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Friday, February 8, 2013

FROM THE MOUTH OF A WOLF... BOBBY INTERVIEWS HIMSELF ABOUT HIS NEW BLOG

I have had the pleasure of knowing Bobby Keniston, noted playwright, actor, director, and drama teacher for my entire life.  I have seen firsthand the passion he brings to every project he is involved with.  When I heard he was creating a new blog, I must admit I was a little surprised.  Why would someone like Mr. Keniston suddenly jump on the bandwagon?  Don't get me wrong--- he has plenty to say (aside from being blessed with a certain boyish charm, he happens to be incredibly intelligent), and what he has to say is certainly worth listening to.  I was merely surprised that he waited so long.  Why now?  Shouldn't he have dived into the whole blog phenomonon at least five years ago?

I sat down with Bobby at his home in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, to talk with him about his plans for this new blog, with the intriguing title, "Theater is a Sport".  Always the gracious host (he's so sweet!), Bobby offered me an iced tea and a comfortable chair, and a good half-hour to answer all of my questions.  You will find the transcript from this lively interview below.

BOBBY INTERVIEWER:   I want to thank you, noted playwright, actor, director and drama teacher Bobby Keniston, for taking the time to talk to me today about your new endeavor, namely, your new blog called Theater is a Sport.

BOBBY:  No problem, Bobby.  You know I always enjoy talking to you.  When I haven't had my medication, that is.  (Laughs--- he's so funny!)

BOBBY INTERVIEWER:  I guess the first question I have is quite simple:  why a blog?  Why now?

BOBBY:  Well, I was recently interviewed for a blog that my neighbor runs, and I got to thinking how nice it must be to have a little space of your own on the internet where you can just write down your thoughts to share with the world.  But it's more than that, really....

BOBBY INTERVIEWER:  More how?

BOBBY:  I won't lie--- I feel compelled to have this blog at this time in my life.  I just turned thirty-five after all...

BOBBY INTERVIEWER:  No!  You can't possibly be thirty-five!

BOBBY:  That's kind of you to say, but I speak the truth.  By the way, Bobby, you look pretty young for your age as well.  (What a nice guy!--- Bobby Interviewer)
 I have been a theater-lover, a drama geek, a stage junkie, call it what you will, for twenty-five years now.  I think if you add up the number of hours I have spent on stage in my life, it would equal more than the combined hours I have spent kissing a girl.  I have dedicated my life so far to my passion for theater and theatrical writing, and I feel I have a great deal to share on the subject. 

BOBBY INTERVIEWER:  Who are your target readers?

BOBBY:  Anyone and everyone who loves the world of theater.   Drama geeks, theater patrons, high school drama clubs, community theater participants, drama coaches and teachers, amateur directors, playwrights, story-spinners, anyone with a tale to tell.  People who have uttered the expressions "What's the house like?" or "how'd the audition go?"   People who know the joys and pains of being in a play, who understand the nobility of being a part of what is, in my mind, one of the greatest communal activities this planet has to offer.
Also, anyone who wants to learn more about plays... how to purchase them, produce them, etc.  A guy has gotta eat, after all.

BOBBY INTERVIEWER:  Tell me a bit about the title... how did you choose "Theater is a Sport"?

BOBBY:  Once, on a break from college I think it was, I went to see some plays my father had directed at my hometown middle school.  In one of the plays, a fifth or sixth grade boy was playing the wolf.  He didn't look like your standard
wolf--- he had  a long black wig and a bright red hat.  I don't recall him having any lines, but he would hold his hand out to the audience, as though he were about to scratch us all, and say, "Rrrrrrrrrrrr."   He stole the show.  Seriously.  He was terrific.  After the show, I went to talk to him.  If I remember correctly, the little boy's name was Anthony.  I asked him if he enjoyed being in the play, and he said, "Yes.  I play baseball, but I think theater is my favorite sport." 

This was more than just a cute thing for a kid to say.  In fact, it had a bit of a profound effect on me.  I can't even tell you the number of times I have told this to a cast I was directing since then.  "Energy, people," I'll say.  "Theater is a sport!" 

Because it is.  Theater is a sport.  It involves physical and mental discipline.  Now, many people say that theater is a craft, and I believe that to be the truth.  Some call it an artform, and I definitely agree with this as well.  But, beyond all this, theater is a sport.  It's about the body and mind, it's about pushing yourself, training yourself, competing with yourself, going the distance for yourself.  It's about coming off the stage sweaty and spent.  It's about leaving it all out there, night after night after night.  And it's about teamwork, learning when to pass the ball, learning when to back a play.  It's about connection with your team, known in our circle as your cast, and connection with the audience. 

Little Anthony couldn't have been more correct.

BOBBY INTERVIEWER:  Wow.  Wow.

BOBBY:  I know, right?

BOBBY INTERVIEWER:  So what types of subjects do you plan to tackle through this blog?

BOBBY:  All sorts of things.  I plan to speak out particularly about what's called the "amateur market", i.e., community theaters and school theater.  I believe amateur theater is TREMENDOUSLY important, perhaps of PARAMOUNT importance to keeping theater alive in our country.  All the big theater magazines of course will deal with professional thater, Broadway, Off-Broadway, Regional Theaters, and this is all awesome and interesting, and I love it, but there are directors, actors and playwrights who work very hard to keep "amateur" theater alive and thriving, and I think this benefits professional theater perhaps more than it is given credit for.
I also have this following plan:
1.  Fridays, I will interview people who have worked in theater (playwrights, actors, designers, editors), as much as I can.
2.  Saturdays, I will plug my own plays. What I mean is, well, yes, I will plug my own published plays, but I will also write teh background of my plays, why I wrote them, what I was trying to get across.  I love reading how playwrights came up with their work, and while I'm not saying too many people will be interested, maybe I'll have a few who want to know about how and why I write the plays I do.
3.  Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays, I will write about topics important to me when it comes to creating a strong community theater or high school theater program (or anything else that I might feel like writing about).
4.  Tuesdays I will be giving an on-line playwriting course, free of charge, for anyone who might be interested in learning to write a play!
5.  Thursdays will be 'THEATER STORIES" day, where I will tell stories from my experiences acting, directing and so forth in the theater, and, by my mistakes and funny tales, hopefully help others.

BOBBY INTERVIEWER:  Sounds pretty exciting.

BOBBY:  I think so.  I mean, I do hope people will find it interesting.

BOBBY INTERVIEWER:  And if they don't?

BOBBY:  Well, I'm no stranger to crying.   (He's so sensitive and in touch with his emotions!)

BOBBY INTERVIEWER:  Well, I know I'm excited to read and subscribe and all of that stuff.  And I know I will encourage everyone to do the same!

BOBBY:  Thanks so much!  I truly appreciate it!

BOBBY INTERVIEWER:  Thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.

BOBBY:  My pleasure.  Thanks for helping me out.

Bobby wished me well in his usual manner, and we shook hands and parted ways.  I, for one, know I am looking forward to see what Bobby has to say with his "little part of the internet". 

If you would like to know more about Bobby Keniston, check out his playwright's page on facebook that you can find here:  https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Bobby-Keniston-Playwright-Page/148232788536601

Also, make sure you keep coming back to his blog.  Subscribe, even!  Why not?  Tomorrow, Bobby's going to give you the full story about the first play he ever published, called "Rumplestilskin the R-Dawg, Hip-Hop Minstrel".  You won't want to miss it.

Oh, and remember--- like Bobby says, theater is a sport.

See you next time.



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