Friday, May 02, 2014

"Lollyville" creators celebrate 15 years of writing partnership

Juliet Waller Pruzan and Bret Fetzer (photo Eli Pruzan)
A long, long time ago, Juliet Waller Pruzan was a dancer and choreographer and had a cool idea she wanted to make into a dance/theater piece. She had a vision about people’s secrets flying out of them and getting caught in the branches of a particular tree. She knew that Bret Fetzer wrote original fairytales and performed them. She had seen him perform at On the Boards 12 Minutes Max and decided maybe he would be the guy who could help her create a performance.

There was magic in that request, apparently, because not only did they create a ten minute piece and successfully apply to On the Boards Northwest New Works festival (and entitle it The Gossip Tree), but they went on to create multiple more plays.

Their latest creation actually is a revision of their first ten minute play, now entitled Lollyville and produced by Macha Monkey, a ”fearless, funny, female” theater company on stage May 2-24 (8pm) at RichardHugo House.Through the years, they have revisited that initial concept and revised and revised and now have a new concept.

Both Bret and Juliet have a history with the building the theater is in. Juliet says, “I really love the theater and have a long history of performing there when it was New City and danced there in the ‘90s.”


Bret says, “I was involved with New City in various ways and was also was facility manager at Hugo House in the first year of its existence, so I also have a long history.”

Bret says, “Everything we have written together has been presented on stage. Five one act or full length plays (Lollyville makes #6) and we’ve collaborated on 14/48 plays four to six times. One play was a summer children’s play for Theater Schmeater, Arrh! A Dinosaur Ate My Spaceship!, done in the parks. We found that we bounced off each other really well.”

Juliet says, “We usually start with one coming to the other with an idea and we brainstorm and write an outline on what could happen. We have a couple of different ways we (collaborate). We take themes or characters and one will write that and we exchange and edit and re-exchange for more feedback. Sometimes, in the case of shorts, we’ll sit together and write, saying lines out loud.

“We used to spend time eating in restaurants but we don’t do that too much anymore. There was this Mexican restaurant we liked in The Alley on Broadway on the second floor, but we don’t think it’s there anymore.”

Bret says, “Whenever we find ourselves laughing hysterically at something, we know we’ve found the right thing. If only one of us is laughing, it’s not right. We think we agree all the time, but one time when we were co-directing, an actor said, ‘You guys argue all the time.’ We always end up agreeing so we forget the fact that we were arguing.”

Juliet says, “We talk it through until we get to agreement. Maybe it sounded more like argument to other people than it did to us.

Bret says, “Particularly in artistic development, if you can’t argue productively you aren’t going to get very far.”

They don’t always write funny plays, though. Bret says, “People die a lot in our plays, particularly our early ones. I think there is only one (death) in Lollyville. In one of our early plays, Avalanche, all four of our characters die.”

Juliet says, “It was definitely a play with dark humor. We don’t start with ‘funny,’ we start with extraordinary things that happen under ordinary circumstance. Sometimes our work can get a little dark.”

They explain the plot of Lollyville. A ghost returns to the site of his fatal heartbreak: an isolated village inhabited entirely by women. Since men are not allowed to live there, he had to leave his love, and that broke his heart and he died. As a ghost, he returns to take revenge, but since the woman he loved is also dead, he takes revenge on the rest of the town.

Juliet says, “It’s part of the magic realism of the whole thing. Somewhat like a fairytale.”

Bret says, “There are all these secrets in town and troubled relationships and dysfunctions under the surface and he draws those out and makes them worse, but in making them worse and bringing them to light they work out for the better.”

Tickets at Click4tix