Fairbanks Playwright Bursts into the Spotlight Across the State
"I'm hoping it's kind of a watershed moment."
Tonight he has a play on stage in Juneau.
A week from tonight, he'll have a different play on stage in Anchorage.
And in February, he'll debut a new work in Fairbanks.
Tom Moran is best known as a former state Capitol correspondent for the Fairbanks News-Miner.
But with a sudden embrace of his works from the Interior to Southcentral to Southeast, he's earning a reputation for creating characters, not reporting on them.
It's a different kind of drama, taking place on literal stages.
And talk about a larger than life figure.
"I just stand there breathing heavy while the helicopters and tanks circle around," veteran Anchorage anchor David Haynes exclaims during a rehearsal of Moran’s new one-act, one-character play, “The Big Guy.”
Haynes plays the film monster “Godzilla,” having a moment of introspection after a very long lifetime of carnage:
"Hell, it's downright neurotic. I should be decimating everything in my path, and I'm caught in a moral dilemma."
“The Big Guy” is the cornerstone of the annual “Fourplay” presentation of one-act plays by Alaskans, presented at Anchorage Community Theatre, beginning next Friday.
“Fourplay” founder and director of “The Big Guy,” Schatzie Schaefers, says a reading of the script was the talk of this year's Last Frontier Theater Conference in Valdez.
"It's hilarious. The first time I read the play, I knew instantly it was the one I wanted to do."
Playwright Moran is also having his dramatic full-length play, “Boundary,” produced on the second stage at nationally recognized Perseverance Theatre in Juneau.
It's set in Bush Alaska in 1972, with characters trying unsuccessfully to run and hide from their pasts.
"I’ve never had anything more than a 10-minute play produced, to be honest. To actually have a full-length and a one-act going up at the same time is not routine for me. I'm hoping it's kind of a watershed moment."
Moran says he's not overly influenced by other playwrights and draws most of his inspiration from pop culture.
He says that while “The Big Guy” is a comedy and does not have any political subtext, it's not all funny.
"I thought, you know, for Godzilla, is there some kind of moral choice involved here -- whether to destroy Tokyo or to save it; whether humans are his friends or his enemies."
Schaefers says, "It speaks volumes about so many different things, including just the nature of violence and the nature of people's obsession with violence."
And coming up in February is a Fairbanks production of Moran's "A Date with History," an absurdist piece about an unlikely gathering of famous dead people, including Abraham Lincoln.
Moran says, "Lincoln’s DNA got mixed up with John Kennedy's DNA, and so it turns out Lincoln is something of a letch."
For Moran, in comedy and in drama, the old is being made new on stages across the state.
"Fourplay" opens a week from tonight, at 10 p.m., at Anchorage Community Theatre, following the presentation of "Arsenic and Old Lace."
The other plays in the quartet are "Shoe Story" by Arlitia Jones, "The Cross" by Schatzie Schaefers and "Living with the Savage" by Dawson Moore.
The production runs through November 13th, before heading to Fairbanks.