Fertile Ground Portland

A Festival of New Works Blog

Playwright Interview #6 – Brad Bolchunos January 4, 2011

NAME: Brad Bolchunos

PROJECTS: Up, Up and Away and Backtalk

Up, Up, and Away and Backtalk are presented by PDX Playwrights and will play Friday, January 21st, at 10 pm on the mezzanine of the Portland Armory (128 NW 11th Ave) as part of the It Takes All Shorts program.  Tickets are $10. More info here.


Years as a newspaper reporter in Colorado and Oregon enabled Brad Bolchunos to make a living as a writer for a time, but a stint as a humor columnist as well as experiences acting on stage spoke closer to the tangled scribblings in his heart. He was honored to see his short play Death Wears Fishnets as part of the Pulp Diction lineup for Fertile Ground last year, and delighted to see a Readers Theater Repertory production of his 10-minute piece In the Bag in April. This latest offering via Portland Playwrights adds to the thrill.


1. A Writer I Admire Is . . . Tom Stoppard

2. My Writing Style Can Be Described As . . . Roald Dahl Meets Ghostland Observatory

3. The Portland Theatre Company I’d Most Love To See This Show Produced By Is . . . Imago

4. The Celebrity I Would Most Like To See Star In This Play On Broadway Is . . . Judi Dench as Beverly in Backtalk

5. A Portland Theatre Artist I Admire Is . . . Don Alder

6. I Am Terrified Of . . . Brussels sprouts.  Especially if they talk.

7. I Am Obsessed With . . . Old-fashioned gadgets.

8. The Book Currently On My Nightstand Is . . . Tin House Magazine.

9. Three Adjectives That Describe This Play Are . . . Dark, Silly, Serling-esque.

10. In the Indie Art-House Biographical Film Of My Life, I Should Be Played By . . . Alec Guinness?  Wait, he’s dead.  Maybe a young James Spader . . . but he’s not wiggly enough.  Buster Keaton?  Dead again.  Hmm.  This could be tricky . . .


1. Tell us about your Fertile Ground Festival play.

Backtalk: When a passenger on the back of a bus dares to object to another passenger’s behavior, the ride takes a turn into the surreal.

Up, Up and Away: Desperation drives a balloon pilot and her husband to question their relationship, the nature of power, and existence itself in this darkly comical flight of fancy.

2. How did this story come about?  What inspired it?

The idea for “Up, Up and Away” arose years ago after I covered a hot air balloon competition — a gig which, thankfully, included a sample ride. The composure of the pilots impressed me, as did the possibilities of conflict in what might otherwise be considered a tranquil activity. The elements of “Backtalk” percolated into my head quite recently while riding (and writing) on a TriMet bus.

3. Talk about your writing process.  (How do you write?  When do you write?  What gets you writing?)

I try to write at least a little bit every day, keeping a journal, and when I don’t I seem to go a bit nuts. Usually I write when taking the bus or MAX on my way to work downtown. Often the material is humdrum nonsense, but sometimes — with enough nurturing — the meanderings can sprout into saplings and trees.

4. What is the most exciting/inspiring piece of theatre you’ve seen in Portland?

Third Rail’s Dead Funny and Kiss Me Like You Mean It spring to mind among many stirring shows I’ve seen in Portland, but I’ve also seen amazing, edgy, hilarious work from the theaters that end in “oh!” — CoHo, Imago and Vertigo.

5. What are you up to these days when you’re not writing?

Recently I finished a zany, fun run playing the lead in the North End Player’s production of The Seven Year Itch by George Axelrod.  I continue to enjoy participating in PDX Playwrights, hearing and reading new work.


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