Three Stories Up, a new play by Mack Gordon, takes place in the dark and it’s coming to a secret East Vancouver location October 20-31. Three Stories Up was partially inspired by a unique dining experience at Dark Table and by the 2013 PuSh Festival show, Do you see what I mean? Mack was recently able to tell us a little more about his show and what writers have influenced his work.
Tell us about your career as a playwright.
I started writing plays when I got shut down from Uvic’s acting program. I still wanted to play the lead role but no one would cast me, so I wrote myself into all my work. I toured the Fringe in 2006 with Dead Celebrities, then worked a few times with Itsazoo Productions on Five Red Balloons and the Halloween hit, Debts. My work has been produced at Western Canada Theatre (The Ballad of the Burning Lady) as well as three of the five years of Sum Theatre’s Pull Festival. Last year, I wrote and produced the sell out Fringe hit Shake the Sheets! Three Stories Up was workshopped in 2014’s Playwright Colony through Playwrights Theatre Centre.
Tell us about your script. What’s the gist of the story?
A transit cop discovers the dead body of her husband, a high ranking undercover cop. She recruits his last known informant to find the killer and get revenge.
Do you read your script aloud while editing to ensure that it sounds like people actually speaking?
Of course! Dialogue is one of my strong suits so I made sure that I always knew what the characters wanted in each scene. I’d try and stack them against each other so that each character wanted something diametrically opposed to the other.
How difficult is it to hand over your script to directors and actors? Have you ever been shocked or surprised by someone’s interpretation?
It’s hard. You have a very clear idea of what the characters’ voices sound like in your head. But it’s also important to recognize that theatre is a collaborative art. Actors are geniuses of the heart and each one has a slightly different view of truth. If they’re bringing truth to the characters and it sounds different than the truth you imagined, well, then you get to be surprised and engaged too!
Which other playwrights or writers inspire you?
So many writers, from Kurt Vonnegut Jr. to David Foster Wallace to Micheal Chabon to Raymond Chandler and Ray Bradbury. Hannah Moskowitz is amazing and so is Morris Panych. I’m really digging into the creative non-fiction of people like David Markson, Renata Adler, and David Shields lately too. It’s important to unleash a little of yourself in every story you tell.
What inspired you to write this show?
I love good crime novels and movies; the atmosphere and excitement of Chandler, Hammett, Nic Pizzoletto. So many authors try to replicate the style but miss the authenticity at the core. I wanted to write a real story of real people that also happened to be a noir murder mystery rather than vice versa.