Glenvar High School just finished up their fall production, Generation X-mas (see photos from the show here). We caught up with director, co-writer and Glenvar theatre teacher Steve Franco to learn more about writing ‘Generation X-mas’, that amazing set and what it’s like working with son Garrison Franco.
Avery Eliades: Tell me a bit about the writing process for Generation X-mas. How long did it take for the story to come together?
Steve Franco: Dale and I began writing the show in July and met off and on over the summer. The final draft was completed in early October, and the actors had about five weeks to put everything together. This is the third show we’ve written together over the last three years, and we’ve developed a system that works well for us. We both sit down and brainstorm ideas, develop a title that we feel best suits the play’s content, then we write a rough outline of scenes in which we will develop the plot–and finally we flesh that out by writing the dialogue.
AE: What was your inspiration for the story?
SF: Both Dale and I feel like there is a growing divide between the current generation and folks who are senior citizens. The show is an attempt to bridge that gap and to cause both sides to look at life though the other side’s eyes.
AE: For those who don’t know, who is co-writer Dale Bayless?
SF: Dale is an English teacher here at Glenvar who also happens to have a degree in theatre arts. He’s worked in both theatre and radio (94.9 Star Country), and we have very similar types of humor. We have a lot of fun writing these shows.
AE: One of the biggest wow-factors of the night, in my opinion, was the set! How did all of that come together?
SF: That is a real point of pride here at Theatre Glenvar High. I was trained by one of the best–George Authur, the technical director at Theatre Roanoke College (and husband to Northside High School theatre teacher Karen Arthur). George’s philosophy was that a set should never detract from a performance, but should always enhance the audience’s experience. That’s what we aim for–we want folks to say, “Wow, students build that?!” My theatre arts classes put a lot of effort into making the sets appear realistic, so it’s nice to hear that we succeeded.
AE: When did you all start practicing for this one? What was one of your biggest challenges? One of the most pleasant surprises?
SF: We do a six-week rehearsal period for each show. Auditions were held Oct. 2, and we actually rehearsed for the first time a few days later. The biggest challenge is getting enough rehearsal time for each individual actor when you have a cast of 32. We’d meet for two and a half hours a night, three times a week–not much when compared to the number of actors we have to prepare.
SS: And then there’s the breakout star—and your son—Garrison Franco. How old is he? How long has he been interested in theatre? I heard some murmurs last night that led me to believe he’s taken part in other plays previously.
SF: It’s always a pleasure to get to work with G-man. My family gets neglected quite a bit during play season–so it was nice to have Garrison with me each night. They make a lot of sacrifices so that I can put on shows–and I can’t thank my wife Ann and my other son, Micah, enough for their support. It was also great to direct Dale’s daughters (Tara and Rhiannon) on this one–it helped to enhance the ‘family feel’ we were shooting for. Garrison has appeared in chorus roles in ‘Wireless Memories’ and ‘Little Shop of Horrors’. He’s been interested in acting for years, and it’s finally starting to happen now that he’s old enough to put in the hours needed to be a performer.
AE: When you introduced the play Thursday night [Nov. 15], you shared some big news involving another original play of yours—care to share that again here?”
SF: In 2009 we staged a show entitled “In-laws, Outlaws & Other People (That Should Be Shot)” which I authored. I submitted the show to Samuel French, Inc. (the same NY publisher that handles Neil Simon) and learned last spring that their submission board had voted to select the show for publication. Since that time, it has been printed and is available for purchase/production. Currently, it can be seen on the Samuel French website on their “latest acquisitions” page—or you can look it up simply by typing my name in as an author search.
Theatre Glenvar High will present their spring play in March 2013. Check back here for more updates!