Hi everyone! Welcome to our interview series with the current rockin MFA playwrights, leading up to Seabury Quinn! Aaron James Johnson is a 3rd year MFA playwright and is the Seabury Quinn producer and the writer of the excellent play, “The Birthday Kiss”. He is known for his rebellious work, his love of family dramas and his Midwest sensibility! Check out the interview below and then see his production this very month!! Also watch out for all 7 of the other interviews with our other writers!
- If your play beat me up, how would he do it?
2.What artists do you look up to?
Oh, lots of artists. As far as theater goes, I’m pretty boring. The biggies like Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams were hugely influential on me as I went through middle and high school. Their ability to create these complex worlds full of detail on a single stage was amazing to me. I could vividly paint the world of the play in my mind. Sam Shepard, and his ability to create these weird, complex relationship between family, is something I’ve also admired and want to emulate. Also Charles Schulz. Without Peanuts I wouldn’t be the artist I am today.
My inspiration for my full lengths usually come from specific stage images I have in mind and can’t get out of my head. In my first year play, it was a man carrying a sawed off deer’s head and in my second year play it was a woman pouring gasoline all over herself. Morbid I know, but these situations get me thinking, “How did this come to happen? What does it mean?” Those questions keep spinning around in my head and I need to write about them and figure it out.
I think last year I said I could clap with one hand and I told people to ask me about it so I could show them. And no one did. So this year, same answer. I can clap with one hand. Come ask me about it. I’ll show you.
Now that you are obsessed with Aaron, come see his staged reading in the Seabury Quinn Fest!
Thursday April, 21st
The Birthday Kiss
by Aaron Johnson (thesis presentation)
8:00 pm (Free admission), Baker Theater, Kantner Hall
BLURB:Brook just wants to celebrate her son Billy’s birthday. There’s a problem though. Billy’s dead. But that’s not gonna stop her. She “enlists” the help of Finn, her young lover, and Billy’s long-time friend and neighbor Lucy, who is actually dating Finn and is going to have his baby. As Brook forces the two to participate in the birthday activities, it becomes clearer and clearer that Brook isn’t only trying to recreate Billy’s birthday, she’s trying to recreate Billy himself.
More about Aaron
Aaron Johnson hails from the land of cheese in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. He received his Bachelor of the Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he majored in English with an Emphasis in Creative Writing and in Theatre and Drama. While not officially specializing in playwriting in his undergrad, Aaron took the only playwriting course offered twice and completed his creative writing thesis as a play instead of fiction or poetry writing which the school usually requires. During his time at UW-Madison, Aaron completed three full length plays, multiple One-Acts, and numerous short plays which were all workshopped and some eventually produced at the university in staged readings. In his Theatre and Drama major he specialized in props and was props master for a number of university shows including Ti-Jean and his Brothers and Eurydice. Working his summers during college as a technical writer, Aaron decided to take a year off from school and work full time but the call of academia was too much for him to resist though as he is currently pursuing his MFA in Playwriting from Ohio University. Aaron’s writing tends to take the complex and unnoticed topics of today’s culture and bring them to light by using them to create dramatic conflict and then ultimate understanding. Using these undiscovered topics and coupling them with a realistic style will grow people’s curiosity and actively induce them to gain knowledge about today’s world. Aaron feels immensely privileged and grateful to be working towards his MFA in Playwriting at OU with such great and inspiring mentors, colleagues, and friends.