Author Spotlight: Everett Robert

Everett Robert

About the Author:

Everett Robert Hailed as “one of our best new children’s authors” by Heartland Play Publishers, Everett Robert is an award winning author, playwright, actor, and director with over 20 years of experience.

A Kansas native, he graduated from Colby Community College with an Associates of Applied Science in Radio and Television Communications and an Associates of Applied Arts in English with a Drama Emphasis. He currently attends Fort Hays State University, with a planned graduation date of 2014 with a Bachelors in English Education. Everett is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, The Playwright’s Center, The Kansas Writer’s Association, and the Oklahoma Writer’s Federation.

Everett’s plays have been performed by several schools in Kansas. He has been personally involved in all of the productions as an actor, producer, director, and fight choreographer.

Published Works include: Allie In Wonderland (Heartland Play Publishers, 2012), The Absolutely True Story of Tom Sawyer As Told By Becky Thatcher (Heartland Play Publishers, 2013), and winner of The Greatest Western Never Told included in the Cactus Country III Anthology (High Hill Press, 2013).

Connect with Everett:
Heartland Play Publishers | Emergency Room Productions | Twitter: @eerobert | Facebook

Interview:

MF: Your plays have been performed in schools throughout Kansas. That must be very satisfying. Tell us about those experiences.
ER: My first play, Allie In Wonderland, was conceived and written as the result of a challenge. Some friends of mine were running a spring drama program but hadn’t found a play they liked. I volunteered to write something and they gave me a month to write something. I initially wrote a version of Tom Sawyer but was told they only had one guy as part of the program, so I had to re-conceive. A talk with my best friend Mimi brought up Alice in Wonderland. I quickly wrote out a first draft and the script was accepted. Several more drafts followed working closely with the director and visiting rehearsals. It was an exciting, whirlwind month of writing. About a year later, my friend Bill (one of the directors of Allie In Wonderland) and I were shooting the breeze late one night kicking around ideas as we tend to do. I mentioned that I really wanted to revisit Tom Sawyer, as doing a stage version of Twain’s classic held a soft spot in my heart. After several hours of laughs, and furiously scribbled notes, I had an outline, Again, I had about a month to write a script before rehearsals started and another furious month of writing, editing and rewriting until we had a script.

MF: Tell us a bit about Allie in Wonderland and The Absolutely True Story of Tom Sawyer As Told by Becky Thatcher.
ER: Allie In Wonderland is a sequel of sorts to the classic Alice In Wonderland and imagines a tween or teenaged Alice, who is captived by the modern world of technology, ipads, iphones, computers, twitter, Facebook, etc and as a result, has forgotten how to dream and imagine. This lack of imagination is destroying Wonderland and it’s up to the familiar characters to find Alice (now calling herself Allie) and bring her back to Wonderland and teach her how to imagine again.

The Absolutely True Story of Tom Sawyer starts off with Mark Twain giving one of his famous lectures, but before he can began, he is interrupted by Mrs. Samuel Clemens. She informs the audience that Twain is the biggest liar of them all and SHE is going to tell them the true story of Tom Sawyer. What follows is the story of Tom Sawyer from Becky’s point of view. We find out that Tom didn’t fool the neighborhood kids into white washing the fence, but that he in fact was bamboozled into helping by the girls, who also trick him and Huck into thinking he [Tom] has died.. We find out how Tom really won the Bible in the memorization contest and that the treasure at the bottom of the cave isn’t quite what we think it is.

MF: You established Emergency Room Productions to produce family friendly plays for all theater. What goes into such an endeavor and are there others involved with the company?
ER: Emergency Room Productions started out as my official “writing” arm or my “brand” but has slowly evolved into an actual producing “company”, which can be very time intensive and consuming. Producing is much different then writing. A couple of months ago; I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in a 3-Man show called “The Way Out West Players Ride Again” and was surprised how much time and work goes into such a thing. Right now, I’m really the only person really involved in Emergency Room Productions, but have worked with and am working with several area directors and actors into using it as a way to grow a children’s theater group here in Hays, KS.

MF: Why did you choose to write for children and young adults? Do you write in any other genres?
ER: My love of theater was sparked as a child seeing a college production of Winnie The Pooh and my dad and grandmother in a stage production of The Wizard Of Oz (he played the gatekeeper to the Emerald city, she played the witch–I’m surprised I still remember that as I was probably 4 or 5 at the time). By the time I was an 8th grader, I knew I loved the theater and wanted it to be a part of my life. The spring of my 8th Grade year, my music teacher, Bill Blue (who now performs as Old Matt in the Shepard of the Hills in Branson, MO), directed our choir class in a musical production of…Tom Sawyer. That confirmed my love of the theater. I truly believe that theater and the performing arts are a vital part of a young person’s education and should be nurtured with quality writing.

I have written some more older teen and adult scripts as well as winning awards from the Kansas Writer’s Association and The Oklahoma Writer’s Federation for my Western and short story writing. I’ve also had a flash fiction piece published by High Hill Press in their Cactus County III collection. I love the Western genre and got the chance to play with The Way Out West Players Ride Again, which is a send-up/loving parody of the “Western” style melodrama.

MF: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as a writer? What has been the best compliment?
ER: The toughest criticism I ever got was the same criticism from two different people. I was working on a monodrama re: gun control for a contest and I thought I was rocking it. My friend Mimi looked at it and said, “Everett, this is cliche and it isn’t your voice. You can do so much better then this.” About an hour later, my friend Bill called me (I had emailed him and Mimi the script at the same time) and said almost the same thing verbatim. It really made me stop and consider my own voice as a writer and what I wanted to say as opposed to what I thought others wanted me to say. In a way, their brutal honesty with me is also the best compliment because they could recognize my voice as a writer and what I had written wasn’t me.

MF: What do you read? What do you re-read?
ER: I read EVERYTHING. I’m currently reading the Theatre Illuminata series by a dear friend of mine, Lisa Mantchev. It’s a fantastic YA series about a young orphan named Beatrice Shakespeare Smith who lives in a magical, living theater. I’ve also been reading quite a bit of Elmore Leonard’s work since he passed away. I love to read Stephen King, Caleb Carr, Neil Gaiman as well. As a playwright, I also read other playwrights. Neil Simon is a huge influence on me. I’m rereading HS Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights and so much more. Really, unless a book is just wretched, chances are I’ll read it and reread it.

MF: What is your favorite writing tip or quote?
ER Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip. – Elmore Leonard

MF: Do you have any advice for other writers?
ER Oh man, I don’t know. Probably keep writing. I was talking to my friend Bill on Saturday and he told me that he was impressed how well my writing has grown just over the past 3 or 4 years. That comes from writing all the time, so I would just keep writing.

MF: If you could jump into a book, and live in that world … which would it be?
ER: I’m going to cheat a little, since his writings are so interconnected, and say the shared universe Elmore Leonard created. I have been a fan of his writing since the mid-90s and have never read a bad book by that man. I would love to live in a world as “cool” as that man created.

If I had to choose a play, I would say Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple. I’ve performed it twice (as Oscar both times) and Simon crafted such a rich world using one set and 8 characters that I can’t get enough of.


If you are over the age of 18 and interested in producing one of Everett’s plays, Visit Heartland Plays:

ALLIE IN WONDERLAND
by Everett Robert
2F / 2M / 11 Either + Extras
Approximate Playing Time: 1 hour
What happens when Alice forgets how to dream? That’s what the characters in this refreshing adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s timeless tale want to know. For one thing, Wonderland isn’t quite as wonderful anymore; the sparkle fades and the characters lose their luster. But rumor has it that thoroughly modern Alice, who prefers the name, Allie, is coming back. There’s hope yet for Wonderland if only the Cat can convince her that the imagination is not only real but necessary. This is the opportunity for your actors and your audiences to see Alice in a new light and follow her through the rabbit hole where she rediscovers the magic of Wonderland along with all your favorite characters from the White Rabbit and the Caterpillar to Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum, the Mad Hatter and the March Hair. And Wonderland wouldn’t be complete without the Queen of Hearts with her Flamingo croquet mallets who still threatens to “cut off her head!” But Allie has a weapon of her own; a Triple Chocolate Espresso Mocha Latté with whipped cream.
$20 Single Use Copyright Fee plus $40 Royalty per Performance for Amateur Theatre. Professional Theatre Royalties Calculated on Application.


The Absolutely True Story of Tom Sawyer As Told by Becky Thatcher
by Everett Robert
Based on “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain
6F / 4M
Approximate Playing Time: 1 hour
So, you think you know what Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn were up to back when they were supposed to be painting Aunt Polly’s fence? Well, think again. Becky Thatcher clues us in on the real story. Everett Robert skillfully mixes the events as told by Mark Twain with scenes depicting what Becky Thatcher claims really happened— all in great fun and with charming humor. The playing of the traditional scenes provides a great opportunity to relive your favorite moments from “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” as retold by Mark Twain while experiencing something fresh from the imagination of one of our best new children’s authors, Everett Robert. And you’ll never guess how Becky Thatcher came to know so much!
$20 Single Use Copyright Fee plus $40 Royalty per Performance for Amateur Theatre. Professional Theatre Royalties Calculated on Application.