The World Premiere of IN THE BONES at the Astoria Performing Arts Center
An Interview with Cody Daigle
Indie Theater Now asked Cody Daigle a few questions about this upcoming event.
Who were the key figures who made this production happen—could be other artists, people who inspired the story, producers/producing company, etc.
I really have to tip my hat to Dev Bondarin, who's the director of this production and the new Artistic Director of APAC. Dev and I worked on a play of mine four years ago, and we really connected as artists and as friends. So we've been hoping to find another opportunity to work together. Dev introduced IN THE BONES to the folks at APAC, and Erin Moore, the new Executive Director picked it as the first show of her tenure. Although this is the world premiere of the show, a lot of very talented artists have left their mark on the play. The play was originally a one-act in an evening of short plays produced by Manhattan Theatre Works. I'm a company playwright for MTWorks, and their work with new plays is really incredible. When I expanded it to its full-length version, Acadiana Repertory Theatre, a company in south Louisiana dedicated to the production of new plays, did a workshop. The play grew so much thanks to those artists. And I had a wonderful experience this summer developing the play at the Great Plains Theatre Conference in Omaha -- every playwright should get a chance to experience Great Plains. Now, the show's in the hands of some really fabulous people at APAC. I couldn't be luckier.
Why is this a play, as opposed to a film or a web series or a novel (or anything else)? And what is it about live theater that attracts you most, that keeps you revved and jazzed to work in this form?
IN THE BONES actually plays with two mediums: live theatre and film. There are four "live theatre" scenes, each moving ahead one year in time, that follow the lives of a family coping with the aftermath of an Afghanistan veteran's suicide. These stage scenes are intercut with video sequences -- which, narratively, were filmed by the solider who committed suicide before the play begins. So, audiences experience two kinds of storytelling, two mediums, two visual/aural experiences. It's exciting narratively, because everything on film happens before the play begins. So the past literally occupies a completely different world on stage. It invades the real life space in unexpected ways, ways we aren't used to seeing in the theatre. And we can't touch it in the same way we could the actors in the live theatre scenes. I think it's a very cool way to theatricalize people fighting with and learning to cope with the past.
Who taught you how to be a playwright? This could be specific teachers, or role models whose work you’ve seen or read, or of course any combination.
I grew up in south Louisiana, and I spent a good bit of my adult life there. So I learned how to be a playwright in front of audiences, self-producing. We'd throw a show together on a shoestring budget for a few performances over a weekend. And we'd be performing in front of audiences that were really tough -- unaccustomed to new work, not really regular theatregoers, Deep South sensibilities. You learn pretty quickly how to make plays that work, that grab an audience, that force audiences to think, that challenge without being overbearing. And you can experiment like mad, because who's paying attention to your weird little play going up in south Louisiana? It's why I'm always happy to work with my friends at Acadiana Rep -- they let me do whatever I want, no matter how wierd it is.
What have you learned about this play as it has evolved from first draft to the present version? And what has surprised you in this current production-what did you discover in the work that you didn’t realize was there?
When I wrote the one-act version for MTWorks, I thought I was exploring grief and the personal impact of the war experience on soliders and their families. But as I expanded the play into the full-length version, I saw I was also writing about marriage equality, the slow but tangible march towards social progressivism in the Deep South, our relationship with technology, and our growing need to document our lives on video and through social media. The play threads all of these things together in what's essentially a family drama about loss. The thing that's been revealed in this production of the show -- which hadn't been fully realized in previous versions of the show -- is a hopefulness about the future of this family. The current version of the show contains moments of healing and forgiveness that surprised me. It's a challenging play about difficult subjects, but there's humor and light and hope.
Without giving away any important surprises—what moment or moments do you most look forward to when you see this play being performed?
There's a moment where the two worlds -- the live theatre and film worlds -- collide and shed light on each other. I've enjoyed watching audiences "get it" in the show's previous development states. I can't wait to see the audiences at APAC have the same experience.
posted October 22, 2014