Steven Bost has been with OtSP for a while…
we are in a committed relationship.
(See? This is Duane, Jackie, & Steve at the talkback after the last reading of The Minervae.)
We truly believe in him and his vision.
We love that this play is smart and challanging.
We love that we can bring a really interesting and complex play to the people of NYC for FREE.
Hi guys! Logan Tracey here! I wanted to do another interview with Mr. Bost. We did one a few months ago while the play was in development and the play has come so far. Steve was very forthcoming and very honest.
Take a look and we greatly look forward to seeing you at one of the performances of The Minervae!
How do you know OtSP?
I met OTSP through Michael Swartz, my college roommate, who linked up with Rachel McPhee-Benson (she was just McPhee then) in NYC and introduced us. Through Rachel to Jackie, and then to today. Our association goes back almost five years now!
You have worked with On The Square for a great deal of the development of this play, The Minervae. Can you talk a bit about that development?
This play made a big leap between my 2004 senior project and our first reading in fall of 2007. But since that Manhattan debut, it’s really been tempered. No characters have been added or subtracted, just strengthened. It’s my belief that every one has been fleshed out, so that every actor has something serious to contribute. Hannah is ballsier, Vulcan is sharper, Minerva is craftier, and so on. Additionally, each draft has become more thoughtful. (The mythological references come faster and furious-er each time, too, which I just can’t help.) Between now and just our last workshop in late 2011, there was the significant alteration of the play’s setting: from Arcadian Greece (well-worn geography, obviously, by 400 A.D.) to the more dangerous frontier of the Black Sea. It’s raised the stakes for the Christian mortals and made the play more exciting for me to write.
Can you elaborate more on the development process at OtSP and how it’s helped you grow the piece? Any surprises along the way?
Those above-mentioned changes were effected most crucially by our three readings (two public, one informal). Hearing it all out loud told me where the pacing lagged, where the speeches needed to be scaled back to increase tension, and what characters were being neglected. Looking around and seeing an actor seemingly bored or disengaged (there wasn’t much, but where it was, I knew it was a weakness of the play) told me which characters needed something more to bite into. Some lines, of course, seem beautiful on the page but sound ludicrous coming out of a person, so most (or hopefully all) of those are gone. And, of course, bringing on our director Stephen Kaliski gave the final stage of my revisions the real goose: he told me straighforwardly who he understood, who wasn’t quite coming across, and tasked me with connecting every scene so no time was wasted. Big-time help.
Many of us know that you have a great deal of knowledge regarding this topic: religion and ancient Greek/Roman Myths. Can you talk about where that interest comes from and your background a bit?
Numerous influences here: I vividly remember an elementary school bulletin board with little synopses of prominent myths–the Prometheus one especially got to me. Later, there was Marvel Comics, which so cleverly wove the Greek myths into its universe. There’s a storyline from the late ’80′s where the Avengers (yes, those ones) are banished by Zeus to the Underworld and must battle their way out; it’s stuck with me. Reading Edith Hamilton’s round-up, Mythology, which is so amiable and easy to use, is where I finally began to absorb the names. Really, this mythology is everywhere around us–in horoscopes, in constellations, in the way we name companies and electronic gizmos–and spaceships. Of course, it wasn’t until the theological education I got in college that Christianity collided with these stories, and I began to examine what they actually meant to ancient people.
How is working with a director on a new piece? Does it help you to better understand the characters/story?
Bringing on a director, whose job description includes leveling a critical eye on things, has been astronomically helpful. Of course, we had directors in other drafts, but this time the thing has to be up on its feet completely–it’s a full play. It has to be water-tight. I’ve been close to these characters for almost 8 years, so I’m bound to have blind spots, places where their motivations are obvious to me, but not outwardly so for an audience. And Stephen has helped me identify those spots and make them make sense.
Do you still feel ownership over the piece or were you able to give yourself some distance as you gave it to a director/actors/designers?
I always feel ownership of my written works, but if I wasn’t willing to give them into capable hands, I’d stick to novels and avoid writing drama. The whole point is to hand a play over and let people run with it. It would get awfully boring if it never left my head and my view of how everyone looks. I deliberately avoid much stage direction or suggestions of how a line should be read. Let everyone else figure out how to make that work: if it’s survived in the revisions, then it will somehow. If you’re asking am I anxious that it’ll be interpreted correctly, the answer is no, not at all.
I think I asked you this last time, but why this play for you as a playwright? Why now?
At this point, having worked on this play for years, I guess you could say it’s just the challenge that I can’t let go of–the challenge to finally get it out of my head in a way that makes sense and means something to other people. I love mythology, but it’s not that I think about nothing else all day long. I’m interested in what God is, but that doesn’t plague me every minute either. I guess I’ve dared myself to wrestle with this play until it’s perfect. Besides that, there’s relevant stuff in there about spirituality and doubt today and blah blah blah, but let’s not even indulge those cliches.
Will you be at the performances?
As with rehearsals, I’ll try to be at performances once each week. And of course, I’ll be bringing a busload of friends and interested people from the Lehigh Valley, PA, where I live.
Where can people contact you for more information?
People can contact me through my website, www.stevenbost.com, which is woefully un-updated … but not for long. But there’s still an e-mail portal there. Other than that, I do like an old-fashioned letter. My hope is that this production is not an isolated thing, that I will meet and stay in touch with enough professionals who are anxious to see what else I can write and what else they can put on in New York City, a place that I am finally starting to love.
Too many people to thank in this space, of course. Jackie and Rachel for believing in me; Michael Swartz, without whom I wouldn’t have met any of the group, and our director; Stephen Kaliski, for being the first person in the process to finally say, “I don’t understand this, is there a better way you could say it?” I thank my theology professor, Dr. Larry Chapp, for planting the idea in my head way back when I was a callow, cynical student. (And thank you, Logan, for giving me this chance to explain myself a little.)
July 13-16, 20-23, 26-29
All performances are at 7:30pm
on the corner of 30th Street and 30th Ave
(near the 30th ave stop on the N/Q train)
Please arrive early! Seating is limited. We advise bringing blankets or chairs for your comfort.