Q&A with local playwright Mike Broemmel

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What is the value of bringing theater to the people? For example, making it available at the places where people gather such as pubs or churches.

Large Broadway productions are fantastic, but very expensive. So-called community theater has become something of a misnomer. It has moved far away from being geared towards the general public at large - the community — but towards a more insular and limited group of people more closely connected to the productions themselves.

By bringing live theater to nontraditional spaces - from churches to pubs and other places in between — a real connection is made with a much broader swath of the general public. Many, many more people who have not had occasion to see a live theatrical show get that opportunity when it’s occurring in their regular stomping grounds.

Additionally, by staging plays in nontraditional spaces, live performances become accessible to individuals from all walks of life. Theater in a pub or church is far more affordable. Nontraditional spaces also make play sponsorship more appealing to businesses and others. This permits an expansion of the availability of no-cost tickets to underserved populations.

Why is it important that youth/schools have access to theater?

My first real hands-on experience in the creative and arts world was serving as the board chair of a metropolitan arts council for six years. A primary focus of the agency was bringing arts in education programming to students. I learned from my mentor, Tish Rogers-Appignani, that children and young people who are exposed to the arts — including live theater — not only have the opportunity to explore their creativity but become more adept in so many other ways. Students exposed to, and participate in arts in education, have greater confidence in their abilities and in themselves.

What do you enjoy most about writing plays and how do you come up with your ideas?

The most enjoyable aspect of writing plays is sitting down to work on a script, and seemingly out of nowhere, a scene just seems to materialize. There is a sense of the unexpected when I finish a writing session and am surprised by what has ended up on the page.

It’s also enjoyable to see how directors and actors interpret what I’ve written.

I must admit that I sometimes come up with the idea of who to write about on something of a whim. For example, I just finished work on a play called The Unreachable Star about the life story of singer-actor Connie Francis. I was unable to sleep one night and stumbled on to a recording of Connie Francis singing “The Impossible Dream.” The power of her voice caught my attention and prompted me to find out more about her. Within a couple of days, I started work on the play.

What inspired you to start writing the Iconic Women Theatre Series?

I initially was inspired to write the plays in the Iconic Women Theatre Series when I came to realize the very real void in complete, accessible and factual information about the lives of women who have made notable, and even remarkable, contributions to society. I felt that a series of plays would provide an avenue by which the public not only would be entertained, but informed and educated about important women in history.

These plays have attracted very talented, engaging actors to play the roles of these historical figures. As a result, the plays are entertaining. Audience members leave a performance knowing at least a little bit more — and sometimes a great deal more — about a person who really is an incomparable individual.

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