Skyline Theatre is excited to announce its first-ever Blue Sky New Works Festival – an evening featuring the world premiere of five brand-new short plays. Four of the plays are written by Skyline students and one by a staff member. Skyline Theatre presents “Blue Sky New Works Festival,” directed by Brodie H. Brockie, on Feb. 28 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. in the Skyline Auditorium, 2552 N. Maple Rd, Ann Arbor. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students.
The following is WLAA Q&A with Skyline Theatre Assistant Director Brodie H. Brockie, who helped organize the show and also wrote “Pardon My Spaceship,” which will be featured in the second part of the show. “On the bridge of the spaceship The Greenhouse, the surviving members of the human race are headed to a new home. Unfortunately, the planet they’ve found is already populated by people deeply suspicious of humanity’s bad reputation.”
What is your theatre background?
I’ve been involved in theatre since I was a kid playing the Mayor Munchkin in a production of the Wizard of Oz as a sixth grader. It seems like every year since then it’s become more and more a part of my life. For the last seven years I’ve been the assistant director of Skyline Theatre. I continue to act and direct locally with groups like Ann Arbor Civic and Dexter Community Players.
How did you become interested in writing?
I’ve also been writing for as long as I can remember. Before I could even read or write I was so eager to create my own stories that I would dictate them to my mom to write down for me. In college I wrote for MSU Telecasters nationally-syndicated, student-produced sitcom and sketch comedy programs. I’ve been published in anthologies from Dark Horse Comics and McSweeney’s. For the last 27 years, I’ve written and directed theatrical haunted events for the City of Marshall, Michigan. My friend Justin Vidovic and I wrote and produced 24 episodes of The Inscrutable Brimblebanks Brothers Electronic Storytime, a podcast in the style of old fashioned radio dramas. Telling stories is a big part of who I am.
What is the story behind “Pardon My Spaceship”?
A couple of years ago I directed “The Explorers Club” for Ann Arbor Civic and it got me thinking about the challenges of creating a farce. A well-written farce looks simple, but has a lot of intricate moving parts. Seeds of plot have to be planted that seem innocuous, only to become crucial to the story later. I became interested in the challenge of writing one myself. I didn’t want to set it in a typical location you might expect a farce like an English manor or backstage at a theatre. Eventually, I decided a pretty unusual spot for a farce would be the bridge of a starship, and that set me down the road toward what become “Pardon My Spaceship.”
What do you like about a “good” farce?
I think a good farce has to be about something more than just comedy. Even the funniest material wears out its welcome eventually if there’s no substance to it. “Pardon My Spaceship” is about laughs first and foremost, but it’s also about climate change, responsibility, equality and more.
What were the challenges of getting what you wrote on paper to actually being performed on a stage?
This show comes with a few fun challenges. One of the characters is a robot, and a key plot point involved having to open up his chest so his memory can be erased. My friend Patrick Johnson created a great-looking and functional costume for Artie the robot. Skyline junior Lili Sheehan is creating some cool makeup for an intimidating-looking alien that the ship encounters and our tech crew is currently building our spaceship set.
What have been some of the highlights/rewards of that process?
It’s always a thrill to see characters who started out as ideas in my head or concepts that I wrestled with all alone start to come to life – especially when the actors are excited about characters or the material. They bring their own take on the characters with them and that’s when they become something more than what I came up with. The writing is the hard part, the collaboration is fun.
Main Photo: Brodie H. Brockie at a recent rehearsal with Ben Bower in costume as Artie the robot in “Pardon My Spaceship.”