“I’ve been calling this Anna Nicole meets ‘Glass Menagerie’ meets ‘Hoarders’ – on diet pills,” Drago says.
One of the inspirations for “Trash” was the Alliance Theatre’s production of the Tony-winning “August: Osage County” that Drago saw a few seasons back.
“I literally ran out of the theater and all the way down Peachtree crying my eyes out afterwards, and I knew I wanted to take a stab at the pitch-black melodramatic qualities of the play,” he says. “So ‘Trash’ has a certain number of twists and dark revelations.”
He describes it as campy and dark, with a cast that has proven game.
“The actors have been utterly fearless in approaching their roles,” Drago says. “The whole play is basically set on a giant pile of garbage. Jo Howarth, in the role of Othermomma, has to navigate the whole thing in a wheelchair. They definitely go above and beyond in terms of embracing the piece’s broad comedy, but they also have to hit some pretty serious dramatic notes as well.”
Directing the piece is Topher Payne, who Drago worked with in the spring with Payne’s play “Angry Fags.”
“I feel so lucky to have Topher as the director,” Drago says. “He’s been instrumental in shaping the piece with his vision, experience and insight. Not to mention his own very twisted sense of humor.”
The playwright wrote the lead role of Jinx Malibu specifically for DeWayne Morgan, artistic director of the Process Theatre, who directed Drago’s “Kiss of the Vampire.”
“I love watching DeWayne onstage; he’s so fearless and sensitive and funny,” says Drago. “I knew I wanted to write a great drag role for him, and he’s absolutely killing it as Jinx.”
Morgan, Payne and Drago have also worked together in Process’ “Designing Women Live.”
Drago has been writing plays, with what he calls “varying levels of success and producibility,” for over a decade now.
“While my imagination runs as wild as ever, I think my writing has matured a lot in the sense of having more production experience under my belt, learning what actually works in practice, and how to write for that,” he says. “This play in particular is unique, since it’s the first time I’ve gotten to write for a specific group of actors.
“It’s been such a treat to write for people’s strengths, their own senses of humor, watch them embrace some very difficult material without question, and then commit to it wholeheartedly night after night.”
Acting in “Angry Fags” was an amazing experience, Drago says.
“Looking back on it, ‘Angry Fags’ seems like such a perfect storm to me,” he recalls. “Dream cast of actors, dream director. It was the first play of Topher’s I’d seen that really felt dangerous and raw to me, politically, emotionally, artistically. And then getting to do it all at 7 Stages, smack dab in the heart of Little Five, under the new artistic leadership of [gay leaders] Heidi Howard and Mack Headrick.
“The role I got to play was so complicated and delicious, every night I felt like someone had handed me a Rubik’s cube, and I got to try over and over again to solve it,” he continues. “A few nights, I thought I came pretty close; other nights, I was just happy to give it my all, and then walk away and see the phrase ‘Angry Fags’ over my shoulder on the marquee.”
Sept. 6 – 28