My melodramatic comedy ARIZONA TERRITORY to be broadcast live on radio February 14, 2016, at 7:00pm Mountain Time
An Interview with Richard Warren

Indie Theater Now asked Richard Warren a few questions about his play Arizona Territory.

Who were the key figures who made this production happen—could be other artists, people who inspired the story, producers/producing company, etc.

Every year Ben Tyler and his Arizona Centennial Theatre Foundation celebrate Arizona's Statehood Day on February 14th by presenting a live radio broadcast over KTAR News Radio 92.3 FM. For the 2016 broadcast, Ben asked me to adapt my melodramatic comedy ARIZONA TERRITORY. I'm trilled that it will be directed by Ben and narrated by radio legend Pat McMahon. The killer cast includes Cathy Dresbach, Terey Summers, Joe Kremer, David Barker, Larry Soller, Tim Shawver, Emily Mohney, Mark DeMichele, Brian Nissen and Franc Gaxiola. This is a unique experience for me because it's my first venture into radio drama.

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?

ARIZONA TERRITORY is based on a 1899 stage play by Augustus Thomas. It involves a ranch family, U.S. Cavalry soldiers and Mexican cowboys. It's an engaging story where julips, women and song lead to mayhem, murder and mirth. Thomas' play was made into a 1931 movie featuring John Wayne, but I think the story is better served as a play because it is more immediate and the characters are more intimate. Live theatre has always attracted me because a group of artists gather together at one moment in time in an attempt to make magic. What happens, happens.

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've always been a writer. After a long career in advertising I taught myself to be a playwright by attending every lecture and workshop I could find including those by Arthur Miller, Edward Albee, Terrence McNally, Tony Kushner, Romulus Linney, Jeffrey Sweet and others. I also read many theatre books such as "Conversations with Eugene O'Neill." But most of all I learned to write by writing.

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 first wrote ARIZONA TERRITORY in 2002 I learned the differences between late 19th century dramatic structure and character development, and that of early 21st century. When I adapted the play for radio in 2015, I had to learn how to convey everything through voice, sound effects and music. Obviously nothing visual like sets, props, costumes and lighting is involved. To get a sense of how this works, I read lots of old western radio scripts like those of "Gunsmoke" and "The Lone Ranger." Currently we're just beginning a week of rehearsal for the live February 14th broadcast so there haven't been any surprises yet, but I expect some. This will be the first radio show for a lot of us so there is plenty of excitment.

Without giving away any important surprises—what moment or moments do you most look forward to when you see this play being performed?

In this play there's a single rose that sort of becomes emblematic as it is passed around. I'm very anxious to hear if and how it communicates "visually" in the mind of the audience.

posted February 4, 2016