Former St. Louis native Brian Hohlfeld currently enjoys his time in Los Angeles as a writer and producer for film and television, but still finds time for his hometown.
Hohlfeld is directing “A Perfect Analysis Given by a Parrot,” a one-act play for this year’s Tennessee Williams Festival in St. Louis. He first got involved through friend Carrie Houk, who is the executive artistic director of the festival. They had done theater work together before and Houk asked him to be involved. Hohlfeld has not directed for a long time, so that played into his decision to do it. He also wanted to be a part of what he think will be a long-running tradition.
“I jumped at the chance,” Hohlfeld says.
Hohlfeld was not familiar with the play before being offered the job, saying one-act plays are usually not well known.
The play, set at a dive bar in St. Louis, follows two proud members of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Sons of Mars, Flora and Bessie. The two women are traveling from Memphis for the annual convention. However, they wind up separated from the conventioneers and in a third rate bar. In that time the two women “find their tongues loosened and old memories stirred. As the evening progresses, the two frenemies assess each other’s lives and, in the process revealing a glimpse of the loneliness and longing underneath their ‘woo-girl’ demeanors,” according to the Tennessee Williams Festival website.
Hohlfeld thinks Williams is revered as a playwright because he speaks to not just the LGBTQ community, but anyone who feels like an outsider. He says Williams writes so well about the brutality of the world, yet the characters are so complex. His stories are about rooting for the underdog.
“He was that outsider looking in,” Hohlfeld says.
To Hohlfeld, one-act plays are difficult to put on because it is hard finding a “through line.” By that, he is saying that “A Perfect Analysis Given by a Parrot” is more of a character study than it is a story with a beginning, middle and end. But, he says Williams was always so good at crafting complex characters, that the audience could be engaged regardless.
Living in Los Angeles
Hohlfeld had been working in theater for a long time in St. Louis, including writing children’s plays. However, he was a fan of movies and wanted to be involved in that writing process. He moved to Los Angeles, Cali. and wrote many spec scripts.
Through his friend Ken Kwapis, he was able to get his first writing job with He Said, She Said, a romantic comedy starring Kevin Bacon, Sharon Stone and Nathan Lane.
Off the strength of that, he got involved with Disney, doing rewrites of The Mighty Ducks before being involved with the Winnie the Pooh franchise. He wrote the theatrical releases Piglet’s Big Movie and Pooh’s Heffalump Movie. He went on to work for Hasbro with the series Transformers: Rescue Bots. Hohlfeld did move back to St. Louis during his entertainment tenure in Los Angeles to teach film appreciation at Webster University.
“It’s really difficult, but if you are fortunate enough, like I have been, to be able to make a living out of it, it’s quite rewarding,” Hohlfeld says.
To Hohlfeld, one of his favorite things to do in all of the mediums is working with actors, something he has not done on the theater stage for a long time. He worked with voice actors on his film and television properties.
“I was sort of grateful for the opportunity to get to work with actors again on stage,” Hohlfeld says.
Hohlfeld will continue to come back to St. Louis even after the festival has wrapped. He says the St. Louis theater scene has changed a lot since he was last involved in it, but it is for the good.
“There a whole lot of new energy in it now than from when I was here,” Hohlfeld says. “It seems like it has really grown a lot, and I think that’s a good thing because I think the more that gets done, I think the bar gets raised a little more.”
“A Perfect Analysis of a Parrot” will be held in the Curtain Call Lounge at The Fabulous Fox Theatre on the remaining dates:
- Friday, May 13 at 6 p.m.
- Saturday, May 14 at 12:30 p.m. (matinee showing) and 8 p.m.
- Sunday, May 15 at 3:00 p.m. (matinee showing)
Tickets can be purchased at the twstl.org. V
By Bill Loellke