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Punk Grandpa: 10 Things To Know About The Show Before You Go (2016 FRIGID NEW YORK FESTIVAL)

by Karen Tortora-Lee on January 31, 2016

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Ten Questions. Ten Answers. And one Big Surprise in the audience …


Punk Grandpa

produced by Glitter Candy

Punk Grandpa is about one magical weekend 5 3/4 year old misfit Laura spent with her grandpa, portrayed through storytelling, dance, music and vintage family movies and photos. Grandpa was the most free, most inappropriate person Laura ever knew and this show portrays how he set Laura free to be herself through his humor and unpredictable, wild ways. It’ll put hair on your chest.

Show  Info:

  • Fri Feb 19, 2016 | 5:30PM
  • Sun Feb 21, 2016 | 3:30PM
  • Mon Feb 22, 2016 | 8:50PM
  • Tue Feb 23, 2016 | 7:10PM
  • Sun Feb 28, 2016 | 6:50PM
  • Sat Mar 05, 2016 | 3:50PM

UNDER St. Marks New York, NY $10/$12

Answers by Laura Force Scruggs
(playwright, producer)

1. Forget the PR version. When you’re talking to your friends, how do you explain this show to them?
Laura: It’s about being different and how my grandpa helped me to find myself (by showing how he really didn’t care what anyone thought) and to be okay with who I am: a freak and a fairy (for example: Tinkerbell). My brother told me, “You aren’t just a freak in the freakshow, you are the entire freakshow.”

2. Here’s a scenario: After the show some audience members go have a drink.  What’s the part of the show you hope they’re discussing?
Laura: I hope they’re discussing anything funny grandpa did, like pretending to communicate with spies through his hearing aids, playing in the high school band (since senior citizens could audit any class for free and he didn’t feel ready to play in a band with people his own age yet), or going to a Lost and Found and asking, “Did anyone turn in a black umbrella?” One of my top hopes for the show is for my grandpa’s legacy to be carried on, of how he found humor and spontaneity in the every day and had no fear. I aspire every day to possess the kind of freedom that he had, as my Uncle Jon says, the kind of freedom for which people would spend thousands of dollars for in therapy.

3. What drives your show – character, theme or plot?
Laura: I feel like the characters of grandpa and Laura drive the show, Laura feeling like she doesn’t fit in anywhere and grandpa helping her find herself by modeling that it’s okay to be herself by being his full-out unfiltered, spontaneous self and loving her unconditionally, while others around her don’t “get her.” The character of grandpa is always doing the unexpected, like telling other people at church who are bragging about their kids’ prestigious careers, “My kids are doing great, too. My son John, he lives in New York. He drives a big car, runs his own business. He’s a pimp. And, my daughter, Amy, she’s doing real well, too. She works for him!”

4. In rehearsals, read-thrus, or prior incarnations, what’s the one thing someone said about the show so far that made you (or the team) the most proud?
Laura: “It is simply put, perfect beauty.

Intersections of identity and vulnerability and honesty and history and family, executed by a very talented and special performer, coming together in a way that touched everyone’s hearts.

If you’ve ever felt different and admired the freedom that comes with just being true to that difference, no matter what other people think or say, go see it! Really.”

~Audience member at Chicago Fringe

5. If money and resources (and even reality) were no object what is the most lavish, luxurious, pointless prop, costume, effect – anything – that you would spend money on for this show?
Laura: A full big band orchestra, super over-sized objects in the dream sequence (like a donut bigger than me), lots of puppets, elves playing ice hockey in the freezer and more fairiness: a chorus of real fairies, an over-the-top fairy costume for the character of Laura with genuine fairy dust and a wand that could make wishes come true!

6. What’s the one thing you’re looking forward to regarding the FRIGID Festival itself?
Laura: I am really excited to see what a cast and director (who have never met my family) do with a show that I wrote based on my family (and originally as a one woman show), who are collaborating along with my production manager/stage manager/dramaturg, who is my cousin and shared the same punk grandpa with me. This is a New York premiere of the multiple character cast version of “Punk Grandpa” (it was first performed with multiple characters at Three Brothers Theatre in Waukegan); I’ve been performing it as a one woman show on and off for the past two years at various festivals throughout Chicago, Orlando, Indiana, Elgin and at the 2015 New York Planet Connections Theatre Festivity.

7. Is there a scene, a moment, a gesture … anything at all in the show that you anticipate may get a completely different reaction depending on the audience that night?
Laura: Grandpa yelling out of his car window at every lady we saw on the street, as he drove us around at exhilarating rates of speed, “Hey, pick you up in an hour!”


When grandpa was asked to take a fertility test at the doctor and was handed the cup, he said, “Oh, I thought someone was going to help me.”

8. What’s your favorite line from the show?
Laura: That’ll put hair on your chest.


If someone told grandpa no (including grandma), he just thought they needed more information.

9. What’s the last thing you usually do before the beginning of a show?
Laura: Pray and hug my husband really hard.

10. You scan the audience and you see a face that stops you dead in your tracks – who is it? And why are you shocked?
Laura: If Weird Al showed up, it would be astounding and magical, as he is someone who, like my grandpa, is unafraid to be himself.

I love Weird Al!  Wouldn’t it be great if he saw your show and was so inspired that he contributed a song to it?  Based on what you’ve told us, he’d have no shortage of material for a whole series of Grandpa songs!

The rest of you – don’t forget to check out Punk Grandpa.


Horse Trade Theater Group will present the 10th Annual FRIGID New York Festival at The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery) and UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place between 1st Avenue and Avenue A) February 16-March 6. All shows run 60 minutes, or less. Tickets are available for purchase in advance at  


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