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Mike Folie

By Gary Wien


Mike Folie is a playwright currently living in New York. He is the Playwright-In-Residence for the New Jersey Repertory Theatre Company in Long Branch. Some of his recent productions there have included Naked by the River, Panama, An Unhappy Woman, Slave Shack and The Adjustment. I spoke with Folie about Lemonade, his current production being run at NJ?Rep now through June 6th.

Tell me about Lemonade. What is the significance of the title?
Well, it's a light comedy but it's got a bit of a bitter edge to it. So, I thought Lemonade was a good title because the play is like lemonade. It's like refreshing but a little bit sharp. It's not a heavy duty play. It's more of an (Alan) Ayckbourn kind of play.

An Americanized Ayckbourn?
Right, exactly. I only use that because I've heard people compare it to that. And I like Ayckbourn, so I take it as a compliment.

What is the actual setting of the play?
It takes place in any major or good-sized market city in the secular developed west. It could be outside of New York or Paris or England. It could be any place where it's a secular country and that's what I say in the beginning. It really doesn't take place in any specific place. The city that these people live in has a major art museum.

It takes place now and it's timeless in that it's about the eternal sort of dance between men and women. But it has a certain kind of contemporary feel to it because the men are a little bit "New Agey". They're acting the way men have acted all throughout history - trying to get as much sex as they can - but they're kind of justifying it with New Age psychobabble.

How involved do you get with the productions. Do you go to many rehearsals?
I'm very involved in this one - more involved than I usually am. It depends on the theatre and where it is. At NJ Rep, I tend to be fairly involved. At some theatres I'm not involved at all. Some theatres I don't even get to see the play. But I have a long working relationship with NJ Rep. I've worked with them since 2000 and this is the sixth play of mine they've done.

So, I tend to be very involved in the casting although I don't dictate the casting. I sort of reserve the right to say no if my instincts are screaming no. But I try not to use that if I can. And sometimes we do some rewrites before we go into rehearsal. I also work with the director if the director has any issues where there are places that could be better.

I've been working with Evan Bergman, the director on this, for a couple of years because his company had the Off-Broadway option on it. They couldn't raise the money to do it so their option expired, but I liked working with Evan. So when NJ?Rep decided to do it, they asked me if there was a director I wanted to work with and I said I've been working with Evan for two years so let's bring him in.

So, we did some work on the script and I was there for the auditions and the first couple of rehearsals and then I kind of stay away for a while. I'll back off and let them block and make mistakes and try to get to a place where they can sort of stumple through the play. Then I'll come back and watch that first very rough run through about a week and a half through rehearsal. And if it's going well - which it almost always is - I'll back off again. I won't come back for another week. Then I'll take another look. I'm usually in pretty constant contact through telephone and email communication with the director.

I never speak to the actors directly unless the director invites me to. The director is the boss and everything has to come from that person's mouth. So if there's issues the director and I discuss them away from the actors. And then the director speaks to the actors. I?don't.

You have had quite a few plays produced in the last few years. When you're writing a play, are you working on just one at a time or do you work with several ideas at the same time?
Usually one has focus. I've described it once to somebody as being an architect. You have lots of projects at different levels of completion going on. Some things are just ideas; some things are on the drawing board; some are under construction; some are almost finished and some have been up for a while and people are living in the building.

I've got plays out there that are being done and sometimes I have to do revisions on those plays depending on the demands of the production. And then there are plays that are fairly new - they've had a few readings or workshops - that I'm still working pretty intensely on. And plays that are very new, I don't even show them to a lot of people - I just have readings with small of groups to get feedback. And there are plays that I'm actually writing new that I'm working on and plays I'm just thinking about. I'll think about a play sometimes for two to five years before I start writing it.

I saw a quote from you where you said, "Characters come into my head and if I'm lucky they go away and I don't have to write about them. But if they're still talking to me a year later than I have to see who they are." I think that's a great way to describe the process. A lot of times I think the characters kind of write the story and we're just recording it.
Yeah, I'm very character oriented. I started out as an actor and it always starts with the characters. People walk into my head and start talking and they're in a situation. They may be in an office or on a picnic or something and I'll hear them talking. I'll say, "I wonder who they are, what's their story?"

Then I'll just listen for a while and I'll get an idea. And I'll let it go because sometimes these characters go away and I don't want to think about them anymore. It's like ok I don't have to write that play. If I start writing down what they're saying then I know that I've probably got a play coming.

After doing this for a few years, I know that if you write a play it's like marrying someone or having a kid. You're going to be with this thing for a while. So you better like it. you better have something invested in this thing because if you get sick of it forget it. It's not going to happen. It's got to be something that's going to keep your interest for years and years.



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Holmdel Theatre Company Presents 'ART'
(HOLMDEL, NJ) – The Holmdel Theatre Company (HTC) will present 6 performances of Yasmina Reza’s ‘ART’  from December 7th through December 16th. Translated from French by Christopher Hampton, the play tells the story of what happens when Serge buys an expensive painting, and the reactions of his two closest friends, Marc and Yvan, to his purchase. As what begins as a discussion about the quality of the painting that Serge has purchased quickly devolves into petty jabs and personal attacks, the three men border on destroying their friendships.
Pebble Players Presents "Heathers, the Musical: High School Edition"
(SUMMIT, NJ) -- Celebrating their 10th season, Pebble Players has been entertaining Summit residents and audiences from surrounding towns with sophisticated Off-Broadway quality performances. The 2018 Season opens with "Heathers The Musical: High School Edition," directed by Jayne Myers and choreographed by Jaimie Woodruff.  Performances are Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at 7:30pm and Sunday, November 18 at 2:00pm. 
NJPAC Presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies
(NEWARK, NJ) -- New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) presents Duke Ellington's Sophisticated Ladies from Thursday, March 21, 2019 - Saturday, March 23, 2019. The high-style music of “The Duke” is the heart and soul of this 1981 Tony-winning Broadway hit, directed with dazzle by André De Shields (The Wiz). Mercedes Ellington, granddaughter of Duke Ellington, re-creates the original show’s elegant dancing and tapping as choreographer.
Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater present Teahouse by Lao She
(PRINCETON, NJ) --Princeton Chinese Theatre in collaboration with the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Theater at Princeton University will present Teahouse by Lao She on November 16, 17 and 18 at 8:00pm and November 17 at 2:00pm in the Donald G. Drapkin Studio at the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton campus. Teahouse is considered a masterpiece of contemporary Chinese theater, spanning 50 years in modern Chinese history from the collapse of the Qing dynasty and the Republican Revolution to the birth of the People’s Republic, bringing together over sixty characters who represent all walks of life. The production is directed by senior Changshuo Liu.
Axelrod's Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts Program Presents "Peter Pan"
(OCEAN TOWNSHIP, NJ) --  A family musical that’s perfect for the holiday season, “Peter Pan” is flying onto the Axelrod stage December 8-16. Axelrod’s award-winning Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts program presents one of Broadway’s timeless classics in a fully staged production directed by Lisa Goldfarb with musical direction by Randy Hurst and choreography by Wendy Roman.  


Broadway’s Next H!T Musical LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s Friday, October 26, 2018, and the Broadway’s Next H!T Musical cast is just about ready to take the stage at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center for the Arts, located on the campus of Ocean County College in Toms River, NJ.
The Last Apple Pie: "Apples In Winter" Opens At Centenary Stage
Jennifer Fawcett’s new play centers around a mother in a kitchen, doing something countless people across America will take part in over the upcoming holiday season: making an apple pie.
See Andrea McArdle LIVE! in Annie at Deal Park’s Axelrod PAC!
Leapin’ Lizards! Annie’s finally made it to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal Park, NJ, and it stars Broadway’s original Annie, Andrea McArdle, as Miss Hannigan!
"It's a Blast!" Go See Rock of Ages 10th Anniversary Tour NOW! at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino!
The five-time Tony award-nominated Broadway musical, Rock of Ages, returns to the stage with a 10th Anniversary Tour at Atlantic City’s Hard Rock Hotel & Casino! Performed in the venue’s ultra-modern Sound Waves theater, Rock of Ages runs from now until November 4, 2018.
There's One In Every Family: "Charley's Aunt" at The Shakespeare Theatre
On stage now through November 18 at the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, “Charley’s Aunt” is described as “part Oscar Wilde, part ‘Fawlty Towers,’ with a dash of South American spice!” This side-splitting British farce from 1892 has drag, mistaken identity, romance and plenty of physical comedy. Join Jesse and Dave at rehearsals in Florham Park to hear from the cast and director what makes this such a hilarious and enduring show.






Event calendar
Thursday, Nov 15, 2018


MUSIC

New Politics @ House of Independents, Asbury Park - 8:00pm

THE REPUTATIONS @ The Saint, Asbury Park - 7:30pm

TOTO @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 8:00pm


THEATRE

An Actor's Carol @ Cape May Stage, Cape May - 7:30pm

ANNIE, The Musical @ Axelrod Performing Arts Center, Deal Park - 8:00pm

Apples In Winter @ Centenary Stage Company - Kutz Theater of the Lackland Center, Hackettstown - 7:30pm

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat @ The Levoy Theatre, Millville - 7:30pm

Spring Awakening: The Rock Musical @ Black Box PAC, Teaneck - 8:00pm







DANCE

PARSONS DANCE @ State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick - 8:00pm


FILM

Crybaby Matinee: March of the Penguins @ Hopewell Theater, Hopewell - 11:00am

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