BWW Interviews: Playwright Rick Viede of NOBODYS GIRL at NJ Rep
Nobody's Girl, a provocative new play for American Audiences will have its United States Premiere at New Jersey Repertory Company (NJ Rep). The show will be on the Long Branch Stage from August 20th through September 20th. Written by Rick Viede and directed by Erica Gould it is an unforgiving, hilarious satire of today's frenzied media and those who will do anything to be on top. This witty show has plenty of twists and turns. Broadwayworld.com had the opportunity to interview Rick Viede about his career and Nobody's Girl.
Rick Viede is an Australian writer and performer now living in New York. He has had an illustrious career in Australia, winning the Griffin Award (2008) and Queensland Premier's Literary Award (2010) for his debut play Whore, which premiered in 2009 at Belvoir St Theatre closely followed by a production at NYC's Summer Play Festival at the Public Theatre. His second play A Hoax took out the 2011 Griffin Award, was showcased at the National Playwriting Festival and played to rave reviews and sell out houses at Griffin Theatre Co (Sydney) & La Boite (Brisbane). The American adaptation premieres at NJ Rep under the title Nobody's Girl. Rick was commissioned by Bell Shakespeare to write a neo-restoration gender bending comedy called Gull, or the lamentable comedy called love (hereto known as the Trannies' Revenge) and his new play Oranges & Lemons was shortlisted for the Max Afford Playwrights Award & Patrick White Playwrights Award.
Rick also created & performs as the satiric semi-drag "Aspiring Personality & Total Bottom" persona Glace Chase, who has built a cult following throughout Australia and internationally. Glace can currently be found running crazy interactive drag walking tours of NYC in his new business Dream Queen Tours: www.dreamqueentours.com.
What prompted your early interest in performing and writing?
Cary Grant. That man is handsome.
What have been some of the performances or writers that have inspired you?
I love Tennessee Williams. I paid homage to him by getting personal on his grave. Talk about fan girl. And then of course Arthur Miller & Edward Albee - the well made play is a beautiful form. Lately, as I've moved more consciously into all different types of comedy - from standup to comedic essays, performing as a drag queen and on youtube I've been drawn to the great satirists. Dorothy Parker. I ADORE Anita Loos' "Gentleman Prefer Blondes." One of the funniest books ever written!
Have you had any notable mentors?
There is something so creepy about the idea of a mentor- it sounds so conniving. Ugh. I wish i had a mentor- but none really jump to mind- and what the hell do you do with one. Wax lyrical over coffee about the hardships of the industry?! I have a true working class fear of taking myself too seriously and a mentor sounds pretty bloody earnest.
What has been your inspiration for Nobody's Girl?
The inspiration for the American reimagining came with all the media controversies that happen here- you guys have such an overactive media! I remember reading the Rolling Stone/UVA rape article six months ago- it was gripping- it made me so angry that this was occurring on campuses. But the article was also so lurid- this wasn't just rape- it was the most horrific rape you could imagine. Drugged. Pushed onto a glass table that shattered. A group of men. A bottle. Blood. This was the story that they chose to illuminate the issue of rape on campus. And when it was revealed that there were huge inconsistencies- that it hadn't been appropriately fact checked I thought uh-huh. Because I don't think most rapes on campus are quite as scintillating as this- they are awful and messy and sadly all too frequent, and usually with one man that you already know, but this wasn't the story they chose to go with. Why do we want the absolute worst horror imaginable??? As if a "regular rape" isn't bad enough?! The Brian Williams controversy played a similar story... He gave the public what they wanted, it just wasn't "true". And Rachel Dolezal. And so the list goes on. It says a lot about what people feel they need to do to get noticed- and how right they are. And it says a lot about what us as the public demand from our stories. Does the truth matter? Or is it more important to "feel" true. The play is really a satire of that.
How is Nobody's Girl distinctive to your other works?
"Nobody's Girl" is the first play I wrote where I decided from the outset it will be a comedy. People get very nervous about comedy. We all want to take ourselves, and our problems, very "seriously". Who cares?! If you want to make God laugh, tell him (or her!) your plans! Comedy is just as potent as drama, but can cut so much deeper. And so with this play I wanted to satirise and expose a really potent issue (media hysteria and what it takes to be on top) and use comedy to analyse it. Because it IS funny!! And because it is a comedy it made people SO NERVOUS. Brilliant!
You have so much experience internationally and nationally. Can you comment on how the New York metro theatre scene compares to your experiences in Australia?
Oh god. It's SO MUCH LARGER HERE. It's overwhelming. In Australia within a week you have a hit-list of the 10 people you need to know in the COUNTRY. New York is a tad more, um, impenetrable. Oh and guns. A gun is used in Nobody's Girl- and it was such a big deal in Australia. You needed a gun "handler" to be with the gun at every moment even if was stopped up- and handlers are hugely expensive- we couldn't afford it. We had to make a completely fake one out of wood! I had a minor freak out to Erica (the director) about how this was being solved at NJ Rep because it was such a major problem in Australia and Erica just laughed. No problems here! God bless America...
How do you like working with NJ Rep?
I LOVE NJ Rep. What an amazing sanctuary for writers! Their commitment to producing the play as the writer intends is enormous. Because I go for fairly controversial themes I've been through the merry-go-round of companies trying to tone down my voice- it's exhausting and it's fruitless- the play turns into blancmange and the audience doesn't know what the fuss was about. Nope- not SuzAnne [the artistic director]. At one point she gasped at something I'd written and said "You're going to get us shut down!". And then she smiled. She's a legend!
Anything else, absolutely anything you want BWW readers to know.
I'm single and ready to mingle.
Sneak preview performances for Nobody's Girl begin on Thursday, August 20th with opening night Saturday, August 22nd. The show is on a limited engagement through September 20th. New Jersey Repertory Company is located at 179 Broadway, Long Branch, New Jersey 07740. For more information and to purchase tickets, call (732) 229-3166 or visit www.njrep.org.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Rick Viede