NAME: John Servilio
PROJECTS: Street Corner Profit & All Together
Street Corner Profit and All Together are presented by PDX Playwrights. Street Corner Profit will play Friday, January 21st, at 10 pm as part of the It Takes All Shorts program. Tickets are $10. All Together plays Sunday, January 23rd at 12:30 pm. Tickets are $5. Both shows will take place on the mezzanine of the Portland Armory (128 NW 11th Ave). More info here.
John Servilio has had a life-long love affair with the theatre and has been accused of being dramatic since a wee child, as only his family and syringe-wielding doctors can attest. To their horror and chagrin, he went on to study theatre at several different institutions, including Montclair State College and Northwestern University, where he did graduate studies in theatre. John also studied with the Chicago Dramatists Workshop, developing new works. His one-act Monologue for Two was produced by the Triad Players in Pottersville, NJ.
TEN ONE-WORD ANSWERS
1. A Writer I Admire Is . . . Tom Spanbauer
2. My Writing Style Can Be Described As . . . Earthy Meets Wordly
3. The Portland Theatre Company I’d Most Love To See This Show Produced By Is . . . Portland Playhouse
4. The Celebrity I Would Most Like To See Star In This Play On Broadway Is . . . Jackie Burroughs playing Audrey Munson in All Together. Though she died recently I envisioned her in the role while I was writing it.
5. A Portland Theatre Artist I Admire Is . . . Andy Lee-Hillstrom (Renfield in NWCTC’s Dracula)
6. I Am Terrified Of . . . Peeing in public restrooms, especially in men’s room troughs.
7. I Am Obsessed With . . . Rich, earthy smells: beets, mushrooms, freshly-tilled soil after the rain
8. The Book Currently On My Nightstand Is . . . Lonely Planet by Steven Dietz
9. Three Adjectives That Describe This Play Are . . . Incisive, Witty, Irreverent (Street Corner Profit); Sophisticated, Striking, Revealing (All Together)
10. In the Indie Art-House Biographical Film Of My Life, I Should Be Played By . . . Indie? Well then, me, of course!
FIVE QUESTIONS OF DEPTH AND SUBSTANCE
1. Tell us about your Fertile Ground Festival play.
Street Corner Profit: What can an End of Days preacher and drag queen sex worker possibly want from each other? It may not be sex or religion, but in the wee hours of the morning, a Chicago street corner brings these two together in an unexpected collision of human desire.
All Together: A one-woman show inspired by the life of America’s first lady of nude artists’ models: Decades after a scandal has ruined her career and banished her to the anonymity of an institution, the once-famous Audrey Munson receives unexpected and unwanted visitors. But instead of sending them away, she tells her own truth of the infamous scandals surrounding her life in what may be her last chance to reclaim her good name.
2. How did this story come about? What inspired it?
Street Corner Profit was inspired by a raggedy drag queen sex worker who kept me company on my walk home from my bar job at 3 a.m. one morning. Her story was that she’d just gotten out of jail and needed five dollars. Did I give it to her? You bet! All Together was inspired by a real artists’ model who was incredibly famous at one time, having gotten naked in three silent blockbuster films in the early 1900s, and is now all but forgotten. Much of her legacy is missing or has been destroyed, and very little is really known about her, so I wanted to give her a voice. I needed to fill in the blanks of her life and the reason for her nervous breakdown.
3. Talk about your writing process. (How do you write? When do you write? What gets you writing?)
My writing starts out with something that grabs me: an image, a dream, a character (real or imagined), a word or phrase. My writing is my exploration of the truth or story behind that thing and why it was so engaging to me. I write when and where I can, but commitment to the work is key, and that means showing up to do the work. It’s very true that a work of art is like a relationship. There’s a lot of effort at the beginning, but it’s exciting even if there are missteps and insecurities. And the longer you work at it, the easier it comes and the greater the understanding you have.
4. What is the most exciting/inspiring piece of theatre you’ve seen in Portland?
More recently I’ve seen two Will Eno plays that were beautiful pieces of theatre: A reading of Gnit for the JAW festival, and Oh, the Humanity done by Our Shoes are Red/The Performance Lab.
5. What are you up to these days when you’re not writing?
I’m an acupuncturist for a living. We say it’s lucky work to have a profession where you can leave a positive imprint on the world. And I have two!