So, as you know by now, I’m a newly published author. On my blog here, I’ve featured other authors, and will likely do so for the foreseeable future. However, I am also a playwright, and I have many friends in the performing arts. I wanted to spotlight and feature those talented people here as well.
Today, this fabulous Friday, I present to you an amazingly talented friend of mine. Ladies and Gentlemen, the one, the only, John Longenbaugh!.!
I am so stoked to have you here John. For those who don’t already know you, can you tell everyone what it is you do?
Hey Raegyn, I am a writer/director, based here in Seattle.
We met through some new & mutual friends at a reading of one of your plays, (which was amazing, by the way). What do you currently have going on?
I have several projects—a couple of musicals, a thriller, some short pieces. But the all-consuming one right now is a multi-platform Steampunk adventure serial called BRASS, taking place simultaneously as a radio series and a late-night stage play, while we raise money to shoot a short independent film.
Wow, you weren’t kidding about several projects. Can you share more about this BRASS?
BRASS tells the story of a family of Victorian science-geniuses. Lady Brass is a Sherlock Holmes-level detective, Lord Brass is an engineer and inventor, their son Cyril is a martial artist savant and their daughter Gwendolyn a mistress of disguise. They’re at war with a criminal conspiracy that ranges across London and includes scores of villains. They’re also very nice people, generally.
They sound like good people to know when the world needs saving, and not so good people to know if you’re the one doing the villainous bad stuff that bad villains do.
Sounds like a great idea. How did this project come about?
I was offered a chance to pitch an idea for a TV series to a cable network, along with several other writers. While I’ve written a couple of independent films and the pilot for a web series, I’d never really thought about what it might be like to write a TV series. I knew most successful series have at their root a family—often not a biological family, but a group of friends, or co-workers, or other small community where characters would fall into traditional family roles. So I asked what sort of family I might want to write about, and the answer was unequivocal: a family of Victorian science geniuses.
(It helps that I’ve been a fan for several years of Steampunk, the multi-disciplinary art movement that imagines alternate histories of the 19th century.)
Okay, that John in and of itself, is pretty genius! I mean, who doesn’t love Steampunk? It’s history, it’s creative, it’s science and super cool gadgets and whatnot’s. (I know ‘whatnot’ is a broad term, but let me have it.)
You mentioned writing for a TV series……..
My piece wasn’t picked for the TV series, though that was a blessing—the one that was chosen ended up disappearing, along with most of the network’s creative staff—a few months later.
Proof that it wasn’t meant to be. You know, one door closing, a window…Sorry, continue John
The Brasses stayed with me. (They’re very pleasant house guests, really.) So I started to think about how I could tell their story.
In talking to my producing partners, it seemed that we could do a short BRASS film ourselves. But even a small independent film costs thousands of dollars, and while we got our heads around what it would take to raise the money (always an effort), I couldn’t stop thinking up new adventures for the Brasses family. My co-producer Ron suggested that we could produce a podcast, maybe even a dramatic series, and so after writing the screenplay for the film, I dug in and wrote a 10-part radio serial, setting up their arrival in London and their early encounters with various criminal bosses.
I love the multi-faceted idea of film, podcast, and radio serial!
When I was finished with the radio serial, I passed it on for comment to my playwright friend Louis Broome, who wrote a dynamite play a few years ago called “Texarkana Waltz.” He really liked what I was doing, and so I took a chance and asked if he wanted to co-write a stage play version of BRASS with me. He said yes, and the result, “BRASS: Oh My Azaleas!” is on stage right now at Theater Schmeater, running late-night Fridays and Saturdays from 10:30 to midnight. (It ends October 10th, so if you want to see it, get tickets now.)
Wow John, it seems you are as adventurous as your family of Brasses! A stage production as well! Awesome! You heard it here folks, get your tickets now! I’ll put the information again below.
Someone who would one day love to see her own play produced, I have to ask, what has been the most challenging in this monumental feat you’re pulling off?
The idea of producing across three different mediums was supposed to create synergy. Of course, timing of various aspects of all of this didn’t match up—it took us much longer to get the radio series edited than we had planned for, as an example. As a result, in the last two weeks I’ve been rehearsing a stage show, getting the radio series out to producers, and running an Indiegogo campaign for the film “The Lair of the Red Widow,” which we’re looking to shoot this fall. Frankly I exceeded my bandwidth, but fortunately for me the show is now open and many more of my evenings are now free.
I would imagine, free to sleep! This is obviously what you are passionate about. What has been the most rewarding?
I love writing and producing radio drama and I find filmmaking fascinating, but for me the greatest reward will probably always be sharing a room with an audience seeing one of my plays. Nothing beats opening night.
Not my words, but theater is about entering as individuals, and leaving as a group. Being bound by a shared experience is fantastic. I can only imagine being the playwright, how even more powerful that is.
So John, can you talk about anything else for you down the road yet? I mean, you obviously don’t have enough going on, but I ask anyway.
We’re hoping to get a third and final workshop for the musical I wrote with Bruce Monroe, “Anybody Can Do Anything,” adapted from the hilarious memoir by Betty MacDonald. This is a wonderful slice of Seattle history, the funniest book you’ll ever read about the Great Depression, and I have my fingers crossed that we can find someone who can help us get this up on its feet for a final work-through before it gets a full production. I’ve also been commissioned to write the book for a new musical and I’m in the early stages of that. I’ve got to get back to my second novel and find a new agent for the first one, and it’s now looking increasingly likely that there will be a Season Two for the audio series of BRASS as well as another play early next year. It should keep me pretty busy for the next while anyhow.
I had to ask didn’t I! Busy for the next while? Sounds like you’ll need at least one cog & wheel machine version of yourself to keep up with all you have going on! Which, is also incredibly impressive, I have to say.
Knowing now what we do of you John, I dare ask this next question, but here goes. What is one thing people may not know about you or your project that you can share?
This year I received a “Footprints of a Giant Hound” award from my fellow Sherlockians at the Sound of the Baskervilles, a Seattle-based scion group of the Baker Street Irregulars. I love being considered a worthy Sherlockian.
Seriously, come on. You had me at Sherlockian!
OK, now for a couple fun questions! Who am I kidding, they’re fun for me! If you walked into a room (or strutting down the street), what would your soundtrack, or theme music be?
No doubt something pretty corny, though I would definitely prefer something cool. If I could choose, it’d be “Green Onions” by Booker T. and the MG s.
Nice! Corny, cool-it’s all something to move to as far as I’m concerned! Sidebar: Do you dance?
I dance. I think it’s best if we talk about something else.
Oh really ? Hmm. I’ll leave it for now, but don’t think I’m not investigating THAT comment somewhere down the line!
We all have them, and they are fun to exploit. So John, what is your guilty pleasure? (something you are passionate, or a nerd about)
Too many things. Probably the most shameful one are certain comic books, the majority of which are written by Alan Moore. I think he’s the only genius working in the medium, and his “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” was a major influence on the sort of stories I want to tell with BRASS.
LoEG is one of my favorites! You clearly don’t schlep when it comes to influencers! Where can people find you to check out your various projects?
All over the place!
For an overview of BRASS, go to: http://battlegroundproductions.org/brass/
To listen to the radio series, go to KING FM’s The Arts Channel here: http://www.king.org/pages/18163362.php?
For information about BRASS: Oh My Azaleas! Visit our Facebook page here:
(Tickets are available via Brown Paper Tickets)
And for our Indiegogo Campaign to fund our short BRASS film “Lair of the Red Widow,” go here!
If they want to know about things that aren’t BRASS related that I’ve written, they can check out my website johnlongenbaugh.com.
John, to say it’s been a pleasure is a gross understatement. I’m honored to know you, and am beyond impressed with all that you’ve accomplished. All you still have to conquer is going to be an immense privilege to witness. Thank you so much for stopping by. I wish you much continued success!
BRASS: Oh My Azaleas!
Theater Schmeater-2125 3rd Ave., Seattle, 98121 (206) 324-5801