Welcome to Artist Features—an offering from Now & Then that provides depth and insight into the work of our artists. For show info and tickets, visit our box office.
Meet Playwright Kirt Shineman
Kirt is the author of Pluck the Day, the first #newworkshop selection in Now & Then's 3rd season. Artistic Director John Perovich had a chance to speak with Kirt about his play, its process, and Kirt's hopes for the workshop. This feature is the first of two installments featuring Kirt and his play. Pluck the Day by Kirt Shineman will undergo a week of development and be presented to audiences on Friday, August 30 at 7:30PM and Saturday, August 31 at 11:00AM.
John Perovich (JP): Kirt, it's so exciting to have you join us at Now & Then for a workshop of Pluck the Day. I really enjoy the script, both for its humor and its social commentary. What has your writing process been like for this play?
Kirt Shineman (KS): My writing process for Pluck the Day started in December of 2018 after I heard a news story on Vice News about the cheating scandal. I had just read a National Geographic about wineries in Australia, and I found the way winemakers spoke about their vineyards to be poetic. Also, as a foodie I enjoy the restaurant business and how waiters/servers sell wines, their descriptions, their colorful, delectable words, that I thought, "What a great experience for theater! A play with wine!" Then at a play festival after one of our readings, a winery offered a tasting. I wanted the wine before the play, during the play and even after the play, even just a tasting. Wine is so theatrical! So I wrote a few monologues of sommeliers selling wine to customers--the theater audience--and the characters came to me. I wrote their biographies, to learn more about them, and then outlined the action around the scandal. With that, I wrote draft one of the play. I didn't think the play was theatrical enough--or as experimental as I like--so I added a satyr, to jazz up the genre. The play leaned towards the comedic or the satirical, like the Greek satyr plays, so a satyr made sense--and draft one of Pluck the Day received a home reading with many of my actor friends. At the reading, the actors voiced many questions about the satyr, his purpose, the style, the genre, and as satyrs are tricksters--and he wasn't necessary to the play. He was cut, and the play re-written.
JP: What a journey! I'm always fascinated how ideas come to us as writers and how the ideas take shape and are re-shaped--consistently--throughout the process. Wine, scandals, a satyr--such intriguing inspiration. Might the satyr ever return?
KS: No. His name was Dion, for Dionysis. I don't see Dion returning to the play. He mugs too much; he steals the story. He makes it all about him. But the satire of challenging the gods of privilege, cheating, and sexism remains in the play.
JP: That it does--and adds such pointed, meaningful conflict to reflect on throughout the play. Perhaps Dion might find his way into a different play? He sounds like such a fun character.
Be on the lookout for Part 2 of this Artist Feature to learn more about Kirt's goals for the workshop and his values in collaborating with directors, dramaturgs, and actors.