Rounding out our #selfie series is the amazing Brandon L. (also one of the creators of podcast Her Fantasy Football) who brought in the firecracker play AMERICAN FOOTBALL. Jen B., like a cub reporter, fired off a few fast ones, and Brandon talked her love of football.
(Stay tuned for the next few weeks, when we’ll start bringing you interviews with our Acting Ensemble for our Fall Shorts Series!).
#selfies are an ongoing interview series where Lather, Rinse, Repeat playwrights interview one another. They have free reign over the questions. The interviewee must then post an actual selfie, for the sake of being meta.
JEN B. So we just heard your new play American Football: A Play. If I were to write a play about this particular sport I’d need to spend a year, maybe two, researching it before I could even start but it appears that football is in your blood. Growing up in a football family, how could you not write a play about America’s favorite past time (or is that baseball)? Anyway, football aside can you speak to the influence your family has had on your writing and your development as an artist?
BRANDON L. My father played football for the University of Colorado in the late 70’s. He has an Orange Bowl ring, and a ton of scars to prove it. He injured both his shoulders and his knee, so the going pro was not an option. And yes, he had three daughters. Our gender never really mattered in my house. Everyone was a woman, and then there was Dad, but we did everything together. We had just as many HotWheels as we had Barbies. I didn’t know there were girl or boy toys until I went to preschool. And football was our Sunday family time. My mother is still just as crazy about football as my Dad. You’d almost think she played college ball. We’d make a ton of food, watch all of the pre-game programming. We’d go crazy for our team (the Broncos) and then we’d watch the commentary afterwards and debate each play and whether or not the game was won or lost at that moment. Frankly, I’m a very analytical person and pretty decent at games because of this tradition.
My play is about the underbelly of the game intersecting with the insatiable hunger of the American media. American football is entirely an American sport (they play a couple games in London, which is ridiculous, but that’s a different topic) and the American media is a very specific byproduct of our American culture. On one hand we root for the underdog, and on the other we want to be on top. On one hand we claim to be inclusive and on another we make snap judgements based on bias. According to the FBI’s national arrest rates, NFL Players have a lower arrest rate (2.2%) than the general American population (4.2%). The NFL has a lower arrest rate than both baseball and basketball. Basketball has the highest with 5.1% of its players arrested. But over the summer Aaron Hernandez, Tight End for the New England Patriots, was arrested for murdering a man in Bristol, CT and is now being investigated for a double homicide a year prior. After spending a chunk of my time reading about that crime, I started looking into the variety of other big-time NFL arrests and the cover ups by coaches and other mentors. The whole secret society aspect of it all intrigued me. Almost 70% of NFL players are African-American, while only 13% of the coaches are of the same race. The NFL actually instigated the Rooney Rule requiring that each team must interview one minority candidate whenever a head coaching job is up for grabs and still of the 8 head coaching jobs available during the 2012 NFL season, none of the new hires were minorities. Of the 32 teams, 3 have African American coaches and one has a Hispanic coach. There seemed to be much deeper issues and stories within those percentages. This particular first draft- written in less than 48 hours – was really about my fleshing out this crime and the levels of deceit throughout the player and coach timeline in college and how that trickled over to the pros. Draft 2 will be about the characters and providing the motivations for those events. I look forward to delving into everything more fully.
Sorry, long answer. But it was the question about the play. I’ll keep the other answers short. Ha!
JEN B. Still on the football train here and the family train, I knew that you were starting a fantasy football podcast and website called Her Fantasy Football, what I did not realize was that you were running it with your two sisters which I think is amazing. As one of three girls myself can you talk about your relationship with your sisters and what it’s been like taking on such a grand endeavor with them?
BRANDON L. It’s been crazy. To be honest, it’s hard to even put into words. Building a website, creating profiles for the millions of social media sites, providing content and ideas… The list goes on and on. Luckily, my two sisters are amazing women because I could never do any of this without them. It’s been pretty great, but sometimes one or more of us will be tapped out for the week, completely overwhelmed. Then we just say, “Okay, let’s get off this call and move this conversation to email.” That usually works.
JEN B. I was on the Her Fantasy Football Facebook page earlier and saw that somebody had said they “admired your initiative.” I would also say that I admire your initiative but I would like to add that I equally admire your drive. Where does this fire come from, the desire to do and how do you sustain all of the many projects you’re involved in with such grace and humor?
BRANDON L. That’s kind of you. I’m not a fan of working full time at an investment bank, but that is my lot in life. I might as well do a good job. I’ve been an performer and/or playwright my whole existence, so I’m not even sure if that’s a choice. I just do. This lovely collective was born out of the idea that we needed to be a safe place to try out new work before submitting the play. It’s also a free way to provide deadlines for the generating of said work. And the podcast was a fun idea that turned into a side job, but I love it.
For those not familiar with fantasy football, it is basically the greatest role playing game of all time. We’ve met and been interviewed by a variety of fantasy football experts, and they are the same guys who had Dungeon and Dragons parties when we were kids. I went to those parties, so it all makes sense. You pick real players from real NFL teams to play on your fake team. You “manage” that team throughout the season by creating starting lineups that compete against other managers’ starting lineups and the goal is to have more points than the other person. Each week you face-off against another opponent. Then there is a playoff situation. It’s super intense, and so much fun! Even before this podcast I would create spreadsheets and graphs to better predict certain players’ performances. It’s the dorkiest thing ever.
JEN B. What’s one thing you’ve always wanted to do but have never done?
BRANDON L. Travel. I’ve been to France and Mexico, once each. Other than that, I’ve never been in a financial situation where that was an option. If I bumped into money, that would be my first move. Specifically, Egypt. I loved ancient Egyptian culture as a child.
JEN B. You’ve lived in several cities and have been in New York for a good many years now, are there other places that you might find yourself in down the road or is New York the final frontier?
BRANDON L. I have no idea. I lived in Colorado for 9 years, Nebraska for 9 years and Minnesota for 9 years. I’ve been in New York for 4 years, so we’ll see if I get kicked out five years from now. Anything is possible.
JEN B. What do you love most about being a playwright? How has it changed your life and the way you see yourself?
BRANDON L. I love that when something strikes me in a particular way I want to write about it. Sometimes I don’t even know how I feel about what I’m writing, or who the people are in the story. But as I write, certain aspects come to life and I learn. I’m a better editor than an initial writer. My first draft and my last draft are always very, very different. I have to get everything out before I can make any sense of it. As a performer, I would do the same. I would try everything at rehearsal. I’d be terrible, but I would discover every nook and cranny along the way, and in the end (most of the time) there would be so many extra layers that I never would have found if I had been too inhibited by what was “right.” That’s how I am as a person. I think outloud and I put it all out there. Then I reassess. It’s a blessing and a curse.
the glamorous football ladies