Artistic Director Spotlight: An Interview with John Perovich
John Perovich has been a fixture at Brelby for several years now, leaving an impact on our community as a teaching artist, resident playwright, company member, Education Director and now as our newly appointed Director of New Play Development. Several of his scripts have been featured on the Brelby stage including: missing grace, poseidon’s regret, and unexpected. John was kind enough to sit down with me (Shelby Maticic, Artistic Director) for an interview about his new role, his views on new works, and what we can look forward to in Season 10.
Shelby: You’ve been working closely with playwrights at Brelby for some time now, to help mentor and provide feedback and guidance on their works. What do you hope comes of this new position as Director of New Play Development?
John: It’s my hope that Brelby continues to be a place where playwrights can explore and develop their work. Write Club—our Writer’s Group—is approaching its second year and it is my hope that the group will continue to grow, meet more frequently, and generate more opportunities for its writers. Of course, I’m still very committed to seeking outside opportunities for our writers to submit to, but I believe we can begin creating in-house opportunities for our writers— particularly readings. Additionally, I would like to continue to build relationships with other companies interested in new work in the hopes there could be more collaboration. I believe there are theatres in the valley with interests in new work and playwrights, and I would like to see that community grow closer.
Shelby: Brelby’s Write Club has provided a great resource for local playwrights to come together and share their work. What do you think has been the greatest success of this group? What do you hope to see it grow into?
John: There is a strong core group of writers who are committed to their process from month to month. The strongest success of the group is providing an environment for these writers to grow and have a community excited to receive and respond to their work. We have had several playwrights develop work who have gone on to be produced at Brelby or other local theatres. Additionally, we have had playwrights selected to national festivals, particularly the Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska. I hope to see the group continue to develop and submit work. I’d like to see more of our writers getting produced and selected on more stages and festivals.
Shelby: There still seems to be a level of skepticism about the number of playwrights locally, and the quality of their work. What would you say in response to doubters?
Brian: There is a rich landscape of playwrights and new work in the Phoenix Metro area. True, there are many playwrights affiliated with Brelby; however, there are writers working with other theatres in the Phoenix Metro area. There is a vibrant, dedicated community of writers at Space 55 and Theatre Artists Studio. Further, there are two new companies in Phoenix focusing on new work: B3 Productions and Now & Then Creative Company (which I started with Allison Bauer, a Brelby company member). Finally, the Caleb Reese Festival of New Plays and Musicals out of Phoenix Theatre continues to be a stellar annual event that connects local artists working in new work development with writers from across the nation (there are incredibly talented folks involved with this work). I should also mention that new work is being developed and produced at Arizona State University—we even have current and former MFA Dramatic Writing students participating in new work development at local theatres. So, there really is no reason for skepticism.
When it comes to quality, I think it’s fair to say that the quality of new work will vary, the same way it would for any production and for any script. I’m excited for this new opportunity at Brelby and the work we will do to continue to support writers and new work development.
Shelby: The Night of Shorts is kicking off Brelby’s 10th Season with six original short plays. Can you talk a little bit about the NOS? How it is growing this year? What is your role this time? What are you most excited about?
John: I love The Night of Shorts! NOS is an opportunity to feature Arizona playwrights in a night of diverse storytelling. The plays tend to be unique to the writers’ styles, so it’s a treat to see 6 different approaches to storytelling for the stage in one night! What I also love about NOS is that it brings together many different directors and performers, all working to support a great night of theatre. It’s like a party, really.
This year, Brelby is offering writers an opportunity to be published in an anthology of plays for NOS. It’s a wonderful credit for writers and it is also a tiny step toward our larger vision of publishing plays by Arizona writers. It’s exciting that these 6 writers will be the first in a family of writers that is certain to develop beyond this first publication.
This year, I am assisting with the artistic direction of NOS. I will work to provide dramaturgical support to the writers, as well as serve as a sounding board amongst all of the artists that we recruit for NOS. Further, I will be supporting the overall production of the plays, ensuring that we’re producing excellent work for our patrons. I’m thankful for the opportunity and excited to share these 6 plays with our audiences. That’s also what I’m most excited about, actually—sharing these plays with our patrons.
Shelby: There are a few world premieres in the Season 10 lineup. You’re penning Spy Love You. Can you give us a little teaser of what that show is about?
John: Spy Love You is a love letter to the spy genre. I’m a huge fan of spy films and TV shows. Audiences can expect some familiar tropes, but I’m hard at work ensuring that the story feels fresh, exciting, and unpredictable—I love surprises! It’s funny, actually, how easy it is to get ahead of spy stories as an audience member—I think we’re trained how to watch and experience spy stories. So, I’ve got my work cut out for me.
S: Final question…what words of advice would you give to an artist who is thinking about about writing something…but is afraid to dive into their first piece?
Don’t be afraid. The best way to write…the only way to write is…to write. Don’t second guess yourself. Don’t try to be clever. Write what comes to you and don’t think too much about it. Save that for the editing 😉