Interview with Rick Cleveland, DKAF Alum
The Door Kinetic Arts Festival was lucky to have the Emmy winning writer/producer Rick Cleveland, best known for his work on “Six Feet Under” and “The West Wing,” at last summer’s festival as the leader of a writing workshop and as a playwright. “It felt like we were all in a lab environment together,” says Cleveland who found the work of his fellow festival artists to be a great source of inspiration.
Cleveland’s writing workshop was a high point of the week, bringing many of these festival artists together in a creative setting along with some members of the public. The workshop focused on the experience of working in a Writer’s Room, a common set-up for television writing in which a group of writers work together to develop episode ideas, character timelines, and the plan for the season. Cleveland had great fun working with the actors in this environment, “a lot of actors write these days, and I think it's a valuable process for actors to understand.”
In addition to the workshop, Cleveland worked with some of these same actors in a reading of his new play The LA Seven, a superhero courtroom drama that is “more or less an experiment” for Cleveland. “The two single most important parts,” says Cleveland of his writing process, “are hearing the actors read it, and then hearing an audience's reaction to it.
The LA Seven imagines a motley crew of L.A.-based superheroes that are being sued by the citizens of Los Angeles for billions of dollars in accidental damages during their efforts to stop Dr. Mephistopheles and keep L.A. from being sucked into a giant black hole. The play, which is written as a series of courtroom testimonies, goes beyond this colossal clash of superhero-world/legal-world; it explores the epic question of whose life is worth saving and for what cost, and the feeling of discovering fascism in communities you once believed in. “Besides being a political junkie, I'm also an avid comic book and graphic novel reader,” Cleveland muses that this is “probably because it’s such a visual medium.”
Continuing this fascination with the super, Cleveland is now working on his first “super hero” mini series. Watch out for Marvel’s “The Inhumans,” premiering in IMAX cinemas September 1st, followed by the full 8 episode series on ABC this fall!
Interview conducted by Anya Kopischke, Social Media Manager at Door Kinetic Arts Festival