Playwright Patrick Flynn was on a roll before Coronavirus brought American theater to a standstill. His adaptation of The Velveteen Rabbit, produced by Adventure Theatre MTC, earned him a 2019 Helen Hayes nomination for outstanding new play. What She Said, a play he co-wrote with Michelle Polera, received enthusiastic reviews during a Kennedy Center reading last September, and his podcast, The Original Cast, is regularly cited as essential listening by theater writers in both DC and New York.
When theaters closed overnight last month, Flynn ramped up production of his podcast, moving from weekly to daily recordings, and checking in on artists whose lives were precipitously interrupted when theaters went dark. We checked in with Flynn to see how he has been dealing with quarantine.
Did you have any work put on hold due to the Coronavirus outbreak? If so, what?
Michelle Polera and I were supposed to take our one-actor play What She Said to New York in May but that isn’t happening. The venue has been great about it and we’ll be rescheduled once they have an idea what their schedule is. I’ve gone full Zoom with all my podcasting projects (including a big one out this Christmas!) which has actually been pretty cool. Also the La-Ti-Do/Original Cast crossover event planned for May has been postponed. But none of these issues is catastrophic. I have friends who are losing out on once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and it breaks my heart.
Ok, let’s get the negativity out of the way: What’s the worst/hardest thing about this quarantine period for you?
Keeping the kids entertained is by far the hardest part. My 10-year-old son is on the autism spectrum and trying to find a routine for him that works has been a real challenge. Also explaining that this isn’t just an open-ended weekend has been tricky. My twin girls just turned 3 so they’re a little easier to keep going but they are very mad they can’t go to the playground. Like, very mad. So very mad.
Now on to the positive! Share with us one professional achievement that you are proud to have accomplished so far this year.
Getting a Helen Hayes Award nomination was a huge kick in the arm. Also running the Q-Fest [a day-long reading of new plays by local playwrights] with Chil Kong, Sarah Gaumond, and Jordan Friend was a treat.
What are some things you have done to keep busy and stimulated while stuck at home?
Keeping busy was one of the reasons I took the podcast daily. It gives me a firm thing to work on every day. I’m a very collaborative person so it also gives a cool thing to do with people instead of just on my own. I’ve also been writing but that is much more solitary.
You caught our attention by ramping up the production on your podcast The Original Cast. What inspired you to do that and what did it involve?
It was really a product of looking around my house and saying “What can I do?” Well, I can podcast. So I’ll podcast! Some of my favorite podcasts are going to have trouble maintaining their release schedules which will leave our feeds more empty than usual in a time where entertaining distractions will be key. So I thought my audience would enjoy hearing from past guests and learning how they are doing. And so far, so good!
List three other DC-area artists who inspire you and tell us why.
The three most exciting words in DC theatre are “Tia Shearer Bassett.” Tia is an amazing artist, a wonderful friend, and a beautiful soul. Her Patreon is https://www.patreon.com/TheatreWolf. Go there and spend money.
Charlene V. Smith is one of the most amazing people in this city. After this cloud has passed us by, I will be joining the crusade to get her and Brave Spirit’s mounting of the Complete Shakespeare Histories back on track (not least because I want to spend a day watching all those plays back-to-back-to-back-to-back).
And my third is Beth Amann, Jenna Duncan, Dane Edidi, Kari Ginsburg, Michelle Polera, and Amanda Zeitler because I refuse to choose among them and you can’t make me. They’re all brilliant, they all do different things and you should know all their names.