Somewhere in America, Derrick just got out of prison. Angela, the day-time manager of a diner, is about to offer him a job. But as the interview unfolds, Derrick has trouble shaking his past; and Angela’s empathy is cornered into judgement.
Drew Lewis is a stage and screen actor, writer and director based in NYC. His plays have been developed and produced by Tiny Rhino (NY & LA), Rule of: 7×7, Calliope Theatre Company (of which he is a founding member), Crowded Outlet and Dixon Place. His play Front Lines was a semi-finalist at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference in 2016. His web-series Open Relationship, co-written with Emily Walton, is currently in development with Anu Valia (winner of Jury Award for Best U.S. Fiction, Sundance 2017). As an actor, Drew has performed off-Broadway, off-off Broadway, frequently at the Ensemble Studio Theater as well as regionally. He has helped develop new work at Soho Rep, EST, The Lark, Bushwick Starr and HERE Arts Center. He was an early and often performer with online sketch comedy group Good Cop Great Cop (creators of Comedy Central’s New Timers) and recurs as Dr. Hack in ‘Hack My Life’ on Tru TV. Graduate of Kenyon College.
A BIT ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?
I wrote some silly one-acts and short films in high school. I even wrote half of a full-length screenplay about kids doing heroin because I was obsessed with the movie ‘Trainspotting.’ Then I started trying to write plays at Kenyon College under the guidance of Wendy MacLeod and brought my one full-length to the city for a reading. But it just had problems that couldn’t be fixed so I stopped for a while and focused 100 percent on acting. Then I watched Mark Duplass’ SXSW keynote speech in 2015 about how “the cavalry isn’t coming” and began supplementing my generally unfulfilling life as an actor with playwriting. And now I’m also getting back into writing films and tv pilots and web-series and all that stuff as well which is fun. So I guess that’s more of a trajectory than a moment. I think after writing my second full-length play and genuinely liking it–I think that’s when I really realized that I wanted to do this.
2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?
I saw this simple but incredible documentary on Netflix called ‘Pervert Park’ and there was one interview with a sex-offender that completely blew my mind. I’d never seen shame and grief and sadness stifled so unsuccessfully and I knew I wanted to write that person as best I could. The first draft I was playing around with some distracting, unnecessary theatrical stuff. The second draft got rid of all that distracting, unnecessary theatrical stuff and now we’re here!
3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?
Still figuring it all out.
4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?
A close friend of mine is an incredible playwright in NY right now–he was filling this same questionnaire out a few years ago actually. His talent and artfulness and work ethic inspires me to do better, to do different and to do more. But so: Quentin Tarantino, Annie Baker, Eric Bogosian, Kevin Smith weirdly. Jon Robin Baitz, Stephen Sondheim, Martin McDonagh but probably not really. Ricky Gervais & Stephen Merchant’s work on ‘The Office’ and ‘Extras.’ And I spend a lot of time watching new work at Ensemble Studio Theater–all of the amazing voices that come out of that place have definitely informed me over the years.
5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?
I went to fat camp…but actually it doesn’t seem too impossible if you know me.
6. What are some of your favorite plays?
David Greig wrote an adaptation of ‘Creditors’ that I saw in London and did for my thesis in college and it’s amazing. ‘Circle Mirror Transformation’ and ‘Completeness’ and ‘The Whale’ come to mind. Daniel Zaitchik wrote a musical called ‘Darling Grenadine’ that is playing at Goodspeed in CT right now and I cry every time I see/hear it. ‘King Lear.’ There’s an amazing British adaptation of Hedda Gabler by Lucy Kirkwood called ‘Hedda.’ ‘August: Osage County’ was a big deal for me when I saw that. ‘Jerusalem’ but that’s probably mostly because of Mark Rylance. ‘Noises Off’ I mean why not. I’m probably forgetting things.
7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?
Calliope Theatre (a company I co-founded) is developing our third flagship production and that is very exciting (calliopetheatre.com). I recently wrote and directed and acted in a short film called ‘Kansas’. You can watch that on my website if you want (thedrewlewis.com). Nothing else is real enough to mention here at the moment.