A long, long time ago, Juliet Waller Pruzan was a dancer and choreographer and had a cool idea she wanted to make into a dance/theater piece. She had a vision about people’s secrets flying out of them and getting caught in the branches of a particular tree. She knew that Bret Fetzer wrote original fairytales and performed them. She had seen him perform at On the Boards and decided maybe he would be the guy who could help her create a performance.
There was magic in that request, apparently, because not only did they create a ten minute piece and successfully apply to On the Boards Northwest New Works festival (and entitle it The Gossip Tree), but they went on to create multiple more plays.
Their latest creation actually is a revision of their first ten minute play, now entitled Lollyville and produced by Macha Monkey, a ”fearless, funny, female” theater company on stage May 2-24 (8pm) at Richard Hugo House.
“There are all these secrets in town and troubled relationships and dysfunctions under the surface and he draws those out and makes them worse,” Fetzer said about the Lollyville storyline. “But in making them worse and bringing them to light, they work out for the better.”
Both Fetzer and Waller Pruzan have a history with the building the theater is in. “I really love the theater and have a long history of performing there when it was New City and danced there in the ‘90s,” Waller Pruzan said.
“I was involved with New City in various ways and was also was facility manager at Hugo House in the first year of its existence, so I also have a long history,” Fetzer said.
“Everything we have written together has been presented on stage,” he says about the partnership. “Five one act or full length plays (Lollyville makes #6) and we’ve collaborated on 14/48 plays four to six times. One play was a summer children’s play for Theater Schmeater, Arrh! A Dinosaur Ate My Spaceship!, done in the parks. We found that we bounced off each other really well.”
“Whenever we find ourselves laughing hysterically at something, we know we’ve found the right thing. If only one of us is laughing, it’s not right,” he said. “We think we agree all the time, but one time when we were co-directing, an actor said, ‘You guys argue all the time.’ We always end up agreeing so we forget the fact that we were arguing.”
They don’t always write funny plays, though. “People die a lot in our plays, particularly our early ones. I think there is only one (death) in Lollyville. In one of our early plays, Avalanche, all four of our characters die,” Fetzer said.
“It was definitely a play with dark humor. We don’t start with ‘funny,’ we start with extraordinary things that happen under ordinary circumstance,” said Waller Pruzan. “Sometimes our work can get a little dark.”
In Lollyville, a ghost returns to the site of his fatal heartbreak: an isolated village inhabited entirely by women. Since men are not allowed to live there, he had to leave his love, and that broke his heart and he died. As a ghost, he returns to take revenge, but since the woman he loved is also dead, he takes revenge on the rest of the town.
“It’s part of the magic realism of the whole thing. Somewhat like a fairytale,” Waller Pruzan said.
You can buy tickets and learn more here.