BWW Interviews: Mimi Holloway Discusses FESTIVAL OF ORIGINALS
FESTIVAL OF ORIGINALS is in its 17th year at Theatre Southwest and will undoubtedly stimulate audiences with it's eclectic flair. Five original one-act plays, by five different playwrights with five different casts, are premiered at Theatre Southwest each year. I got to chat with producer Mimi Holloway about the FESTIVAL OF ORIGINALS and the upcoming season at Theatre Southwest.
BWW: How did you get into the world of theatre?
Mimi Holloway.: It was easy. My mother and father met when they were studying drama in New York at the Academy of Dramatic Arts. My first role was at the age of six as Frosty the Snowman in my New Jersey elementary. After that I kept on going. My parents started Theatre Southwest in our living room shortly after we moved to Houston. It is now starting its 58th season. I do have a degree in drama from the University of Texas and met my husband while we both did touring shows.
BWW: There were over 600 scripts submitted for Festival of The Originals. What do you look for when you are selecting the the top five?
Mimi Holloway: The first thing I look for is length. This is a festival with 5 short plays of roughly 20 minutes each. Playwrights send in scripts ignoring the 20 minute limit. Scripts are sent in that are 5 minutes long and that are 3 hours long. They are the first to go. Second, I obviously look for the quality of the writing. Third, I try to choose an eclectic group of plays. I do not want to do only one genre. Fourth, I look to see that it is physically doable. Plays with live horses are out. The most common mistake made by playwrights is dividing their plays into too many separate scenes. You can not change furniture 4 times in twenty minutes and keep continuity. You can turn lights on and off to designate time changes.
BWW: How did Festival of the Originals come about?
Mimi Holloway: The FOO came about 17 years ago when we were thinking what might be a good fit for Theatre Southwest to do as an annual event each summer. Melodrama was the most frequent suggestion. I thought something a bit artier would be more appropriate. It was a time when playwrights were having a truly difficult time getting any original produced, so I thought this might be helpful to the playwrights and make for good theatre. It did.
BWW: What's on your wish list for Theatre Soutwest?
Mimi Holloway: My main hope for Theatre Southwest is that we can continue doing good theatre with talented people. Eventually, we will need to look around for a new location for the theatre. That is nothing I am looking forward to, but it is probably time to take it up a notch.
BWW: How has Theatre Southwest changed over the years?
Mimi Holloway: We have, of course, grown in 58 years; the season is longer; we have our own theatre etc. etc. However, the main change that stands out to me is the evolution of the types of shows we do. We do plays that we would have been afraid to do years ago. We have developed courage when it comes to doing plays that seem more than challenging. We also look forward to doing some hard-hitting plays that we might have shied away from years ago.
BWW: What makes Theatre Southwest unique?
Mimi Holloway: Our playreading committee is one of our strongest points. They are an extremely knowledgeable group that reads plays all year. We love to come together, discuss plays, and come up with a widely diverse group of well-written plays. I believe the choice of plays, including the FOO, and our Reader's Theatre is a real strong point.
BWW: Theatre Southwest has a compelling upcoming season. Which plays are you most excited about?
Mimi Holloway: Three of my favorite plays we are doing this season are John Patrick Shanley's Doubt because of its beautiful writing and its ability to make us think and question .Martin McDonagh's Pillowman is one of the more intensely powerful recent plays written in recent years. Thornton Wilder's Skin of Our Teeth is a long time favorite of mine. I have thought about doing it for many years. The Pulizer Prize winner was written in 1942 and is still one of the most freshly innovative plays ever written. There are elements of farce, burlesque and satire. It involves a suburban New Jersey couple from the Ice Age to the present. Dinosaur and all.
BWW: That sounds really interesting! I can't wait to see the show!
For tickets to FESTIVAL OF ORIGINALS, go to: www.theatresouthwest.org
FESTIVAL OF ORIGINALS runs July 18 ~ August 2
Matinee, July 27 @ 3:00 pm