Mark Brown is an award-winning writer. His play Around the World in 80 Days has been produced around the world, from Off-Broadway to Baridhara Dhaka, Bangladesh and has been translated into Turkish. Tom Jones, his adaptation of the ribald Henry Fielding novel, received its world premiere in 2014 and has been called, “Clever, silly and highly theatrical!” His musical China – The Whole Enchilada was named Outstanding Musical of the 2008 New York International Fringe Festival and has been called “funny, smart, surprisingly deep, and very enjoyable.” Mark’s play The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge has been called “a sequel worthy of Dickens’ approval,” and “a worthy new entry into the holiday canon.” His adaptation of The Little Prince set box office records at the Hippodrome Theatre and the Orlando Theatre Project. His play Poe – Deep Into That Darkness Peering hasn’t won a thing but is a darn good play and should be produced more often. He’s currently working with Paul Mirkovich, his collaborator on Enchilada, on a musical adaptation of the novel Tom Jones. Mark lives in Los Angeles and dreams of living in a chateau in France.
How long have you been working on this script?
I’ve been working on this script on and off for several years. I worked on it, put it away for a few years, and then recently came back to it.
Where did the idea come from?
It was a commission from my publisher. I foolishly said yes before reading the book.
What iterations of the script have occurred (prior readings/revisions)?
I did workshops of a much different version of the script at Orlando Shakespeare and Florida Studio Theatre. This year I did a cold reading of the first act at The Hangar Theatre, then a cold reading of the entire script when I was here in Fayetteville last November for Around the World in 80 Days.
How has it changed over time?
Oh my, it has gone through many changes. Originally I had to stick as close to the book as I possibly could. But after my publisher admitted it wasn’t their best idea to adapt the book, it opened me up to forge a new path. Hopefully it says what I want and is funny.
What is your goal for this particular workshop - what would you like to see happen with your script during the weeks of working on it here?
I tend to write very theatrical pieces so seeing the play on its feet is what I’m looking forward to. Mark Shanahan is a terrific director so I’m excited to see what he brings to it and I know that will inspire me. Or it will make me want to never talk to him again. You can tell him I said that.
How do you think the Arkansas New Play Fest compares to other new play development workshops that you have been part of in the past?
Since it’s my first time here and only a few days into I can’t really say how it compares to other workshops. But so far there’s better BBQ here than anywhere else I’ve been.
Why are development workshops important for new plays?
I like workshops because I want the script into the hands of actors and directors, who not only bring it to life but also bring their own creativity to the script. I thrive on that energy and tend to rewrite during the process. It’s also important to see how audiences respond to it. Moments that I think are genius may flop like a dying fish.