Each month Brian James Polak (he/him) talks to playwrights about the things usually left unsaid. In conversations that dive into life’s muck, we learn what irks, agitates, motivates, inspires and—ultimately—what makes writers tick.
This month Brian talks to Mac Rogers (he/him), an award-winning audio dramatist and playwright. His podcast dramas Steal the Stars, The Message, and LifeAfter have been downloaded over 10 million times. He has also written for prominent fiction podcasts like the Truth, Tumanbay, Arden, and Alba Salix, and others. His stage plays include The Honeycomb Trilogy (a three-time New York Times Critic’s Pick), Universal Robots, Viral, and God of Obsidian, which was recently released in audio form through his production company Gideon Media.
Mac describes knowing from a very young age that writing was what he wanted to do, and that the TV show Doctor Who is what hooked him. “When I talk to other people, I realize how unusual I am,” Mac tells Brian. “I figured out what I wanted to do with my life incredibly young and have never changed my mind.”
Acting in children’s theatre and writing short stories eventually melded together into Mac’s writing for theatre, his focus through his undergraduate education at the University of North Carolina and the impetus for his moving to New York City after graduating. After several years of self-producing work with friends and colleagues, he a surprise breakthrough into the audio format when an old college buddy, Dan Kois, now a cultural editor for Slate.com, recommend Mac for an audio drama podcast when such a thing was still a relatively unknown format. This recommendation from Dan—whom Mac refers to as “a recurring guardian angel” in his life—set Rogers’s writing on a new trajectory of success.
His first audio projects proved to be a learning process when their popularity resulted in profitability for the corporate sponsors. That led him to launch Gideon Media with the collaborators he had been making work with since college. This led to another fortuitous turn: Rogers not only had the opportunity to write and produce his own work, he also got the chance to help produce the work of one of his writing heroes, Wallace Shawn, whose plays Grasses of a Thousand Colors and The Designated Mourner were released in June and July of this year (this podcast spoke to Shawn about this in June).
The episode can be found here.
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