Full disclosure: Matt Pelfrey is my brother.
He's the Resident Playwright at the Furious Theatre Company.
He is an Assistant Visiting Professor at UCLA.
Sunday night I went to his latest play, "NogoodDeed" at [Inside] The Ford Theatre in L.A.
A lot of his plays are published and he's won awards and stuff. I'll put his full bio at the end of this post.
Kristen: Matt, what is this play about?
Matt: A kid rescues a girl and the good deed destroys his life. He becomes a doomed hero who has a drug-fueled breakdown and enters a comic book reality where he snorts white kryptonite and becomes Hellbound Hero. But it's really about how sometimes the stress of doing a good deed can transform the hero in a negative way. A good deed can corrupt and poison the do-gooder's life.
Kristen: How did you get the idea for the whole graphic novel piece?
Matt: The original idea when I read about a boy who was a troubled youth who rescued a girl, became a minor media star, but people started picking fights with him because he was supposed to be so tough. He got beat up a lot. He got arrested in a drug scuffle for attempted murder, and the sheriff told the reporter that the "boy looked relieved to not be the hero, to not be "that guy" anymore. And that's the tragedy. The one good deed this kid does turns into his downfall. And the firefighter who saved Baby Jessica ended up committing suicide. None of the other firefighters showed up to his funeral.
So I juxtaposed the idea of this kid and his love of comics and his fantasy life with what really happened and his drug-fueled world.
Kristen:And the Security Guard character is based on Richard Jewell. I think this is the first play where the audience leaves with a real graphic novel in hand with the next part of the story in it. Any plans to keep going with the graphic novel?
Matt: Maybe. If we ever re-mount it again we would do issue #2.
Kristen: Because you introduce a female character in the graphic novel, so it becomes a four person team. She's based on Jessica Lynch. So she joins Fireman, Security Guard, Hellbound Hero and she's Silver Star.
Has any other play ever done this kind of mash-up with graphic novels and plays? Because the way the graphic novel stuff pops up and plays in the background is just amazing.
Matt: Comic books and graphic novels are so much more mainstream. Because if you even cared about Spiderman and you were over sixteen you were weird in the Eighties. Comics were for below high school kids. It wasn't cool. It was Geek Culture.
Kristen: Well, we are a family of geeks. I still have my comic books. Kamandi, Last Boy on Earth was my favorite. We can talk about how my Apocalypse Issues influenced you some time.
Matt: You better read that Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter soon. Article in the Times today about Abe Lincoln.
Kristen: Let's get some background info. Do you remember the first film you made?
Matt: Yeah. It was Super 8 with stop-motion animation and I cut up my monsters and we moved them across the board.
Kristen: 'My monsters' being...
Matt: Godzilla, King Kong, Creature from the Black Lagoon...
Kristen: And your first live-action?
Matt:It was "Hit and Run" in high school...
Kristen:(Indignant)It was not. I was in the first one. What do you remember about that?
Matt: Almost nothing. I was five.
Kristen: You were a monster in a fringed shirt. And you chased me and I screamed.
Matt: I think it was a Daniel Boone shirt.
Kristen: Do we know why it was a Daniel Boone shirt?
Matt: Probably because the fringe was scary.
Kristen: I kind of wanted to be the monster.
Matt: That was my career goal at that age.
Kristen: To be the monster?
Matt: To be a monster movie maker.
Kristen: We used to watch Creature Feature.
Matt: Yeah. That was great. The Day of the Triffids. Invasion of the Eye Monsters.
Kristen: The Eye Monsters. That scared the s*** out of me.
And "Die Monster Die." Nightmares.
Matt: Good times.
Kristen: Loved those movies. Yeah. So back to "Hit and Run."
Matt: We shot it on the backroads. Two hitchhikers, one gets run over by a hit and run driver. The friend runs for help. Finds the driver, who has broken down on the side of the road, the friend knocks him out, ties him to a telephone pole with jumper cables, and tortures him.
Kristen: If memory serves, someone called an ambulance for you guys.
Matt: Yeah. One of the characters was lying in a big pool of fake blood. And then an ambulance came along looking for him.
Kristen: Verisimillitude. In the next installment,we'll talk about how you and your friend caught a raging lingerie thief with a baseball bat.
Matt: Yes. Classic.
Part Two of this Interview on Wednesday. We will talk about Matt, boys,school, and reading. Oh. And writing.
I just copied and pasted his bio from the Furious Theatre Company website:
Furious Playwriting credits:
NOgoodDEED, An Impending Rupture of the Belly
With other theatres:
Pure Shock Value, Cockroach Nation, Terminus Americana, Honkies with Attitude, Gore Hounds, Drive Angry, FrEAk StORm, Jerry Springer is God, Monkey, A Feast of Famine as well as adaptations of The Basketball Diaries and In the Heat of the Night. His plays have been produced in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago and South Africa by such companies as the Actors Theater of Louisville (Humana Festival ’99), Furious Theatre Company, Roadworks, American Theater of Actors, (Mostly) Harmless Theater Company, Moving Arts, Hexagon Theatre and the Lodestone Theatre Ensemble.
Backstage West Garland Award - Best Play Writing
LA Weekly Award - Best Play Writing
National 10-Minute Play Competition Winner, 2009
American Theatre Critics Association New Play Award Nominee