Worcester playwright hopes for success in debut
WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — As Matthew Cory of Worcester was writing his play “All Play and No Work,” he thought about some workplace scenarios that could have ended up much worse than they actually did.
Drawing on one of his experiences, Cory recalled attending a business meeting when a contact lens became inconveniently and quite painfully dislodged.
“I had to maintain appearances. No one knew anything was wrong,” Cory said. “I thought, ‘How much worse could that have been if I had tried to fix that during the meeting?’ ”
In one sequence during “All Play and No Work,” a woman at a business meeting is faced with a similar predicament, except that “she handles the situation in the worst possible way.”
“All Play and No Work,” which Cory described as a “a farce through and through with no redeeming message,” was scheduled to have its world premiere when Calliope Productions of Boylston planned to bring it to the stage for five performances beginning on June 12.
The play, which is Cory’s first, depicts an “ordinary day at the office” turning into “cutthroat chaos” when the boss announces he’ll be promoting one of his employees by the end of the day. The situation is compounded by the arrival of a foreign stranger, an IRS agent and a homeless person. Cory is directing the production, which has a cast of eight.
Dave Ludt, artistic director of Calliope Productions, said, “Anyone who has worked in an office will be able to identify all the office types.”
A best-case working scenario for Cory’s play would be that the comedy gets picked up by a theatrical publishing house and becomes available for other theaters to produce.
To achieve that, a play must first be produced and reviewed, Ludt said. Then, all being well, “Matt Cory can become the next Worcester-area legitimate published playwright.”
“My hope is that this is one of the plays that’s put on in community theaters around the country,” said Cory. “It’s just the sort of play that would be a good fit.”
Cory, who works at the UMass Memorial Medical Center, has a disclaimer that none of the characters in “All Play and No Work” are people in real life
“Nobody, because these situations are so out of control,” he said of the play’s unfolding chaos.
Cory, however, has lived through a real-life situation that did become far worse than he originally expected. It’s really the reason he decided to write a play.
Originally from Fitchburg, Cory, 39, said he had acted in community theater productions for many years and was also a stand-up comedian.
Two years ago, he was cast in the lead role for the Worcester County Light Opera Company production of “The 39 Steps,” a madcap theater adaptation of the famous spy novel by James Buchan and 1935 film by Alfred Hitchcock.
But he got sick before rehearsals, and then, after pushing himself, went down with what still seemed like a simple case of laryngitis. Unfortunately, things went out of control. First, Cory had to drop out of the production, being replaced at the last minute by the show’s director. Then came a diagnosis that Cory’s right vocal cords were permanently damaged.
Talking to Cory initially you wouldn’t know anything was wrong, but “my voice gives out very easily,” he said.
“My days of doing comedy and stand-up comedy are, to all intents and purposes, finished.”
The news was “pretty heartbreaking. There are so many jokes I wanted to tell. I thought, there’s got to be a way to get the humor out there.”
So Cory said he “turned it into something positive.” That is, he can still very much have a voice as a playwright. He went to work on “All Play and No Work.”
Cory said he tries out all his jokes on his wife, Cheryl. “She’s got a good filter.” Meanwhile, Ludt gave his support. Cory had been involved with Calliope shows as an actor for over 10 years.
“Matt and I would bemoan the fact that there are so few comedy farces to perform,” Ludt said.
Cory made revisions and refinements to his early drafts of “All Play and No Work” based in part on feedback from people at Calliope.
“The play has changed. It’s a tighter script,” Cory said.
Last June, a staged reading with sets and props was done in front of a live audience at the Calliope Theatre, with audience feedback and a Q&A.
Ludt said the response was “overwhelmingly positive” and so the decision was made to have an “official fully staged ‘world premiere.’ ”
“We’re ready for it,” Ludt added.
“He’s just been a phenomenal help,” Cory said of Ludt. And the cast for the production have “been sensational.They’ve really brought this to life and captured this pretty much as I imagined it.”
Cory is already working on a new play, another farce titled “Hugh’s Your Daddy.”
First things first. With the opening of “All Play and No Work” imminent, Cory said, “I don’t get nervous. I get excited, but not nervous.”
Asked about that again a little later, he acknowledged, “I suppose, oh sure. I’ll be a little nervous. But I think that this is going to be a real enjoyable experience for anyone who goes to see it — laugh out loud, and leave in a good mood.”