"Prestigious? What exactly is that supposed to mean?" Landry replied in response to a question about his new play 'M' being produced by the "prestigious" Huntington Theatre. "In my humble opinion, the word 'prestigious' should go the way of 'upscale' and 'High End.' All should be wiped away, flushed and left for the sanitation department to handle."
Ryan Landry tackles Fritz Lang’s masterwork M for the Huntington Theatre. He shares more of his vibrant mind in this exclusive interview with Boston Spirit magazine.
By Loren King
[Note: the following story first appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of Boston Spirit magazine. Ryan Landry's 'M' opens plays at the Huntington Theatre in Boston through April 27. For tickets and more information, visit The Huntington Theatre's website.]
Ryan Landry refuses to be compartmentalized as an artist.
Landry is the master of gay camp with his original, theatrical riffs on classic movies that have entertained audiences for years in both Boston and Provincetown.
His last show, Mildred Fierce, a lavish musical about the mother of all pie-baking mothers, starred Varla Jean Merman and played this Winter at the nightclub Machine, the Boston home of Landry’s longtime troupe, The Gold Dust Orphans.
Now, the hard-working, prolific Landry is debuting a bold new work, his adaptation of M, German director Fritz Lang’s 1931 film noir classic starring Peter Lorre about a child killer hunted down by the criminal underworld.
Ryan Landry's M is being staged from now through April 27 at the Huntington Theater Company where Landry has been a Playwriting Fellow since 2008. The Huntington’s Artistic Director Peter DuBois calls the production an “amazing collaboration between two Boston theatre legends.”
Boston Spirit recently had the following e-mail interview with Landry whose responses are characteristically opinionated, thoughtful and very funny as he prepares for his most challenging work to date.
[Boston Spirit] A German film from 1931 about a child killer ... what made you want to turn this into a play?
[Ryan Landry] Because it is a beautiful masterwork. A goal to which other artists should aspire.
I chose this film because I wanted to write a play based on the most unfunny thing in the world and still make it [the play] funny.
It is a sad play too. It is a human play.
People often say that I am a funny person but I also think of myself as somewhat sad at times. This is not because I am a depressed individual. It is because I am a human being.
I like to be sad, for brief periods anyway. Because I am human, I possess all the colors in the spectrum within my soul, as anyone who has the courage to let those colors in must have in order to live out a full existence.
I am not made up of just “happy” colors. By these I mean the obscenely bright Barbie pinks and putrid Easter Day purples so often used in today’s most offensive toys. These colors are also used (in the most violent manner imaginable) to decorate the bedrooms of innocent teenaged girls. Poor things. Their msothers should be arrested.
To me, these are simply put: ungodly colors.
They are the colors I see on my television. The colors I see within the eyes of our current “celebrity” zombies.
People like Justin Bieber, Beyonce and Kim Kardashian appear freakishly inhuman to me. Like cheap marshmallow chicks gone past their expiration date, I want them out of sight as soon as possible. They are plastic, they are phony and worse of all, they rot your teeth.
[Boston Spirit] Were you a fan of Fritz Lang or the film before taking this on?
[Ryan Landry] Of course. I went to art school.
[Boston Spirit] Will M be different from the Ryan Landry/Gold Dust Orphans shows? What’s similar about it?
[Ryan Landry] It will be different as it marks the first collaborative effort between myself and my nightmares. It will be the same as it will start on time.
[Boston Spirit] The Huntington is such a prestigious company — how did this come about and how do you feel about writing this show for them?
[Ryan Landry] Prestigious? What exactly is that supposed to mean?
If you mean to say that the Huntington puts out incredible work, I agree. If you mean to say they are more “legitimate” than any struggling artist out there then I disagree. I think also, that my dear friends at the Huntington, Peter DuBois, Lisa Timmel, Charles Haugland, and Bevin O’Gara would disagree. I know these people well at this point, and not one of them is in it for the “prestige.” They are working artists, ready, willing, and more than able to support other working artists like myself. Questions concerning “prestige” would be best directed toward those who do not live to create but simply truck their shit in from New York. The ones (and there are plenty out there) who are in it for anything but the art. In my humble opinion, the word “prestigious” should go the way of “upscale” and “High End.” All should be wiped away, flushed and left for the sanitation department to handle.
Ryan Landry's M
Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA in Boston’s South End
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