The following is an interview with playwright Tom Alper regarding the currently running production of The Pitch at The Lyric Hyperion in Los Angeles, CA. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Alper about the inspiration behind the production, the creative process in working with the cast and crew, what he hopes that audiences will take away from The Pitch, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Your production of The Pitch launched its world premiere in Los Angeles this month. For our readers who may be unfamiliar with the show, how would you describe its premise?
Tom Alper: The premise revolves around a widower with a teenage daughter who hasn’t worked in five years and has been living off his wife’s dwindling life insurance money, who is now forced to take a job at a low-level sales boiler room. As he struggles with his new existence in the room, he also has to deal with his teenage daughter’s newfound autonomy. It’s a bit of an homage to Glengary Glenn Ross with a father/daughter subplot base on my personal experiences.
BD: As the playwright, what inspired the creation of this project and how would you describe your creative process in bringing the story to life?
TA: Twenty years ago I was working a dead-end job and I was not doing anything creative. I was miserable and I was taking out my frustrations on my family. I met an actor friend of mine for a drink and told me he made $400K the previous year in a sales job, and if I was interested, he could get me in. I immediately perked up, because I thought if he could make $400K (considering I was way more personable––in my delusional self-appraisal––than him), I bet I could make at least $500K. And since I was making about $50K a year, I thought I could grab a quick $500K and then not work for the next few years and go back to pursuing my acting career.
Well, I didn’t make anything close to $500K, and I found out my “friend” embellished what he had made. But, in this world of sales, I was indoctrinated to ways of manipulation, seduction, and high-pressured greed. I was amazed that not only did these transparent manipulative techniques work but that they worked so well!
At the same time, I was having issues with my teenage daughter who, much to my dismay, wanted to quit playing softball and focus her interests on cheerleading. I tried to incorporate my “sales techniques” on her to no avail. I eventually quit that job because even though I was still making more money in my life than I ever had, I was turning into a very manipulative person. I started to cut corners and do whatever it would take to make a sale. In essence, I was turning into the worst version of myself. So, when my youngest daughter went away to college, I got divorced and I decided I needed to stop living through my kids and focus on finding life and meaning for myself. That’s when I started writing The Pitch. This is where my play originated from.
BD: What can you tell us about the shared creative process of working with the cast and crew to stage the production, including director Dana Schwartz?
TA: This has been a very challenging process for me. By my admission, I have never been the best collaborator. But by trusting my experienced and award-winning director Dana Schwartz, together, we’ve built a terrific stage production. It’s been incredibly hard for me to let go of control (because I’m the producer, writer, and lead actor), and I know Dana has had to jump through so many hoops to get us where we are today. In addition to COVID, she’s had to deal with ten actors’ conflicting schedules, Zoom rehearsals, limited time in the actual theater, and a very head-strong actor/writer/producer. She has been a captain, a therapist, a creative visionary, and much more to my play. I owe her a lot! In addition, we have put together a fantastic and experienced theater crew (which includes William Warren, Michael C. Pizzuto, Sophie Regan, Ronna Jones, Connor Killeen, Kairo Kassahn, Joseph Lorenzo, Anthony Marquez, and Alexandre Chen).
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that The Pitch’s story will connect with and impact audiences?
TA: I feel this play will have a profound impact on people. In addition to being very entertaining and riveting, the central theme of how a person can maintain his integrity and not deviate from his morals while feeling pressure (both inner and outer) is one that is familiar to everybody. In addition, I also feel the theme of working on yourself and not living vicariously through your children is something every parent can relate to. My basic message is to try your best to maintain your integrity through life’s challenging obstacles and allow your children to develop into their best selves.
BD: The show will be appearing at The Lyric Hyperion from May 7-22, 2022. Are there any future plans to perform the show at other venues?
TA: Yes, I plan to do this play again by the end of this year or early 2023. I’ve had other venues reach out to me about future productions of The Pitch. We’re focused on this run but already excited about this play’s future!
BD: Are there any upcoming projects that you would care to share with our readers?
TA: I’m set to star in the upcoming feature film, Comedy House of Tragedy, with Denise Richards this summer. In addition, I can be seen as the lead actor in the multiple award-winning cult film, The Guest House, currently streaming on IMDb television and Tubi. And lastly, I am working on a new play, but more on that at a different time…
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for The Pitch?
TA: To learn more about my play, you can go to Tomalper.com. To get tickets to The Pitch, go to the theater’s website: Lyrichyperion.com. Here’s the direct ticket link, as well.
Fanbase Press readers can also use the promo code “PITCH” for $5 off.