"In 1981 I thought, 'I'm going to write a play,'" said Mark McQuown
"If that doesn't happen, it could go to DVD," McQuown
But achieving what it has already puts "P.J." and McQuown
in rarefied air."More than 100,000 spec scripts are written every year," he
"Only 10,000 or so are submitted to an agency or producer or director.
Only about 600 are made in the U.S. every year.What are the chances of me having a film made?"
But, obviously, you have to live a life outside of your movie, and McQuown
has had a busy one in the theater arts.
has lived in Valencia since 1991 with his
wife, Lynn (a theater costumer).Their son Ian, 17, will be graduating from Hart High School
this year and is making his
own inroads into music and drama.Their daughter Erin, 12, is already listed on imdb.com for her
role in an independent feature.McQuown
also has an adult daughter, Megan, and adult son, Gaylen, from his
first marriage.McQuown was a staff member for The School of Theatre at Cal Arts for four years, and a faculty member for three years between 1991 - 1997.In 1997 he went a bit farther a field, and taught production management and stage management for the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.He
wife was a costumer at the Canyon Theatre Guild
for many years and - "It might be interesting to note that myself and another man built the Repertory East Theatre in Newhall from the old Dusey Dudes Laundromat.It took one year out of our lives when David Stears was the artistic director."
A scenic carpenter, art director, actor, production designer, writer and producer, McQuown
is currently directing Neil Simon's "Jake's Women" at Saddleback College
in Mission Viejo (with an April opening) - and also directing a professional production of David Mamet's "American Buffalo" in Hollywood.
recently co-directed the Hart High School theater production of "The Robber Bridegroom," in which his
son played the lead and his
daughter played a townsperson.His
wife was the costumer and McQuown
even designed the set.
...After the army, McQuown attended UCLA from 1971-1974, where he received a master of fine arts degree in directing.
"The program only accepts two applicants a year," he
said."It's one of the best theater schools in the western United States."
After pursuing theater in San Francisco and, later, Boulder, he
moved to New York City, trying to be a professional actor/director.He
spent 10 years there "not really making any headway."In 1981 he
was living across the street from the famous Studio 54 discotheque and "couldn't sleep because of the noise" - that's when the motivation to write a play finally took over.
"P.J." is the story of a man (P.J.) who wakes up in the psychiatric ward of a New York hospital with second and third-degree burns on his
hands and lower arms.He
can't remember who he
is or how he
As the play progresses, more and more bandages are removed as more and more of his
past life is revealed.As it turns out he
had saved a girl from a fiery car accident and the girl is in the same hospital, dying from her
survives, and P.J. believes he
was sent by God to save her
.The issue of whether he
was really sent by God, or is just deluded, is in play.
"It's a very intense, spiritual journey," McQuown
had retained his
connections to Colorado and the play won the first annual Colorado Playwright's Festival in Denver in 1984 and went on to win the Denver Theatre Critics Association's
Best New Play for all of Colorado that same year.In 1988 McQuown's own company in Boulder, The Sirius Theatre Company
, produced the play again.
The story of how the play became a movie is the story of decades passing, and is almost painful to hear - as is often the case in the movie business.Progressing by fits and starts, and re-written many times by McQuown
and others (not always to McQuown's liking), it had different directors attached to it at different times.
"It's so much about the money," McQuown
Regarding the struggle to get the movie made, and the years that have passed in the process, McQuown
said it was fortunate he
could earn a living by teaching.Currently he's looking for more work as an art director, stage director, screenwriter and playwright.
"Something for me has to happen very soon.But it could all change tomorrow," he
And what about the frustrations of the movie-making business?
"I scream a lot at the universe," he
added that you have to take the time to enjoy life and "see the incredible theater that goes on around us."
"P.J." will be screened at the Lamelle Theater
in Pasadena on July 25.Mark McQuown
can be reached at MarkMcQuown@ForeverMail.com.