Written on July 15, 2016
Clint Bagwell is a visual concept artist and the director of A Breakup is Swift. Actors Ben Kleymeyer, and Gabby Jones both play the same character in the play’s intimate conversation between a couple in the middle of splitting up.
CB: Our project takes the conversation from my friend’s real-life breakup, and uses that as the material. We changed the names but we also realized that if we leave the gender of each character open, different actors can interpret it different ways and tell a very different story. With our show work, each performance has a different pair of actors. Ben and Gabby play the same character, just perform on different nights, and the same goes for the actors playing the other character in the breakup. One night you’ll see Ben getting dumped by a man and another night by a woman. We’re encouraging people to see it more than once, so you can get the experience of seeing the same conversation with different relationship dynamic.
If you’ve ever wanted to eavesdrop on two people breaking up, and to see that intimate event happen then this is your opportunity. We try to make it very honest.
GJ: Breakups aren’t always over the top or bombastic. Sometimes they are very subtle, and it’s just something very human happening between two people. Being involved in that sort of space for 45 minutes and seeing that play out – there’s a lot of beauty and definitely a lot of value in it. And in rehearsing this whole piece you really do go through it every time. It’s emotionally draining.
BK: It’s very cathartic, but I think the biggest thing I take away from this show is that it isn’t black and white. It isn’t like the person being dumped is the victim, and the person doing the dumping is the asshole. These are two people who both have issues, and maybe it is a good thing that this relationship is coming to an end.
We love to hear other people’s breakup stories. It’s important to remember that this is something we all go through.
Director Ryan Maxwell came to chat with us along with Karen Lange, one of the writers and now a performer in Over Her Dead Body, A musical show which focuses on Bluegrass murder ballads.
KL: We were dissatisfied with the kind of roles that were available for women so we decided to create our own company. We were part of a generation that grew out of Fringe and went on to create a regular season. What I love about this small theater community is that we’re very supportive of each other. I think the spirit of collaboration is what keeps us going here and what I love most about D.C.
RM: My decision to move to D.C. was made a lot easier by the strength of the Fringe scene and the smaller theaters.
KL: We’ve enjoyed all of the experiences that we’ve had at Fringe – I mean, we were long-time denizens of the tent and that was definitely something you had to live through, but you also had pride in.
When looking for something to do this year we thought we’d come back to music. I’ve been a bluegrass fan for a long time and thought it was ironic that these catchy tunes were all about people being murdered. There’s a very violent core. I thought it would be interesting to look at the violence that’s inherent in our culture, especially given current events.
RM: We focused primarily on bluegrass but also wanted to pay homage to the history of this type of song, especially because bluegrass has had such influence in other forms of American music. We shaped the show around the music that people were interested in and that told the story of the show and our country’s history of violence.
KL: We’ve got a five-seat band which creates a fantastic, authentic sound. The show is fun and poignant, so audiences will be exposed to a kind of music that they may not have been exposed to a lot but they’ll also be getting a very unique interpretation.