Jeffrey Jay Fowler’s Fringe World: THE ONE, Price Tag & FAG/STAG

FAGSTAG

 

Award-winning playwright, co-founder of The Last Great Hunt and local champ Jeffrey Jay Fowler is bringing three unique shows to Fringe World this year – making for one hell of a schedule. The Tour Ready Award winning FAG/STAG will be reappearing at the Perth Town Hall, while Fowler stages two new pieces at the Blue Room Theatre as part of their Summer Nights program. Price Tag explores notions of class and value around a dinner table in a world where wealth is everything and THE ONE delves into the cliches of marriage, juxtaposed with harsh historical truths and a R&B soundtrack. We caught up with Jeffrey for a chat about money, class, marriage and Grindr.

 

I’ve been part of many conversations that fit right in to the world of Price Tag. Was there a particular moment that sparked the idea? A comment that prized wealth over life or happiness?

 

The idea for Price Tag wasn’t sparked by a single conversation, but rather the ubiquitous presence of materialism in our society. I feel like I grew up in a world where we were told to love people and not objects, but somehow I live in a world where the majority of people are climbing over one another to earn more money. Then again, Price Tag is about more than that. It started out as an exploration of a person’s relationship to their bank account but has stretched and grown during its development to now be much more about how our circumstances create our identity.

 

How do notions of class change in the world where net worth is the be all and end all?

 

The answer to that would ruin the end of the show!

 

Why set the performance around a dinner party?

 

I like taking traditional theatre settings and upending them. Remixing the old with the new. There were a few old plays about couples sitting around and taking pot shots at one another that I used for inspiration. Also though, dinner parties are interesting displays of wealth. Some people use them as chances to show off their quality of life, so it played into the themes I wanted to pop open.

 

THE ONE seems to tread equally grim territory, how far did you delve into the history of marriage?

 

I read a lot, and watched a lot, and was surprised a lot. There’s a great book called How Love Conquered Marriage that was my starting point, and also BBC history podcasts, YouTube, essays, etc. The more interesting part for me was taking all the history and applying it to the lives of the two characters, who remain only known as Him and Her. Though I wanted the play to be grounded in research and fact I know that to make an interesting story it had to be about how the two characters I created were affected by the history of marriage.

 

The truth is that most people don’t think about the history of marriage, or in fact know very much about it all. What we think of as marriage, the bond of love, is a pretty modern concept. My favourite little fact I found is that until the eleventh century the Christian church were actually against marriage, as they worried that it meant people would love one another more than they loved god. That really inverted some of my ideas on why Christians think that their idea of marriage should be the only true one.

 

In your research did you find any useful arguments against marriage traditionalists?

 

Not of any use to me, because I don’t personally choose to argue with them.

 

Why did you choose rhythm and blues as the soundtrack to THE ONE?

 

Whenever I make a performance I see the actors I work with as my paint. You look at the artist with you and work out their strengths and create a performance around them. I’ve long thought of my writing as a kind of “tailor made play” where I fit the play to the performer. It happens that Mark is a great rhythm and blues performer and so that’s what I wanted to go with. It’s also a sexy, hefty sound that I felt gave the play a weight and depth. I want people to be able to really feast themselves on the play.

 

FAG/STAG is returning once again! How would you describe the show to someone who missed it at previous Fringe World’s?

 

“Really good and worth seeing” or “Two aimless guys, one gay and one straight, try their hardest to get their shit together in the month leading up to the wedding of their ex-best-friend.” It’s about white male fragility, Grindr, break ups, cheap sex and feeling stuck.

 

Have you had any sleep preparing THREE shows for Fringe World? Where can I buy these pills?

 

I’ve been working 12 hour days since Jan 2. I’ve got the three shows and I’m also mentoring and dramaturging for the readings of Black Swan’s Emerging Writers’ Group: First Time Read. The truth is that when rehearsals are good they’re energising. I am tired when I get home, of course, but it’s a happy kind of tired. After Price Tag and THE ONE open I will have much more free time and my daydreams of hanging out at the Fringe bars and drinking and flirting and in general enjoying Summer are building up fast.

 

Price Tag will be at the Blue Room Theatre from Friday January 20 – 28 (ex. 23 & 26). You can also find THE ONE there on January 24, 25, 27 & 28.

 

FAG/STAG will be at Perth Town Hall from Wednesday February 8 – Saturday February 11.

 

Leigh Hill

 

FAG/STAG Image:- Jamie Breen

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