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Playwright Rich Orloff visits Greendale High School Theater Department

Playwright Rich Orloff talks with a group of students at Greendale High School on April 28. Several of the students will perform in the upcoming play, "Nothing Serious," which will feature 10 of Orloff’s plays.

Playwright Rich Orloff talks with a group of students at Greendale High School on April 28. Several of the students will perform in the upcoming play, "Nothing Serious," which will feature 10 of Orloff’s plays. Photo By Matt Unrau

May 6, 2014

Greendale — Playwright Rich Orloff spoke with Greendale High School students April 28 preceding the theater department's production of his plays.

Orloff, a Chicago native, is the author of 14 full-length plays, excluding dozens of other short and one-act plays. His book, "Funny As A Crutch," was a New York Times Critic's Pick in 2008.

"I read a lot of plays … and I encountered (Orloff's) plays over the years," said Eric Christiansen, Greendale High School's theater director. "I found his work to be very honest."

When Christiansen produced "Funny As A Crutch" through the theater department in 2011, he emailed Orloff with some questions regarding the work.

"Since then, we've had email correspondence … but I never thought I'd be able to get him visit," Christiansen said.

As luck would have it, Orloff had just finished a public reading series at the Clockwise Theatre in Waukegan and was available to visit the high school.

"Serendipity had as much to do with it as anything else," Orloff said. "Eric has been a fan of my work for a while, and when I heard the kids were making an evening of 10 short plays of mine … I made it work with my schedule."

"Nothing Serious" will feature 10 of Orloff's plays, spanning several collections by the playwright.

Impressed by Orloff's unpublished book, "Female Persuasion," Christiansen's advanced theater students chose to dedicate a whole evening to the author.

"I think Rich's subject matter is attractive to the kids because his humor is irreverent, and he pushes the envelope sometimes," Christiansen said. "I'm really excited about it."

Although Orloff will be unable to attend the high school's performances, he did speak with the theater students on April 28 about his plays and what it means to be a playwright.

"I am far from being famous, so when a school does one of my plays, it's because they must really like it," Orloff said. "I don't take that compliment lightly."

"Nothing Serious" will be held in the high school auditorium, located at 6801 Southway, on May 9 and 10 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets will be on sale for $5 at the door an hour before each performance. Christiansen advises parents that the plays will be "for a more mature audience."

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