Monday, May 6, 2013

The Question, May 6, 2013

Finding the Seed of a Play
by Estelle Rosen

Jeffrey Blatt graduated from the writing and directing program at York University with specialized honors, where his thesis film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. He has since gone on to write and direct several award-winning short films that have been broadcast internationally. After writing and directing a multi-million dollar feature film Mr. Blatt has since devoted his career to becoming a respected screenwriter. The Permanent Guest is his first attempt at staging a theatrical performance from an original work.

CHARPO: Seems like The Permanent Guest could have been based on a personal experience and I understand it was the first time presented before an audience. What was the background to write this play; and assuming it'll be presented again, what lessons were learned from the experience?

BLATT: "The Permanent Guest" was inspired by the relationship between my co-writer, Heidi Lynne Weeks, and a friend of hers who pushed the boundaries of being a house guest. Heidi and I are improvisers, and after shows she would tell me stories that were hysterical. As a screenwriter you're always listening for ideas that will trigger your imagination, and somewhere among our belly laughs we both realized we had the seed of a play. 

We got together over the next couple months and hashed something out. Then, as it happens with most stories you put to paper, it started to collect dust. That is until about six months ago...

After another improv show Heidi and I starting talking about it again, wondering why we hadn't done anything with it. A couple days later I read it over and realized that with some work we had a good thing on our hands.

Presenting an original play for the first time in front of an audience  was one of the scariest moments of my life. You have nothing to hide behind, but one thing that doing improv has taught me is to be bold; jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down. So, I took Heidi by the hand and we leaped off that cliff together. And we've been flying ever since...

I've learned a great deal from this experience. It's confirmed the kinds of stories I want to write and that I have something to offer in that regard. It's also taught me about working not only with talented, but good-hearted people who simply make the work better.

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