'Hard Day's Night' Feel
"This is really a new play," says Gay.
"What we didn't want to do," says Jones, "is what is often done with Shakespeare: Jam it into some time period and then watch it fall apart about two-thirds of the way through. So we just went for it in our own way. You'll still recognize the general [Shakespearean] architecture of the show but there's also [elements of '60s fashion designer] Mary Quant's autobiography, and Beatles mythology along with 'Much Ado' all smashed together. It's like what rap artists do.
"I think of the Matthew Bourne dance pieces a little bit, too. There's a visual and aural storytelling component to it as well as an overall magical feel. We're also using [the 1964 Beatles' film, directed by Richard Lester] 'A Hard Day's Night' as a sort of template for it."
"There's a lot of irreverence in it," says Gay.
"And youth energy," says Jones. "There's a lot of bodies flying about. And we have dance numbers, too [choreographed by Monica Bill Barnes].
"There's kinetic energy and, like the film, it always walks a line of being bad, too out-of-control. It's hard to pull it off so it's not just a complete mess —- but it borders on it. But that's also Rolin's style. It's always teetering on that edge which is why it's so great."
'Weird' TV Career
Between "Jenny Chow," and last year's off-Broadway production of "The Jammer" —- about the roller derby, which Gay also directed —- Jones has carved out a career writing for television.
Jones, a Yale School of Drama grad, has written and/or produced such high-profile and highly-regarded series as "Weeds," "The United States of Tara," "Friday Night Lights" and "Boardwalk Empire." He will next be producer as well as writer for a new series being developed for AMC: "Knifeman," which begins filming later this year in England for broadcast in 2015.
"It's the first show that I've gotten the keys to," says Jones. "It's about a surgeon in 18th Century London. It's basically 'Bladerunner' without the sidewalks."
"I've been mucking around a bit," jokes Jones about his television career. "It's been great fun. And now I have a few more dollars in my pocket so I'm not worried about living check to check. But it's been a weird career.
"My theater stuff seems to have a stronger aesthetic to it but it's not really any different than the TV stuff. You just have to ask yourself what is the story about and what is the most interesting way to tell it, and then write really interesting scenes for really interesting actors, except now you have 50 hours to tell it instead of two or three. But plays are more difficult to write. Two hours is a lot harder than 60 hours in a weird way.
"I found out very quickly that I had an advantage coming from the theater in writing for television that other people didn't have. [For cable series, the studios] want people who can write really great scenes, not necessarily great plays, that's the thing. But playwrights can do that, too, so they have a competitive advantage, plus they've also worked with actors and directors."
As for his film version of "American Idiot" for Universal Studios, he expects to finish it by the end of March. (Michael Mayer, who staged the 2010 Broadway production, is attached as director for the film project.)
"The idea is to get it a little dirtier and a little nastier and translate it into visual terms," he says. "There's not going to be a lot of dialogue and it probably should be a little shorter, too. After that, it just takes it's 'movie time' in getting done."
THESE PAPER BULLET, now in previews, opens March 20, and continues through April 5 at the University Theatre, 222 York St., New Haven. Tickets are $20 for previews, and $57 to $98 for regular performances. Information: 203-432-1234 and www.yalerep.org.