5 Questions with Richard Dresser

The 9th reading in our FORUM “Soundings” series is 100 YEARS by Richard Dresser. This reading will be begin at 7:00pm and will be held at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Dreyfuss Theatre, 285 Madison Avenue, Madison, NJ. Click here for directions. Click here for a printable map of the campus (the Dreyfuss Theatre is located in Building 9).

In a very odd planned community, the middle-aged Joan and Stevie are eating special food and waiting for a special procedure that will lengthen their lives. In an adjacent identical townhouse  senior citizens Raymond and Helen are waiting, too. They share a backyard and, eventually,  much more.  The twenty-year old Brett is their tour guide/ferryman. A brand new comedy from the writer of Rounding Third.
Richard Dresser
RICHARD DRESSER’S seventeen published plays have been produced in New York, regional theater, and Europe. His trilogy of plays about happiness in America includes AUGUSTA (working class), THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS (middle class), and A VIEW OF THE HARBOR (upper class). Other plays are: ROUNDING THIRD, which started in Chicago and appeared off-Broadway and has had hundreds of productions, BELOW THE BELT and GUN-SHY, both of which started at the Humana Festival at Actors Theatre of Louisville before moving off-Broadway. Also, SOMETHING IN THE AIR, THE DOWNSIDE, ALONE AT THE BEACH, WONDERFUL WORLD, and BETTER DAYS, plus many short plays. Other projects include the book for a musical, JOHNNY BASEBALL, about the Curse of the Red Sox, which premiered at A.R.T. in Cambridge, and was nominated for seven awards from the Independent Reviewers of New England. It moved on to the Williamstown Theatre Festival in July 2013 where it set a box office record.  His play THE LAST DAYS OF MICKEY & JEAN, about a notorious Boston gangster in early retirement, premiered at Merrimack Repertory Theater in Lowell, Massachusetts and went on for three regional productions that summer/fall. THE HAND OF GOD about reality television which appeared in the Denver Theater Center New Play Summit will premiere at the San Francisco Playhouse in the fall of 2014.  THE HANDYMAN appeared at Berkshire Playwrights Lab in August 2013 and is slated for production in the summer of 2014.  His most recent play, 100 YEARS, will be appear in December 2013 as part of the New Jersey Playwrights Theater reading series. He is on the board of the Writers Guild Initiative, which does writing workshops with veterans and caregivers among other groups.

1. In this play, two of your characters are eating special food and waiting for a special procedure that will lengthen their lives. By any chance, does this mean you know the secret to a long life? I do in fact know the key to a much much longer life.  I don’t tell everyone because the planet couldn’t handle a population living several hundred years.   But I plan to, along with a few close friends and my dog.

2. Your play, ROUNDING THIRD, has had wild success! Do you know the exact number of productions it has had and where is the furthest theatre from you that has produced it? I don’t know how many productions ROUNDING THIRD has had but I would guess a few hundred.   It’s been done all over the country but it is one of the few plays I’ve written that has never been done in Europe.  It’s not for lack of trying.  I have offered to make it about soccer or rugby or fencing or curling or whatever they want, but the notion of two Little League dads somehow is wildly uninteresting to them.

3. You wrote the book for the musical JOHNNY BASEBALL about the Curse of the Red Sox. How was writing a book for a musical similar/different from writing a play? Writing the book for a musical (and I’ve written several) means checking your massive ego at the door.  With a play the writer is king, even if the kingdom is sometimes the size of your bath mat. But in a musical the writer is constructing the foundation for a story and setting up the songs.  My best scenes will never be seen because they turned into songs.  But that’s as it should be, since no one leaves a musical humming the dialogue.

4. You wrote a trilogy of plays about happiness in America from the perspective of the working class (AUGUSTA), middle class (THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS) and upper class (A VIEW OF THE HARBOR). Why did you feel a trilogy was the best way to approach this subject?  The Happiness Trilogy was my exploration of happiness in America and how it is manifested in different social classes.  It’s a trilogy because I wanted to write a play about the working class, the middle class, and the upper class.  The plays are connected only by theme, not by characters or story.  What they have in common is that someone in each play is attempting to escape the class they were born into.

5. You just returned from a trip to Paris. We’re curious how many croissants you had and if you wore a beret?  Paris was quite a trip.  No beret, lots of croissants and even more wine.  Plus a truly kick-ass production of my play BELOW THE BELT.  Not speaking a word of French I knew they had nailed it.

♦ Playwrights Theatre will present these readings free of charge, with an optional donation of $10
♦ A $25 dollar donation will get you a FORUM pass that covers all of the readings.
♦ A $250 donation will get you a rehearsal pass that allows access to all reading rehearsals.
♦ Reservations can be made online at or call (973) 514-1787 X10

Click here to reserve your seat to see 100 YEARS.

You can also find additional information on our website about the entire FORUM reading series.