This is part two of an interview series with “Hair Frenzy” playwright, Travis G. Baker. See part one here: http://backstageatptc.bangordailynews.com/2016/01/13/behind-the-curtain/the-man-behind-the-frenzy/
PENOBSCOT THEATRE COMPANY: Has your experience with Hair Frenzy been different than your experience with One Blue Tarp (a Baker play that had its debut at Penobscot Theatre Company in 2014)?
TRAVIS G. BAKER: Very much so. The Tarp earned me a place in this theatrical community and with the PTC audience. It was a much more precarious proposition to undertake by the theatre. An unknown playwright born in Boston with a brand new play about Maine was a risk but one that paid off. The pressure with the Frenzy is to move forward with the development of this cycle of work while maintaining the foundation that made Tarp successful. Comedy with heart and a bit of moxie. The development process has been much faster, in part, because I now knew so many more talented people to help me. Actors volunteered their time and insights into making the play better and then Bari [Newport, Penobscot Theatre Company’s Artistic Director], Mary [Budd, Penobscot Theatre Company’s Executive Director], Dominick [Varney, director of Hair Frenzy] and Holly (my wife) gave me further suggestions and critiques as the process moved along. It’s been a much more supportive environment from the play’s first draft. Tarp didn’t get this level of support until Bari and Dan Burson (director) got involved in the final year.
PTC: What advice do you have for those interested in playwrighting?
TGB: Take my playwriting workshop through the Bangor Adult Education Department. Classes start in March! Other advice: Listen to the world around you. Theatre is a living art. It doesn’t happen in an iPhone. Go sit in the DMV for an hour with a notebook in your hand. Other advice: act, build sets, volunteer as an usher, direct, go to the theatre, read plays, get involved. Plays don’t live on the page — the theatre, be it a building or a clearing in the woods, is your canvas. Get to know your home and that will help you realize what can and can’t be done.
PTC: How many drafts did Hair Frenzy go through before getting to the script that Penobscot Theatre Company is using for the production?
TGB: I’ll let you know when we’re done. At this point…a dozen?
Look for part 3 in this series next Wednesday!
If you want to follow Travis’ advice and take his class, go to https://bangor.coursestorm.com/course/playwrighting-workshop1?page=2 or if you’d like to get involved at our theatre, email firstname.lastname@example.org