Barbra Dillon, Fanboy Comics Editor-in-Chief: FogBank Entertainment will soon be presenting the premiere of the play, Weapons, in Los Angeles, CA, with you at the helm. What initially intrigued you about the play and enticed you to direct the show?
Kiff Scholl: Honestly? The script scared me. I wasn’t certain I was the right fit. I loved the way the dialogue flowed, and I appreciated the subtle homage to the classics, but I didn’t really know any cops, so their world was really foreign to me. I do understand the struggle of parent and child, and the way their relationship unfolds in this play excited me. So, I suppose my desire to tell compelling stories overrode my ignorance of Civil Service. Lucky for me, as this has been a wonderful play to work on.
BD: Weapons’ playwright Chris Collins is a rising star within the theatre community. What makes his storytelling and voice so unique?
KS: I’ve gotten to know Chris pretty well over the past few months. He is of this world – this Irish American, Catholic, West Coast world – it’s in his blood. It’s in his words. I’ll admit I was a little nervous to meet him, having heard he was a former cop, but we were just meeting for coffee, to see if it was a good fit. Need I remind you, I don’t really hang out with cops. I wish I knew more, but they don’t usually hang out with us theater folk. Usually, they fish us out of the gutters after opening night. But then, Chris came in, tall, but unimposing, shook my hand, and ordered tea. And, I softened. In that moment, I understood what makes Chris’ writing so special. His characters, while hardened by the world around them, are all bestowed with passionate and lofty aspirations. And, that’s always fascinating to watch.
BD: You have quite a talented cast and crew involved with the production. What can you tell us about their creative process in bringing Weapons to life?
KS: It’s been an extraordinary collaboration. Whether working with these gifted actors on this untried text or brainstorming on Pinterest with our skillful costume designer, every inch of this play has been scoured for information, connection, color, nuance, history . . . We turned it upside down and shook it for loose change. I balanced tablework with the actors with phone calls and sketches with my designers. I remember getting a phone call from Dave Marling, our amazing sound designer, while I was with my dog at the park in Silverlake. I was pacing around, barking key words at him, and the next thing I knew he had created a soundscape that far surpassed what I’d envisioned. Then, there was my dedicated set designer, Pete Hikock, who drove across LA one day to show me two options for wood paneling. It was like that with everyone on the team. Their generosity and passion was truly encouraging. So, while I staged and the actors memorized, the pieces started coming together, and I was honestly shocked and delighted by how magically it all fell into place.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
KS: That’s always an interesting question. I hope people see cops a little better. I hope somebody talks to their dad. I hope someone is nicer to their lover. I hope siblings will forgive each other. But, most of all, I hope they take away a strong desire to tell their friends to go to the theater and experience first hand how palpable the human condition can be.
BD: You have an incredible resume of theatre credits and awards, including the 2014 Broadway World Award nomination for Moon Over Buffalo. Do you feel that there are certain genres of theatrical storytelling that you have yet to pursue, and what drives you to each new project?
KS: I’m honestly enjoying the long string of plays that have essentially fallen into my lap over the past couple decades. Although I must admit, I had been aching to do a farce, so Moon Over Buffalo was particularly rewarding. I really prefer plays that are both comedic and dramatic in some way. My award-winning production of La Bête at Sacred Fools comes to mind. But, I also love to get into the blood and the grime of American dramas.
As we all know, comedy is serious, but when you make people laugh, they let down their guard – and that’s where the storytelling pierces the skin. I hope to continue to direct new work, but I love reimagining the classics, so it’s especially exciting when I stumble onto a gem that is both new and old/classic and fresh, like Weapons.
BD: Weapons will be running from April 9 through May 8 at The Lounge Theatre in Los Angeles. What is the best way for our readers to garner tickets for the show?
KS: I suggest they visit the website at www.Plays411.com/Weapons or call 323-960-7721.
BD: Are there any other upcoming shows or projects that you would care to share with our readers?
KS: I’m always working on a few things. I’m very proud of the directing work I did on Dinner at Home Between Deaths now playing at the Odyssey, and I’m looking forward to working with my dear friend Rebecca Larsen again at the Fringe this summer. Oh, and I also co-wrote and directed the satirical, political, web-series, Medicare Mermaids, www.MedicareMermaids.com.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell fans who want to learn more about Weapons?
KS: Like our Weapons page on Facebook for updates and behind-the-scenes photos, and if you like the show, tell your friends.