Stage Partners got to sit down with playwright Werner Trieschmann, author of Fake News!, a hilarious and timely new play that rips the headlines. This large-cast one-act comedy features two ridiculous KFKE news anchors as they get the real fake scoop including an interview with an unfrozen cave man, a revealing expose on the mysterious Illuminati, and a prospector mining for gold. And stay tuned for the weatherman, Bob Deepmantan, who claims it’s 97 degrees in the middle of January. Will the KFKE’s broadcast end before or after the massive alien invasion?!
Q: Why did you feel compelled to write Fake News!? Why comedy?
A: I’ve steadily written plays for 30 plus years now. I write full-length plays and, most recently, a lot of short comedies like Fake News. As I look at it, it’s sort of amazing that I didn’t get to a satire of news sooner. In seventh grade in a math class, I, along with some friends, were doing parodies of local news (why in a math class I have no idea). Clearly, the idea has been in my head for quite a while. Add to that the fact that Anchorman is one of the great movies of all recorded time. Finally, “fake news” is a term invented by politicians who lie (cough – Donald Trump! – cough, cough) and it irritates me. All of that together added up to Fake News. Why comedy? I have no interest in writing about this in a serious way. That’s for somebody else to tackle.
Finally, “fake news” is a term invented by politicians who lie (cough – Donald Trump! – cough, cough) and it irritates me. All of that together added up to Fake News. Why comedy? I have no interest in writing about this in a serious way. That’s for somebody else to tackle.
Q: Do write dramas as well? Is there any point in your writing process when you are torn about what direction to take with a particular play?
A: I do write dramas but even those plays have comic moments as well. Before I start any play, I generally have a solid idea of the tone that I want – Fake News was going to be a comedy and any serious moments -that might crop up (and I would argue that this play does turn somewhat serious toward the very end) would have to arrive of their own accord. The plays I don’t finish (and let me now introduce you to my overstuffed closet of Plays I Have Not Finished) are due to some flaw in the concept and not whether or not it’s a comedy disguised as a drama or vice-versa.
Q: What do you love about writing for young actors?
A: Young actors, as a general rule, are live wires, open to experiences and emotions and less guarded. That combination makes them exciting to watch and just fantastic to hand parts to and say, “Let’s see what you do with this.”
Q: Do you have any golden rules of playwriting for yourself?
A: 1. Keep it simple.
2. There are no rules for playwriting.
3. Your play should really only be about one character.
4. Huh? What about rule no. 2?
5. And what about Romeo and Juliet? It’s got two characters right in the title.
6. Sorry, Romeo and Juliet is about Romeo. He appears first, has a girlfriend and then goes to a dance and instantly falls in love with Juliet. Romeo has issues.
7. What was the question again?
Why comedy? I have no interest in writing about this in a serious way. That’s for somebody else to tackle.
Q: What are you working on currently and/or next?
A: This is my favorite question second only to, “Where would you like your genius grant deposited, Mr. Trieschmann?” It’s funny that I mentioned above that lately I’ve written comedies because I’m working on a play called The After, which takes place in a fictional high school after a school shooting. It deals with various students that have to deal with school and the world after this horrific event. It’s something different for me – and I do have to find the right tone – but I have high hopes for it.
Werner Trieschmann has a BA in English from Hendrix College, an MFA in Creative Writing (Playwriting) from Boston University and a Twitter account (wernertplays) that a responsible person should take away from him so he can see what is going on in the real world. His plays are published by Stage Partners, Original Works Publishing, Playscripts, and Dramatic Publishing Company. His one-act comedies have been produced all over the U.S. and in various countries around the world including Japan, Romania, New Zealand and Ireland. His play, Lawn Dart, won first prize in the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans New Play Competition.
He was writer and director for the world premiere production of Mozart: Revealed and Schubert: Revealed with the Fort Wayne Philharmonic in Fort Wayne, Indiana. He was the first playwright to receive the Porter Prize, an Arkansas literary award recognizing outstanding achievement by an Arkansas writer. He lives in Little Rock, Arkansas with his wife and two boys, who are probably eating something right now. He teaches theater, film and creative writing at a local college and, yes, he’ll get off Twitter in like a second, OK?