Rob Parry Plays Devil’s Advocate

FCLC Actor-Turned-Playwright Prepares for Debut of Final Fordham Show


Published: Febrary 14, 2008

Rob Parry, a 21-year-old Fordham senior, came to New York as an acting student, but soon decided that the written word was his true calling.  Now, Parry is currently preparing for the culminating moment of his four years as a playwright-in-training in the Fordham theatre department.  The Pennsylvania-born drama major will see his fourth and final Fordham production, “Last Call:  An Apocalypse Story,” which explores the Apocalypse and the anti-Christ, opening in The White Box on Feb. 28.

THE OBSERVER: How did you get into theater?

Rob Parry: I just sort of got into it in high school. It was just like something I did in high school, doing the musicals and all that. I guess compared to a lot of people I came to it a little late. At 14, I started acting and that just sparked an interest.

THE OBSERVER: Why did you decide to pursue playwriting?

RP: I came here for acting originally, but I took a playwriting course second semester, and then I really started working on playwriting.

THE OBSERVER: What can you tell us about your current show? And what do you hope the audience gets out of it?

RP: It’s a story about the Apocalypse, or averting the Apocalypse more specifically. It’s my take on the anti-Christ mythos.  I am really excited about the idea that you can never be sure what the audience is going to walk away with after they’ve seen a work.  I’ve found, oftentimes, the more you try to plan or force a feeling or point onto someone, the more it ends up being eluded.  More often than not I think an audience finds more things the playwright didn’t intend than they find things the playwright intended. I think there’s something amazing in that—in the way that some things are just formed out of the chemistry of putting all these different parts together …once it all synthesizes you end up with something completely different than what you had before.

THE OBSERVER: Could you tell us more about the plot of your new play?

RP: A man named Henry Summers is working to unite the world under a single world government. As the date of the union draws closer, all Hell breaks loose as Henry discovers himself to be the Anti-Christ, and all of his endeavors to be the begining of the Apocalypse. People close to him reveal themselves to be angels and demons, all vying for control of the man who would be their Anti-Christ. Henry is left to decide whether to accept his destiny, or try to change it.

THE OBSERVER: What about your other plays?  Any favorites?

RP: I got a good bit of advice one time.  I asked someone who is working right now what their favorite production was and they said that it’s the one they’re working on right now, that it is always going to be the one they’re working on right now.  Because if it’s not, then whatever you’re working on is in trouble.  Whatever you’re doing right now has to be your favorite.

THE OBSERVER: Are there any playwrights that you consider role models or inspirations?

RP: There’s certain classic ones.  I really love Shakespeare, and I think he has a really great talent for blending really high ideas with very accessible material.  He was really able to speak to every strata of his audience, which I think was a great gift.  More modern… I really like Arthur Miller.  I would say he’s probably my favorite modern American playwright.  As far as [someone] actually working today, I’m a big fan of Henry David Wong; a lot of what he’s doing right now I really like, and I find it really kind of interesting.

THE OBSERVER: What do you see as the strength of the Fordham playwriting program?

RP: I think the biggest strength of the playwriting program is the focus on the studio work—the fact that we put up four full productions of shows that we’ve written.  It offers a sort of hands-on, in-process learning experience.  I think I’ve learned so much more by putting a show together and watching it grow from its conception to performance than I could have by writing and rewriting it.  To do something is worth a hundred hours of studying something.

THE OBSERVER: What did you direct?

RP: A one-act called “The American Century” by Murphy Gyer.  We were on a double bill with “H & M,” an adaptation Chris Masullo did. It was a really great experience.  It made me look at a production from a whole different angle, using a whole different set of skills… And the new thing I’m working towards is producing, starting my own company.  Working from the producer’s seat to find new work and bring it together, help put it in front of an audience, and expand the audience that’s watching American theater.