Hi everyone! Welcome to our interview series with the current rockin MFA playwrights, leading up to Seabury Quinn! Ryan Patrick Dolan is a 3rd year MFA playwright and wrote of the mainstage plays, “Bait Shop.” He is known for his love of improv, his confessional work and being pretty pretty funny.! 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 was an outfit, what would it be and why??
Ratty, dirty baseball uniform of your favorite team that you wore as a kid. It doesn’t quite fit, but there is no chance in hell you’ll ever throw it out.
- What kind of mood do you want your play to put me in? Like when I leave the theater will I be crying on the floor, craving snacks, wanting to fall in love etc.
Well, I only hope they’re not bored. Otherwise, you can’t control people’s moods unless you’re just trying to piss them off. That’s easy to do and takes no skill. Worrying about what mood an audience member will have when they leave is one of the least constructive questions an artist can ask themself. When I write for the stage, I try to mix humor with a darker exploration of human motivations. If my audience is viscerally affected in someway, and the humor was able to bring the audience into a deeper connection to the story, then that is satisfying. Aristotle gives a good blue print for how to do this, but there are a variety of ways to tell a story and accomplish it. The Aristotlean structure still gets studied and executed, because it’s the best blueprint to deliver the desired outcome of what Aristotle called “catharsis. I prefer the term “visceral” (from the gut) than “catharsis,” because I think it’s more accurate description of the audiences’ experience in that the audience’s emotional reaction is directly connected to being the same room as the actors telling the story. That’s how any theatrical experience works best for me. Visceral can be laughter, anger, sadness, empathy. Those are all things that can “purge” your soul. A well-executed improv show by a longform improv troupe can be as cathartic as the best written and produced play. Considering Aristotle never saw a play (theater was outlawed by the Spartans when he was alive), and only read them, most theater artists, can speak to how theater actually works better than someone who never saw a play executed in person. Considering you can tell a tighter, better executed story via TV or Film and theoretically deliver “catharsis,” a theater artist has to ask themself why there is a desire to do something on stage rather than the camera. It’s those visceral moments that connect actor to audience, and audience member to audience member, that compel people to participate and see theater. This is easier when you follow the basic tenets of storytelling, keeping the audience engaged throughout, and moving the story along towards where you want it to end.
- You are a third year writer, what are some of your favorite lessons you learned at grad school?
At the end of the day, if you’re not writing for yourself, then you’re wasting your time. Never stop trying to make your play better up to opening night. Sometimes that means re-writing. Sometimes that means making sure other elements that are helping tell your story are the best they can be.
4. What’s a fun fact about you?
In relation to my play, I guess this: When I was 15-year-old and a pitcher, my right arm was falling off due to permanent damage to my shoulder and elbow from throwing too much as a kid, opposing batters started hitting home runs off of me for the first time. So, I retaliated by beaning batters cause that’s what the major league pitchers did after batters hit home runs off of them. I couldn’t throw that fast so it didn’t really hurt, but it was the only way for me to show myself, my teammates, and my opponents that I wasn’t just going to roll over and give up. Off the diamond, I would never throw a 55 mph (which is super slow) at someone. The dichotomy of how someone acts in competition, whether it be on a playing field or trying to vie for affection of someone you like, and how they act where there are no stakes or pressure, will always be fascinating to me. Our society accepts certain behavior on the playing field, and in business, that they might not accept in other facets of life. I was way more competitive and ruthless on a baseball field or basketball court, then I am vying for a girl’s affection when there’s another suitor. If anything, “competition” for a person’s heart turns me away. People don’t like to think they’d “lie” or “cheat” or “steal” or “bully,” and yet everyone does it when it serves them or think it’s justified. So, some people might think it’s horrific that a kid would bean another kid, but I was following the behavior of my idols and the “unwritten rules of baseball” (one of my coaches actually lauded it), and trying to work out a system of justice and way to level the playing field with my competitors who were more talented than I was. Was that what you meant by fun?
Here is a photo of young Ryan fishing in Michigan and the image at the top of the article is Ryan playing baseball!
Come see his show!!
by Ryan Patrick Dolan
Directed by Rani Crowe
8:00 pm – April 13th, 16th, 21st & 22nd;
2:00 pm – April 16th, Forum Theater, RTV Building
Glenn, 42, makes a connection with Sarah, a recent college grad with a similar passion for baseball, who’s spending the summer in Leeward, Michigan to wait tables. Glenn is desperate to leave the snowy climes of Northern Michigan and follow his dreams of scouting and coaching baseball but scared to act. Sarah is headed to L.A. in the fall for law school and, as things get serious between them, Glenn sees an opportunity to start a new life. Is his plan a foolish lark that’s bound to fail or a risk worth taking?
Tickets for the Featured Productions are $5 general admission or FREE for OU Students (with valid student ID) through Arts for Ohio; available at the Templeton–Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium box office.
More about Ryan
Ryan Patrick Dolan writes dark, comedic plays that explore love and loss, passion and destruction. Stylistically influenced by his years of improvisation, acting, and the Chicago Storefront aesthetic, he challenges the American stereotypes of gender, race, and sexuality. He has a B.A. in playwriting from Columbia College Chicago, and is a graduate of the School at Steppenwolf acting conservatory. Dolan produced 10-4: THE TRUCK STOP PLAYS at CIC Theater in Chicago, which consisted of his one-act play, BURGER KING, and three other one-acts written by his fellow Ohio playwrights. He assisted director Tina Landau for Steppenwolf Theater’s production of Tarrell Alvin McCraney’s “The Brother/Sister Plays.” Ryan was the dramaturg at RedTwist theater for Kimberly Senior’s production of “The Pillowman,” and Keira Fromm’s production of “The Lobby Hero.” Both were nominated for Jeff Awards for “Best Play” and “Best Director.” Ryan is also a 11-year veteran of the Chicago improv scene. He has primarily performed at iO and Annoyance Theaters, but also has performed and taught workshops at numerous festivals and universities around the country with his groups Revolver and Pudding-Thank-You. Ryan also taught, and co-wrote and performed four Mainstage shows at Boston’s Improv Asylum. ryanpatrickdolan.com