Huffing and Puffing at Philly Fringe
Straw, Stick, Brick is a sister-brother collaboration between Jillian Taylor–a local fiction writer and playwright–and M. Craig Getting, the show’s director. At the 2011 Philly Fringe, Straw, Stick, Brick focuses on Eric, a lone character/actor who, alone in his room, feels the need to build something, but everything he builds threatens to fall apart.
“I always wanted to work with my brother,” Jillian says about Craig. “We have similar sensibilities and views. This makes working with him a breeze but at the same time, he is more of a risk-taker and pushes me out of my comfort zone. I am good with logistics and can balance his big ideas with constraints of time and money. The process has been very collaborative as we created the script, and some of the best moments during this process were when we sat in my kitchen, drinking and tossing around ideas for hours on end.”
Jillian didn’t want to ruin the surprise of the show and tell us what is actually being built. “No doubt, it will be tall,” she said. “And it will be different every night. Eric is going to manipulate modular pieces as he sees fit during the performance.”
Craig was attracted to the idea of creating a one man show where during the course of the performance, the actor onstage would build something while performing. He was inspired by Charles L. Mee’s play, The House of Cards. In the play, the actor performing builds a house of cards. While Craig wanted their performer to build, Jillian was skeptical at first.
“I am a bit of a worrywart,” she said. All she could picture was a patron in the front row sneezing and the entire “house of cards” falling. In Straw, Stick, Brick, Eric won’t be building a house of cards but Craig and Jillian had to work together to decide what Eric would be building during the performance. Each had their own ideas of what this could entail. “Together,” Jillian promised, “We compromised on a single vision.”
While her relationship with her brother may not be fragile, Jillian jokes on her website about her role as both playwright and producer of the piece. Tennessee Williams famously said the most difficult aspect of playwriting is dealing with the money people. “Does this mean,” Jillian asks, “I’m going to find it extremely difficult to work with myself?”
Straw, Stick, Brick runs September 15 at 7:00 pm and September 16 and 17 at 7:00 pm and 9:00 pm at St. Stephen’s Theater, 10th and Ludlow Streets. $10.
–Jennifer Leah Peck