Liz Flahive: Moving Up with 'From Up Here'
Nominated for the 2008 Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards, From Up Here premiered at Manhattan Theatre Club this spring with a flurry of praise for a great cast, engaging story and an impressive new playwright, Liz Flahive!
"A darkly funny and unexpectedly moving family story," From Up Here is a captivating new piece about love, forgiveness and the actualities of today's youth at home and school. The play stars Julie White as neo-mom Grace, and Tobias Segal as Kenny, her troubled son both in Drama Desk nominated roles. Directed by Drama Desk nominee Leigh Silverman.
Playwright Liz Flahive took a brief moment to correspond with BroadwayWorld and discuss the process that has brought this appealing new production from the page to the stage. From Up Here concludes its engagement at MTC on Sunday, June 8
Eugene Lovendusky: Thank you so much, Liz, for grabbing a few minutes to chat with BroadwayWorld about your critically acclaimed new play From Up Here! Just last week you received the John Gassner (Outer Critics Circle) Award for your heralded new play. Congratulations! What kind of whirlwind have you experienced since this success?
Liz Flahive: I think the biggest change has been that when I'm in a room with people, some of them know me as a playwright now. I think as a writer you spend a lot of time trying to get your work produced and telling people you're a playwright and trying hard to believe it yourself.
Eugene: From Up Here is dripping in familiarity; from the every-days of home-life (like busted sprinkler systems!) to the sometimes unbearable pressures of high school. What influenced your creation of Kenny, Grace and the Barrett family?
Liz: I wanted to create a family that spoke naturalistically. In my mind, that means overlapping, deflecting, running up and down stairs. I think that, well at least in my house, everything happened in the kitchen. Or everything that happened as a group, happened in the kitchen. And Allen Moyer's brilliant set also contributes loads to the familiarity. You can learn a lot about a family from their kitchen.
Eugene: Tobias Segal, who expertly portrays Kenny, told me in a previous interview that something about this play "clicks." I have to agree specifically the "little things" like Grace watching Kenny stand tall on a chair or the nerdy-ness of wooing a girl with a guitar How did all these delightful "life-moments" slip into the play?
Liz: I think I always wanted the play to be a way to use smaller moments to talk about bigger things. Standing on a chair in your kitchen isn't such a big deal but for Kenny (and subsequently Grace) it's huge. If you're awkward, like truly seriously awkward, there's nothing worse than having to ask someone to a dance. I think using humor to buoy up the larger issues in the play was something I was very interested in all along. I wanted the play to be hopeful but not sentimental. To me there's little that's sentimental about being a teenager nowadays.