Read about the great Bixby Elliot, co-founder and co-host of InViolet’s Second Monday Social. Watch him struggle with what to call himself in the theater world! Learn about his diabolical plan to break up a marriage! And discover why he’s purchasing a one-way ticket to Sweden and renaming himself Sven!
InViolet: How do you identify in the theater world?
Bixby: First, thanks for doing this with me. I really appreciate it. I am not very good at interviews, but let’s give this a whirl – shall we? This first one is easy. I’m a playwright. Ok. Wait. No. More than that. A writer – yep – let’s go with that. Theater is my passion, the thing that gets my motor going, but I also have worked on some TV projects and written a few screenplays. Yes. Writer. Ok. Now. Let’s hold on a beat. It might be more nuanced than that – I think I might identify as a collaborator. There is something about the way I am navigating the world lately that makes “writer” feel a bit limiting. I also consider myself a person that loves to work with other individuals to create and bring things to life – whether this is a play I have written OR working with writers and actors for The Brooklyn Generator or Second Monday Social with InViolet. Ok. Let’s go with “collaborator” – it might change but I will stop now. Um. This was supposed to be the easy question. Next.
InViolet: Tell us about your InViolet journey so far.
Bixby: Well, like all good things in my life, joining InViolet was a bit of an accident and a bit of lack of awareness of what was really going on. Several years ago I became friends with Melanie Maras (a founding member of InViolet). After a chance encounter on a street corner one afternoon we began a long love affair (that does NOT sound right). We were seeing a ton of each other when I was in LA working on something and she said “Hey Bixby do you want to go to an InViolet meeting” and I was like “sure”! So I went to a meeting and they read some of my pages and it was really fun. Then Melanie said, “Hey Bixby do you want to go to an InViolet retreat” and I was like “sure”! So I went to the retreat and had a blast and just really clicked with everyone. I met great people and great artists but I was not thinking this would lead to becoming a member – that hadn’t even entered my mind – really! Then I got a call saying Angela and Michael wanted to have coffee with me and they were like “Hey Bixby do you want to be an InViolet company member” and I remember being totally shocked and confused. I, of course, said YES! I am so glad I did, because InViolet has become a wonderful theatrical home for me in NYC. InViolet has produced workshops of my plays TREASURE ISLAND, FL and done a reading of my play BIRDS DO IT and, of course, they produced the NY premiere of SOMMERFUGL. I have also met amazing friends and collaborators in InViolet – people I know that I will know and work with for the rest of my life. I mean, what more could you ask for! Oh gosh this answer is soooo long. I told you that I was not good at this.
InViolet: You and the dreamy Marguerite Stimpson are the brains and beauty behind InViolet’s Second Monday Social. How has that whole process been for you? Oh, and did you plan to make out with Marguerite at our Valentine’s event ahead of time, or were you simply gripped by a sudden overwhelming passion in the moment?
Bixby: I have been planning to make out with Marguerite for years! Who wouldn’t want to make out with Marguerite Stimpson?!?! In fact, Valentine’s Day was supposed to be the first phase of my multi-phase plan to steal her away from her husband Gerry. #watchoutgerry Ok, back on topic. Second Monday Social has been an amazing experience and I love working with Marguerite to create this “thing” every month. It is this big mosh pit of creativity and community and energy that happens every second Monday of the month and it has really taken on a life of its own.
To tell you the truth I can’t really tell you when we decided to do this. I do know that Marguerite came up with the idea during our InViolet “Notes Day” where we talked and strategized about the future of the company. When she said it in the meeting I knew instantly that we, as a company, needed to do this. Then some point later we decided to make it happen. We just chatted and fleshed things out, looked at spaces (we were so lucky to land District Social which hosts us each month) and then we worked on it with Michael and Angela (co-artistic directors of InViolet) and then we launched last year. From the beginning it was a smash! In May 2017 it will be our 1-year anniversary and I can’t wait to see what the second year of second Mondays will bring! (um, that’s a tongue twister)
InViolet: InViolet produced the World Premiere of your play Sommerfugl last year, which told the story of Lili Elbe, the first person to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Tell us about the process of bringing that play to the stage. Do you have future hopes and plans for the play?
Bixby: Wow! What a great experience. Truly. It is a play that was such a challenge for me to write and a real departure for me…and to have InViolet take the risk to produce this piece and support the play was extremely powerful and I am so grateful. I got to work with incredible actors, one of my favorite directors in NYC (Stephen Bracket), the design team was OFF THE CHARTS and Angela and Michael and all of InViolet produced the heck out of it. I do hope the play will have a life outside of NYC – there are some theaters that are looking at it and a college has asked to see it (I would love a college theater program to tackle the show)!
InViolet: You and fellow member Erin Mallon are co-curators of The Brooklyn Generator, a collective of playwrights who “write new plays in less-than-30-days.” You are the BG Playwright of the Month for March! Word on the street is that you’re writing a “big gay love story.” How’s it going? When is the reading?
Bixby: Writing plays is hard! I am in that deep panic phase of the month. The deadline is looming large and the play is very small and I am wondering if I should purchase a one way ticket to Sweden and change my name to Sven and open a business selling Swedish Fish and just disappear from the face of the earth. That all seems easier than finishing this play! BUT I have the experience of having done this 4 times before and I have faith that I will finish and that I will get something out of me that I have been dying to express and that will be helpful no matter what!
I do have to make a plug for the Brooklyn Generator. It has been one of the great experiences of my life. I am so blessed to get to do this thing with the talented and wonderful Erin Mallon (my theater wife) and to help support writers in the creation of full-length plays. Yes, I get to write a play each season, but I also get to watch all these other writers create these amazing, brilliant, funny, moving plays in less than 30 days.
If you want to see more come check out my reading on Sunday March 26th at 4:30pm at Jimmy’s #43.
InViolet: You work at “The Google.” Are the stories of nap pods, unlimited free smoothies and constant scootering through the halls to be believed? But seriously Google is making lots of beautiful headlines these days for the way they constantly advocate for Human Rights. What’s it like spending time there?
Bixby: Working at Google has changed my life. Look, I don’t want a day job – but if I have to have one (and I do) I found the very best place to work. There are a ton of amazing things about working there (free food, nap pods, etc.) but all that pales in comparison to two things: 1) working side by side with people who are incredibly smart, generous, talented, dedicated and kind; working to make the world a better place in innumerable ways and 2) working for a company that takes action each and every day (in big and small ways) to create a world that is more open and tolerant and where diversity and equality are a number one priority. That stuff makes it a whole lot easier to go to work in the morning.
InViolet: Each year at our retreat, you wage war on your fellow members to claim the title of “World’s Best Stage Manager.” Time to fess up: are you actually an amazing stage manager or are you full of s%*#?
Bixby: Thank you for the opportunity to go on the record regarding this subject. For the record, I have won the BEST STAGE MANAGER AWARD at InViolet Retreats for 4 years running. I am an INCREDIBLE stage manager! Last year I started a mentoring program because I wanted to “give back” to the people that were unable to win the award due to my dominance. They are really growing as stage managers and I am proud of them. There are a lot of rumors about how I basically forced the company to start this award, there have been questions about the validity of my numerous awards, some have even called them “fake awards”. I want you to know that those are all LIES. Lies I tell you – brought on by the fake media! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to set the record straight.
InViolet: Do you have a favorite InViolet memory you can share?
Bixby: Oh. Gosh. There are too too many to pick one favorite moment. A few highlights – sneaking off to the gas station with Melanie Maras to use the wifi on my first InViolet retreat, hearing my play SOMMERFUGL read aloud by Peter, Aubyn, Bernardo and Michelle for the first time, sleeping with Mark Cirnigliaro and creating a safe space, playing that stupid weird crazy “drinking” game with Hunter, Andrew and Joe and realizing Joe might potentially be a convicted felon, surviving the benefit with Sam #BEST, the first SMS with Marguerite, giving Karina dating advice, discussing tropes in my work with Peter Graham (crystals, bi-sexuality and kewl), creating a writers group with Jen and Megan and falling in love with them, getting Sommerfugl up on its feet with Angela and feeling the exhaustion and pride of that, kicking generator ass with Erin and Jett being at retreat and singing for him, Bernardo offering to “take my place” during retreat….wow…I am realizing that InViolet has brought me so many incredible and wonderful memories (personal and artistic) over the years. Not to get too schmaltzy, but thanks for giving me a chance to take time and think about those all over again!
InViolet: What’s next for you?
Bixby: I have a reading of my brand new play, written in less than 30 days, IF ON A WINTER’S NIGHT at The Brooklyn Generator on Sunday March 26th at 4:30pm. The terrific Julie Kramer is directing and Kaaron Briscoe Minefee, Zach Fifer, Charlie O’Leary and Lori Vega will be acting in it (so lucky to have them join us!).
More info can be found HERE:
My play THE WHOLE SKY ALL DIAMONDS will have a reading at Jersey City Theater Center on April 13th.
More info can be found HERE:
In Atlanta, there is a reading of my play ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS A FAGGOT at OutFrontTheater on March 19th. This will be the first play in their new Spectrum Reading Series!
More info can be found HERE:
I am producing InViolet’s ONE NIGHT STAND – THE POST-IT PLAYS (part of our #InViolet InSolidarity project). That is on March 20th.
More info can be found HERE:
Second Monday Social (brought to you by InViolet Theater Company) happens every month. The next one is Monday April 10th and the deadline to submit writing is Thursday March 30th. Submit writing or join us as an actor! You will have a blast!
More info can be found HERE:
I also have some other things in the works that we will start to talk about very soon and it is super exciting and really fun. How is that for a tease?