Boo Killebrew & Geoffrey Decas O’Donnell, playwrights/performers of “Family Play (1979 to present)”

Collaboration Town presents Family Play (1979 to present)Over the past several decades, the fundamental definition of “family” has changed — and the collaborators of Collaboration Town have come of age through some 30-odd of those years.

In their new show Family Play (1979 to present), previously titled Help Me to Make It and part of their two-year participation in The Archive Alliance Residency, CTown co-artistic directors, actors, and playwrights on the project Boo Killebrew and Geoffrey Decas O’Donnell (fellow playwright Jordan Seavey spoke about the project on an earlier episode of the podcast, during the show’s workshop last summer) explore the changing nature of the family through a series of 116 moments — many of which will be familiar to…well, anyone who’s grown up.

Listen in as Boo and Geoffrey discuss what makes a family, “a lot of Google Docs,” the deconstruction of the traditional nuclear family in traditional American drama, and how you define a person based on moments.

“…if we’re going to explore how family is changing, then we need to explore traditional structure in plays…we wanted to just break everything down as much as possible…take away definitions of people…everyone is everyone is everyone…”

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Emily Schwend, Jay Stull, and Boo Killebrew of “Take Me Back”

The Kindling Theatre Company presents Take Me BackWe all make terrible decisions at some point. With any luck, those terrible decisions only lead to some heartache, or maybe just some slight lingering shame, perhaps a small scar or two.

But for some terrible decisions, the consequences are a bit more dire — like a four-year stint in federal prison, which is what happens to the character of Bill in Emily Schwend‘s excellent new play directed by Jay Stull for The Kindling Theatre Company, Take Me Back. A short time after Bill’s release, he’s back living with his Mom, trying to help her take care of herself, trying to get his life back on track, trying to settle his relationship with old flame Julie (played by Boo Killebrew), and trying to get his truck running again. But opportunities don’t come easy for an ex-con in Muskogee, OK (yes, that Muskogee).

This play succeeds, as I point out in the interview, in marrying the political and personal — it’s one that kept me thinking after I left the room, which is one of the best compliments I can pay to a theatrical production. Go see this show.

Listen in as Emily, Jay, Boo, and I discuss writing close to home, systematic inequality vs. flawed character, paying for bad decisions, and why this very American play is important for New York City right now.

“Is it possible to be good as a person in places where there is no opportunity for improvement, or employment…?”

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