It takes courage to write about your own life for a play; it takes even more courage to play a character in it. That is what Catherine Schreiber is doing in Desperate Writers, a play she co-wrote with Joshua Grenrock, about the writing duo’s adventures of getting a script produced in Hollywood. The comedy begins previews May 16 at the Union Square Theater and will open June 6. Schreiber is a producer of The Scottsboro Boys, as well as the upcoming Broadway production of The King’s Speech, based on the Oscar-winning film. Maddie Corman (previously seen on Broadway in Next Fall) plays the role of Ashley, modeled after Schreiber. The actress and playwright sat down with Stage Rush to discuss the rehearsal process, the struggles of making it in the entertainment industry, and their other high-profile projects: Smash—a pilot for NBC, and King’s Speech.
How did the basis for this play come to you?
Catherine Schreiber: Joshua Grenrock and I met as actors years ago and then we started writing together. We had always wanted to write a script about our struggles. Everyone said don’t do it, but it was one of those scripts that we had to write. Everything in it is based on truth.
How much of the play is you?
CS: A lot of the play is me. Josh and I, we really wrote it for ourselves as Ashley and David. We couldn’t play those parts because by the time we did it, we would have been too old and it wouldn’t have been a comedy anymore, it would have been more of a tragedy. We played the producers instead. But a lot of my friends who hear the lines will recognize me.
Maddie, you play…
Maddie Corman: Catherine. [Laughs] I play Ashley.
What’s your character up to?
MC: When the play opens, it’s the day of the big [script] meeting and it’s finally supposed to happen. The company loves it; they can make this couple’s dream come true. I think the one thing that may not be autobiographical for Catherine—just because I want to save your marriage—in the play, the cowriters are also in love. Ashley is ready to get married and have a baby. Herboyfriend won’t take that next step until he gets his ducks in a row. I think a lot of people can relate to that feeling of, ‘Come on, it’s my time. I’m not asking for a favor. I’m ready to work hard and do what I was born to you.’ I can’t tell you how much I relate to the script. In rehearsal, I have shared my horror stories about jobs I have done where they’ve said, ‘OK, this pilot is going to series and you’re going to be in this.’ Read more