BWW Feature: Local Actor and Playwright's Award-Winning ANIMAL CONTROL Premieres at Firehouse Theatre Tonight
Richmond, Virginia's Firehouse Theatre, a theatre known for producing new and groundbreaking plays, is currently producing the world premiere of Chandler Hubbard's intense drama, ANIMAL CONTROL. Fifth Wall, another regional theatre in Richmond, initially held a reading of the play. The script, written by University of Virginia graduate and local playwright/actor Hubbard, has a clear message that's relevant to today's contentious sociopolitical landscape. The writer wants audiences to examine their own lives and the lives of others more closely to find similarities that connect us rather than differences that divide us.
Hubbard says that his script was inspired by a real event that occurred when his dog was attacked by another at a local dog park.
"I wrote, initially as a form of therapy, a dialogue between a wronged person and the person who wronged them. How could someone let their dog do this? How could I protect my dog when I was too scared to defend myself?" Hubbard says that he was able to see things more rationally once his intense emotions around the situation dissipated. "This wasn't a dialogue between attacker and victim," he says. "It was two people who loved their pets and tried to do the best that they could in a tough situation."
In ANIMAL CONTROL, the five characters brandish words as their weapons, as they are unable to physically harm each other. The dialogue is raw and natural, and the sheer force of Hubbard's script will sneak up on its audience as the drama quickly spirals out of control. Each character can be seen as a hero or villain, depending on the point of view being explored.
"The characters in the show are in many ways the same, but because their goals are so different, they choose only to see what separates them, what divides them, what can be used against one another," Hubbard says. "How do we build bridges when others are actively burning them? How can we show compassion to someone we hate? How are we complicit in the 'otherization' of our perceived enemies?" These are questions audiences should consider when watching or reading the play.
The actor says he has been writing for as long as he can remember, and that acting has helped strengthen his writing endeavors. He grew up seeing the performances of acclaimed Richmond actors like Alan Sader, Jackie Jones, Scott Wichmann and many others alongside whom he has now had the pleasure to work.
"I started acting at a young age partially because I was so enraptured by the magic of theatre, but also because it was an easy way to break out of my introvert shell. There is so much anxiety removed from situations where you talk using someone else's words instead of your own."
Hubbard sees himself as an actor's writer. "I want every actor to feel like their time has been well-spent, that they have room to flourish onstage. As an audience member, I love watching shows where everyone loves what they're doing, believing in themselves and the work."
The playwright says his writing is inspired by works like Aaron Posner's STUPID F*CKING BIRD and Annie Washburn's Mr. Burns, A POST-ELECTRIC PLAY, though readers of ANIMAL CONTROL may see subtle parallels to Yasmina Reza's GOD OF CARNAGE.
Hubbard has enjoyed the process of seeing ANIMAL CONTROL come to life at Firehouse Theatre and is ready for audiences to see the full production of his play.