one of the living arts. With a film, you try and capture life. In theater, you get a chance to create it night after night. And for me, what that requires is that I am in love with both the material and the actors – and that I want to die a little for both of them. 

I believe in romantic love as a governing force of nature, so alternately fragile and unbelievably strong. That’s my emphasis in this play. In “The Answer Man,” there were three characters; and they were all trying to keep something and someone away. They needed to protect themselves. The story was about tearing down that protection so that they could get close to someone else. This play has a similar conflict. 

GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES is the story of two people from eight to 38. They flit between time intervals and never leave the stage. And, sadly, they’re never ready for each other at the same time. They have wounds inflicted by others and sometimes by themselves; and, unless they get past that, they’re doomed. I’m not sure where the name of the play comes from, but I see it as a metaphor for how wounds, either self-inflicted or inflicted by others, keep us from connecting. 

THE PLAYWRIGHT HAS SAID THAT HIS PLAY EXPLORES WHY WE HURT OURSELVES TO GAIN SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE OR AFFECTION. WHAT DO YOU THINK HE MEANS? 

I suppose the pat answer is that negative attention is still attention. But I prefer a more complex look. Yes, sympathy will get you the special attention of someone. I see that as an element of the play, but only one element and not the whole story. I think all good stories journey back home. Life, if you will, is an inside job. If you crave someone else’s attention, then you put that person in charge of your existence. That will never lead to the mutuality that’s required for a real relationship. Most stories end where they find that out, but I want that to be their beginning. 

THESE ARE TWO WOUNDED PEOPLE, AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP COULD CERTAINLY BE CALLED UNHEALTHY AND EVEN BIZARRE. HOW DO YOU, AS THE DIRECTOR, MAKE SURE THAT THE AUDIENCE WILL LIKE THESE CHARACTERS AND RELATE TO THEIR SITUATION? 

That’s one of the challenges in this play. A lot of productions focus on the damage, but I’m not interested in that. We know they’re hurt. We all have wounds of our own. You can either remind people of that, or you can offer them help in finding a way out of the pain. Some of the language in the play is intense, but we sort of glide over that to emphasize what’s important between them. 

The play is already written, but I think the job of a director is to pick a lighthouse. To ask, “What do I think this play is about?” Not what happens, mind you, but what is it about. Most productions of all plays focus merely on what happens. If the journey ends there, then all people would need to do is read the play. But each particular production has its own lighthouse. Everyone is on the ship, and I want to steer it to a calm and safe harbor. I have a destination in mind. That becomes the tone and intention of the play. How heartbreaking or romantic is the play? That’s the vision of the story. I see the director as encouraging the actors to see every possibility and building from there while always keeping the lighthouse clearly in view. 

IN WHAT WAYS IS THIS NEW PRODUCTION FRESH AND DIFFERENT FROM PREVIOUS PRODUCTIONS? 

I see a play as having two parts. There’s the play on the page, and then there’s the secret play that’s under the words waiting to be released. The challenge is getting past the words to the real story, the effervescent heart. That keeps the story from getting too morose. That’s where aspects of black comedy come in. I move everything towards the play under the play, and that keeps the material fresh. 

I see the play as a living art form, not a slab of stone. The play is both fragile and complex. I want to focus on the solution, not the problem. To do that, I’m focusing more on the love story and less on the pain. When people get hurt, it’s easy to focus too much on the pain. I want people to see the bonds that are developing, not the wounds the characters come with. 

HOW HAS IT BEEN WORKING WITH SARA RAE FOSTER AND JEFF WARD? 

Rae always wanted to do this play, to her unending credit. She has a vision of this story. People can see the damage; but, where most people see the bleak metaphor, she focuses on how people overcome the wounds. She saw hope and redemption. Jeff is an emotionally alive actor, and he’s right for the part. I have wanted to work with him for years – actually, since the moment I first saw him perform. We had a reading first, and they had such great chemistry between them. Frankly, I’m lucky to be involved. 

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FUTURE PROJECTS? 

I’m working on post-production right now for a movie I wrote and directed called “The Passing Parade.” It’s about a young playwright who has had unimaginable success but failed to see success in her relationship because she can’t let herself have anything good. She sabotages herself. I’m also going to be directing a play I wrote called “Jericho.” It’s about power and the possibility of love at first sight. I’m finishing a television pilot too. I’m doing some monologues, which I shoot for fun. I’m keeping busy doing things I love. And for me, that is everything.

 

GRUESOME PLAYGROUND INJURIES runs from May 20 through June 26, 2016. Performances are at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 3 p.m. on Sundays. The Hudson Theatre is located at 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA90038. Tickets are $25. For reservations, call 323-960-7773 or go online at www.plays411.com/playground.

 

Top of Page

lasplash.com
Join Splash Magazines

Feature Article

Tempflow™ and Tempur-Pedic® Reviews - What 35 Hours of Research Uncovered

Want Your Business to Male a Splash
<!-- #wrapper -->