The following is an interview with Monica Martin on the currently running production, The Big Event, with gangbusters theatre company and The Complex Hollywood. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Martin about the inspiration behind the production, her creative process in working with the cast and crew, what she hopes that audiences will take away from the three shows, and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: gangbusters theatre company and The Complex Hollywood has partnered for the launch of a repertory run of The Big Event, three dark comedy plays written by Christian Levatino. As the producer of the production, what can you share with us about the premise of these plays?
Monica Martin: These are three distinct moments in American political history: “Sunny Afternoon” takes place on November 22nd, 1963, in the Homicide Department of the Dallas Police. We witness the interrogation of Lee Harvey Oswald (played by Andy Hirsch), by Detective Will Fritz (played by Darrett Sanders). The second in the series, “King Dick,” takes us to Christmastime 1970 and Elvis (played by L.Q. Victor) on the run from Graceland. He concocts a scheme to meet the President, Richard Nixon (played by Jeff Doba), and offers his influential voice in exchange for a symbol of power. The third in our trilogy, “…meantime at HoJo’s” which introduces us to the “plumbers,” Howard Hunt (played by Darrett Sanders) and G. Gordon Liddy (played by L.Q. Victor), whose mission is to send 5 men into the DNC Headquarters to find a “shit file.” We know this now as the Watergate scandal.
BD: What initially intrigued you about working with Levatino, especially in light of your recent shift in focus for the mission of The Complex Hollywood?
MM: I’ve known Christian since he workshopped “Sunny Afternoon” in our Theatre 6470 for the Hollywood Fringe in 2013. I loved the play…I have a fascination with Kennedy, and I found Christian’s viewpoint unique and completely captivating. I admit I have a penchant for dark comedy, and Christian is excellent at that. I think he is one of the top L.A. playwrights and would love to see his work published. Encouraging playwrights to develop their work and get their words onto the stage and into the ears of audiences is a passion of mine. I have always preferred working on new plays. “…meantime at HoJo”‘s workshopped during Fringe 2018 in our Flight Theatre. After watching “…meantime,” I had a crazy thought: Why not do the 3 plays in Rep? We want the patrons experience here to be stellar. We want L.A.to know how diverse a theatrical community we have here and to count on the Complex Hollywood to be offering excellent theatre year round. Creating The Big Event is my first attempt at producing a true 3-act theatrical experience from the moment you enter until you exit the theatre. We want everyone to see all three shows and catch the nuanced connections between them. Yet, if you see even one play from The Big Event, you will leave happy, I can promise that.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in working with the cast, crew, and Levatino, and how would you describe your approach to visualizing and casting this production?
MM: I didn’t participate in much of the casting process. That was left to Christian, and he did an amazing job. We have the best actors in LA Theatre on the Flight stage and some do 2 or 3 shows in a day! My creativity extended to some prop building and set dressing, which I have fun doing. I also designed the Black Bag Lounge, otherwise known as our Shepard Studio, where audience can meet the cast between or after the shows. We serve refreshments and play Sniper Darts for prizes…it’s a fun way to spend a Sunday when we run all three shows back to back to the back.
BD: What do you hope that audiences will take away from the performances?
MM: I hope they find it inspiring. I hope it makes them think, a little. I hope they lose themselves in the sheer ridiculousness that is our political landscape, allow themselves to laugh at it a bit. I hope they want to see more theatre when they leave.
BD: Are there any additional upcoming projects planned for The Complex Hollywood that you would care to share with our readers?
MM: We have many excellent plays coming to the Complex Hollywood: Stan Zimmerman’s Yes, Virginia and Jeremiah Munsey’s Pagan Century, also A Misunderstanding by Matt Chait. All will perform by the end of the year. We always have busy boards, and we list everything on www.complexhollywood.com.
BD: Lastly, what would you like to tell readers who want to learn more about and purchase tickets for The Big Event?
MM: Please visit our website and poke around…there are some fun rabbit holes for the history buffs and a link to our ticketing site! I would like to offer your readers a $10 discount with code COMPLEX.