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BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Los Angeles-Based Playwright Phil Olson

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BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Los Angeles-Based Playwright Phil OlsonWith the current theatre world on hiatus, I have created a Spotlight Series on Broadway World which features interviews with some of the many talented artists who make our Los Angeles theatre community so exciting and vibrant thanks to their ongoing contribution to keeping the Arts alive in the City of the Angels. And just like all of us, I wondered how they are dealing with the abrupt end of productions in which they were involved.

This Spotlight focuses on Phil Olson who makes his home in Los Angeles after being born and raised a real "outdoors man" in Edina, Minnesota. He has won over 30 playwriting and theatre awards with his 16 published plays that have had over 400 productions in seven countries around the world, with ten of his plays published by Samuel French/Concord Theatricals.

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Los Angeles-Based Playwright Phil OlsonThis past Christmas, his new play, "A Twisted Christmas Carol," had its world premieres in eight cities, concurrently, across the U.S. including a production by Group Rep at the Lonny Chapman Theatre in NoHo. But what's he up to now with such a vast theatrical quarantine in place?

Shari Barrett (SB): What else would you like readers to know about your theatrical background?

Phil Olson (Phil): After graduating from Dartmouth, I tried out for the Chicago Bears. After my "summer with the Bears," I went on to receive an MBA from The University of Chicago and pursued a business career while writing stage and screenplays. So far, I've written 16 published plays that have had over 400 productions in seven countries around the world. Ten of my plays are published by Samuel French/Concord Theatricals. My screenplay, "Sioux Falls," is currently under option. And I have sold two screenplays and script doctored three screenplays that were produced. I also went through all four levels of The Groundlings, writing and performing with many talented people including Maya Rudolph

(SB): What production(s) were you involved with when word went out you needed to immediately postpone/cancel the show?

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Los Angeles-Based Playwright Phil Olson(Phil): My play "Mom's Gift," was set to open at the Western Ontario Drama League Festival in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada, on March 20, but was canceled due to COVID-19. The Western Ontario Drama League communicated the cancellation with the cast and crew. And since the entire Festival isn't taking place, there are no plans to bring back the production.

(SB): What future productions on your schedule are also affected by the shutdown?

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Los Angeles-Based Playwright Phil Olson(Phil): "Mom's Gift" is set to open at the Ignitel Community Theatre, Spokane Valley, WA, in June, and is on a "wait and see" status. My musical, "Polyester the Musical" is set to open at the Hanover Little Theatre in Hanover, PA, in June and is also on a "wait and see" status.

(SB): How are you keeping the Arts alive while at home by using social media or other online sites?

(Phil): I wrote a new play and will soon be doing a Zoom reading of it with five actors. If that goes well, I'll do more Zoom readings with theatres around the country.

BWW Spotlight Series: Meet Los Angeles-Based Playwright Phil OlsonFor me, the quarantine has been a good time to write. I'm sort of a hermit anyway, so the shutdown hasn't affected me that much other than motivate me to work a little harder at writing. I would just encourage all the playwrights to keep writing, and don't let the shutdown discourage you. We'll get through this. But it certainly saddens me that theatres are dark right now. It encourages me to see actor and director friends of mine do live Facebook feeds, blogs, and Zoom rehearsals to get through this. The creativity I've seen in using social media to continue with the arts is a shining light.

Lastly, I'd like to send a big Thank You to everyone who supports live theatre! Please continue to support your local theatre. They need your support now more than ever.

For more info about my plays, please visit PhilOlson.com


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From This Author Shari Barrett