Friday, May 18, 2012

5 Questions with Sam Gelman

Our final playwright is a familiar face...

Sam Gelman
The Pingry School, Martinsville
Last year, we presented Sam's play, For the Sake of America: A Story of Patriotism at the New Jersey Young Playwrights Festival. This year, Sam's play is Monster. It features Charlie, a business journalist whose interview with Howard Morgan, a former CFO now serving time for fraud, challenges Charlie's perceptions of ethics and doing what is right.

1. What inspired you to write Monster?

Last year, while I was working on building the set for my school's musical Guys & Dolls, I fell off an 8-foot platform and broke my wrist. I remember sitting in the hand doctor's office, waiting to be called in, and reading a magazine. The magazine had an interview with Bernie Maddoff. It started off typically-he talked about being poor, antisemitism he faced, how he became who he was-and I thought the whole thing would end with a plea for understanding. But it didn't. Maddoff told the interviewer he knew what he did was wrong, and he didn't want pity, just understanding. That fascinated me. So I came up with a backstory for the interviewer and created a fictionalized version of Maddoff, and started writing.

2. You will be attending Princeton next year. Are you planning on majoring in theatre or writing?

Unfortunately, Princeton does not have a theater major. However, I intend on minoring in theater, probably in playwriting, and getting involved in as much student produced theater as possible, which I am happy to say has a really large presence on campus.

3. Which do you enjoy most: writing, acting or directing?

Each has a completely different feel, and I love all 3 for various reasons. As of now, my love is between playwriting and acting. Both have more immediate forms of expression than directing, and both give me little thrills from portraying what I see and telling the audience the truth.

4. Do you prefer writing one-acts or full-length plays?

I don't really prefer writing any length of play-I try to write the play as long as it needs to be. I will say that writing full-length plays is more of a challenge, and time consuming, but it is a lot of fun. In some ways, I like full-length plays more, as I get to spend more time with the characters, and see how much they change.

5. If you could be any super hero, who would you be and why?

Oh, that's easy. Superman. He's got it all-invincibility, flight, x-ray vision, strength, plus the writing gig for the newspaper. I feel like that would be a lot of fun.

Monster will be presented with the three other winners of the High School Division of the NJ Young Playwrights Festival on Tuesday, May 22 at 7:00 p.m. Junior HS and Elementary plays will be presented on Monday, May 21. Both performances will take place at 7:00 p.m. in the University Center Little Theatre, Kean University. Tickets are free, but reservations are highly suggested (