My new play OFF TRACK at the New York International Fringe Festival
An Interview with James Comtois

Indie Theater Now asked James Comtois a few questions about his play Off Track.

Who are your favorite playwrights?

Oh, there are a bunch. Mac Rogers, Wallace Shawn, Qui Nguyen, Derek Ahonen, Edward Albee, Clive Barker, Sarak Kane. The list goes on and on.


What's your favorite pastime when you’re not working on a play?

Either going to the movies, watching TV, or napping. These days? I'm always up for napping.


Where does this play take place, and how did you choose that location?

This play takes place in present-day Chicago during a transit strike. I needed the story to be set in a major city with a 24-hour public transit system that a.) had dangerous neighborhoods, and b.) would really strand people if its transit system shut down. Since gentrification has pretty much eliminated the idea of "bad" neighborhoods in New York, and since our fair city is rather compact, NYC was out. Boston's also too small (and doesn't have a 24-hour subway system). L.A. doesn't really have a practical public transportation system, so that left Chicago.


When did you know you wanted to work in the theater, and why?

Like a lot of people working in theater, I got bitten by the acting bug in high school, and acted in high school and college. Sometime during college, however, I lost my taste for acting, and got more interested in writing plays. After college, I moved to New York and reconnected with an old high school friend (Pete Boisvert). We rather quickly formed a theatre company together -- Nosedive Productions -- which we ran for about 13 years.


Why did you want to write this show?

I wanted to try my hand at a modern-day noir/murder mystery. I've written in a lot of genres, but not mystery. To be honest, I'm pretty bad at guessing who the killer is with whodunnits, so we'll see how I did with this story once this opens. But I also wanted to write a story about feeling stranded, or feeling like you're going nowhere in life.


posted August 2, 2016