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Q&A: Mark Roberts – Writer, “Where The Great Ones Run”

Q&A: Mark Roberts
Writer – “Where The Great Ones Run”
by Courtney Sudbrink, Editor

Mark Roberts is the Creator and Executive Producer of the television sitcom Mike and Molly on CBS. He worked for seven years on the top-rated CBS comedy, Two and a Half Men, rising to the level of executive producer. Other plays he has written include “Parasite Drag,” “Welcome to Tolono,” “Rantoul and Die,” and “Whitey.” This summer he’s also performing alongside Jessica Tuck in a revival of his one act comedy “Couples Counseling Killed Katie” which opens at The Elephant Theatre in Los Angeles June 9.

His latest  effort, a play entitled, Where The Great Ones Run, will include an award winning cast of actors led by Jeff Kober and music by The Far West. Based on his life growing up in the Midwest, Roberts tells the tale of Country Music Legend, Sonny Burl (Kober), who is returning to his hometown to play one last concert at the county fair, which ultimately finds him reconnecting with the wife he never divorced, the brother he abandoned, and the daughter he never knew.

What was your inspiration for the play?
This play is my way of saying good-bye to the small town I grew up in and to make peace with the fact that you really “can’t ever go home again.”

In what ways has your affinity towards Country Music influenced your own art? 
It’s given me a love of small, simple, human stories and an appreciation of succinct rural poetry.

How does the experience of writing for live theatre compare to your work in television? 
Television fills up my wallet and theater fills up my heart. (That’s country poetry right there)

How would you quantify the differences between life in the Midwest vs. your experiences in Los Angeles? 
In the Midwest people don’t want to talk about anything, play everything close to the vest.  You won’t even know they’re sick until you’re standing over their casket talking about how natural they look. In LA people will talk to you about damn near anything. Their marriage, how much money they make, the color of their bowel movements, doesn’t matter. And both can be equally annoying depending on what mood I’m in.

What does writing mean to you?
Emptying my heart and my head out on paper, so I can sleep better, wake up the next morning and empty them out again.

What is it about your work that you find most gratifying?
Making people laugh and making people cry.

What do you hope an audience will take away from watching the play? 
Follow your dreams.

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Where the Great Ones Run opens  May 26, 2012 at the Rogue Theatre (Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 3pm) and runs until July 8.  For reservations call: 855-585-5185 or visit www.roguemachinetheatre.com

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