Wednesday, February 20, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 97


 
 









 

Epley finds creative outlet in playwriting

Curtain Call

Geronimo Rodriguez

UH instructor and award-winning playwright Edward Albee and members of his workshop have begun preparing for plays chosen for production.

The program will produce four plays that, upon completion, will be staged at the Stages Repertory Theatre.

One of the playwrights whose play was chosen has found writing as a second endeavor in life and hopes to continue improving his work with the assistance of
professionals such as Albee.

Richard Epley's play Trifecta is one of the plays in the making. While Epley said he's always aspired to write, he also knew there were other things to consider in life.

"I took a creative class as an undergraduate many years ago and I pushed it (writing) aside because you think you have to have practical considerations about starting a
business and starting a family," Epley said. "Then I found myself at a point in my life where I had the time to do it. My writing takes up about six hours a day now."

After teaching business at San Francisco State University for a few years, the 57-year-old has found owning his own business beneficial to his desire to write.

Epley, who holds a Ph.D. in business from Golden Gate University in San Francisco, now owns and manages TexKing Distribution LLC, a network business that sells
health care products.

"It's run by several key people, so it doesn't require my constant attention," Epley said.

After enrolling in screenwriting classes offered at Rice University last year and realizing his strengths and weaknesses, Epley's instructor told him he should write a play.

"I started looking around for instruction on how to write a play, and that's how I found out about the Albee workshop," Epley said.

Just as many other aspiring playwrights would do, Epley didn't hesitate to have Albee guide his work to improvement.

Albee, a renowned playwright, had left a lasting impression of his work with Epley many years earlier.

"In college, the first play that I saw presented as a movie was Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and I really enjoyed it," Epley said.

Wanting to work in a professional atmosphere where there was a record of accomplishments, Epley felt the workshop was an opportunity he shouldn't let pass.

"There are a lot of people who are teaching who haven't accomplished what they're trying to teach," Epley said. "I wanted somebody who had proven that he was
successful in that medium. I was frankly quite surprised that the University of Houston had landed him (Albee) and I thought that it was too good of a coincidence to pass
up."

The comedic Trifecta, which will be Epley's first play to be staged, follows a man who falls in love with three women.

"It's a screwball comedy, which means that women are in control of all the comedic action," he said.

Epley was influenced by the screwball comedy legendary directors Preston Sturges and Howard Hawks created with fast-paced dialogue in the 1930s and '40s.

"That's the flavor that I'm trying to come up with," he said.

The playwright is adamant about the genre he wants to explore.

"It seems that everything I start out with ends up with a comedic overtone," Epley said. "The thing about comedy is that it's a very pure art form because if the audience
laughs, you know it's funny, if they don't, it's not."

As far as future projects go, the writer said he simply hopes that, along with his ideas for other stories, Trifecta turns out well.

"First, I want to see how much rewrite is required for this play, and how much I learn in the process, but I've got ideas for dozens of projects," Epley said.

He also feels that his life's work benefits his writing endeavors, considering he began to take writing more seriously later on in life.

"The only possible advantage of being 57 years old is that you've lived a long life and you've seen a lot of things," he said. "You've done a lot of your research by just
living your life."
 
 
 

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