Multi-Mediums Writer Gary Goldstein Comments on His Teaching, His Chairing & His Latest Writing APRIL, MAY & JUNE

Gil Kaan

Writer, Registered Critic

Playwright Gary Goldstein will be world premiering his latest APRIL, MAY & JUNE at Theatre 40 March 16, 2017. Gary managed to make some time in between his writing, chairing and rehearsing for Better Lemons and myself to address his writing, chairing and rehearsing of APRIL, MAY & JUNE.
Thank you for agreeing to this interview. You write for three entertainment mediums: stage, film and television. What would your three-line pitch of your latest play APRIL, MAY & JUNE be?
 April, May and June – three very different, 40ish sisters, each born a year apart – convene to finish cleaning out their late mother’s Long Island house (the house they all grew up in decades ago).  But when they discover a major surprise about their mother tucked away among her remaining things, it makes them rethink their lifelong feelings about the mom they thought they knew–as well as their feelings about each other. 
What sparked the creation of APRIL, MAY & JUNE?
Honestly?  The title.  It just kind of came to me, had a nice ring to it, and I thought, “I need to write something with that title.”  Then I thought, “What great names for three sisters!” and decided they belonged in a play.  I figured out a meaningful story for the sisters from there.
Would  some of your friends and family members who attend a performance of APRIL, MAY & JUNE, see themselves in some of your characters?
I think most people will see one side or another of themselves – or someone they know – in these women. They’re a pretty relatable trio in, I hope, a very relatable situation.
How long has the gestation period of APRIL, MAY & JUNE been?
I finished the first draft about two-and-a-half years ago, worked on it more over time, then submitted it to Theatre 40 via my director, Terri Hanauer, last April.  The theatre picked it up for their 2016-17 season shortly after. More recently, once we were cast, we refined the script during read-throughs and rehearsals.
As the playwright, how involved were you in the casting and behind the scenes personnel of this Theatre 40 world premiere production?
Fully involved on the auditions, along with Terri and the play’s producer David Hunt Stafford, Theatre 40’s Artistic/Managing Director. Theatre 40 handled all behind-the-scenes personnel. 
Aside from the obvious advantages of multiple locations available to use in film and TV vs. stage, describe the challenges writing for theatre vs. writing for film or television.
Screenwriting relies a lot on “showing, not telling,” whereas writing plays is often more about “telling” because of the limits of how much you can actually “show.”  Given that, it’s important to avoid overusing exposition on stage to fill in the “visual gaps” and to find inventive, natural ways of relaying information.
Still, there’s a kind of freedom writing plays over screenplays, as play structure is not always as strictly defined as screen structure. Plays also offer more opportunity for verbal segues and tangents that can take the characters to some interesting places. You can also tell what might be considered a more intimate, personal story on stage than in many screenplays, which can make for a deeper, more emotionally rewarding writing experience.
Do you teach both writing for film and television in your screenwriting classes?
I primarily taught screenplay writing when I did my classes at Writers Boot Camp, which is a while ago now. But since then, I’ve done one-on-one consulting with writers working on structuring and writing everything from TV and film scripts to books and plays. There are similar kinds of character and storytelling threads that unite all the mediums.
In what situations do you think going for the laughs is more appropriate, is more effective, than going for the jugular? And what situations would you deem inappropriate?
Sometimes you can go for a laugh and go for the jugular at the same time. A laugh can often sell or temper a more aggressive, yet pertinent speech. It can leaven what might otherwise become an overly serious or melodramatic moment. 
I try to aim for humor that’s organic, that comes from an inherently funny or quirky or flawed character trait, rather than just a joke or one-liner for joke’s sake.  That said, there are definitely moments that demand humor and others in which humor has no place.  Sometimes less is more.
Do you find you need to be more PC in your subject matters now than when you first began writing in the 1990s?
Interesting question. By and large no, though I think it’s fair to say some words and concepts have become a bit more loaded over time, so I like to be thoughtful about my choices. Mostly, though, I try to just stay true to the moment.
You are the chair of the WGA’s LGBT Writers Committee. What attitude change towards LGBT content have you noticed since your writing beginnings?
It used to feel nichey, less mainstream, even “edgier” to include LGBT characters in a script, much less write one with LGBT leads or with an LGBT theme. Now?  LGBT characters are everywhere in everything and they’re often just there as “people,” not strictly because of their sexuality.  There’s also been a significant increase lately in the inclusion of trans characters, which is great.
Would you agree that plays with any LGBT characters in the 1980s and 1990s mainly dealt with AIDS or included the perquisite deaths of these characters?
Not sure I’d say mainly. AIDS definitely factored into many plays back then, but so did coming out and just “being” or adjusting to being LGBT. I had two plays on in LA in the 1990s, JUST MEN (1996) and PARENTAL DISCRETION (1999), neither of which dealt with AIDS. The latter play, in fact, involved two gay men considering starting a family, which was a bit ahead of the curve back then.
So, in this day and age, LGBT characters don’t all have to die or be villains, right?
Far from it, thankfully.
Which do you find more rewarding, making your audience laugh or making your audience cry?  
As a writer, it’s really gratifying to connect with an audience through laughter.  It’s like magic, in a way.  And funnily enough, you don’t always know where the big laughs are going to come from, which can be a great and thrilling surprise. Making people cry, evoking some kind of deep and relatable emotion, can be a trickier, even less predictable response, but an equally powerful, rewarding one. In APRIL, MAY & JUNE, I think we accomplish both.  We’ll see if audiences agree!
Any particular message you’d like the Theatre 40 audiences to leave with?
First and foremost, I want audiences to be moved, amused and entertained by the play. Beyond that, I hope viewers are inspired to go home and ask a parent or grandparent, aunt or uncle, whoever, any of the “big questions” they’ve always wanted to know before it’s too late.  Once a loved one is gone, certain answers go with them and sometimes all we’re left with is conjecture.  I’ve learned that the hard way. 
Thanks again, Gary! I look forward to meeting your three sisters!
For further info on APRIL, MAY & JUNE, ticket availability and schedule through April 16, 2017; log onto

Gil Kaan, a former Managing Editor of the now-defunct Genre magazine, has had the privilege of photographing and interviewing some major divas in his career, including Ann-Margret, Diana Ross, Faye Dunaway, Carol Channing, Shirley MacLaine, Catherine Deneuve, Liza Minnelli, Sandra Bernhard, Anna Nicole Smith, Margaret Cho, and three Catwomen—Eartha Kitt, Lee Meriwether and Julie Newmar. He had the fortuitous opportunity to conduct Lily Tomlin’s coming out interview. Gil has since reviewed movies and theatre for a number of local and national outlets.
A photo montage of Gil’s Halloween Carnavale photos through the last decade was recently included in the WeHo@ 25 juried exhibition.