Recently introduced to the works of Thomas Bradshaw, my jaw dropped. As I looked further into his celebrated portfolio, I discovered that he is poised to be Oprah’s next best thing, negotiating a deal with the Harpo TV maven. Winfrey has designs to bring Bradshaw’s plays from the theater to HBO.
I’ve read several of his scripts and find the 33-year-old Guggenheim Fellow (2009) to be one of the most courageous and daring playwrights of the last decade. His staged works have earned repeated praise from New York critic circles to theatre lovers across the spectrum. Further, The Whitney Museum in New York has commissioned a new work by Bradshaw for the Blues for Smoke Exhibition live performances at the end of April.
“The Bereaved” is Bradshaw’s shockingly direct, fast-paced, provocative comedy that was named best play of 2009 by TIME OUT New York, making its’ west coast premiere at the cozy and contemporary Thick House on Potrero Hill, home to the Crowded Fire Theater (CFT).
This marks the first fully staged production of a Bradshaw play in San Francisco. It has been said his aggressive voice undermines our cultural comfort and refuge inside of naturalism, taking well-worn tropes of the white middle class drama, and reframing them to reveal jarring truths.
In THE BEREAVED the wife and breadwinner Carol realizes she is on borrowed time. Before she goes, the determined attorney and mother of a teenage son is determined to put her affairs in order. After all, what is more important than being certain her family maintain their upper-class-private-school Manhattan lifestyle?
I sat with Bradshaw in San Francisco to discuss “The Bereaved”
Talk2SV: When did you become so daring in the way you tell stories?
Thomas Bradshaw: Well, it’s something that comes naturally to me, I guess. I didn’t realize that my story telling was so daring when I first started. I started writing plays when I was a senior in high school. I wrote a play and they banned it from being produced.
Talk2SV: Somehow I’m not surprised.
Bradshaw: I acted in all the high school plays until they banned me from being in the spring musical that year. I can’t remember what it was…they sat me down and said, ‘you cannot write things like this, no one wants to see them, this is not the way forward.’
Talk2SV: Fast forward to today, you’ve been complimented and rewarded many times over for your creative voice and growing body of work. In your own words, how do you describe this voice that you’ve honed to receive prestigious critical acclaim?
Bradshaw: Well, that’s a difficult question to answer because as a writer, I don’t really have control over how my work is interpreted. People are going to say whatever they’re going to say– positive or negative– and I have to stay out of the business of believing the things that are written, whatever they may be.
Only two weekends left: “The Bereaved” is playing at the Thick House, 1695 – 18th Street, home to San Francisco’s Crowded Fire Theater (CFT). For tix and more information, go to www.crowdedfire.org or call 415-746-9238. The show ends April 27th.
Note: Read more of this Thomas Bradshaw interview at http://talk2sv.com/celebrities/the-bereaved-is-anything-but-grief/