Theatre Above the Law ensemble member Bailey Castle had the chance to talk to Ross Compton about the World Premiere of his play AMICABLE.
BC: Wow! You are the playwright for AMICABLE a world premiere, congratulations. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer some questions that Theatre Above the Law has about you and your new play! Let's start off with the easy questions: Where are you from? How long have you lived in Chicago?
RC: I’m from Crown Point, Indiana. It’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from Chicago, where I’ve lived now for over 10 years. It’ll be 11 years come this October which just blows my mind. But yeah, I was born a Hoosier. Please come see my play in which I mercilessly roast my home state for a few glorious seconds.
BC: What was an inciting moment for you that informed you that you want to be a writer?
RC: I’ve been a performer since I could crawl and that’s all I wanted to be for a long time. As I got older, I noticed the satisfaction that came from actually crafting the lines or jokes myself. I would write sketches for my church youth group or my Lutheran grade school (we did a rendition of the Good Samaritan for Chapel once where I was listening to head phones and singing What’s New Pussy Cat very loudly right before I’m hit with a car—you know, because kids love Tom Jones). I didn’t seriously think of myself as a writer until I was at Ball State. I was in this theatre improv group called Reflex and every year we’d write a spoof that was sort’ve an abridged version of every show the department did that year. My first year in the group I got to write it and my friend Zack Florent said, “This is really funny and I think you should be a writer.” I think I held onto that for a long time until finally I realized that that IS something I’d like to pursue. So thanks for that, Zack!
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BC: Is AMICABLE your first produced play?
BC: What inspired you to write AMICABLE?
Honestly, it was a break up. That’s probably a cliche, right? But it’s true, because it made me think of an idea I had gotten during an earlier tumultuous relationship: two people alone on a train and they have to reconcile. Then I started thinking about all the different types of relationships we’re in where the interest-levels don’t quite match up—romantic, platonic, familial—and I brought all that baggage to this train setting and said, “Ok, now I think I have a full fledged story.” Please come to my glorified therapy session.
BC: How does it feel to have a World Premiere happening in Chicago?
RC: It feels pretty cool, and a bit surreal because there were times when I never thought I’d ever finish a full-length play. I’m very thankful. “World Premiere Play by Ross Compton” also looks pretty kick-ass on a poster.
BC: There are a lot of movie/pop culture references in AMICABLE. How much of that is character-centered vs. audience-centered?
RC: I love pop-culture references as much as the next nerd. A lot of times they’re played strictly for laughs or for the audience to go “I RECOGNIZE THAT.” And that’s great! But it was so important to me that the references in this show were character-centric and crucial to the story. I wanted to get into why these fun silly things, such as Game of Thrones or The Avengers, are so important to us. Often times, they play a huge role in our relationships with each other.
BC: The tag line for the play is, "Things end. And that's ok." Do you consider AMICABLE a morality play?
RC: *quickly looks up what a morality play is*
Yes, I always have.
Jk, you know I didn’t set out to write one but a case could be made for calling Amicable a morality play. All the characters are definitely being asked to make a choice, and often times their questionable behavior is challenged. But there’s also a lot of grey area in our show I’d argue. Things aren’t quite so right and wrong.But that tag line is definitely true for me. It’s a lesson I have to teach myself over and over again. Even today. You’ll encounter disappointments and heartbreak but you will heal. It really is ok.
BC: What are your hopes for the future of AMICABLE?
RC: I would love for Amicable to have a life after this production. To have another theatre company produce it if they felt so inclined. The show means a lot to me, so to see it live on would be amazing. I would also like it to win the Pulitzer. For Investigative Reporting.
BC: What's next for Ross Compton?
There are like 18 things I want to write. The most prevalent is a screenplay. It’s about a relationship that ends. I guess...I guess that’s my thing now.
BC: And finally: what’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
RC: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, bayyybeeeeeeeeee!
AMICABLE opens May 10th, with one preview on May 9th. Tickets available by clicking THIS LINK