Adam Szymkowicz on Clown Bar, Compulsive Love

Clown Bar
Clown Bar

February 27 is going to be a great day for writer Adam Szymkowicz for two reasons. First up, previews will start on the Pipeline Theater Company production of his clown noir play, Clown Bar (February 27 & 28 at 8PM) at the Parkside Lounge (317 E. Houston St., New York, NY) before starting a run of Fridays & Saturdays at 9PM performances from March 1 – March 23, 2013.

Secondly, the first episode of the Szymkowicz-written web series, Compulsive Love, will premiere on February 27. Compulsive Love has the great tag line of “A show about a man being punched in the face by love and the women wearing the brass knuckles.” In this interview, we discuss both projects.

Tim O’Shea: Am I correct in thinking that Clown Bar is partially a musical? Did you always envision the project having music?

Adam Szymkowicz: It has four songs in it.  There is a character who is the singer in the bar and he sings all the songs.  Sometimes I like to put one or two songs in my shows, though I can’t say why this play has four songs in it except to say it always did.

What is it about his creative approach/style that prompted you to pick Andrew Neisler to direct the play?

He has a relationship with Pipeline and I enjoyed working with him on the reading for them, lo maybe a year ago.  He has a talent for the comedy and drama mix this play requires.  He’s kicking ass and taking clown names.

Who all is in the cast of Clown Bar?

Amir Watcherman, Noah Zachary, Willy Appelman, Daniel Johnsen, Kelley Rae O’Donnell, Shane Zeigler, Dan Tracy, Jessica Frey, Claire Rothrock and Andrew Farmer.  They are hilarious.

When one thinks organized crime, some would not associate that with clowns. How did you merge the two elements in your play?

I wrote some clown mob scenes 10 years ago when I was in grad school and I always thought it would be a fun thing to do in a play but I could never quite figure it out and so I wrote some other plays instead. When Rising Phoenix asked me to write a play for their Cino Nights a while back, I knew the back room should become a clown bar.

We rehearsed for a week with an amazing cast directed by the superstar Kip Fagan and then it went up one night and was gone. I’m excited to do a full run now with Pipeline now in a much larger space. (Parkside on East East Houston)

What do you enjoy most about collaborating with Adam Overett?

His music is gorgeous and he took my lyrics and made them better.

In terms of Compulsive Love, was this a webseries you developed, or were you brought on as writer?

It was my idea. It was actually something I tried to pitch as a TV show but it didn’t work out so I distilled the idea down to 5 minute episodes and decided to make it anyway.

How challenging is it to write for such a seemingly large cast?

It’s actually very simple because there are basically two main characters we’re following and all the rest of the people revolve around their lives. The trick is just making each character unique. The actors help with that a great deal.

What kind of comedy bits are you able to do in a webseries that you are not able to do on a stage?

Bike riding bits. Carousel bits. The other expansive and beautiful things that Kevan came up with. Alex also added quite a few hilarious jokes on set, many of which made it into the show.

How many episodes are in the webseries?

Eight in the first season are already shot. I have written another eight for the second and I hope we will be able to find the money to shoot them in the not too far future.

Is this your first time collaborating with director Kevan Tucker?

Yes. It went great. I hope we get to work together a lot more.

How satisfying is it to see something you labored over writing come to fruition–be it on stage or on the web?

It’s what I live for. Sometimes it doesn’t always go as well as you hoped. I’m lucky in that these two projects are going really well and I’m excited to show them to the world.

Anything we should discuss that I neglected to ask you about?

Compulsive Love and Clown Bar both premiere on February 27. It’s an exciting time for me right now.