In the fall of 2002, Charlie Varon discussed the new performance form he and David Ford have devised.
QUESTION: How did you come up with this new way of creating theater?
CHARLIE: In the summer of 2001, I found myself artistically adrift. I asked Stephanie Weisman to book me for two weekends at The Marsh. The plan was, David Ford and I would create a show from scratch in ten days, and I'd perform whatever we came up with. I hoped it might give me the idea for my next play.
The process was the most intense and thrilling of my life. It was full of surprises. But perhaps the biggest one was that I didn't end up wanting to write a play. I wanted to keep working in this new form.
QUESTION: How long does it take to make SOUP?
CHARLIE: Last time, ten days. This time we're giving ourselves a month. But a short process, with a deadline, is good. It forces me to work intuitively. When I did plays, I'd take a couple of years on each, writing, honing, indulging my perfectionism. Now, in middle age, I'm becoming an imperfectionist!
QUESTION: What excites you about the form?
CHARLIE: It's utterly unpredictable! I begin with an idea, or a line, or a voice for a character. Then I start improvising, David asks questions, we go back and forth. We end up someplace I could never have imagined.
We keep doing this, until we have six or eight monologues. Then I go onstage, with absolutely no idea what an audience will make of it!
QUESTION: What did the audience make of it?
CHARLIE: People loved the form, the risk of it, all the topical stuff, the comedy, and the mix of pieces, from satire to storytelling. The fact that we came at them from so many different angles. So we extended the show, and recorded it, and now it's out on CD.