Interview With A Playwright – Emmett Loverde
Playscripts took the time to interview Emmett Loverde, author of Good Business Sense, A Timely Maneuver, and The Maginot Line.
Tell us about your writing career – what inspired you to begin writing?
I have been writing drama since I learned how to read. My siblings laugh about how I used to make up Peanuts skits that mostly consisted of, “Hi Charlie Brown.” “Oh good grief.” Any time there was a chance to put on a show, there I was.
I also learned very quickly, however, about the importance of having good material ready to go. Making up stuff on the spot in front of people was fun, but planning the story out ahead of time was much more fun — and it was clear that the audience appreciated that as well.
Interestingly, I’d always been intimidated by comedy because I’d always understood that comedies have to follow the same rules as all the other major genres of drama (tell a story, inspire the audience to think and ask questions, etc.) but they also have to make people laugh. I didn’t shift from drama to straight-ahead, full-on comedy until well into my adulthood, when I decided to take on that added responsibility of not only making “feely”, but making funny.
Tell us about Good Business Sense! Where did your inspiration for this play come from?
For about seven years I worked as a word processor for a major New York investment bank. I saw brilliant and charismatic young men and woman arrive fresh from Wharton or Stanford or Harvard and get chewed up and spit out by a system and lifestyle that — yes — usually made them very wealthy but also made them into unfeeling monsters. And I used to wonder how these folks navigated their personal lives and love relationships — if they even had them.
As icing on that cake, many years ago one of my brothers and I splurged one evening out in San Francisco by dining at Maxwell’s Plum (long since closed, but you can Google it). I think I remember the food being good and such, but the biggest impression the place made on me was there was a large wait staff — all clad in tuxedos, men and women — that seemed to have very specific areas of coverage such as drinks, appetizers, entrees, etc. And I thought it would be hilarious if a businessman brought a date to a place that was so fancy that the waiters were very careful not to step on each other’s specific area of expertise. Thus were born the “drink waiter” and the “entree waiter”, etc. of Good Business Sense.
Check out the trailer for Good Business Sense
If you could live the life of any character that you have created, which would it be and why?
Often I take on writing projects to learn about people and/or situations that are unfamiliar to me. I take a walk in the characters’ shoes. I am preparing to direct a feature film that I wrote called Beauty, Brains, and Personality which centers around three women in their late 20s and early 30s.
I adore the project partly because (not being a woman myself) I am getting a wonderful chance to learn more about the cares and experiences of characters that I currently only “know” from the outside. We’ll be starting work on that very soon and I hope to emerge from the experience with greater understanding and acceptance of all women, or at least as many as my little brain can imagine.
Do you have any exciting projects we should keep an eye out for?
Good Business Sense is just beginning its festival run, and hopefully that will go on for at least a year, well into 2019. So far we have been accepted to festivals in Los Angeles, the Silicon Valley, Connecticut, and Oklahoma and we hope to get into at least a few dozen more.
Short films aren’t especially known for their profitability but the “GBS” cast, crew, and I are hoping that the film showcases our work in such a way as to bring us better future opportunities. It may drum up interest in some of my earlier short films, including A Timely Maneuver which is also based on a Playscripts play that I wrote under the same title.
Watch A Timely Maneuver
I am about to launch a feature film that I wrote and directed called She’s Out of His Mind on Video-On-Demand in the next few months. We are very excited about that project.
And finally — as I mentioned above — I am working on a new feature comedy called Beauty, Brains, and Personality. All in all, it’s a busy but very happy time in my career.
Any advice for playwrights just starting out?
Once you reach the end of your play, or even the end of the current scene of your play, get the best actors you can find and have them read the material out loud. Audience or not, it doesn’t matter. It can just be for an audience of you. It’s best if you yourself do not actually read during this exercise because your main job is to listen and take notes.
Be sure to feed your actors, even if it’s just to offer them snacks or drinks. Appreciate them and they will do their best!
When it comes time for comments, accept everything that everyone says and write it down, take notes. Even if you do not agree with the comment! The commenters are trying to help you, so thank them for anything they say, even if it’s negative.
You are the playwright and you ultimately have the right to implement their suggestions or not, so don’t feel like your rights are being trod upon.
There are many other suggestions I could make for playwrights starting out, but this is my best one. Hear your words read aloud as soon as possible! That’s why you wrote them, isn’t it? Don’t be afraid of the process. You will hear things during a live reading that you will gloss over or miss completely while reading silently. And in the end your work will be much better for it — I guarantee!