Interview: John Perrin Flynn on Directing the MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA & the Artists of L.A. Theatre

Currently at Rogue Machine, the L.A. Premiere of Christian St. Croix’ Monsters of the American Cinema, which just opened April 6th @ the Matrix

By: Apr. 07, 2024
Interview: John Perrin Flynn on Directing the MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA & the Artists of L.A. Theatre
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Interview: John Perrin Flynn on Directing the MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA & the Artists of L.A. Theatre

Currently at Rogue Machine, the Los Angeles Premiere of Christian St. Croix’ Monsters of the American Cinema, which just opened April 6, 2024, at the Matrix Theatre. Rogue Machine’s producing artistic director John Perrin Flynn directs the cast of Kevin Daniels and Logan Leonardo Arditty. John took some time out of his very busy schedule to answer a few of my queries.

Thank you for taking the time for this interview, John!

How did Christian St. Croix’s script land on your lap initially?

Andrew Hungerfield, who was the lighting designer for Middle of the World, both in Boise and then when it moved here, is also the artistic director of Cincinnati’s Know Theatre. He directed Monsters of the American Cinema there and he gave it to Guillermo Cienfuegos (co-artistic director at Rogue Machine) who brought it back to us.

What elements of Monsters of the American Cinema convinced you it was to be a Rogue Machine production?

I am always looking for theater which opens up the workings of the human heart and helps us understand the challenges we all face in this very difficult time in which we live. How do we battle the horrors which life constantly brings? How do we find the way to live so life is worth living with such adversity?  When a play comes along that allows us this exploration, we grab it. Monsters of the American Cinema was a tremendous read, deceptively simple but searing in its portrayal of what grief and loss can provoke. It helps that the play is also very funny. Once in a while when I read a play, I know immediately we have to do it. Interview: John Perrin Flynn on Directing the MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA & the Artists of L.A. Theatre Examples include Enda Walsh’s The New Electric Ballroom, Sam Hunter’s A Permanent Image, Henry Murray’s Tree Fall and every play John Pollono has written. Christian’s dialogue and style of writing is both accomplished and fresh. I’ve never seen a story told this way in the theatre before and I wanted us to do it. 

What would your three-line pitch of Monsters of the American Cinema be?

Lions and Tigers and Bears! Oh my!

A good man, living in a world often hostile to who he is and must be, finds himself a father to his dead husband’s son, something he never thought he’d be. As he struggles to overcome his own and his adopted son’s grief, he sees the boy turning to what we now call the Dark Side. He needs to do the right thing to save his new son and himself but what is the right thing?

In this two-hander, how would you describe your two characters of Remy Washington and Pup?

Remy is more than a survivor. He's a warrior. He's a gentle gay man who is the go-to activist when his community is in need. He's earned that position because he is an activist in every moment of his life. He is profoundly aware he is not what many people think a man should be. He looks for and lives for the good – what makes his life meaningful and joyous - and he refuses to be anyone other than the good man he was meant to be.

Pup is confused. He’s lost both his father and his mother in ways that prey upon a young person – Did he do something wrong? Wasn’t he good enough? He’s plagued by nInterview: John Perrin Flynn on Directing the MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA & the Artists of L.A. Theatre ightmares – a monster in his room. Like Remy, maybe because of Remy, Pup is a good person but he’s lived an isolated life – when he was young he had behavioral problems and he’s still going to school with the same people but now in high school. He has few friends and some of them are bullies. His father’s death has left a hole in his heart.

Like Remy and Pup, did you yourself have a situation in which you found a friend or acquaintance that had a belief or practice that was opposed to your own thinking?

I think we have all looked down the corridors in the Dark Side. I had someone from my childhood – someone like a brother to me - end up dying in prison. What was important was to understand the monster within him did not negate the sweet damaged human being he also was – and not to condone what he did but to make sure he knew he was loved.

As Rogue Machine’s founding artistic director and now producing artistic director, do you get first dibs on projects to direct? Or do you and artistic director Guillermo Cienfuegos battle it out?

I was so happy when Guillermo agreed to share the leadership of Rogue Machine with me. The fact that he will continue to guide it as I fade away means Rogue Machine will continue to play the important role it does in Los Angeles Theatre. We work together well, and we try to figure out what is the best team for any given production. I haven’t directed since before the pandemic and I was becoming a grumpy old man. When RM started, I had an artistic vision for a kind of theatre I wasn’t seeing in L.A. and I was very fortunate to gather a truly extraordinary group of artists together. For a long time I got to play with those artists and it made for a frantic but happy life. In the last four years the happy portion went away. I needed this.

WInterview: John Perrin Flynn on Directing the MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA & the Artists of L.A. Theatre hat criteria of a play entices you to want to direct it?

I think the plays I am drawn to are poetic – they seek the meaning behind the meaning and they always expose the human soul.

You have produced all of Rogue Machine’s mainstage productions. Is it a challenge not to wear your director’s cap when someone else is directing?

The relationship between artistic director and director can be fraught or beautiful - and sometimes both. The plays the thing – as someone said – and what we want to do is serve the play – to put on the best production we are able to mount – having this as a mantra doesn’t resolve every clash but it is a good roadmap to resolution.

What fond memories can you recall of directing Rogue Machine’s inaugural production of John Pollono’s Lost and Found in 2008?

I had finished six years on a series in 2006 and I really wanted to go back to theater. My wife Ann saw Craig Lucas’s Small Tragedy in New York. I was represented by the same mega agency at that time and so I asked to read it.

Interview: John Perrin Flynn on Directing the MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA & the Artists of L.A. Theatre I took it to Ron Sossi (The Odyssey Theatre) who I had worked with before and he agreed to produce it but not until the spring of 2008. I was jonesing. I saw an ad that said “playwright looking for a director” somewhere. I knew better than to respond. I had seen more than my share of playwrights looking for directors, but I was bored so I responded. I sat down with the script expecting not to get past 10 pages and read the whole thing in about an hour. I set it down, picked up the phone and called the playwright. I told him I would love to direct his play. The playwright was John Pollono and the play was Lost and Found.

Is there a script that you would love to sink your directing chops into?

There is a play that we will be doing next year that I'm hoping to direct but I can't talk about it yet. I'm also talking to Sam Hunter about doing the L.A. premiere of The Case for the Existence of God, which is one of Sam's best plays and that's saying a lot. I also hope I am lucky enough to direct one of Tim Venable’s plays someday.

Besides Nick Ullett’s The Birthday Party: A Theatrical Catastrophe, what else is on Rogue Machine’s schedule? 

Interview: John Perrin Flynn on Directing the MONSTERS OF THE AMERICAN CINEMA & the Artists of L.A. Theatre Next up is Hitler's Tasters by Michelle Kholos Brooks - which opens April 27.
What’s next in the near future for John Perrin Flynn

Rest, please!

Thank you, again, John! I look forward to meeting your Monsters.

For tickets to the live performances of Monsters of the American Cinema through May 19, 2024; click on the button below:




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