Down South, the sleeper hit of the 2000 season, is piling up its accomplishments. Not only has the comedy been extended four times since its March 17 world premiere at the Flight Theatre -- playing to sold-out audiences all the while -- but it has attracted the attention of two backers who intend to transfer the production to New York and open it Off-Broadway in the spring of 2001.
As if that weren't enough, consider the fact that Down South (currently running through June 24) is the first and only play its author, Doug Field, has written. The 39-year-old Field was trained as a lawyer and was working in the legal department of a Hollywood production company when he got the urge to write a play. "I bought a laptop in the summer of '99 and started writing," he said in an exclusive interview with Playbill On-Line. "That fall I went up to San Francisco where a friend of mine had arranged a reading with actors. It was the first time I had heard words of mine delivered by actors. People at the reading laughed a lot and liked the play, so I decided to finance a production myself in Los Angeles."
Field rented the 49-seat Flight Theatre in Hollywood, found a director (Rick Sparks) and set about casting the six-person comedy, which is set in rural Pennsylvania in 1962 at the time of the Cuban missile crisis and the dawning of the feminist movement.
"The Down South of the title refers to Cuba-- and to oral sex," Field said with a laugh. The lead character is a woman who is emboldened by the times to demand that her husband satisfy her needs in that latter regard. "Reviews and audience response were wonderful and, much to my surprise, I found that I had a hit play to my name, one that actually began making me some money."
The play's success has not only attracted the attention of theatrical investors but of various film companies, including Tribeca Films. "I have no idea whether a play about oral sex can be turned into a movie, though I should stress that all the sex is innocently done; there's no nudity or simulated love-making. Down South is really a comedy of manners and etiquette," Field said. -- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent