The other thing to know about O’Hara is that he has this thing about zombies and the American government. Specifically, he has a thing about zombies being in the American government. He’s been working on a play, “Zombie: The American,” in which he imagines a United States of the future that has zombies at the helm.
“Our country is in negotiation during wartime and is being run by the walking dead,” O’Hara said. (Feel free to insert a joke about what an improvement that would be here, depending on your political persuasion.)
“Zombie: The American” had an early reading about a month ago. The play was commissioned through Free the Beast, Woolly’s $4 million fundraising initiative, long before this Mellon grant came along, and O’Hara’s completion of the script will be just one component of his work at Woolly.
While going through the application process, O’Hara said, he and Woolly “had to make [the residency] into something I would find interesting. For me, just a playwriting residency is not that interesting, because I don’t think I have to be in a residency to write a play. . . . So we came up with this wonderful, unique thing where I would write and direct.”
In addition to the one-two punch of writing and directing, O’Hara will serve as an ambassador to other playwrights who come to Woolly, be a part of the season planning process and shadow Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz, “because I’d love to, at some point in the future, be an artistic director, so this is a great opportunity to . . . sit in [Shalwitz’s] shoes, see how he works, and work through the different departments of the theater,” O’Hara said.
O’Hara’s got plenty of history with Woolly: He wrote “Antebellum” and “Booty Candy,” which were world premieres in 2009 and 2011. Something like the Mellon grant “gives me a whole piece to work with, as opposed to trying to eke out a living,” he said. “It kind of feels like, you’ve been told that what you’re doing is valid. And, usually, you don’t get that as a writer.”
Are you eagerly awaiting Woolly’s take on zombies? Are you wishing you could get your fill of monsters immediately? Fret not, readers: Rorschach is producing “The Minotaur.”
The production is a joint world premiere; Rorschach is sharing premiere rights with Synchronicity Theatre in Atlanta. “The playwright gets the opportunity to revise and work on the play twice,” learning things from the first production and changing things for the second production, said Randy Baker, who is directing the play at Rorschach. Synchronicity’s production wrapped up in November, and Rorschach’s will open Friday.
The story of the Minotaur is an ancient one that has seen its share of remakes, most notably in “The Hunger Games,” which swiped its “kids selected by lottery are thrown in an arena to die” plotline from the tale.