The hilarious Melanie Maras tells us about writing solo shows, having her first play directed by Pulitzer Prize Winning Playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis and representing Indonesia in The Funniest Person in the World Contest.
InViolet: How do you identify in the theater world?
Melanie: Playwright! Solo performer. And lover of the theatre.
InViolet: Tell us about your journey as an InViolet. You are one of our original members! How have things changed since the early days?
Melanie: Oh my good Lord have mercy….that was many moons ago! I was so wild and young at InViolet’s inception — for me, it was a creative incubator for my buck wild ideas and behaviour. InViolet was a safe space for me to begin to grow up professionally.
InViolet: What’s your favorite InViolet memory?
Melanie: SO MANY. (A) Laughing so hard whilst on retreat with an InViolet homie that you want to just die because you feel you might never experience such mind-blowing joy ever again. (B) Watching the cast and crew of KISS ME ON THE MOUTH work on my words so tirelessly and breathe into them such beautiful life. (C) There was this solo show I had started to write in Los Angeles — it was the first time I had done anything like that. I had done storytelling before but this was something else entirely. It was deeply personal, very vulnerable, a huge leap for me to say these words out loud. To other people. In a public setting. I had done one very early reading of ten minutes of my solo show and after the reading someone who I valued at that time in my life basically told me that I was sick in the head and that my voice shouldn’t be heard. I believed them and completely abandoned my solo show after that. Half a year later, Bixby Elliot kept pushing me to bring my solo show to InViolet’s annual retreat. I resisted but Bixby is very persistent and so I brought the beginnings of this solo show to retreat and I was seriously, I was so scared. And I was paired with Mark Cirnigliaro as a director and he worked with me with such dignity and respect and compassion. And then I did my reading for the company and they sat in the audience and every single person there gave me so much love in that reading. They gave me strength. The way the company received my work renewed my faith in my voice and it propelled me forward. Every single person in that room believed that my voice had value. They believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself.
InViolet: Your play “Kiss Me on the Mouth” was InViolet’s 2nd World Premiere and directed by Pulitzer Prize Winner Stephen Adly Guirgis. What was that experience like for you?
Melanie: That experience was everything for me. The only thing I had written before that point were papers in high school and university and some really abominable poetry. It grew me into a writer. It was the beginning of the rest of my life. It was the very first turning point towards becoming the woman I was always meant to be.
InViolet: You were just representing Indonesia in the Funniest Person in the World Competition. Wow! Tell us all about it!
Melanie: I am very proud to be representing Indonesia in the semi-finals of the Laugh Factory’s Funniest Person in the World Competition! Of twenty semi-finalists there are only three women and I am the only woman in the top 5. In December I’ll be performing in the semi-finals in Helsinki! Apparently I still need to collect votes, so please go to www.funniestindonesian.com to login to indi.com and like, watch, and follow my video from there.
InViolet: Your pilot “Third World Royalty” is a Quarter-Finalist for Screen Craft’s 2016 Pilot Launch TV Script Contest. Congrats! Can you tell us about the pilot?
Melanie: Thank you! THIRD WORLD ROYALTY has gotten a lot of love this year. Outside of ScreenCraft it was also a semifinalist for Sundance’s Episodic Storytelling Lab and an Honorable Mention for the Tracking Board’s Launch Pad pilot competition. The pilot is based on my Indonesian-American family. Although it’s very specific to my culturally confused family, it’s a universal story about trying establish your independence from your family.
InViolet: What’s up next for you?
Melanie: I’m the subject of a new documentary by Abe Forman-Greenwald (filmingdocs.com) that follows my stand-up journey as an Indonesian-American comic. You can see a sneak peek here: twitter.com/FilmingDocs/status/781171994972651520
InViolet: If you were invited to the Presidential Inaugural Ball 2016 and could only bring one InViolet as your date, who would it be?
Melanie: Bixby Elliot. It is my dream to be at the Emmys with Bixby where we are both nominees and writing stupid notes to each other at our table and making lewd gestures at the other attendees whilst wearing our formal attire. The Presidential Inaugural Ball would be a close second. And Bixby loves Hillary (I’m manifesting this outcome). Also he looks fantastic in a tux.
Instagram & Twitter: @troublejones