Playwright Allan Knee, Tells Stories Through Time

 

Celebrated playwright, Allan Knee, a graduate of Yale Drama School and Columbia, takes us to places past in his beautiful period works that include The Man Who Was Peter Pan, the basis for the film and musical Finding Neverland.  Book for the outstanding Broadway musical, Little Women.  Syncopation (American Theater Critics Award winner) and The Jazz Age.  

His work allows us to travel to a time so different from ours, or is it?  Let’s ask Allan and find out.
 
You have such a gift for storytelling, Allan.  When did you know you wanted to be a playwright?

I wanted to be a playwright at birth.  No.  Nice idea though.    I always liked telling stories.   Used to get me in a lot of trouble.   Now I sometimes I get paid for it.   The theater was great to me from the first play I saw at 4: Arsenic and Old Lace.   It was all very real to me – and still is.

 
How did you gravitate to writing period musicals?  What is about writing in a time other than present day that attracts you?
 I like setting things in the past – because I can reflect on the modern sensibility more easily and fully.  It’s not about escape, but it’s about connecting.
 
What was the inspiration for The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit?

 I was inspired by A Christmas Carol ever since I saw the Alastair Sim’s film of the story.  It – he – blew me away.  I never thought at the time I’d ever write my sequel to it.  But when I discovered that Dickens had written a biography of the clown Joseph Grimaldi – I knew I had to write what I did.   I am so happy I did.   Nothing has touched me more than writing this story.  It combines my love for Dickens – with my belief in healing and journeys.

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On the Astonishing set sits a spot where Allan could have written this play in days of old.

I know you watch every performance!  What’s that like and what do you learn?
I learn more and more every night watching the performance.  And I love being at the theater.
 
Is there a message from olden days we can incorporate into modern times?  If so, what would you like audiences to take away?
If I have a message as a writer it would be – as Grimaldi says near the end of the show – ‘Love your clown.  Love him (or her) with all your heart and soul.’  
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