Interview with Chris Payne, winning playwright (Veils of Justice)

    Watch the Winning Stage Play reading of ‘VEILS OF JUSTICE’ by Chris Payne

    CAST LIST:

    NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
    Mazen Tomedo – Vince Jerad
    Lynn – Ida Jagaric
    Chris – Rob Salerno
    Doug – Jim Canale
    Gerrie – Danielle Nicole
    Miriam – Alissa DeGrazia

Matthew Toffolo interviews playwright Chris Payne:

Matthew: What is your stage play about?

Chris: A wife finds out that her husband has accused a young Saudi of beating, torturing and raping him, but the Muslim male defendant’s Jewish female’s lawyer shows evidence that indicates innocence – triggering the wife’s journey with her gay brother through fear, betrayals and prejudice in post 9/11 New York City.

Matthew: Why should this play be produced?

Chris: No shoulds… but the play could add value and draw paying audiences in several ways:

– Heighten a sense of connection and compassion between potentially antagonistic groups (Muslims/non-Muslims, Jews-Muslims, Straight-LGBT… an early draft received Honorable Mention from the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation’s contest for plays based on actual events that position LCBT life in positive ways, Wives and Husbands when one is hiding LGBT orientation, etc.)

– Strengthen audience commitment to take a stand for justice by witnessing ordinary people caught in extraordinary decisions the force them to choose between fear and trust, loyalty and justice, safety and truth …and to deal with their own sexual prejudices and proclivities in many forms.

Matthew: How long have you been writing stories?

Chris: Five years.

Matthew: What movie have you seen the most in your life?

Chris: African Queen. Close second: The Russians Are Coming.

Matthew: What artists would you love to work with?

Chris: Wishful thinking for this play: Maryann Plunkett as the wife. Too many wonderful Jewish actresses to choose for the Defense Lawyer and Prosecutor. Same for the attractive fit 30-something gay brother. Haaz Sleiman as Saudi defendant. Vincent D’Onofrio as the husband. Douglas Hughes Director.

Matthew: How many stories/stage plays have you written?

Chris: Stage Plays: Four full length plays (all in various stages of revision), six one acts. One Novel; One Book of Poems. Several stories.

Matthew: Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?

Chris: Working with a theater group, (stage and/or online Internet, maybe even a social justice organization like the Center for Constitutional Rights or Human Rights Watch, but one that incorporates the power of theater to tell stories)…

… anyway, as I was saying before I started musing, in five years, I’d like to be working with a group that creates stage plays that capture stories about ordinary people around the world who have made extraordinary stands for fairness and justice.

Matthew: Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?

Chris: I work a day job three days a week and write Fri-Mon, some evenings, sleeping late, seeing friends for lunch or dinner, writing the rest of the time. I used to layout the story, using my own mix of structures from Syd Fields, Robert McKee, Vogel’s version of Campbell’s Myth… but I’ve recently finished Hal Croasmun’s Pro Series and am part way into his Master Class where he synthesizes insights and gives daily assignments that imprint the techniques used by great writers to avoid boring exposition and heighten dramatic focus.

…But before, during and after I focus on structure, I go into a creative trance that follows the characters. Sometimes I haul them back in, sometimes, the characters loosen me up and make sure I change the structure.

Then I have the mortifying readings with talented, generous actors, interview them and willing audience members, then rewrite/revise, start over.

Matthew: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Chris: My children. My cat. Lovers. Friends from all around the world in New York City. Connecting with people in struggles for fairness and justice in ways that Archbiship Tutu and his Truth and Reconciliation folks would see as really fair, not partisan. (Everyone thinks their cause is fair and just – even Hitler – so the waters can get muddy. All sides in my play that WildSound is reading believe they are right.)

Matthew: What influenced you to enter the WILDsound Festival?

Chris: I think a notice in Linked In’s Independent Theater Artists and Producers’ discussion group. I have had three table readings and learned/revised each time. But organized the readings, did a little coaching, had a director for some of the actors in the first reading, and another reading was after placing as Finalist in a contest. I applied to WildSounds because I think I will learn a lot by listening online to a reading where I have nothing to do with selecting or speaking with the actors about the story, characters or my intentions – either it will come through, or it won’t. More fodder for more rewrites!!

Matthew: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

Chris: Not until I prove I can find a theater willing to produce my work and audiences who feel the time watching my plays – or, for some, interacting with them or discussing them after, was fun and had value for them.

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Watch Veils of Justice, Winning Stage Play reading by Chris Payne

Stage Play Reading: VEILS OF JUSTICE
by Chris Payne

    Watch the FULL PLAY Reading NOW:

SYNOPSIS:

Accusations of violent rape and armed robbery by an established older American man against a young gay Saudi. If the accusations false, why? Can a Saudi get a fair trial in NYC after 9/11?

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Sean Ballantyne
Mazen Tomedo – Vince Jerad
Lynn – Ida Jagaric
Chris – Rob Salerno
Doug – Jim Canale
Gerrie – Danielle Nicole
Miriam – Alissa DeGrazia

Deadline Feb. 10th: SUBMIT your FULL PLAY or 1st ACT PLAY. Get your works showcased at 2015 festival events. FULL FEEDBACK
http://www.wildsound.ca/play_contest.html

WINNERS get their stageplay read at the Writing Festival.

WATCH the recent WINNING STAGEPLAY Readings –
http://www.wildsoundfestival.com/stageplay_readings.html

Chatting with Howard Fridkin, WILDsound Feature Screenplay Winner

I truly believe that a table read is the next best thing in seeing my script on the big screen — so I entered my new thriller “The Devil’s Larceny.”

– Howard Fridkin, On what influenced him to enter the WILDsound Screenplay Festival (Review)

Watch the entire feature script reading now:

NOTE: There is a TWIST in the end of this script. So pay attention!

CAST LIST:

NARRATOR – Val Cole
KATIE – Kirsten Nolan
STEVEN – John Goodrich
PROF. ROTHBINE – Gabriel Dumas
DR. BURMAN – Roman Spera
SARAH – Stephanie Schmid
JUNE – Ida Jagaric
DET. DESMOND – David Schaap

Submit your own Feature Screenplay Today. Holiday Special: SAVE $15 off regular submission:
http://www.wildsound.ca/screenplaycontest.html

Watch past winning feature script readings performed at the WILDsound Featival:
http://www.wildsoundfestival.com/feature_script_readings.html

WILDsound’s Matthew Toffolo sat with Howard about his screenplay and writing career:

Matthew Toffolo: What is your FEATURE SCRIPT about?

HF: Elements of the scenario have to be curtailed to prevent spoilers and the setup of a twist ending. The story is about two young law students, Steven & Katie, engaged to be married, who are researching the crimes of a dead pedophiliac serial killer for an important law assignment. As they begin delving into the killer’s psyche and the lives of his deceased victims, they begin noticing certain character traits resembling their own and eventually realize the horror that he is the reincarnation of the killer and she is the reincarnation of his last female victim. Katie, in order to survive Steven’s pursuing obsession to kill her, must plan to murder him first — but who’s going to believe her ludicrous story?

MT: Why should your script be made into a film?

HF: This is a highly unique psychological thriller which has never been executed in this type of fashion before. The credible blend of suspense and supernatural events (a la: “Psycho” meets “The Exorcist”) will throw the audience into a new realm of terror and thoroughly surprise them with its complex, yet all accountable twist ending. This makes for a low budget, high concept spec script with enough audience appeal for a commercial success.

MT: How long have you been writing?

HF: Since the 70s, but as a hobby and always for fun. I began taking writing seriously in the 90s and have since been aspiring to earn recognition.

MT: What movie have you seen the most in your life?

HF: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (it’s a religion with me).

MT: What artists would you love to work with?

HF: Clint Eastwood

MT: How many stories/screenplays have you written?

HF: Eight.

MT: Ideally, where would you like to be in 5 years?

HF: Love to be earning a living by doing what I love: writing and, eventually, direct.

MT: Describe your process; do you have a set routine, method for writing?

HF: I try to write every day, even it if isn’t the main story I am working on. I may watch a film or listen to music that puts me into a certain mood for a story. Depending on the subject matter I’m writing about, I watch specific films to inspire me but then I make sure I go the extra 100 miles to create a new formula for that respective genre.

MT: Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

HF: I’m an incurable movie addict by nature and have been since I saw my first episode of the original TV show “The Outer Limits” at age 4. I’m also a fervent memorabilia and classic toy collector and have been declared by Joe Clokey (son of “Gumby” creator Art Clokey) “the biggest Gumby collector in the world.”

MT: Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?

HF: I hate to use cliches, but when one really works, you have to go with it. Winston Churchill said “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” And getting professional feedback on your screenplay doesn’t hurt either.

MT: Thanks.

– Enjoy!