GREASEMONKEY tells the story of Mara, who has just taken over her very-recently-deceased dad’s position at a vintage car restoration shop in Berkeley, CA, run by his best friend of 30 years. She meets, and is pursued by, Patrick, a younger man who is a professor of anthropology at the university. Hesitantly, she allows herself to fall in love with him. On a business trip to Boston, Mara literally runs into Daniel, the love of her life who left her six years earlier and realizes his mistake. The play is based on and inclusive of modern day love poetry of folks like Alice Walker, Noel Coward, and James Tipton. Last February the show was performed in New York City and is moving to Chicago in June. Some of the cast and crew will be driving a large UHaul across country to transport the set to the Greenhouse Theater which holds 196 people and is three times the size of the theater it was performed in in New York City.
The Playbill Collector (TPC): Let’s first get a little background story on how the show came to be. Miranda, you wrote and star in the show. Can you tell us how this came into fruition?
Miranda Jonte (MJ): I had come across a fantastic book of poetry which was sexy, scathing and vengeful. I thought it would be interesting to make it into a monologue and then I built a play around these poems which are now peppered throughout the play. One day I started writing on a bus and here we are!
TPC: How long was your run in New York City and what space did you perform in?
MJ: We performed at the Robert Moss Theater at Astor Place. We ran for two weeks and it was a learning experience to say the least.
TPC: You have a cast of seven. How did the audition process take place? Since you wrote it, did you sit in on the casting or were you hands off?
MJ: Actually, I was very hands on. We held the audition over a few days and only one role wasn’t cast. That’s when we brought Stephen in to help. He was the cherry on top!
TPC: Stephen and I met at Penn State (read more of a past interview I did with him here: http://theplaybillcollector.com/interviews/interview-with-director-and-choreographer-stephen-brotebeck ). How did you get linked up with Miranda and this project?
Stephen Brotebeck (SB): I saw an ad on Playbill.com, not to be confused with the Playbill Collector (laugh) and submitted my resume. We met at Indie Café and after talking to Miranda, we started collaborating and created an exciting piece of theater that we are looking forward to bringing to Chicago.
TPC: What made you decide to transfer the show to Chicago?
MJ: The whole cast got along well and I could tell the cast and crew really loved the project in particular. I thought two weeks wasn’t long enough and I thought we could do it better because we could make the script better. Chicago is a fabulous theater town, it’s cheaper and it’s very open to shows coming from New York City.
TPC: Your show takes place in a vintage car shop. Do all of your scenes take place in the same spot or does it move?
SB: Since everything takes place in the repair shop, I thought it would be fun for all of the scenes to come out of the car shop. For example, a futon turns into a bed and the desk in the shop is transformed into a side table in the hotel.
TPC: I’ve read that your theater is across the street from Insomnia cookies. Do you plan to sell those at intermission?
SB: They aren’t donuts but I’d love to have them! I’ve got a big thing for donuts!
MJ: We could have them onstage in one of the scenes. I have an epic sweet tooth and I’d love to talk to them about doing some cross marketing.
TPC: Any hopes or dreams after the Chicago run?
MJ: It would be wonderful to take it to Northern California where it’s set. Also, back to New York City so we can show people the changes.
TPC: What projects are the two of you working on right now?
SB: I’m currently in Michigan where I did my undergrad and am working at the Farmers Alley Theater on a show called I LOVE A PIANO which is all Irving Berlin’s music.
MJ: Stephen asked me to write a script for him for a ten-minute play festival in February so I am beginning to work on that. I’m also working on my next script which Stephen will be Directing. There are lots of irons in the fire!
For those who want to learn more about GREASEMONKEY visit their website here: http://greasemonkey.weebly.com/ Also, check out Stephen’s upcoming projects here: http://www.stephenbrotebeck.com/Stephen_Brotebeck_Director_Choreographer/StephenBrotebeck.com.html