An Interview with 'Barry Bianchi...' Playwright Worth Culver
Written by Liza Mitchell
Worth Culver submitted their concept Barry Bianchi: Baltimore’s Best Bail Bondsman An American Tragedy as project for a playwriting class while attending the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. Their professor suspected one of the students from the class would be chosen to participate in the New Voices program and Culver happened to write the winning script.
The comedy reads like a film script with the dialogue in place to help move the action on stage, the entirety of which takes place in the office of the title character. Bianchi addresses a variety of characters in a rapid-dialogue style that largely takes place in a narrative of one-sided phone conversations.
Barry Bianchi: Baltimore’s Best Bail Bondsman An American Tragedy introduces audience to the comedic interactions of the title character who espouses his theories on life and the nation in this dialogue-rich comedy. Cutting through the belly laughs and absurdity, Bianchi delivers a meditation on the state of manhood in a post-Regan America.
The entirety of the play is staged in Bianchi’s office and the action is propelled by the dialogue. “You are seeing the character acting physically as they would if no one is watching. Just reinforcing the dialogue and that individual physical humor on the part of everyone on stage at any given time is what I was going for in terms of mechanics,” notes Culver of their “everyman” lead character who undergoes a transformation as the story progresses.
“Barry Bianchi is the American man of yesterday. This play is set in the early 90’s in Baltimore and what I’m trying to present is the decline of this sort of patriarchal man and his role in his life and society. This play is a microcosm of that man being confronted by a world that isn’t propping him up anymore.”
Bianchi, as he exists as the beginning of the play is a stereotypical a man who knows who is and is proud of his ability to care for his mother and his family. Throughout the single-act play, his resolve is tested and his demeanor shifts to reveal a broken man. Culver creates a dynamic social commentary on the decline of everyman set in a decade they have no tangible experience.
Culver entered his piece without expectation and remained open throughout the development process. They are looking forward to opening night when they finally see their work come to life in front of an audience.
“Of course, this is on a much grander scale than what applies to me, but when Harper Lee was talking about the success of To Kill a Mockingbird, she said that she really wasn’t shocked or excited so as much as just numb because she couldn’t process how quickly everything became what it became,” they say.
“That’s sort of where I’ve been. I came in with absolutely no expectations. When they first called to tell me they were considering this I thought okay, maybe I made it to the top 20. That’s great but then when they said the narrowed down to the top five, I thought I can’t wait to see who actually gets it and I get to enjoy this cool event. And then when they chose me, I can’t even process it. I’m just starting to have that set in. I’m really enjoying the process and get feedback and talk about my work and my process. That’s something I’ve never really had before.”