Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: The show, All the Best Killers Are Librarians, recently premiered at the Hollywood Fringe Festival. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the show, how would you describe its premise?
Alicia Conway Rock: All the Best Killers Are Librarians is the story of a librarian named Margo who is recruited to be an assassin by Lancaster, an agent of a mysterious group called The Establishment. Lancaster – who hires and trains the best killers in the wold - woos her into a world of intrigue – and a lot of crazy fighting – until she gets tired of being Lancaster’s pawn and has to decide what she really wants to do with her gift. Oh, and she falls in love along the way and has to keep a dark secret, and reconnects with her commitment to literacy, and it all gets pretty complicated for her.
BD: What can you tell us about the creators who brought the show to life, and how would you describe the creative process?
ACR: Originally, Librarians was written by Bob DeRosa for Sacred Fools’ late-night competition, Serial Killers. He is an insanely talented screenwriter with an improv background. He’s a member of Sacred Fools and has written a lot for the stage, including quite a few other pieces for Serial Killers.
I’m also a Sacred Fools company member, and I’m serving a term as one of three Artistic Directors at Sacred Fools this year.
Bob and I first got to be friends almost twenty years ago in Orlando, Florida, when we were both heavily involved at an art house cinema and film festival there, so we have a long history together, and I’ve directed a couple of one-acts that he’s written in the past.
The very talented Jennifer DeRosa – also a Sacred Fools company member - is producing Librarians, and she also plays Eleanor in the show. She and Bob are married in real life, and Jen and I are friends from way back, as well.
We were able to bring back many of our original cast from Serial Killers, including the brilliant Lauren Van Kurin, who plays Margo, and Mike Mahaffey, who plays several roles – most notably Belinda the library clerk – and is also our fight choreographer extraordinaire, responsible for all of the fun, crazy fights. I couldn’t be more thrilled with our hilarious, heart-string-pulling cast, which also includes Eric Giancoli as Lancaster, Carrie Keranen – who plays several wildly different roles in the show, including an elderly librarian, Mrs. White, as well as Detective Crane - and Monica Greene, whose multiple roles include Sally the library clerk and a ruthless karate master, among others. Pete Caslavka joins the Fringe production as Henry, the cleaning guy. They are a fun, talented bunch, and they’re all just killing it in this show.
We started rehearsing in late April. Just a few rehearsals in, I had to have knee surgery, so we got the show blocked very quickly, and then Mike jumped in to get very hands-on choreographing and working the numerous fights for a full week of rehearsal. Our rehearsals were initially at Bob and Jen’s house, so I would hobble over, and Bob would set up a place for me to sit, and Jen would hand me an ice pack, so I could watch what Mike was doing with the actors.
Bob is a very collaborative playwright, and he attended every single rehearsal, making adjustments to the dialogue as we went. I asked him pretty frequently for his insight on character intentions, and he has been very much my creative partner all along the way.
When we did Librarians for Serial Killers, we would usually have one rehearsal the week of the show, maybe on rare occasions two, and then we were up. Part of the reason to do this show for Fringe was that it afforded us the opportunity to dig into the show a little more, to get into some character work to deepen the moments, and that was really fun to do. There are a lot more opportunities for this cast to show what they can bring, and I see a lot of great moments – some big, some very small – happening that weren’t possible when we were working crazy fast for Serial Killers. The same thing goes for the fights, which have become a central aspect of the show, and it’s been amazing to what Mike can do when he has some actual time to work with the actors to make the fights even more spectacular.
Bob writes shows with a lot of heart, and this is no exception – but it’s also ridiculous and silly in many ways, so it’s fun to have a little more time to dig into managing the tone of the show and figuring out how to have some deeper layers, which just enhances how fun and funny it is.
BD: Given that the production was the Season 10 winner of Sacred Fools’ Serial Killers, how would you describe this competition, and how do you feel that it enhanced and developed All the Best Killers Are Librarians?
ACR: Serial Killers is Sacred Fools’ late-night show. Saturday nights at 11 p.m., five short pieces - all different - go up, and audiences vote for the three pieces they want to see more “episodes” of the following week.
Librarians was written for Season 10 of Serial Killers, in the first half of 2015. We came in toward the end of that Serial Killers cycle… and we just kept getting voted back. We were thrilled to make it all to the playoffs that close out the season, because the last two shows standing at the end get to complete their whole storyline, and the audience gets to see how it all wraps up. Since we ultimately won the playoffs, Bob got to write the whole saga, and it just felt really good to be able to finish telling that story on stage.
Early this year, Jen and Bob came to me and said that Librarians was such a satisfying creative experience for them, they wanted to mount a new production for Fringe this year – and did I want to direct? That was an obvious yes for me. I reached out to our original cast and many of them were able to return, and all the pieces just fell into place.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the show?
ACR: I hope that they laugh, and that they get invested. A librarian-turned-assassin is a very silly premise, but I hope that audiences find themselves believing in Margo and rooting for her. I hope they find that they’re laughing but are also emotionally affected by some of the sad turns in the show and think, “What is HAPPENING? Why is this funny show making me feel this way?”
BD: What makes the Hollywood Fringe Festival the best venue for All the Best Killers Are Librarians?
ACR: It’s perfect, to me, that Librarians started as a late-night episodic show and has now been adapted to stand alone for Fringe. Fringe allows all the freedom to do a zany, fun production that late-night allows, only it afforded us a little more time to make everything a little bigger, better, and more complete.
BD: The show will be appearing at the Hollywood Fringe Festival through June 25, 2016. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
ACR: As of now, no! So, come and see one of our last shows, or you might miss it!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
ACR: Bob and my husband, Ben Rock, have a fantastic horror-comedy web series called 20 Seconds to Live that everyone should check out. And Sacred Fools Theater Company is heading into our 20th season! Our first show of the season is Skulduggery: the Musical Prequel to Hamlet, opening in September, which is going to be amazing.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for All the Best Killers Are Librarians?
ACR: We’ve been selling out, and there are only two shows left! Click here to get tickets for our last show: Saturday, June 25th, at 3:30pm! Hope to see you there!
*Pictured in above photo: Jennifer Christina DeRosa, Lauren Van Kurin, Monica Greene, Pete Caslavka, Mike Mahaffey