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Thursday, January 12, 2012

A few questions with Johnny Drago

Johnny Drago
Johnny Drago is a writer, performer, and livestock enthusiast, whose play Kiss of the Vampire (Process Theatre Co.) recently won the Metropolitan Atlanta Theater Award for Best Original Work. Other local productions include Billy Budd: A Portrait in Seamen, Attack of the 6-Foot Vagina, and Buckhead is Burning. He’s currently at work on his first novel, as well as a one-man show titled The Community Theatre of Cruelty for the Atlanta Fringe Festival in May.

Drago's story, “What Have I Done to You That You Beat Me These Three Times?,” won first place in CL's 2012 Fiction Contest. We caught up with him to ask a few questions about his work.

Where did the idea for the story come from?

Well, I knew I wanted to write about friendship tested, and that I wanted it to feel somehow local and handmade. I knew I wanted to set it in some magical, parallel idea of the Old South. And I knew I wanted to strike a balance between the meditative qualities of Flannery O'Connor's work and the joyful, absurd chaos of my own. I have no idea where the donkey came from. He just showed up one day, already stomping.

Did you run into trouble working with "Math" as a theme?

The impulse to talk about nerds and calculators was definitely seductive, and I did have a few false starts at first. It helped, of course, that my understanding of the subject is extremely limited, and so I was left with very little to talk about in terms of specifics. You'll notice for example that, with one fantastical exception, the donkey himself is only able to count as far as three. Sadly, that's no mere coincidence.

What are you working on next?

I'm working on a novel right now, and a one-man show for the Atlanta Fringe Festival (atlantafringe.org) this May. The novel's about country music and immortality, and the Fringe piece is kind of a daffy account of my love/hate/inescapable relationship with the theatre, as filtered through the essays and manifestos of Antonin Artaud. I'll also be doing a performance/reading of some of my pseudo-pseudonymous erotic satire on January 25, as part of the Drive-By Theater Project. Oh, AND I get to compete in Write Club next week at PushPush! Eye of the tiger, y'all. Eye of the tiger... Wait, I mean donkey.

Catch Drago and the other fiction contest winners at the Fiction Contest party at Highland Ballroom tonight Thurs., Jan. 12 at 7 pm. More details.

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