On August 13, 2021, Perisphere Theatre will be opening with their production of “Time is On Our Side” by R. Eric Thomas at the Black Box Theatre in Silver Spring, Maryland. It will run, in-person, until Saturday, August 28, 2021.
As part of its mission and vision, “Perisphere Theater produces plays that examine personal and collective history and the notion of history itself. It seeks to provide a theater experience that gives audiences a greater appreciation of history and of those who are often left out of its retelling.”
“Time is On Our Side” is a story of two friends, Annie and Curtis. They do a podcast in Philadelphia about the history of the City of Brotherly Love. When they find Annie’s grandmother’s diary that holds some surprising insights, the two have very different reactions. The play takes place in the 2010s but looks back on the issues facing the gay rights movement in the 1960s and 70s. Thomas’ play looks closely at friendship and honesty in a hilarious and poignant manner while contemplating how we view the past and what we get to tell or what is better to leave secreted.
I recently had the opportunity to interview R. Eric Thomas, the playwright of “Time Is On Our Side.”
R. Eric Thomas (he/him) is the long-running host of The Moth in Philadelphia and D.C. Until recently he was a senior staff writer for Elle.com where he wrote “Eric Reads the News,” a daily current events and culture column with hundreds of thousands of readers. His debut memoir-in-essays, “Here for It,” was released by Ballantine Books in 2020 and was hailed by Lin-Manuel Miranda as “David Sedaris-level, laugh-out-loud funny.” As a playwright, Thomas is a 2018 winner of the Dramatist Guild Lanford Wilson Award and was a finalist for the 2017 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. For “Time Is On Our Side,” Eric won the 2016 Barrymore Award (Philadelphia) for best new play. For more details go to this link.
Can you tell our readers about yourself?
I grew up in downtown Baltimore and went to school at Park in the county, where I discovered and cultivated a love of theater and writing. I followed that to New York, where I went to Columbia, didn’t do quite as much theater as I wanted, and then moved to Philadelphia, which has a boisterous and growing theater community that fully embraced me. Now I’m back in Maryland, living in a house near Hunt Valley with a perfect backyard for gathering and performing.
You have been a magazine writer, an essay writer and now a playwright, which do you prefer?
I don’t have a preference; I do all three and more often simultaneously. What’s exciting to me is discovering the way that different forms of writing play into each other and help to build my skills.
Which playwrights, if any, have had the most influence on your work?
I think a lot about the work of Lorraine Hansberry and August Wilson as foundational for me in terms of voice and structure. I come back to Tracy Letts’s work over and over again. And I’ve been so compelled by the inventiveness of near contemporaries like Tarell Alvin McRaney and Jocelyn Bioh. “Choir Boy” (McRaney) and “School Girls” (Bioh), for instance, are treasures I can’t get enough of.
What was your inspiration to write “Time is on Our Side?”
I was asked to write a play about the history of South Philly. So often we understand history plays as rooted in the past and centering only straight people or white people, and my experience of history and of Philly is much different. I wanted to write a play about how history continues to live around us and we continue to make history by living.
What would you like audiences to take away from your play?
There’s a joy in the middle of this play that I hope that audiences feel from the stage and from within themselves.
“Time is On Our Side” will be performed by Perisphere Theater the Silver Spring Black Box Theatre, 8461 Colesville Rd, Silver Spring, MD 20910. It has a preview on August 12 and its official opening on August 13. It runs until August 28 with evening performances at 8 pm and matinees at 2 pm. Go to these links for further information and tickets.
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