The Kid Gets Into Pictures

With two new plays being produced this season by major New York off-Broadway companies -- and another soon to open in California -- the distinctive gay voice of Adam Bock has generated quite a buzz in contemporary theater circles. Now he's setting his sights on Hollywood



Bock's acute
sense of the "other" has been fed by his experience
growing up as an English-Canadian raised in French-speaking
Montreal. Still, it's his sexuality that has most
informed his interest in the outsider.
“It’s an immediate recognition when you are
gay," offers Bock, "that the world isn’t as the
dominant narrative says it is.” Of course, Bock
also had the good fortune of being taught by Pulitzer
Prize–winning playwright Paula Vogel (How I
Learned to Drive
) at Brown University in Providence.
“Paula is not afraid of breaking the way things
are done,” says Bock. “She asks you to
challenge the shape of the story. She said, 'If you change
the way a story is told, the content will change too.'

Bock tests her
theory quite literally in TheDrunken City, a comedy about six people in
their late 20s and early 30s. His script calls for the
set itself to shift balance, bringing different groups of
people -- including two gay men falling in love with
each other -- in and out of focus. “The world
tilts, and then the boys get into the center,” Bock
explains. “We have decided without thinking who gets
to be in the center, and when that is challenged there
are all these big fights.”

Vogel recalls
Bock as “writing wild and funny plays, plays with
enormous theatricality, vivid language, and a
fearlessness in embracing the strange.” When I
ask her about his evolution in The Receptionist --
written a decade after she first met him -- she adds,
“We’ve got a writer who understands human
manipulation and cruelty in an environment of
government-sponsored suppression, and in this current
stage he reminds me a great deal of Harold Pinter. I
think we should all be watching him.”

Tags: Theater