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Columbus Makes Art Presents: Columbus Playwright Herb Brown

Sarah Bacha Sarah Bacha Columbus Makes Art Presents: Columbus Playwright Herb BrownActors Todd Covert, Christopher Storer and Steve Black in rehearsal of the world premiere of Henry Ford’s Model E. Photo by Sarah Mills Bacha.
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Intriguing Stories and His Latest Piece for the Stage

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Columbus resident Herb Brown, a former Ohio Supreme Court justice, is also a playwright and author. CATCO will produce his world premiere, Henry Ford’s Model E, April 19 – May 7. Other plays of his premiered at CATCO include The Final Table in 2015, You’re My Boy in 2005 and The Power of God, which premiered at the Shorts Festival 2002. We sat down with him to talk about writing plays and specifically why he loves writing for the theater.

Playwright Herb Brown with actor Todd Covert in rehearsal. Photo by Sarah Mills Bacha.

Playwright Herb Brown with actor Todd Covert in rehearsal. Photo by Sarah Mills Bacha.

Sarah: Why did you decide to become a writer?
Herb: It just sort of happened. As early as junior high, I wanted to be a sports writer – and I did so for the school paper, as well as the old Columbus Citizen (in my senior year) and the Newark Advocate (in college). I actually got paid for the Columbus Citizen stories – 50 bucks. I liked seeing my writing in print, and moved on from there to different types of writing.

Sarah: What is your favorite play or book? Why?
Herb: I can’t really pick one, but if forced, I’d go with A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh stories. They’re funny, worth thinking about, engaging and tightly written.

Sarah: You have written both plays and books. Which do you prefer?
Herb: I prefer plays by far. I love the collaborative aspect – with the actors, the director and all of the production crew. I feed on this, and think my work benefits.

Sarah: How do you come up with the ideas for your plays?
Herb: By getting intrigued by a situation, which seems like it would make a good story – either in a novel or a play. The intrigue could come from a life experience, something I’ve read, something that has happened to a friend or something that I’ve heard about. For example, I got the idea for Henry Ford and His Model E when I was reading about Henry Ford and discovered his cruel and complex relationship with his son, Edsel.

Sarah: How long does a play typically take to go from the first words on a page to completion?
Herb: This varies greatly. My first novel took about a year to complete. My first full-length play (You’re My Boy) was six years in the making. Not that this was the only thing I was working on during those six years.

Sarah: When you are not writing, what do you like to read?
Herb: Biography and non-fiction. I used to devour novels, but since I am no longer writing them, I find that excellent biographies and non-fiction works fill more time than I have available.

Herb Brown’s newest play, Henry Ford’s Model E, will have its world premiere tonight, April 19, produced by CATCO in Studio Two, Riffe Center, 77 S. High St. For tickets and additional show information, visit catcoistheatre.org.

Columbus Makes Art Presents is a bi-weekly column brought to you by the Greater Columbus Arts Council – supporting art and advancing culture in Columbus. The column is a project of the Art Makes Columbus campaign, telling the inspiring stories of the people and organizations who create Columbus art. Each column will be written by a different local arts organization to give you an insiders look at how #artmakescbus.

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