Making Art in 2017: Brad Baron on Last Ditch Playlist
Name: Brad Baron
Show in 2017 Festival: Last Ditch Playlist
Role: Writer, Co-Director, Performer
Past Festival shows: No past FringeArts shows. However, Last Ditch Playlist was presented as a part of the 2017 Capital Fringe Festival in Washington DC this past July. It’s NYC run occurred at Theaterlab between August 17–20. Last Ditch Playlist is my Philly debut as an actor and playwright.
FringeArts: Tell us about your show.
Brad Baron: Last Ditch Playlist, in a nutshell, is the story of my first breakup. The play begins (spoiler alert) the morning after the ties between Aaron and Wes have officially been severed. From there, the audience is catapulted into a whirlwind of Aaron’s memories, both real and invented. He searches for an answer to the question “where did I go wrong?” to the tune of a playlist on shuffle. The play is called Last Ditch Playlist for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons I’ll leave for you to discover, but I’ll say this much: When you recall the memories of someone, you don’t necessarily do so chronologically. You remember people and events out of order. The order may be arbitrary, like a music playlist on shuffle. And music jogs memories. So this play’s “concept,” if you will, is the marriage between memory play and randomized music playlists. Bursts of music are triggering, and so are these memories of Aaron and Wes’s broken relationship.
Although this could be considered a “gay play” since it follows a romance between two men, it is important to recognize that there are many aspects to this relationship that are not unique. In fact, it should be relatable to anyone who has ever been in a relationship. There will always be aspects to gay relationships that make them special and unlike other kinds of relationships, but if “love is love,” then that love should be universally recognizable to anyone who has ever experienced it regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
FringeArts: How have your interests in or approach to art making changed in the last year?
Brad Baron: My approach to theatre-making has gone through a drastic change this year alone. I spent the bulk of the last five years performing in tours and productions around the country (mostly musical theater and opera), going wherever the wind took me. It’s lovely to be a working performer, but that often means accepting contracts and gigs you aren’t completely excited about. Evidently, having little artistic control over what I was hired to do started to stifle me as an artist. And just before the new year, I couldn’t shake this feeling that I needed to share this play with as many people as I could, and it didn’t matter if it was something I had to do on my own. I believe my purpose as a theater-maker has evolved from an act of “regurgitation” to an act of “creation.” And as a “creator,” I can better utilize my entire skill set as an interdisciplinary artist. I sing, act, write, direct, and now produce. Last Ditch Playlist is the first time in my life I’ve been able to balance all those different pieces of myself together. Except the singing. Next time I write a play that has a role for me, I’ll give myself something to sing.
As an actor, Last Ditch Playlist is an especially interesting experience for me because it’s the first time I’ve ever played myself. And when I began writing the play four or five years ago, I never intended to act in it. I assumed I’d just pawn it off on other artists to do. Eventually I had an opportunity to direct Last Ditch Playlist in a reading in August of 2016 at Dixon Place. I felt a greater affection for the play in doing so. But I still hadn’t considered acting the role myself. I blame my scene partner, Ross McCorkell (who plays Wes) for planting the seed in my head to just up and do it. Maybe that’s what it’s all boiled down to for me in 2017: “just do it.”
FringeArts: Tell us about an instance from 2017 when your interaction with art provided some much needed solace or refuge from outside troubles.
Brad Baron: Ironically enough, I went through another breakup around the time I had made the decision to pursue Last Ditch Playlist through self-production in fringe festivals like this one. The next few days really sucked, but I realized I had this play in which I had given advice to myself. When Carrie Fisher passed away, her quote “take your broken heart, make it into art” made the social media rounds. I realize now that that’s what I started to do years ago when I started to write Last Ditch Playlist. Truthfully, pursuing Last Ditch Playlist this year has been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my life, theatrical or otherwise. It’s been very special to share it with audiences in DC at Capital Fringe and again in New York City. I’m thrilled to wrap things up (for now) in Philly with the FringeArts Festival.
Last Ditch Playlist
$21–$24 / 105 minutes
Sept. 12, 13, 15 @ Performance Garage, 1515 Brandywine Street