Thursday, June 16, 2016

Interview with Playwright Gus Krieger

Gus Krieger is a Los Angeles based writer-director-producer of stage and screen.  As writer-producer: “The Killing Room” (2009). Writer-director: “Ol’ Stan Levid” (2007), “The Binding” (2016). Producer: “Would You Rather” (2012), “Fender Bender” (2016). As playwright: Deity Clutch (2011), Sherlock Through The Looking-Glass (2013), and Breaking Bard (2015), which took home the Spirit of the Fringe Award for Best Writing, out of 200+ shows.

Written by Steve Peterson

When did you discover that you had an ability and/or desire to write plays?

I was always writing in fits and starts as a kid, trying to conjure the great American space epic at age ten; the usual reach-exceeding-grasp business of the young. My first successfully completed (and subsequently self-mounted) full-length piece was 2005, and the creative momentum built from there. The immediacy and inherent challenges of the stage are very unique, and it’s a form I will always return to.

The Porters of Hellsgate production of your comedy Breaking Bard, which you also acted in, won awards and was a darling of the 2015 Hollywood Fringe Festival.   Your new play, The Armadillo Necktie, is also billed as a comedy, albeit it a jet black comedy – with the subject matter and situations taking on a very serious tone with the play set against the back-drop of war and a sense of loss, both past and present.  How did you go about weaving those elements into a comedy?

As a viewer, it’s always much easier to me if “important” topics are wrapped in something other than their own weight. This can be accomplished in any genre (Wes Craven, for example, called THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT his meditation on Vietnam), but, given the chance, I tend to lean a bit toward the humor - especially the dark variety - present in this largely absurd world surrounding us. The hope is that this play will make people laugh (and gasp and weep and think) but at the very least, I can always fall back on the original definition of “comedy”: a piece written in the language of the people, boasting a happy ending. Is the conclusion of ARMADILLO a happy one? I’ll let you decide.

How did you come up with the idea for The Armadillo Necktie?  What drove you to write about this particular subject?

It was year five or six of the Iraq war and everyone had stopped talking about it. That blew my mind. Here we were, a country with soldiers overseas attempting to accomplish an entirely ill-defined goal, and no one back at home seemed particularly concerned or even interested anymore. So what if it was personal? What if, instead of the country, it was one man? The wheels began to turn.

What is the meaning behind the title?

There’s the literal meaning (which I’ll leave you to discover), but also the notion that exacting revenge upon others takes a very literal toll. It always removes something; something is always lost. That something is, more often than not, very messy. We’ve glamorized the notion of revenge, made it sanitary, black and white. An armadillo necktie is anything but.

Tell us a bit about the play.

It’s dark, it’s funny, it’s sad, and it’s more than a little weird. I don’t like to talk influences, but the hope is that if you’re a fan of Samuel Beckett, or Nicky Silver, or John Patrick Shanley, or Martin McDonagh, or Tracy Letts, you’ll find something to chew on during those two hours.

What would you like the audience take away to be?

Think more. We’re so often caught up in our belief systems, our stasis, our day-to-day, we often lose track of whether we’re still on the right path, or indeed, on any path at all. The character of Madeline says at one point, “Beliefs supersede facts,” and I think she nailed it.

What are you up to next, writing and/or acting?

My philosophical feature thriller THE BINDING hits the shelves August 2nd, 2016. It’s a modern riff on the tale of Abraham and Isaac, with a liberal dose of thrills and chills and some great performances. You can follow me on Twitter @MrGusK for additional details and information. Thanks!

Gus Krieger’s The Armadillo Necktie runs June 17 through July 31, Friday & Saturday at 8:00 pm and Sundays at 2:00 pm, at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in North Hollywood.   For tickets and information please visit or call 818-763-5990. 

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