Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quick Questions - Stephen Karam '02

By Sarah Coogan

So now that you're all grown up are you doing what you thought you'd be doing?
I am. But only just recently! At Brown, I was engaged in lots of theater and writing plays, but I had no clue how I would pay off all those gorgeous Brown student loans by working in a field that doesn't really offer any steady pay. So it took me a lot of years working as a paralegal, a temp, an editorial assistant (shout out to Free Press at Simon & Schuster), a few weeks wearing a blue jump suit and handing out raffle tickets in a Fleet Bank in Chinatown (it paid so well, for real!) and writing whenever I had time. I managed to start getting some of my plays produced in D.C. and in Portland, OR, where some '02 classmates had set up shop and finally landed an honest to God professional New York production in 2006 of a play I co-wrote called "columbinus", at New York Theatre Workshop. From there my next play, Speech & Debate got picked up for the inaugural production of Roundabout Theater Company's "Underground" initiative. Both plays are now published and being performed all over the country.

What are you working on now?
I'm working on the screen adaptation of Speech & Debate for Overture Films and a new play commissioned by Roundabout. I also just returned from a little research trip to Utah and Colorado City (yes, land of the mysterious FLDS) for the libretto of a chamber opera I'm working on, currently titled "Dark Sisters".

How did Brown help you get where you are?
Lowry Marshall (Theatre, Speech & Dance Department) believed in me and brought me back to Brown in the summers of 2005 and 2006 where she directed two productions of my work for the Brown/Trinity Playwrights Rep. Her great production of Speech & Debate in Leeds Theater kicked things into high gear by getting the show on its feet and in front of audiences and critics. That production also allowed my agent to see and understand the play in a way he might not have on paper and thus market it in New York really effectively.

y Brown connections are really what helped me stay focused and made me believe I could be a writer, even when I was getting rejected by pretty much everyone else. Darius Pierce, Sam Kusnetz and Kerry Silva welcomed my work at their theatre company in Portland and Darius came to Brown to perform in my shows in both 2005 and 2006. Sarah Coogan came and choreographed Speech & Debate at Brown and along with Anne Reilly read early drafts and encouraged me to keep going.

Wait a minute, I forgot Brownbrokers. Oh yes, I wrote a full length musical while at Brown. I love everyone who brought that massive beast of a musical to life. A great group. That's what was so humbling and fantastic about Brown--not only was the school crazy enough to produce a mainstage production of a student written show, but all of the amazing undergrad talent (actors, designers, musicians) climbed on board to make it possible. That was special.

Also, big shoutouts to Chicken William, Chocolate Seduction Cake, and the Sundae Bar at the Ratty and V-Dub. If not for the insane amounts of calories consumed at Brown, I might not have had the energy to write anything at all.

1 comment:

  1. Is there a recipe for Chicken William? My son misses it!