From PlayFest: Steven Christopher Yockey on ‘Heavier Than’

Here’s the first of a continuing series on the playwrights of the Harriett Lake Festival of New Plays, at Orlando Shakespeare Theater, and what they’re bringing to the festival in the next 10 days. First up, Steven Christopher Yockey on Heavier Than.

Directed by Patrick Flick, Heavier Than will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Friday April 2, 8:30 p.m. Saturday April 3, 3:30 p.m. Saturday April 10 and 6 p.m. Sunday April 11 at Lowndes Shakespeare Center. Tickets are $10.

Here’s a Q&A, followed by some biographical info from the playwright:

What’s your play about, in a couple of sentences?

Heavier Than … is a modern mash-up of Greek myths. The story unfolds inside a sprawling labyrinth where Aster the Minotaur contemplates turning 30 in a world that knows him as a monster. He pines for his long-absent mother while navigating a deceptive chorus, a plotting sister, a masochistic, sexually obsessed boy with wings and the impending arrival of warriors from Athens out for blood.

What was the impetus that made you want to write it?

I wish this could be a bit sexier, but the original impulse was to use these mythic characters as a lens to explore that fundamental moment in becoming an adult when you’re suddenly realize your parents are just people too. That at their best or their worst, they are people just like you. Really it can be this small shift, the tiniest moment we might not even recognize. But it has a profound impact on how we see ourselves in the world; how we move through it as individuals.

Has it been produced anywhere else?

No, this is the first workshop production.

What do you hope to get out of its inclusion in PlayFest?

This will be the first time I’ll get to see the play up on its feet with several performances (as opposed to a one-night reading), so I’m looking forward to seeing multiple audiences respond. Especially PlayFest audiences invested in  tackling some new work. It’s also fantastic to be in the room with energized artists who are genuinely engaged with a play.

Steve Yockey is a roaming member of Out of Hand Theater. His projects with the company include HELP! and Cartoon. In 2008, Actor’s Express Theatre in Atlanta, GA presented the world premiere of Octopus followed by an extended run in San Francisco, co-produced by Encore Theatre Company and Magic Theatre. He is a regular fixture at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company including the short play cycle Sleepy, a work written to inaugurate the second-stage series, and the adults-only Skin — both commissioned & directed by Kate Warner. Dad’s Garage and Berkeley’s Impact Theatre produced the co-world premiere Large Animal Games this season. Octopus, Cartoon and subculture (collected short plays) are available from Samuel French. Other plays include: Bellwether, Afterlife and Wonder. Steve is a Phi Beta Kappa, Summa Cum Laude graduate of the University of Georgia and holds an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. He recently completed a Coca-Cola Artist Residency teaching dramatic structure at Emory University in Atlanta, GA and currently lives/works in the San Francisco Bay Area as the National New Play Network playwright-in-residence at Marin Theatre Company.

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