From now through the end of August, we’ll be bringing you interviews with the writers and directors of the 2016 Pint-Sized Plays. First up: writer Shirley Issel and director Jamie Harkin of “Angel of Darkness”!
“Angel of Darkness” is a modern mystery play set in a contemporary bar. Death is the barman, and he informs Everyman that as soon as another patron, Fellowship, finishes his beer, Everyman will die…
Brett Mermer plays Death, James F. Ross plays Fellowship, and Jamie Harkin pulls double duty by playing Everyman as well as directing the show.
How did you get involved with Pint-Sized?
Shirley: I am part of a playwriting class at Stagebridge, taught by Anthony Clarvoe. Anthony gave us your Pint-Sized Play Festival call for submission and rules as a weekly assignment. The rules captured my imagination and I really liked the results, so I submitted.
Jamie: My dear friend Alejandro Torres, who is the deputy producer of Pint-Sized this year, knows me and recommended me.
What’s the hardest thing about writing a short play?
Shirley: Coming up with a good idea.
What’s the best thing about writing a short play?
Shirley: It is clear very quickly if you have something good.
What’s been the most exciting part of this process?
Jamie: The idea of performing in front of such a huge crowd.
What’s been most troublesome?
Jamie: Finding actors.
Who or what are your biggest artistic influences?
Shirley: I am in love with Shakespeare, especially the way one character in each play sets the ball rolling and in doing so calls in his own fate. “Angel of Darkness” takes place on Halloween. When the bartender/Death asks Everyman if he wants a “trick or treat,” Everyman asks for a trick, inviting Death to do his thing.
If you could cast a celebrity in your Pint-Sized Play, who would it be and why?
Jamie: Anthony Hopkins, Derek Jacobi, Benedict Cumberbatch or Alan Rickman (if I could bring him back I totally would). Cause, you know, I love me some Brits.
Shirley: I would cast Matthew McConaughey as the bartender. He’s naughty, playful and smart with a killer smile. I can just hear him with his Southern accent asking his customers, “Alright, Alright, Alright! What’ll you have, trick or treat?”
Who’s your secret Bay Area actor crush? That is… what actor would you love a chance to work with?
Jamie: Hmm… I’d have to say James Carpenter. I’ve met him a couple times. He’s really really nice.
What other projects are you working on and/or what’s next for you?
Jamie: I’m in the SF Fringe Festival this year as part of Alejandro’s show Projected Voyages, which is being remounted. I was an original cast member back in 2013.
Shirley: I’m sticking with my playwriting class at Stagebridge and I’m curious myself about what will happen next. One thing new I’m eager to pursue is a class on directing.
What upcoming shows or events in the Bay Area theater scene are you most excited about?
Shirley: I’m looking forward to seeing Dear Master come back to the Aurora in September. Joy Carlin is directing and she makes sure good material gets a good production.
Jamie: I really wanna see John Leguizamo’s show at Berkeley Rep.
What’s your favorite beer?
Shirley: Right now, I like Death and Taxes.
See “Angel of Darkness” and the other Pint-Sized Plays at PianoFight on August 15, 16, 22, 23, and 29!