Daniel Carter Brown is the playwright of Honor the System, our first official New Works Series full-scale production. Previously, Dan has appeared on the Out of Box stage in such plays as The Credeaux Canvas and House of Yes. The world premiere of Honor the System opens November 11 and runs through November 20. Honor the System is a brand new comedy (written especially for Out of Box Theatre!) about five travelers who find themselves at a strange hotel that runs on the honor system. The travelers soon find that those who don't honor the system are punished, and they have a choice: simply behave, or discover the hotel's secret. The world premiere stars Matthew Busch, Ali Olhausen, Karen Ruetz, Jeffrey Sneed, and Melissa Bonnet Rainey; it is directed by Carolyn Choe. Tickets are available now at outofboxtheatre.com.
OOB: You are a bit of a triple threat. Which love came first: acting, directing, or writing?
DCB: The acting bug got me as a child. I always enjoyed the type of attention that came from storytelling through performance, whether that meant church plays, Cub Scout sketches, or re-enacting Disney movies for my parents and aunts and uncles. I directed for the first time in high school and loved it. I didn't consider myself a writer of anything other than spoofs until college. But now all three loves are equal. I could never pick one over another.
OOB: So how did you get started writing plays specifically?
DCB: Once I realized I was a writer, I found that I cared a lot more about writing dialogue than narration. So that's what I did. My first play was a one-act that was performed at my school (Lake Forest College) as a part of an annual student-written play festival.
OOB: We're so happy that you discovered that! When and how did you first become involved with Out of Box Theatre?
DCB: I first appeared in the program at OOB when my short play "The Powell Plot" was produced as part of the Playing In The Dark series. But it was at a time when I was completely booked-- I didn't even get to see the show! So my first involvement was as an actor, in The House of Yes as Marty.
OOB: Why did you want Out of Box to premiere your play?
DCB: I wrote the play with OOB's specific size and intimacy in mind! And I tend to do that with all my plays, to make them easily producible for theatres of all sizes and budgets.
OOB: So if Honor the System was written specifically with Out of Box in mind, so who or what was it that inspired that connection?
DCB: The House of Yes cast loved working together so much that I wanted to write a play for us all to act in together. Due to schedule conflicts and conflicts of interest, Matthew Busch is the only one playing the role which was written for him. But seeing different actors (all of whom I know from experience or reputation to be phenomenal) in roles that I'd tailored to someone else is going to be delightfully fascinating! As for the story itself, I wanted to write a pure comedy. I'm always interested in exploring morality and integrity. The idea for a hotel that runs on the honor system that mysteriously punishes abusers began as a metaphor for the "just desserts" system we like to believe in, and went where it wanted to go from there.
OOB: As our first full-scale New Works Series production, what are you most looking forward to in the play development process?
DCB: Having less to do with it and letting other creative minds run with it! My last play, Steal My Heart, was produced by New Origins Theatre Company, which is run by me. I've self-produced quite a bit. It's time to see my play in a situation where the only control I have is the words I wrote.
OOB: Thank you for allowing us that honor! So, what is it that you're most nervous about in the new works development process?
DCB: This one, being essentially a farce, has a lot of interdependent moments and elements. So it's very hard to tweak or cut anything without affecting something else. I'm very much hoping we don't find too many things that need to change.
OOB: With this exploration of morality and integrity you mentioned earlier, what do you think is a key piece of advice that people can take away from the show?
DCB: I don't want to force a moral into my fun romp about watching naughty people get what they deserve. But, you know, be good to people. Doing the right thing is sometimes reward enough. Test your limits and find out what you're capable of.
OOB: Anything people should know before they come see it?
DCB: Ryan (Matthew Busch's character) says some very vulgar things. Sorry to my family for that! Please still be proud of me!
OOB: Here's the bonus round- what's something about the play's creation that might be of interest to our readers?
DCB: The initial title was Bad Things to Bad People. The new title is better.
Tickets for Honor the System are available at outofboxtheatre.com.