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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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Circle Players Presents "After The Revolution"
(PISCATAWAY, NJ) -- Circle Players presents After the Revolution by Amy Herzog, weekends from February 1st to February 17th. The production is directed by Alicia Harabin. In the play, Emma Joseph is a bright, hard-working, law school graduate continuing her family’s business of fighting for progressive ideals. 
Black Box PAC Presents "Significant Other"
(TEANECK, NJ) -- Black Box PAC's first main stage show of 2019 is Significant Other by Joshua Harmon. BBPAC is no stranger to Harmon’s work, as one of the first hits at the Black Box Performing Arts Center was Harmon’s hit Bad Jews. Significant Other follows the perpetually single Jordan Berman and his trio of girl friends as they navigate dating, relationships, and supporting those you love. Performances run from January 24 to February 10th.
The Theater Project Presents 5th Annual One-Act Play Competition
(MAPLEWOOD, NJ) -- Which play will be voted Audience Favorite – the romance, the thriller, or the comedy?  And which author will take the $500 Judge’s Award?
Dreamcatcher Presents World Premiere of "Psychodrama"
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Centenary Stage Presents Henrik Ibsen's "Enemy Of The People"
(HACKETTSTOWN, NJ) -- Randall Duk Kim and Anne Occhiogrosso headline Centenary Stage Company’s production of Henrik Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People, February 15 through March 3 in the Sitnik Theatre of the Lackland Performing Arts Center, Hackettstown, New Jersey. Adapted by John Alan Wyatt and directed by Anne Occhiogrosso, the production will feature Randall Duk Kim as Doctor Thomas Stockmann supported by an acting company of professional and local talent from the tri-state area and Centenary University. The full-scale production marks the culmination of the 2018 Gates Ferry Lecture Series: “What is Truth?”


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Every family has stories. Some are funny. Some are sweet. Some are sad. And some are never shared. Those are often the most powerful.
Rise of the Goatman
Theater For The New City presents Beltsville/Rockville, Part 1: Rise of the Goatman, an original play by Englewood resident Matt Okin (Artistic Director of Black Box Studios), from December 27 through January 13. In this pseudo-Southern Gothic dark comedy, a vibrant group of teens from two very different suburban neighborhoods clash over class differences, drugs, and sex - and the existence of the legendary ‘Goatman’ in 1986. Cut to 2013, and the adolescent kids of those very same teens are struggling to make sense of their family histories - and the same “mythological” creature - that could be holding them back in life.
PHOTOS from "The Winter's Tale" at Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey
(MADISON, NJ) -- The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s concludes its 56th season with its sixth and final Main Stage production, The Winter's Tale. Last seen at The Shakespeare Theatre in 2008, Artistic Director Bonnie J. Monte directs this production of Shakespeare’s tragicomedic romance. Veteran company members Jacqueline Antaramian, Jon Barker, Erin Partin, John Keabler, Raphael Nash Thompson,Seamus Mulcahy, Patrick Toon, and Ames Adamson are among a cast of 20 actors. Performances run now through December 30. 






Event calendar
Tuesday, Jan 22, 2019

Sorry, no events listed for today.
Here are some upcoming events.


2019-01-23
Rechnitz Halls DiMattio Gallery, Monmouth University @ 10:00am
West Long Branch

2019-01-23
Pollak Theatre @ Monmouth University @ 7:30pm
West Long Branch

2019-01-24
New Jersey Repertory Company @ 8:00pm
Long Branch






















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