Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Indie Theater Firebrand: Dr. Larry Myers

I'm afraid that not enough people in the indie theater world know about Dr. Larry Myers. A playwright, director, teacher, innovator, and a longtime supporter of NYTE and other indie theater advocacy/service groups (he's lending us space for a panel discussion on Immersive Theater that I am organizing on May 23rd -- more on that coming soon), Larry is a theatre practitioner and enthusiast whose energy is infectious.

He currently is on the faculty of St. John's University's Manhattan Campus, where he teaches courses in Speech and Playwriting. This summer, he is teaching a unique playwriting workshop, which I'll let him describe for you himself:

[It's] a nuts and bolts interactive lab of acting, directing, playwriting and producing...students will act and direct plays generated within the course. The class will make ample use of the state-of-the-art auditorium and stage located in the Murray Street building. The workshop is viable for any student. The skills of role playing, conflict management, creative decision making, and improvisation can be used in one’s ‘life script.’ Anyone can discover their ‘inner playwright’ by re-examining moral codes, values, principles and attitudes and encoding them into script form.
Even more innovative is his planned follow-up. He told me about this "service theater" class: a new class creating theater in which there is a component involving volunteerism--serving in hospices, soup kitchens, shelters, senior centers, etc. Larry knows of what he speaks: he spent a lot of time in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina (and incorporated some of his experiences there in the play Limericks from Undisclosed Locations, which you can read more about here).

Larry has also just written a play called Twitter Theater, which is about what it sounds like it's about--he's very interested in how new technologies and aspects of pop culture intersect with art and theater. He's also working on strategies to bring plays to "market" more quickly; he told me "theater must be faster, mounted cheaper, and shorter. Paula Vogel, a friend, agrees with my 'finding inner playwright' theory for life. Too many plays are dramaturged to death, take too long; they're too processed, like old quarts of milk left out."

His bio is just as remarkable, and mercurial. Larry worked closely with Tennessee Williams, was Shubert Playwright with David Rabe for two years, appeared as Count Dount Dorante in Sarah Caldwell's production of Ariadne auf Noxos at New York City Opera, worked with Stella Adler and Sanford Meisner both, was called by The Manhattan Mirror "Downtown's most produced playwright" and by the San Francisco Press "a walking encyclopedia of theater."

He's not resting on any laurels. He says: "Am currently writing books on Edward Albee (authorized), Tennessee (wait till I retire), and the Piscators. Recently lost two playwriting teachers -- Milan Stitt & Ron Tavel. And I love Maria Irene Fornes! Will tour in my own play Car Sleepers & Tent City Folk by Greyhound cross country..."

His plans for the Playwriting Center at St. Johns, which take in the current workshop plus so much more outlined here (and still more that's not!), are ambitious and exciting, and I am eager to see what comes of them.

Here's an article from the St. Johns website where you can learn still more about Dr. Larry Myers.


hercules said...

if people are not familiar with Larry Myers they ought to try reading Page Six as he s been on there more often than any playwright ever..this man is not only an expert on theater,he can do all of the arts! I mean the dude wrote plays on Nietzsche and St. Vincent de Paul ..he wrote a play on Liberace which he recently performed and the audience went wild..not some campy silly bs but a real exploration of Liberace s affectations and the mores of his zeitgeist..Myers hangs out with Eric Bentlet and helped take care of James Purdy. He isn t on Broadway cause it turned into Las Vegas long ago..as I recall all of his plays at Theater for the New City sold out..he says in his Liberace play..
"maybe people think I'm too much, well maybe it s they who aren t quite enough.
enough said
rock on Dr. Myers

Jayalakshmi said...

Hey Hercules...I have watched Myers develop his art over the decades.
He was born brilliant, but within the last ten years or so he has
begun to write from a spiritual source. He is beyond empathic. He has discovered a channel into something mysterious and grand.
The recent tryst with Liberace has produced work that is like watching the showman in an episode of HBO's In Treatment, wresting with his angels and demons. Liberace finds a new haunt in Myers'keyboard smile.

ezywonder said...

To know him is to.... know him.

Dr. Myers is and has been our generation's cross between Jackie Susann (without the ankhst) and Peggy Cass (before she was Jack Par-alyzed).

Dr. M. leaves no rhinestone unturned in producing his latest opus, a vital new work which breathes new life into an old legend: Liberace (who in the spring of 1984 broke all sales and attendance records of the 51-year history of famed Radio City Music Hall.)

One must be wearing the pearls to clutch when experiencing Dr. Lawrence Myers.


(don't say goodbye, say ciao)