San Diego Playwrights

Getting San Diego Playwrights Produced on San Diego Stages

Finding Baby a Home–An Interview with Steven Oberman

on September 22, 2013
Playwright Steven Oberman

Playwright Steven Oberman

Tell us about yourself.

My name is Steven Oberman and I am a playwright living in San Marcos. My wife, Maya, and I got married this past May, and combined we have four children. My most recent writing achievement was to have my new one-act, “A Slip From Reality,” included in the 2013 Out on a Limb New Play Program this summer at Scripps Ranch Theatre. My previous playwriting credits include three locally self-produced productions: VANISHED at Swedenborg Hall in 2012; MOZU (book & lyrics) at Diversionary Theatre in 2010; and CLAIRE VOYANT at the Avo Playhouse in 2009. In addition to writing and producing plays, I spend my time investing in stocks, options and real estate. I have a BA in Management Science, and a minor in Theatre, from UCSD.

Jaysen Waller and Shane Allen in "A Slip from Reality" (Photo Credit Darren Scott)

Jaysen Waller and Shane Allen in “A Slip from Reality” (Photo Credit Darren Scott)

Connie Tewilliger and Rebecca Noland in VANISHED

Connie Terwilliger and Rebecca Noland in VANISHED (Photo Credit David Bean)

What is the birth story of your new play?

Giving birth to a play is a good analogy, especially in this case, since it took me about nine months to complete it. The play is titled THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY and it’s an adaptation of G.K. Chesterton‘s novel by the same name that was originally published in 1908. I think I got the book a few years ago at a used book sale, and when I finally got around to reading it, I was immediately impressed with the dialogue throughout, which is very clever and witty. Wanting to try an adaptation for my next playwrighting project, this novel became the perfect vehicle. Though I must admit there were many challenges I had to address, like two major chase scenes and strong religious symbolism toward the end of the book, which seemed out of place, not to mention an unsatisfying ending that leaves readers very confused. Luckily I found an annotated version of the book, complete with a few interviews and articles by Chesterton, which shed a lot of light on the subject and became my key source of research.

What are your hopes and dreams for your baby?

Okay, now the baby analogy is a bit worrisome, since my hope is that this play establishes me as a bona fide playwright in the mindset of the San Diego theatre community. If we continue to apply this analogy, that makes me one of those scary parents who try to live out their lost dreams through their children. Maybe from here on out it’s better to describe my play as a creation, rather than baby. Now, I can see where some might question how I can claim this play to be my creation if it’s an adaptation. My answer is two-fold. First, to change one media to fit another, in this case from book to stage, takes a lot of creativity for obvious reasons, including challenges I noted above, and cramming the source material into a two-hour timeframe. Luckily, there were many instances where I could pull dialogue directly from the book, so that the essence and style of the novel is more easily conveyed intact onto the stage. My other argument would be to use the notable playwright Jeffrey Hatcher as an example. His creative adaptations, like “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” helped to establish him as a respected playwright and gain him national recognition.

What are you going to do to find your creation a home?

Well, now the legwork begins. My preference is for a local theatre to read the script, fall in love with it and want to produce it, not unlike every single playwright here in San Diego, I’m sure. So I’ll be submitting it around town. My second choice is for the play to be done out of town, anywhere in the country. But with no personal contacts to draw upon, my script is fated to land in piles, with hundreds of other submitted scripts, in theatres across the nation. So, to help facilitate a local production, I will be looking into the option of doing a co-production of the play with an established theatre company. By the way, my research on local theatres’ submission policies, co-production opportunities, and theatre space rental information will be shared with San Diego Playwrights and available for viewing in the next few months. My third option is to produce the play myself. Of course this is the most expensive option and after doing three self-produced plays I know first-hand that it is anything but a lucrative proposition. However, if I equate the knowledge and experience gained from producing my own play to the benefits of a year in a Theatre Graduate program at a university, the expense then becomes justified. If I go ahead and produce the play myself, my target date for production is Fall, 2014. So be on the lookout for my crowd-funding solicitation. After all, as they say, it takes a village to raise a baby (I’m back to the baby analogy), and I will appreciate all the help I can get.

Thank you Steven Oberman for sharing your story and the information you learn about getting your play produced in San Diego. Best of luck with THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY! Keep us updated!

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