The Theatre Lover Who Went From Stage Manager to Critic to Playwright

Outside the Theatre   The Theatre Lover Who Went From Stage Manager to Critic to Playwright
 
How he found his way to writing (and producing) his own play in this year’s Fringe Festival.
Michael Block
Michael Block Monica Simoes
Michael Block
Michael Block Monica Simoes

Who: Michael Block
Stopped: Outside the St. James Theatre on 44th Street

What are you doing in the theatre district today?
Besides catching Pokémon, I’m hanging out with friends and trying to do some promotion for my FringeNYC show by handing out these fliers.

What show are you working on?
I wrote a play inspired by Ibsen’s Peer Gynt about a young man’s journey to find himself. He goes on a wild adventure and meets gluttonous trolls, a mischievous guardian and his one true love. It’s called The Illusory Adventures of a Dreamer; we have a really awesome cast and an amazing director, and I’m excited to share it with the world.

What’s it like being a part of FringeNYC?
It’s taken me five years to get into FringeNYC, and I couldn’t be happier; it’s probably the craziest and most rewarding experience ever. We’re just one of 200 shows in the festival this year. There are 16 venues, and there are 12 shows in our venue. We have 15 minutes to put the show up and 15 minutes to take it down. It’s basically guerrilla marketing, and you make the work happen on your own. What’s most exciting is the community that comes out of it. We’re all doing our own projects, but we’re all there to support one another; we’re sharing items, sharing resources; and that’s what independent theatre is—it’s being able to create together.

Will this be the first time you’re staging this play?
It has had two readings, but this will be its first full production.

Did you go and see Peer Gynt at Classic Stage Company?
I did see it! I will say ours is a little different.

Are you a full-time playwright?
I’m a playwright-slash-producer-slash-theatre critic. I’ve had my own website for the last five years where I do interviews and review shows on Broadway and Off-Broadway.

What got you into the theatre industry?
It began in high school, and I honestly don’t think I could do anything else. I only know the life of theatre. I started as a stage manager—my degree is in stage management—and I got to work on Broadway in Stick Fly; and on amazing Off-Broadway productions including Angels in America and Clybourne Park. I loved it, but I also wanted to write. I wanted to feel more creatively fulfilled, so I started writing some plays of my own, and here we are now.

How would you say you’ve grown as a playwright?
Being a critic has helped me so much because it’s almost [like] taking a master class. I’ve probably seen over 500 shows in the last five years, and I’ve gotten to see what works and what doesn’t work on stage, and it’s inspired me. It’s given me the kick in the butt to make my own work.

What are the top three shows you’ve seen this year?
Oh! I have to check the list on my phone. I would say: The Grand Paradise, You Are Now Here and The Woodsman.

To follow Block, visit theaterinthenow.com.

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