Q: The title of Allegory of the Cave, of course, refers to Plato's famed allegory explaining that the reality of our existence may be different than the reality we manufacture, or the reality that someone else manufactures for us. In performance, actors step out of everyday reality into a "reality" they collectively manufacture, in which they and the audience suspend their disbelief. Do you see your play as a commentary on the levels of reality and identity we assume in acting, and in life? Or is that too facile?
A: It's an interesting question and perhaps a timely one. I think what the play attempts to explore includes both. This modern re-telling of Plato's Allegory seeks to explore a kind of epistemological excavation of reality and identity. How do we know what we know, and how do we know what is real? More specifically, how does this potential existential dilemma influence our conviction in answering the question "Who am I?" The binary challenging insights of post-structuralists like Derrida, Foucault, and Baudrillard; the lucid and sometimes polemic lyrics of artists such as Woody Guthrie and bands like Rage Against the Machine; as well as the illuminating socio-political commentary of Nobel Prize winning linguist and author Noam Chompsky in such writings as Necessary Illusions, and Manufacturing Consent, all seem to speak to and resonate equally with both Plato's Allegory from over two thousand years ago and our current environment of "fake news" and "alternative facts." The dual-identity element within the form of a stageplay - with respect to an actor/character on a stage, and perhaps furthered by the themes and play-within-a-play aspect of Shakespeare's play Hamlet - seemed like a potentially fruitful fit for elucidating some of these fundamental questions.
Q: You have an MFA in acting, and numerous screen and stage credits. Is playwriting a relatively recent development in your career as a theatre artist, or have you explored it for some time?
A I think writing has been something I have enjoyed for a long time, but perhaps have only recently dedicated the necessary time it both requires and deserves.
Q: What qualities in a new play do you think are most attractive to an actor?
A: Most of the actors I know desire to be challenged by a new piece - to sharpen their chops and test their mettle, as it were. But in which ways a new play might challenge an artist is likely different depending on each individual's unique skill-set, training background, and temperament. Thus, I think the tried-and-true method of writing characters that feel fully fleshed-out, feel genuine and deeply familiar, and penetrate deeply into the vast complexities of the human psyche and condition, are likely to create the types of challenges that may be attractive to artists. Additionally, I think new plays might provide fresh opportunities to explore different ways of playing with the form in order to speak directly or indirectly to what feels like contemporary issues. Or, at least, as it was said, "to hold as twere, the mirror up to nature" in a way that feels new and resonates with today's audiences.
Q: Growing up in south Orange County, were there particular experiences or people that encouraged you to get into theatre, and pursue an acting career, and eventually playwriting?
A: Yes, a great many. I was inspired by many local teachers at various community colleges and at South Coast Repertory - Phyllis Gitlin, John Frederick Jones, Karen Hensel, Carl Reggiardo, and Anne Schilling, to name just a few. I was also a voracious consumer of local theatre for many years, and thus was inspired by many local writers, actors, and theatre artists in Orange County.
Q: You also have written some large-cast plays, plays with two dozen or three dozen characters. Is that a type of play you wish we would see more of these days - the ambitious large-cast drama or comedy on a big canvas?
A: I think perhaps some of my larger plays were written with the needs and resources of collegiate theatre departments in mind. It's perhaps unrealistic to expect many theaters and their artists to undertake the time and expense of producing such projects. I would enjoy, however, to see those "large canvas" stories being told more often when resources permit. I enjoy one-person shows and "two-handers" very much. It just seems to me that some particular stories seem to be better served by that kind of larger scale. And I would enjoy seeing all types of stories having the opportunity to be shared with audiences.
Darren Andrew Nash's Allegory of the Cave opens at this season's OC-Centric on August 16, 2018.
To reserve your tickets, CLICK HERE or call 714-902-5716