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Friday, May 16, 2014

The Story Behind "Future Conversations Past"

Much like Wretches and Kings, Future Conversations Past started out as a 10 minute play for a Playwriting class in fall of 2012 at University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. I haven’t revised this play yet, although I do have some small changes I would like to eventually make to this play. I am still extremely pleased with this play though. When it was critiqued in class, it was favorably compared to The Twilight Zone and was referred to as Hitchcockian. Another friend considered it to be trippy and thought it would be funny if I were to get someone on acid to try reading it.

The seeds for this play started with a class reading: Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda by Glenn Alterman. In the play, parents Cy and Yvette get into an argument that intersects with a play their son, Marty, is writing. As he writes his play and tries to set up the scene, he illuminates the future of his family to his parents. I found this kind of metaphysical playwriting intriguing because it allows you to write philosophically without having to be too explicit in your message.

The result was that I decided to write a play about writing a play that the viewer could either take as being reality or a play. In other words, are you watching the play being written, or are you watching the play that’s based on what was written? I found the concept of a self-referential play that could work on something of a circular logic to be funny and metaphorical. I based the characters on the philosophical idea of free will vs. predestination.


In the play, Glenn represents predestination. He sees life as something that can be predicted. You have no real choice over your actions; your actions can be dictated before you make them. Theresa represents free will. She remains skeptical that Glenn is capable of writing what has already happened, and over the course of the play she becomes frustrated as Glenn continues to predict what she’s about to say before she says it.

Interesting Fact: The title Future Conversations Past, was inspired by the X-Men film X-Men: Days of Future Past

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