“EVER SO HUMBLE,” which runs Thursday through June 23, was workshopped at the Hangar, and it is the product of a happy collaboration between long time friends playwright Tim Pinckney and Peter Flynn.
Peter Flynn chatted about creative collaboration over email.
Q: This production is the world premiere of Tim Pinkney’s play. How did it wind up here in Ithaca?
Peter Flynn: Tim and I have been working together on “Ever So Humble” for the past seven years so I brought the play with me when I became Artistic Director at the Hangar. We did a workshop of the play in Ithaca my first summer, 2009, with three of the actors in this current production, Greg Bostwick, Jesse Bush and Andréa Burns. Prior to this workshop, Tim and I developed the play in about four other readings and workshops during our time together, each time hearing the play more clearly and with more enjoyment.
Q: My understanding is that you and Tim are longtime friends. Are there advantages and/or challenges to creative collaboration with someone you’ve known for a long time?
Flynn: Truly I’d say there are only advantages for Tim & me. We have such an enthusiastic admiration for what the other does as well as a combined understanding of what the play is and what Tim wants to accomplish. We now have a really powerful shorthand: I offer script suggestions, he clarifies my visual storytelling, we finish each others’ sentences. It’s pretty synchronous at this point, and really, really fun.
Q: You’re also working with your romantic partner on this production. And there are a few cast members who seem like they are part of the Hangar’s family. How does a new play benefit from debuting at a regional theatre like Ithaca’s?
Flynn: I’m a big believer that regional theatre is the birthplace of new plays. Commercial productions in New York have become unreasonably expensive to produce, so to come to a place as interested and savvy as Ithaca to work on a play has the double benefit of reasonable production costs and a truly enthusiastic, encouraging community. That is illuminated even more, as you’ve mentioned, onstage: every single member of the acting company has a great friend among the cast (if not more) which makes everyone more comfortable in the rehearsal process, more confident in their choices, and ultimately the friendships build a more entertaining show. I think an audience can sense when the actors onstage are truly having a good time with one another while performing. That genuine energy is irreplaceable. As for working with my wife, I’ve always been a big fan of Andréa so working with her continues to be a dream come true.
Q: “Ever So Humble” is a retelling of “Howard’s End.” How is New York City like turn of the century England?
Flynn: A great question! There is a subtle class-consciousness that runs through New York City even today: the haves and the have-nots. E.M. Forster told a story of people falling in love across class barriers in a culture predicated on such distinctions. Tim uses the humor and folly of New York City, urban real estate and how we find our family in such a busy town to illuminate how, no matter our social status, love will always prevail.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add about the work and/or production?
Flynn: I hope Ithaca audiences enjoy the story of creating family out of our friends because that’s what I experience the longer I’m in this community. “Ever So Humble” is a celebration of coming together through life’s struggles and celebrations. Nowhere is that more apparent than in the company we’ve assembled which is a beautiful blend of new family from New York and “Ithaca Grown” talent. We’re happy to offer it to our extended family — the Hangar audience.
The Hangar Theatre is located at 801 Taughannock Blvd. Ithaca. Tickets ($18-45) can be purchased at: www.hangartheatre.org or by phone at (607) 273-8588.