PETE BARRY: I don’t think I knew what I was signing up for. I walked into my high school’s theater auditions (for what ungodly reason I can’t remember) and they asked me to perform a prepared monologue. I only vaguely understood what a “monologue” was. And any of my teachers could have told them I had no idea what “prepared” meant. So I performed all three parts from the Dennis scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail. I think I shocked them into submission, so they cast me as Durdles the gravedigger in The Mystery of Edwin Drood. It was all downhill from there.
JL: Tell me a little bit about your writing process. Do you have any writing rituals? Do you write in the same place or in different places?
PB: I’m the stay-at-home-father of young children, which means keeping them from scaling the refrigerator by day and explaining what 2:30 AM means in the middle of the night. So I’ve adapted my writing habits to snatching moments of time here and there, usually before everyone’s awake or after bedtime. There are thousand of pieces of scrap paper with my scribblings all around my house. I haven’t quite mastered writing on my phone while at the playground.
JL: Can you tell me about the play that’s being published in Plays for Two?
PB: My mother is constantly pitching play ideas to me. They are always terrible. But her mere existence often inspires me. Unfortunately, she’s losing her hearing, which she’s much more good-natured about than the rest of us who are trying to talk to her. This play, Hearing Aid, wrote itself pretty organically. It’s about the frustrations of an older, married couple who can’t hear each other anymore, and so they end up having two totally different conversations at the same time. I also wanted to explore the way couples can talk without actually communicating or understanding each other at all.
JL: What excited you about being a part of this anthology?
PB: I’m star-struck. When I was in college, David Ives was the tops. You had to do or see at least one of his plays every semester, and I remember falling off my couch laughing while reading Mere Mortals. Now Eric and Nina have put me in a book with him, where my play will flirt inappropriately with Venus in Fur, forever. And that’s not even mentioning the rest of the talent they’ve collected for the anthology. Thank you, Eric and Nina, for allowing me to walk among giants.
JL: What advice do you have for up-and-coming playwrights?
PB: If you can produce your own work, do it. Wear all the hats you can – actor, director, producer – on whatever scale or budget you can manage. Try short plays; if you can write three to six of them for a small cast without a set, you’ve got an evening of cheap drama that’s relatively easy for a local community theater to produce.
JL: What next for you? Where can we follow your work?
PB: You can check out the antics of my company, The Porch Room, at www.porchroom.com.
About the Playwright
About the Anthology
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It takes two to tango—or to perform a duet, fight a duel, or play ping-pong. The two-character play is dramatic confrontation stripped to its essence. These four full-length and twenty-four short plays feature pairs of every sort—strangers, rivals, parents and children, siblings, co-workers, friends, and lovers—swooning or sparring, meeting cute or parting ways. In a dizzying range of moods and styles, these two-handers offer the kind of meaty, challenging roles actors love, while providing readers and audiences with the pleasures of watching the complex give-and-take dynamics of two keenly matched characters.