During August, the Festival features the New American Playwrights Project (NAPP). Playwrights submit their plays and only three are selected for a staged reading, with Festival company members directing and acting. This provides an opportunity for the playwright to make changes, both during rehearsals and as a result of feedback received during the talkbacks after the first two performances.

This week, we’re featuring Breakout by Dan Borengasser. “Roach” Rhinowsky and Russell Sloan share a jail cell, but they don’t agree on much. Then the prison adopts a theatre program as a form of rehabilitation, and the two concoct a shared goal. They decide the play the inmates will produce Hamlet, will be the perfect distraction for a breakout.

We chatted with Dan to learn more about him and his play.

Dan Borengasser

Dan Borengasser

 

Tell us about your background.

I was with a film and video production company. I wrote scripts with them. We made commercials and corporate videos. After retiring, I continued writing screen plays and then stage plays. I’ve entered many contests and had readings all over the world. One play, The Gospel According to Bowser,has been produced and performed in New York, LA, Florida, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Cassandra Bissell-one of the actors in Breakout

Cassandra Bissell-one of the actors in Breakout

What is the inspiration for “Breakout?”

After listening to an NPR program about Shakespeare in prison, I wrote a ten-minute screenplay called Breakout. I entered in a contest and the film was made. Then I decided to expand it to a full-length stage play.

 

What’s the difference between writing a screen play and a stage play?

Screen plays tend to be more streamlined and action driven. Stage plays are more dialogue driven. Pacing is important because the audience needs time to absorb the material.

 

What do you expect as a result of this week?

I expect to do some rewriting. I’ll see what works and what doesn’t and get it back out there. This workshop experience is unusual in that I have the opportunity to get live feedback from the director, actors and audience.

 

Why should our patrons attend this play?

It’s a rare opportunity to see a work in progress and provide feedback that could affect the outcome, the final product.

 

Breakout is directed by Quinn Mattfeld. Actors include Cassandra Bissell, Drew Shirley and Kipp Moorman. Performances are August 15, 16, 28 at 10am in the Auditorium Theatre. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at www.bard.org or by calling 800-PLAYTIX.