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Interview: Chris Anthony Ferrer's SWINDLERS Takes Atlanta Audiences on a “Wacky Roller Coaster” at Aurora Theatre

Co-produced by Aurora Theatre and Broadway Factor, this marks Ferrer's playwrighting debut.

Interview: Chris Anthony Ferrer's SWINDLERS Takes Atlanta Audiences on a “Wacky Roller Coaster” at Aurora Theatre

Hijinx. Misadventure. Door slams. What does it take to weave the intricacies of a farce? Playwright Chris Anthony Ferrer calls it "a very wild ride."

"Putting up a farce is a whirlwind in a handbasket," he admits. "[Rehearsing it is] a lot of chaos that needs to be controlled within a short amount of time. But it's been a hell of a lot of fun for sure!"

We chatted when Ferrer's debut play SWINDLERS was just over a week from opening night, and he was excited as can be, with no hint of nervousness.

Though his writing career thusfar has consisted primarily of screenplays and TV projects, theatre is his first love. Ferrer attributes the surprising journey of how the piece made it to a premiere with Aurora Theatre (and produced by Broadway Factor) to the sheer fun he had in creating it.

"I had written this script originally in my senior year of college back in 2015, and I wrote it for fun," he recalls. "It was no more than just to make myself laugh. I had no intention of doing anything with it because I thought it was just so wild of a play that it was probably too hard."

Fast forward to 2020. The sudden shutdown of the arts brought that passion project back to the forefront of his mind when he was looking for something to spark his creativity. With five years working in the industry under his belt, he looked at the farce with fresh eyes.

"I reread it, and I was like, 'I forgot how much I enjoyed this!'" So he commenced a new round of edits, blending his past creativity with his new professional experience. "Not much changed, but there was enough variation that I was very happy with being able to extend it."

The story of how it got from the playwright's desk in that moment through the hoops of readings to Aurora's mainstage schedule was one "Yes, we love it!" right after another. Once he was in the rehearsal room with the performers, however, the most challenging aspect of the process began.

"I think that the hardest part with this for me was being able to communicate my vision the way it is in my head to someone who was reading it and maybe not grasping it at first," he describes, "especially in a farce where everything is so specific and the timing is so precise."

Though this is the first farce he has penned, Ferrer studied farce and clowning in college under his professor James Randolph (who, "knows everything about everything about farce and clowning"). Ferrer says the timing and tone of the genre have always come naturally to him.

"I think that the art of clowning is brilliant. It's a very complex form of comedy, very smart," emphasizes the writer. "Charlie Chaplin, The Three Stooges, Lucille Ball, Abbott and Costello - to me that is a lost art form. I've always been enamored by the marriage of being able to be clever and witty, but in a dumb way. To me, that's such a fun form of comedy."

When it came to the nuts and bolts of SWINDLERS, Ferrer always wrote in the spirit of fun, imagining what situations he would enjoy playing with as an actor.

"I would write myself into a hole, and it would be fun to try to get myself out of it," shares Ferrer. "That created the conflict for each of the characters, which made it into a very wacky roller coaster that I think everyone is really gonna be pleasantly surprised by."

This "wacky rollercoaster" involved putting characters into a predicament, letting them think they were in the clear, and then escalating it. He says creating those tense situations for the characters - and ultimately for the audience, too - was the most fun aspect of writing the play.

"It just becomes an avalanche where you feel the characters sweating. You're sweating too, trying to see how they're gonna get themselves out of this one!" he laughs. "It really does get increasingly outrageous. So towards the end of it you're just as out of breath as the characters are."

He hopes the enjoyment he has experienced with this show is contagious and brings audiences a night full of laughter. Overall, he is grateful for the unexpected trajectory SWINDLERS has taken for him.

"Everything kind of happened by the grace of good fortune and in the spirit of none other than fun. I got extremely lucky with this whole situation," he says. "I think I attribute everything to having the good nature of just wanting to do something that made people laugh without caring about what came from it."


Broadway Factor and Aurora Theatre will present the World Premiere of SWINDLERS, the debut play by Chris Anthony Ferrer, directed by Ivan R. Lopez. This farce will be presented from May 19 - June 5 at Lawrenceville Arts Center's Clyde & Sandra Strickland Grand Stage Theatre (125 N Clayton St, Lawrenceville, GA). For tickets and more information, please visit www.auroratheatre.com.


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