Mixing experimental Marxist theater with Star Wars?
We're joined by playwright and all-around creative ANDY BOYD to discuss his play, THE TRADE FEDERATION, OR, LET'S EXPLORE GLOBALIZATION THROUGH THE STAR WARS PREQUELS.
A young experimental playwright named Andy Boyd pitches George Lucas his screenplay for a new Star Wars film. The concept: a prequel to the prequels that fleshes out the economic and social implications of the mysterious Trade Federation. Andy’s script is a full-on Marxist allegory where The Trade Federation is The International Monetary Fund, the Gungans are the Zapatistas, and the Jedi are an international community reluctant to push for any real structural change – the UN, basically. Lucas thinks the movie sounds really boring and unceremoniously kicks Andy out of his office. Then things really get weird.
This episode will be especially up your alley if leftist politics or leftist theater is your thing!
Both this play and more of Andy's work can be found at his website: https://www.andyjboyd.com/
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[00:00:00] Josh: Welcome to Trash Compactor. I'm Josh. And today I am joined by Mickey.
[00:00:06] Mickey: Hey, everyone.
[00:00:06] Josh: and Frey.
[00:00:08] Frey: Hello.
[00:00:09] Josh: Today we are gonna be talking about The Trade Federation or Let's Explore Globalization through the Star Wars Prequels, a play by Andy Boyd, who will be joining us in a moment. A lot of people these days, you often hear things like, why do you have to make things so political, or you should keep your politics out of Star Wars.
[00:00:27] And I have always been of the belief that politics is inherent in Star Wars. And I think a cheeky but very apt and very well done demonstration of this is, Mr. Boyd's play that we're gonna be talking about today. So, I'd like to introduce andy Boyd and welcome him to Trash Compactor.
[00:00:46] Andy Boyd: Sure. Thanks for having me. I'm very excited to talk about the play.
[00:00:50] Josh: So Andy you're, a playwright, based out of Brooklyn. You're a podcaster.
[00:00:54] Andy Boyd: I also, um, uh, write songs and I, I make little cartoons, which I host on my Instagram page. Those are my main, my main, uh, media.
[00:01:03] Josh: So you're an overall, just around creative guy. I can get behind that. I admire that very much.
[00:01:07] Um, so if you could do the horrible, horrible thing of, could you tell us what your play The Trade Federation or Let's Talk About Globalization Through the Star Wars Prequels is about? The log line. You might say.
[00:01:19] Andy Boyd: Sure. Yeah. So, to give a little backstory on how I wrote the play, I was in grad school. The point of grad school is to write a lot. And, I came across some article, I think it was in the AV Club that was like making fun of the prequels, you know, in advance of some new Star War thing. And one of the things they said about it was like, it's so dumb how much time they spend talking about trade negotiations.
[00:01:43] And I was sort of like, wait, do they? That sounds great to me. I mean, I think that I, I remember Episode One being like a huge disappointment, but if they spend a lot of time talking about trade negotiations, maybe, maybe it would've, uh, grown on me by now. Um, so I went back and I checked it out and, and I kind of discovered that the problem with it wasn't that they talk about it too much, but they talk about trade negotiations too vaguely.
[00:02:06] Josh: Exactly! Exact, sorry. you're really speaking my language right now, so I couldn't help it.,
[00:02:10] Andy Boyd: Specificity is the soul of narrative, and there's just not a lot of specificity in those, uh, you know, boardrooms on top of starship, uh, scenes in the, in the prequel movies.
[00:02:20] But I basically was like, well, what if that actually was the movie? You know, what, if there was actually, you know, a, a movie about Star Wars that actually was about the trade negotiations and was about the economy of Star Wars and like the balance of power between the different intergalactic, uh, economies and stuff like that.
[00:02:38] Uh, and so, you know, it's kind of like this silly idea I had and then, you know, what really kind of cracked it open for me was the idea that like, what's funny to me about it is I keep telling people about this idea and they keep telling me that it's a dumb idea. And so I should put that in the play.
[00:02:53] We'd had somebody come into our class named Brandon Jacob Jenkins, who's a fantastic playwright. And he said, you know, when you're having a problem writing, give the play the problem. And so the problem was that everybody thought this was a bad idea and they thought it sounded boring. And so I kind of made it a play about me, pitching this script to George Lucas, uh, that is, you know, eventually becomes known as, The Trade Federation: A Star Wars Story. Uh, and he doesn't like it and he throws me out of his office and then chaos ensues after that. Um, so that was kind of the, this sort of, meta-theatrical concede of the play.
[00:03:25] It jumps back and forth between kind of the pitch meeting and the kind of scenes within my script. And it was also, you know, I was taking like screenwriting classes, uh, in the film department. Um, and I found them mostly like pretty boring. And I found the film people mostly pretty boring and like sort of only interested in craft and some director would come in and it'd be like, this is the film that I made that is, you know, about me and my brother and the horrible abuse we suffered in our childhood in Cambodia.
[00:03:51] And then all the questions would be like, what size lens did you use and what was your budget and stuff? So part of this is like me. You know, I don't live in LA. I live in New York. I'm not trying particularly hard to break into screenwriting, but this is sort of like an alternate reality version of me where I am trying to, you know, make it, uh, in LA as a screenwriter, despite having like all the same interests and limitations that I do in my real life, which is just, I just wanna write, you know, super communist agitprop theater all day, every day.
[00:04:21] And I want that to be my full-time job, which you're starting to maybe see the source of some of my difficulty.
[00:04:27] Josh: Well, you're doing it very well. I don't know about the making a living part, but, um, were you a Star Wars fan before you wrote this? Did you consider yourself a Star Wars fan? There was some dialogue to that effect in the play, but I wasn't sure how true to life it.
[00:04:43] Andy Boyd: Yeah. So I was born in 1991, which means that when Episode One came out in 1999, I was like seven or eight years old, which is the best, the best
[00:04:52] Josh: The perfect age, the
[00:04:53] Andy Boyd: for that film. You know, I was like basically the same age that Anakin is in the film and I'd already seen, my dad had like, made sure that I'd seen, you know, the original trilogy before that.
[00:05:03] And like, I remember we had, we had like a book that my dad would like read me before bed. And it had all the names , from Episode One, but it hadn't come out yet. So he was like, I don't know "Quee-Kwon?" Is that, is that close? Uh, and then we sort of found out the same thing happened with Harry Potter where it's like, oh, it's not "Hermy-Own," you know?
[00:05:19] So yeah, I was, I was really into Star Wars as a kid. I I'm I'm now, you know, I still see all the movies, but I don't, like, keep track a lot with the sort of extended universe and, you know, the video games and all of that stuff. But you know, I feel like Star Wars is one of the like franchises where it's like, yeah, I mean, I've seen what at this point, 14 or 15 Star Wars films.
[00:05:40] So I'm not a huge fan. , you know, I've only spent cumulative days watching these films. Um, and you know, many of them I've seen multiple times and stuff, but yeah, I would say I'm like a, I like a high to medium Star Wars fan, but not like a knows everything about all the canon. There was nothing that I felt I knew about Star Wars that got erased in the re-canonization process that made me mad.
[00:06:02] So that's the level of, if that gives you a sense? Yes.
[00:06:05] Josh: Yeah, no, no. That gives me a perfect sense.
[00:06:08] Frey: Well, so the first production was, uh, Columbia university. Right. And then you this, according to the notes and the print version, and then there was, uh, two, like at least a couple like workshop productions. Um, I was curious, like, what is the, what is, uh, the like original version look like versus now? Was the, uh, pitch part, like put in, in some of those work workshop productions, or
[00:06:27] was that from being,
[00:06:28] Andy Boyd: Yeah, that was in the original production. It's not a whole lot different actually. , I mean, I made some, you know, some changes that felt significant to me, but if you read the version that was originally stage at Columbia and you read this version, it's recognizably the same play there weren't huge structural overhauls or anything like that.
[00:06:43] I think the main reason we did so many workshops was like, not so much that, like, I felt like the play needed a lot of work as like I would send three or four plays to a director, they'd be like, oh, let's do that Star Wars one, you know? So, um, You know, I'm not complaining. I, it's definitely found more of an audience than anything else I've ever written.
[00:07:00] And I hope that that leads them to check out my other stuff. But yeah, it's definitely been the one that people have been most excited to get their hands on. And, and, you know, when opportunities to get my work in front of an audience present themselves, whether it's a kind of stage reading or a fall production, I tend to say yes.
[00:07:16] And so, and, and those workshops were helpful. I mean, I don't wanna say that they were just, but I think somebody said something once to me, that I think is like very important for playwriting and probably other forms of art too, which is like, whenever you're doing a, like, Workshop process, you know, there's like three possible goals that you can have.
[00:07:33] And one is like, basically auditioning your play for a theater or an artistic director. And another one is like working on the play, you know, as a, as part of your writing process. And the third is like, you wanna do a show, but you don't have enough money or time to do the full production. And a lot of them were sort of number three, which was, which was a lot of fun.
[00:07:51] And it gave me a chance to like work with a bunch of different actors and try out some stuff. And, um, there's a, there's a moment of in audience interaction at the end. And man, a great way to liven up a stage reading is to give, give your audience something, to throw stuff at. Uh, it really, really gets the blood pump.
[00:08:08] Mickey: I, I have a question about that. In terms of, I don't know anything about plays I guess, playwriting or anything. In terms of like doing like political, you know, Marxist playwriting, is that a thing? Is that like a community?
[00:08:19] Is there a lot of that going on? And then like, I'm kind of curious is like, is that whole an audience participation? Is that like, part of it? Is that kind of, is there a political bent to that, either just you uniquely or if that's something part of a movement? To me, it seems like it is, to me, I can imagine something in the sixties in Paris, like people doing like, oh yes, if you do a play, if you do a Maoist play and you're not introducing the audience, you're, you're a bourgeois.
[00:08:41] Andy Boyd: Yeah, I dunno about audience ation specifically, but certainly like, there is a tradition in leftwing theater of acknowledging the audience, you know, uh, I mean, whether that's in Brecht or Piscator or San Francisco mime troupe or whatever, like there's not usually much of a fourth wall and I think that's true in a lot of my work that it's, you know, addressing the audience either explicitly or implicitly
[00:09:04] As far as like a community there's there are definitely some. My buddy Aeneas Sagar Hempel is a great example. My friend Haleh Roshan is, is an anarchist, uh, but you know, a comrade, I would say. Uh, so, you know, there's a, there's a small hearty group, uh, another friend of mine, Willie Johnson, and I, co-host a reading series in Brooklyn where we try to program as much kind of left wing theater as we can. So yeah, there's some, and there's certainly a tradition, you know, there's certainly like a well established, like lineage that I feel like my stuff is kind of, you know, in conversation with, from, you know, starting with people like that, like Brecht and 60s street theater and stuff like that, but going into, you know, Caryl Churchill and Tony Kushner and Wallace Shawn and stuff like that.
[00:09:46] So, you know, I, I don't feel... totally lonely. And, and if I ever get tenure, I'm gonna, I'm gonna teach like a, like a Marxist theater class and you know, one day.
[00:09:56] Josh: Wallace Shawn, Grand Nagus Zek of the Ferengi.
[00:09:59] Mickey: Yeah, I guess that, that would be about my extent of knowledge of, uh, yeah. Left-wing theater is Wallace Shawn. Uh, I, cuz I would say, I don't think
[00:10:07] there's like really any, at least within the last 30 years, like any filmmaking like that's truly, you know, from a true leftwing perspective, certainly not in TV or anything.
[00:10:17] So as I'm wondering if there's, if it's almost like the one bastion you have as like a, a writer in that, you know, in a performative space to actually do something like this.
[00:10:25] Andy Boyd: Yeah, it's a, it's a, it's a low budget enough art form that you don't need, you know, hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it, which certainly helps, you know, when you don't need capital, then it's easier to avoid capital the other, you know.
[00:10:39] Josh: That makes a lot of sense. And I think that shapes, that fact actually shapes a lot of the political or ideological flavor of what we do see like, the biggest movie in a long time is, is Top Gun: Maverick. And off the top of my head, I don't know what the budget of that was.
[00:10:56] I'm sure it was probably in the neighborhood of $300 million. Right. And, it's very interesting because it seems to me as far as like Hollywood is concerned, that's like a politically neutral movie. Right. Um, when in reality, it's actually a very ideological movie.
[00:11:16] Andy Boyd: And I'm sure the I'm sure the military had a direct hand in like, you know, I'm sure there
[00:11:21] Josh: Yeah, but
[00:11:22] Andy Boyd: the air
[00:11:22] Mickey: yeah, you don't get that equipment without what, what I enjoyed about it though, is that when I, when I saw it with, with all my Labor Council, uh, bros we still enjoyed it. Um, they had a Air Force ad in front of it before this Navy movie played, which I felt was like that to be something going on there.
[00:11:37] Little, little jab.
[00:11:40] Josh: That's funny now. No, yeah. Which to be clear, like , my singling out of Top Gun: Maverick is not to say that it's not a good movie that you shouldn't be allowed to enjoy, because if your criteria for enjoying a work of art or a movie was that you had to agree with it's ideological underpinnings, like you would literally not be able to watch or read or enjoy anything. But so, because we are, talking about the politics, the play is essentially about the IMF, the International Monetary Fund and sort of the neoliberalization of the world, after the end of the Cold War. Could you sort of explain for maybe someone who's not versed in the politics like what this is a parable about? Like what happened?
[00:12:25] Andy Boyd: Yeah, yeah. So this is, my caveat on this is like, I am essentially a comic playwright and not an economist or
[00:12:32] Josh: Understood, understood.
[00:12:34] Andy Boyd: But I also think it's important to say, uh, this shit is not as complicated as they want us to believe, you know, and it's important that we make a good effort to try to understand how like international finance works.
[00:12:44] So the IMF is one of the Bretton Woods Institutions, which was founded at a conference shortly after World War II, along with the World Bank.
[00:12:51] And so what the international monetary fund does is they lend money to countries that are going through financial difficulties. Then they get paid that money back, ideally. There are also all these conditions that are tacked onto these loans, you know, so it'll be like, okay, we'll give you this emergency bailout, but you have to privatize your energy system.
[00:13:14] You have to introduce competition in your postal service. You have to, you know, introduce, privatization in your healthcare system. You have to loosen water regulations, you have to open up to foreign investment.
[00:13:25] So it does become, you know, some have argued a vessel for U.S. imperial interests and a way for us to say, okay, if this country doesn't want to allow our companies to invest there and to, you know, extract their resources and, the labor power of their citizenry, you know, let's just wait around until they get felled by one of their periodic crises that capitalism depends on.
[00:13:48] And then we will help them, you know, in, in big, scary air quotes, we'll help them out with this, loan with a punishing interest rate and with all of these other, things tacked onto it. Oftentimes these prescriptions that they say are going to help stabilize the economy actually make things worse, kind of increase the, the tailspin, that they're already in, and just kind of generally fucks it up for generations.
[00:14:10] There was a movement in the 1990s. That was largely focused against the world bank and the IMF, uh, which was the anti-globalization Movement, or sometimes called the Just Globalization Movement, which had some real successes.
[00:14:22] And really what brought them back from the precipice, was the European debt crisis.
[00:14:26] And, you know, part of this too, that's really awful, I think is that. It takes these important economic decisions out of the hands of the elected governments of these countries and into this sort of shadowy international, which, you know, at best, weakens people's faith in the democratic process.
[00:14:46] And it worst fuels, antisemitic and racist conspiracy theories that, you know, the global economy is run by a shadowy cabal. Because it is run by a shadowy cabal. It's just actually, it's called the IMF and we know who they are and, you know, they have speaking engagements and you know, there's no, there's no hidden conspiracy. There's just an open conspiracy, you know,
[00:15:05] People have a sense, like people who don't know this stuff have a sense of like, you know, it seems like everything's outside of our control and no matter who I vote for the same policies get passed. And it's like, well, there's a reason for that, you know, which is that these multinational, organizations like the IMF and the World Bank have a lot of power and can constrain governments, in various ways.
[00:15:24] I'm sure part of, a lot of that was wrong, but that's, you know,
[00:15:27] Frey: Well, as like you stated all very clearly, but it's impressive. How like, even more simply and elegantly the play , kind of illustrates all of this. It's very accessible,
[00:15:36] Andy Boyd: Right. So in the play, the Trade Federation is the IMF. That's the, that's the allegory, the Trade Federation is the IMF. And, you know, Naboo is the developing world, basically, and I even say that at one point, you know, the Andy character, is like, and remember for this part, it's really important to remember that the IMF is the Trade Federation.
[00:15:54] The Trade Federation is the IMF. So there's a little bit of that, you know, uh, I don't know, Adam Ruins Everything or John Oliver style, just like I'm going to hit you over the head with it. And that's part of the joke, but also it's, I'm doing it because I think it's important. And I want you to know it.
[00:16:09] like, I want you to leave the theater, having some actual sense of how the IMF works and why it's bad and why, you know, you should mock people who go work for it after they graduate from Harvard or whatever.
[00:16:19] I also wanna say there's a sing along where I essentially tried to set a, a modern version of the Internationale to the, melody from the Star Wars theme song. So if that, it all sounds appealing to you, you know,
[00:16:31] Mickey: I will say I tried, I tried to do it in my head and I couldn't, I couldn't make it work myself. I'll have to see it in person at some point.
[00:16:37] Andy Boyd: know, I realize at a certain point that there are things that I think are in the melody that other people don't think are the melody. So that's part of the issue there.
[00:16:44] Josh: I love how you portrayed George Lucas. Because one of the things that drives me absolutely up the wall, as I alluded to in the opening is when, people complain about how, you know, a new iteration of Star Wars, how they're making it political. Right. When in reality, you know, George Lucas has literally said Star Wars, his original Star Wars trilogy was, was about Vietnam.
[00:17:09] And the Rebels were the Viet Cong and the Empire was the United States military. Uh, the emperor was Nixon. It's not a coincidence that his throne room on the Death Star is shaped like an oval. It's a very political movie.
[00:17:24] I don't know how you can make a movie that has to do with, you know, rebels fighting fascists. And not have it, like inherently there's a politics that's kind of at work there, even in the most facile depiction of it.
[00:17:38] Andy Boyd: Who's the empire motherfucker, you know, that's what I wanna ask when people complain.
[00:17:41] Josh: Yeah. Right so, the conceit of the play, as you said, is you are trying to convince George Lucas to make this very fleshed out version of the Trade Federation dealing with Naboo and really get into the nitty gritty of the economics of it all, et cetera, et cetera.
[00:17:58] And he kind of rejects you out of hand. But then what I loved was he seeks you out at the end and it turns out no, no, no, you're exactly right. That, that was the movie I was trying to make, but I couldn't talk about it in the office because the Disney suits have ears and there are microphones and stuff.
[00:18:14] The idea that, you know, I do think that a lot of what you're talking about, the politics in the actual Episode One movie and the prequels, I think those are really there, but they're just so muddled , that it doesn't come through and setting aside you know, aesthetic judgements about the quality of the writing or the filmmaking.
[00:18:36] I have to wonder if a part of that is not kind of the politics of George Lucas himself, I think are muddled as they are for many liberals, right? Like, like I
[00:18:50] Andy Boyd: think
[00:18:50] that's true. Yeah. I mean, making a shit ton of money will do a number on your politics. I think, I think George Lucas in 77 is like absolutely a comrade and by 1999, I'm like, uh, I think he's maybe, maybe not so much.
[00:19:02] Mickey: I, I feel like in 77, I feel like he's a, you know, I, I think Nixon did something to even the liberal brain back then, and the Vietnam War, that even someone who is like a liberal, liberal now back then was still like, well, like, you know, like the CIA's evil, you know, because like all that stuff also came out too, like about Operation Chaos and everything.
[00:19:22] And even, I think the most, just any Democrat was like, you know, the president's evil, the war's evil, you know? And so I, I think, I mean, like, because Lucas did have
[00:19:31] Andy Boyd: He's a child of the sixties, for sure.
[00:19:32] Mickey: did have some statements
[00:19:33] Josh: He's a child
[00:19:34] of The sixties, right?
[00:19:36] Mickey: Yeah.
[00:19:36] Josh: I have no idea of what I'm saying is actually true, but it seems to me, he's a capitalist he's just against greed. And you have a line in your play, that I think sums it up. Qui-Gon says "I'm confused. Capitalism is supposed to be democratic." Padme says, " that's what the capitalists say, but in practice capitalism often paves the way for fascists and dictators and the Trade Federation is fine with that.
[00:19:57] They actually prefer a dictatorship that does what they want over a democracy that doesn't." And what George Lucas, what I think his politics are is that we have to be good, responsible capitalists. Otherwise we turn into fascists. We have to be nice capitalists. I think the argument that I think is not unique to him, I think it's actually very common, you know, is that the problem isn't the system inherently. The problem is that we have, deregulated and taken off the guardrails and, and allowed it to, kind of devolve into this,
[00:20:30] Andy Boyd: crony capitalism or whatever you wanna
[00:20:32] Josh: crony capitalism or right. Yeah.
[00:20:34] Andy Boyd: Yeah, which I think is fucking wrong. Yeah. I think that's wrong. Um, if, if I may, um, you
[00:20:39] Josh: yeah, no,
[00:20:40] Andy Boyd: let's just imagine, let's imagine that you had, you know, a, a multinational corporation that was run by an AI and, you know, in the AI had a prime directive and the prime directive of the AI was to maximize shareholder value.
[00:20:54] Like what would they do? Like they would, they would, you know, they would pay R and D people to create more efficient processes for doing whatever it is they do. But they would also like try to smash unions. They would try to lower wages, you know, they would offshore production to places with, you know, uh, uh, cheaper, uh, environmental regulations, you know, uh, you know, and they, and then.
[00:21:15] Sure it's, the rules are bad and we need to change the rules, but like they would also lobby to make the rules in the United States, more similar to what the rules are like in some place like Bangladesh, you know, they, they would, they would do all of the things that like, even if they had no, even if they're like, you know, a sort of like robot level one, AI that has no feelings and like can't experience, you know, greed, like the fact that what you do as a CEO is maximize shareholder value and that's literally the job and that people can actually get, if you're a CEO and you decide to do things that don't maximize shareholder value, for some other reason, you can actually get sued because that's the job, you know?
[00:21:53] And so it's like, yeah, sure. Greed, I don't know. I mean, are, is Jeff Bezos a greedy man? Like I'm sure. But if he wore a robot, he would be doing the exact same stuff that he's doing now. So I just feel like the question of whether they're greedy or not. You know, it almost sort of reminds me of like, when people are like, well, it's this, you know, race, fading, politician, really a racist, or they just doing it for votes.
[00:22:12] It's like at a certain point, it doesn't fucking matter. Let's Occam's Razor the thing like we don't, that's not a necessary component of the explanation so we can just
[00:22:20] Mickey: Yeah. I mean, if you're talking about like, you know, when you're talking about it in like Marxism sense, there is no crony capitalism. It is just, there is a, there's a scientific process that you have capitalism and it leads to late stage capitalism. And there isn't there isn't different types of capitalism there isn't crony.
[00:22:32] It's just literally like, no, this is what it does. And this is what we will do. And this is what it will lead to.
[00:22:37] Josh: So what I think, George Lucas' thesis, such as it is with the Star Wars prequels is he's trying to make a warning about what can happen so we will avoid it. But, but I think the, um, the naivete there is that it doesn't occur to him that it's, a function of the system to always have the same end result.
[00:22:57] Andy Boyd: Right. And the, and that's and the, the sort of the, the the allegory, I doesn't really map onto the reality in that, because I think there's, I mean, again, all this trade Federation stuff in the actual movies is very vague, confusing, but like, there seems to be something where like the Sith have corrupted the Trade Federation, et cetera.
[00:23:15] You know, when, like, for me, like I think, and I think that sort of what I do in my version of it is I'm like, no, no, no, the problem is the Trade Federation. Like the problem is capitalism. The problem isn't like the, you know, these evil people, like it's like, that's what, you know, that's, that's the enemy.
[00:23:30] It's, it's,
[00:23:31] Josh: well, I think the idea is that because the Trade Federation is, profits above all that they can be taken advantage of, right? Like, that the greed, the profits before people is weaponized by the evil people, the power hungry and the mad, not that they're not inherently evil themselves. but that, when that's your primary concern, it's very easy for a fascist, dictator to take over. I agree that that is very, muddled in the movies themselves.
[00:24:04] Like, like one of the things that I didn't even realize until like a year or two ago when I happened to rewatch The Phantom menace, was that a part of the table setting of the movie is that the Republic is sort of, you know, where the us was in the nineties. Right?
[00:24:20] Like, it's, it's just on the precipice of it all is about to fall apart. And one of the ways that I think George Lucas is actually trying to say something very provocative.
[00:24:31] but nobody realizes this, the fact that the Trade Federation, a private corporation has representation in a Senate, the Galactic Senate, he's saying, look how bad it is. A corporation has its own Senator. Right? But that goes over everyone's heads.
[00:24:47] I feel like, that's actually like kind of a radical thing to be saying in a multimillion dollar, summer tent pole blockbuster movie.
[00:24:54] Andy Boyd: Right. That that is explicitly pitched as a, you know, a, a significant step on the road to fascism. Yeah. I mean, you know, his politics remain better than most people who
[00:25:04] get to make a big sci-fi epic, but yeah, I mean, for sure. I, I think that's, I think that's absolutely true. I mean, I have my character in the play calls The Phantom Menace the great film of the anti globalization movement.
[00:25:15] And I think there is a little bit of that to that, I mean, you know, there's, that, that was a big, that was a big fear, you know, that corporations were becoming sort of quasi governments and, I think he's reflecting just like he does in the seventies. I think he is reflecting his times.
[00:25:27] I mean, you know, that's, that's kind of the process of... Working through this play and writing it and, you know, doing the different productions of it is like, I kind of buy it at this point. Like I kind of just think I'm right. And like actually Phantom Menace is, is the great film of the anti globalization movement. You know, I just, I think that he must have been, I mean, you know, just like,
[00:25:46] I'll just read the part. So, yeah. Um, it says the fundamentalist came out in 1999, the same years as the WTO writes in Chicago, the Argentine economic crisis, the inauguration of Hugo Chavez the publication of No Logo. It's the great film of the anti globalization movement. You'd have to be an idiot not to see the connections.
[00:26:03] And I'm kinda like, you know what? There are a lot
[00:26:05] Mickey: I like the idea of like Lucas it's like it wasn't, it's not the technology thing that made him come back to Star Wars. He was like sitting down, he watched the Battle in Seattle. He picked up some Naomi Klein and he is like, oh shit, I gotta get back at it. World needs new Star Wars now.
[00:26:18] Andy Boyd: The world needs me. Yeah, absolutely. For sure. And you know, I mean, who are the Gungans? I think the Gungans are third world resistance
[00:26:26] Mickey: the pink
[00:26:27] Andy Boyd: And so, you know, the idea that like the way that yeah, the way they fight back is, you know, the, the urban bourgeoisie links up with the, the guerillas in the mountains. I mean, you know, that's classic Third Worldism that's, that's great.
[00:26:38] Except he's a monarchist. I mean, obviously, you know, what are you gonna do? But I think it's an elected Monarch or something like that. Isn't
[00:26:43] Josh: yes. Yes. It's an elected Monarch. Yes, yes, it's just an honorific apparently, because it's a fairytale, you have to do a head nod to the fairytale iconography, right. And terminology,
[00:26:56] Andy Boyd: And I think now she's, canonically a Disney princess, so that's good for her.
[00:26:59] Josh: Well, yeah, I mean, Disney owns her, she was a Queen and Leia was a princess. So, so she's a Disney princess.
[00:27:06] Andy Boyd: This is, yeah, this is like a big, you know, not to go off on too much of a tangent, but like, this is where the two sides of my personality are really at war because I'm like, it sucks so much that one corporation owns so much of the IP of like all of our beloved childhood memories, but also like all those like X-Mens, Star Wars, crossover comics from the eighties, like, are we gonna get that movie at some point?
[00:27:27] Are we gonna see like Cyclops duke it out with Mace Windu or something? Like, cause I'd, I'd see it. I mean, you know, just spend that out there. I'll write it if you want me to Disney, but I would definitely see it.
[00:27:36] Josh: no, I know that, that I find is, uh, the two parts of my brain that are also at, at war with itself. I like enjoy love a lot of the stuff that they're doing. It's, it's, it's sort of the no ethical consumption under capitalism thing, I guess,
[00:27:50] Andy Boyd: Yeah. this is also part of this, the political strategy of the no of the anti globalization movement that Naomi Klein talks about in No Logo is like, you know, just saying like, you actually don't get to just, you know, pollute the visual space of our entire culture with your branding,
[00:28:06] without us also getting to fuck with your branding. Like if you're going to, you know, literally colonize our minds, then like actually, we do own the Coca-Cola logo because it's like part of our subconscious. So, you know, you don't just, you don't get to keep it anymore.
[00:28:21] And Like Star Wars for me is like, Greek mythology or it's like, the history of plays Shakespeare or anything. It's this like giant sprawling epic that I can't imagine the world without. And so the idea that just like one company gets to decide what to do with that?
[00:28:34] That sucks, you know? And like, I haven't been sued yet. And I think I probably have a decent, like fair use parody argument, but like mostly my argument is like, fuck you, man. Like, you don't get to have sole ownership of this thing that like.
[00:28:48] They didn't create alone. I mean, you know, all of these sort of like franchises, the fans create them as much as the creators do and ideas that come from fan fiction, like find their way back into the property. It's so it's totally this, like this cycle and just pretending like, it's this one way stream where they just, you know, kind of shower down on us, like benevolent gods.
[00:29:08] It's like, it doesn't actually work that way. And I refuse to pretend that it does. And so I'm going to like write, you know, my jokes about Yoda having a stacked stock portfolio. I think that's my right.
[00:29:20] Frey: Or a beneficent cancer, as uh, George says your play. I like that phrase "beneficent cancer."
[00:29:26] Andy Boyd: Yeah. What's that? What's that line? So this is part before the kind of face turn of George Lucas, where maybe I'll just read that part. So basically, you know, he's talking about Star Wars is just a brand.
[00:29:36] What are you talking about with all this political subtext? Uh, you totally have it wrong. And my character says, are you kidding me? You wrote the original trilogy as a metaphor about Vietnam. The rebels were standing for the VC. Don't you see that so-called free market globalization. It's just a rebranding of the imperialism you criticized in the original trilogy.
[00:29:52] I mean, hello. The bad guys are literally called the Empire. And then George Lucas gives this, uh, rather lengthy monologue where he says, honestly, no, I don't. As financial barriers fall between countries, we will unite the whole world in a shared vision of progress through enterprise of free elections and free press and free markets.
[00:30:09] We no longer have to treat capitalism like something we've found sticking to the bottom of our shoe. We can celebrate the initiative of small business owners like Joe McIntyre, who I met in names, Iowa. Joe's an executive at a ma and pop petrochemical conglomerate. Right now his company is liberating the oppressed oil from the tar sands of Canada and bringing freedom to the natural gas of North Dakota. People like Joe, the gas man are the innovators, the job creators and the income generators that keep this great country humming. Even today. Some people feel that the American experiment has been a failure.
[00:30:37] You can't stand up for freedom at every turn. Can you to which we answer? Yes, we can see say pray day she day woman NA what's in the best interest of America is in the best interest of the world. We will spread freedom like a wonderful beneficent cancer until soon it spreads even without our prompting.
[00:30:53] A new revolution is spreading across the world. Not a bloody revolution like in those bad dark days of old, but a new peaceful revolution led by nice white people in nice suits and clean cut minorities who also wear suits and cool tech billionaires who wear sneakers and jeans, but who also own very nice suits for special occasions, a revolution that will lift all boats with a common tide, a tide, like the one that brought the Arabella to Massachusetts and like that tide, it will vastly improve the lives of low income people in minority throughout the globe by bringing them hot new products like beads, blankets, and sneakers. Just to give, just to give the audience a taste of they're in
[00:31:26] Mickey: for.
[00:31:26] I feel like that's all for.
[00:31:27] Feel like that scene hit different the
[00:31:28] second time reading, knowing that like Disney has the bug in the thing, it's just like George Lucas under duress he's like blinking, SOS
[00:31:36] Andy Boyd: right?
[00:31:37] Josh: Yeah,
[00:31:38] Frey: His hair
[00:31:39] Mickey: like, I like that too. Like, that was the idea too, of
[00:31:40] Josh: I
[00:31:41] Mickey: of like, you know, Disney has bought, you know, Lucas and Star Wars.
[00:31:44] Like that sounds like something that you'd like ride the carousel of progress. And that would be the propaganda fed to you.
[00:31:50] Andy Boyd: Yeah. Yeah. They've not only bought, you know, the intellectual property and cuz obviously George Lucas has no, you know, has no day to day say in running Star Wars anymore. And yet he's the person I'm pitching it to cuz it's more fun to pitch to George Lucas than whoever. Um, so yeah, in my version, in my sort of alternate universe, not only did they buy Star Wars, but they sort of literally bought George Lucas and they can, they can say and do whatever they want.
[00:32:17] Josh: Well, no, but I mean, that also allows you to give him a very lovely character arc that, like I kept, I kept changing wildly my opinion of this version of the George Lucas character. And I was constantly moving back and forth until by the end where I was like, oh, I knew it, George. I knew it.
[00:32:36] I knew you were still this guy. I knew this is who you really were.
[00:32:40] Frey: And then it goes smack paranoia.
[00:32:42] Andy Boyd: Yeah, one of my, um, professors in grad school named Kelly Stewart talks about how, people, you know, almost like their bodies can be like taken over by language. And, that was kind of what I was trying to do in this is like, is like this discourse is so, you know, hegemonic at this point, this kind of neoliberal pablum that it really becomes like a, like a, a virus or like a brain worms or something like it, it
[00:33:06] Josh: Yeah. Like an animating force. It like changes you, your demeanor and how yeah, no, that's yeah. that's actually very fascinating.
[00:33:12] Um, do you think Star Wars is inherently left wing or right wing?
[00:33:18] Andy Boyd: Yeah, I don't think it's, I mean, I don't think, I don't think it's inherently any one thing. I think, you know, I think we could obviously imagine like a very, you know, fascist version of, of Star Wars. And certainly, you know, the last of the most recent prequels. I found pretty disappointing in the way that it sort of like jettisoned all of the subversive content of the previous movie and like just totally sidelined several beloved, like characters who were, played by people of color.
[00:33:43] I think like that totally sucks. But I do think
[00:33:45] like, You know, it's basically a, a movie about a rag tag, bunch of outsiders attacking the system, attacking the powerful, you know, I think, you know, it's like when people always say like, even like AOC will say this sometimes, like it's not about left or right.
[00:33:58] It's about the people on the bottom versus the people on top. And it's like, well, that's what left and right means, you know, like what the job of the left is to like fight for the disempowered against the powerful. And that's kind of what Star Wars is about. So, you know, I don't think it's inherently one thing or another, but I think it leans left for sure. I think it's easier to make a, left-wing Star Wars movie than it is to make a right-wing Star Wars movie.
[00:34:19] Mickey: I mean, my whole thing is Star Wars is pastiche, you know, in the end of like he's deconstructing westerns, you know, samurai movies, mysticism. And I think then its politics are built in the same manner, that's, it's also a pastiche of the politics that come from probably all those forms too.
[00:34:34] I, I mean, you know, definitely to me, like, I, you know, I read Akira Kurosawa as vaguely on the left. So maybe it's almost something where it's just like, again, yeah. The idea of like, you know, it's like the band of outsiders, like he, you know, like his influence from the Kurosawa films that, you know, you could read as Kurosawa kinda having that too. So it it's, it's like built in, but not purposeful, maybe.
[00:34:52] Andy Boyd: And, you know, if we wanna get real, like woo woo with it, like, the whole idea of the Force as this like life force that connects everybody, you know, like that's solidarity, right. Or at least that's like a metaphysics that lends itself to solidarity in the way that like, I think there's always, even in like Christianity, I think there's always like a, a, a sort of,
[00:35:11] potential for a left wing interpretation, just based on the, kind of the fact of everybody being equal before God. And I think similarly in Star Wars, like the fact that everybody is connected to the Force, kind of means that, you have to care about other people in some ways, you know, just the idea of like some kind of numinous mystic connection.
[00:35:27] I think, I think sort of nudges you towards the left, I would say,
[00:35:31] Josh: I would agree with that too. And that's why it kind of rubs me the wrong way when certain of the films try to make one's, force potential, more linked to like, Genes and bloodlines and, and heritage, which,
[00:35:45] Andy Boyd: Midi-chlorians, which are the tiny bugs that create Force or whatever. Ugh. So
[00:35:49] Josh: Yeah, the way that I choose to read that, look, I have a lot of head canon because I, for better or worse, like I'm a good Star Wars fan that I came up in a time where it was very difficult for me to process the things about the Star Wars prequels that were, um, disappointing. Shall we say? And as I mentioned earlier, I think a lot of good stuff is there. It's just muddled. And like, you sort of have to do the work in your head to take it the extra step for it to work. And I like to believe, I like to believe that the introduction of the Midi-chlorians is sort of further evidence that the Jedi, similar to the Republic, have kind of started to lose their way where they are quantifying this, metaphysical force they are trying to, impose some sort of measurability, some sort of way to quantify it.
[00:36:43] Andy Boyd: Instrumental rationality or something. Yeah.
[00:36:45] Josh: Yeah. That's my head canon I don't think it's right, but,
[00:36:48] Andy Boyd: I think it's, I think that rules though, Josh, I I'd say go with that.
[00:36:51] I had a, I think like all great. All, all, all of the good young nerds. I had a, a nerd older cousin, uh, cousin, Chris, who let me read all of his back issues of X-Men and Spider-Man and . Stuff. This is a very memorable moment for me when I was maybe like, you know, 10 or 11, and we were talking about the clone saga in Spider-Man and I, he just sort of like, uh, yeah, you don't need to worry about the clone saga. That's not canon.
[00:37:16] And I was like, well, well, how do you decide whether something's canon? And he's like, oh, it's not cannon. Cuz it sucks. So
[00:37:23] it seems like you have a more sophisticated understanding of this process than my cousin, Chris, but that's kind of always been my it's like, uh, that's bad.
[00:37:29] So I'm just gonna pretend it didn't happen.
[00:37:32] Josh: I interviewed one of the moderators at Wookieepedia which is the Star Wars Wiki, which you may have consulted, I'm assuming, during the writing of your play.
[00:37:41] Andy Boyd: I did. Yeah. Just for like local color. Yeah.
[00:37:44] Josh: Yeah, of course, of course.
[00:37:45] Andy Boyd: the slave on the Wookiee planet Kashyyyk is canon
[00:37:49] Josh: right.
[00:37:50] Andy Boyd: Hm.
[00:37:50] Josh: um, no, but like, we talk a lot about, uh, the concept of canon and continuity on this podcast. Like, I don't really have a lot of time for an over concern of Canon, I think like you can do anything as long as it, doesn't break the story. Right. so, if you change something or you do something or you, you allude to something that actually happened in a different way, in that novel or in that other movie, as long as it's not something so clearly different that, that everyone in the audience is gonna go, huh?
[00:38:22] What? Then? You're probably fine. is
[00:38:24] Andy Boyd: Yeah,
[00:38:25] Josh: It's like the folk memory, like whatever someone can be reasonably expected to remember while they're watching it, as long as what the movie is presenting jives with that, think you're fine.
[00:38:36] Andy Boyd: Yeah. And I, I, I think for me, it's like, it's about the emotional truth of it rather than the literal truth. Like, you know, like, I feel like I, I I've been enjoying the new Obi-Wan Kenobi series and I feel like it's like, yeah, this, this is kind of what I imagine him to have been like in the years before, the first movie that he's like hanging out in the desert as a weirdo and like occasionally gets called upon to do Jedi shit.
[00:38:57] And like, that makes sense to me. And so it doesn't bother me that like, the fact that he's still going by the last name Kenobi, which is like, you know, obviously very, a very stupid thing to be doing. Like that doesn't bother me. Like, I, I clock it, but then I just sort of throw it out the window because it's like, and also like with the prequels, I'll say.
[00:39:14] This is less true of episode one, but on two and three, like George Lucas was working on the script while they were building the sets. So the dramaturgy is not always completely airtight. Like he was, these were not, these are not 30th drafts. Right.
[00:39:25] Josh: so no, no, no. You are 100% correct. George Lucas's filmmaking process, I think as a writer, this is sort of anathema. Like we have a hard time wrapping our heads around this, but for George Lucas, his process of making movies and the prequels in particular was not the normal.
[00:39:43] You write a script, you nail the script and you move on to this. You move on. It's sort of one thing that's happening sort of altogether in there are different phases. So the design and concept work is feeding the creation of the story. He starts with, he knows generally like a bunch of things that he wants to have happen.
[00:40:03] He has some ideas for sequences. He goes to the art department and says, see what you can come up with for like, a pod race or whatever, for like, you know, like a, like a Star Wars version of the chariot race from Ben Hur. Right. He knows he wants that.
[00:40:17] Frey: Just think about it for a little bit.
[00:40:19] Josh: Yes, Right, exactly.
[00:40:20] Exactly. Is that a, magic reference?
[00:40:23] Frey: From, yeah. Yeah.
[00:40:25] Andy Boyd: I will, I will also say, yeah, sorry, just quick side by like, I think the pod racing scene fucking rules. I think it's so good. I think it goes super hard. I think it's really fun. I think the fact that it's like a, a radio announcer who like, sounds just like Casey Kasem like that rules. I think it's really good.
[00:40:41] Frey: If you wanna give George Lucas a break on the midi-chlorians thing, that seems like it could be the kind of thing, when a filmmaker does a sequel and they, for some reason, field didn't need to explain something from a previous movie in this case, a prequel, but it kind of reminds me of like, uh, um, like in Halloween 2 when John Carpenter didn't really wanna make that movie.
[00:40:58] So I think he just got, I, I think he says he just got drunk and like wrote the script in a night, but then he decided to make Michael Myers and Laurie Short's siblings, which is kind of in my mind ruins the entire thing. It's just like something that you didn't need to add into a sequel or prequel, but it's just like, maybe I should explain the force a little bit more.
[00:41:15] you know, it's kinda like
[00:41:16] Andy Boyd: wanted, yeah, sorry.
[00:41:18] Frey: I'm sorry, go ahead. Yeah, I'm done.
[00:41:20] Andy Boyd: I, I think it's also a little bit, like they needed some way to explain, like, this kid has this, kid's got it. You know, like he's got potential and like there's a lot of there's I think more elegant ways they could have conveyed that. But yeah, I think that's part of what they're doing there too.
[00:41:35] Josh: George Lucas describes , what his plans for the sequel trilogy were and the midi-chlorians factor in very heavily.
[00:41:43] Frey: Oh, okay.
[00:41:44] Josh: So why my theory, I know is not what he was intending at the time. He was introducing a concept that he planned to follow up on later.
[00:41:54] Andy Boyd: It's not just a convenient workaround, huh? Okay.
[00:41:56] Josh: Yeah. You said something earlier and I think you actually say it in the play as well, you compare the process of writing a play to the process of screenwriting and how screenwriting is more rigid.
[00:42:08] Andy Boyd: My Nana says that. Yeah, my, my, my Nana Beth is a character and it's in that conversation where, you know, she's like your plays are so great and I'm like, yeah, but screenwriting is so rigidly structuring and writing plays. Yeah.
[00:42:22] Josh: Um, so that is the author speaking literally, and the character. Right. Do you find playwriting a more freeing experience than screenwriting?
[00:42:34] Andy Boyd: Yeah, I do. I think it's also just like, that's where my love is. I mean, I like movies, but I'm not, I, I watch, you know, maybe three or four movies a month. I'm not, I I'm, I'm not like a watch a movie every day type of guy. Like a lot of my friends are. It's just, I like a lot of art forms.
[00:42:50] I mean, I like novels. I like poetry. I like jazz, but, but theater is the one that feels like that's where my heart is. Um, and so, you know, recently I've been trying, I've been working on a couple of, you know, not screenplays, but I'm, I'm working on a television pilot and I've tried to tried to have a little bit more of my sense of like me and my own sensibility and my own sense of humor and my own politics and stuff as part of that project.
[00:43:15] And I think it's gone. Okay. Um, but I think it's just, you know, it's just like a, it's just a slightly different. I mean, not slightly different, it's a significantly different art form. So it sort of feels like starting from square one in a, in a certain perspective. I mean, there's this like old joke, I forget who said it, but it's like, the joke is like, what do you do after you're done writing your screenplay?
[00:43:35] And the answer is to go back in and fill in all the dialogue, you know, which is like dialogue is kind of the main thing in place, you know? I mean, it's dialogue as a way to, to, to, to pursue action, but the way that people in primarily the way the, the action that people or the, the tactic people use to pursue their goals in a play is they talk to people and they tell people stuff and they ask people stuff and they accuse people of stuff.
[00:43:59] And that's kind of what that's kind of what you do in a play is you talk, you know, and I love talking and I, I, I have great admiration for sort of the great talkers, but that's like, primarily not what you do in a movie. You know? I mean, there are some exceptions, but most of them are, you know, pretty stagey.
[00:44:15] Josh: Or based on plays. Yeah.
[00:44:17] Andy Boyd: on plays, you know, but like, it was interesting. I actually interviewed, um, Andre Gregory from My Dinner with Andre. And I asked him like, why is that? You know, who mostly worked in theater, like, why is that a play? And he was like, oh, I didn't think it would work if you couldn't do close-ups on all . The food.
[00:44:32] That was great.
[00:44:33] Josh: Wow.
[00:44:34] Andy Boyd: he was like that, that could only be a film, you know? Okay, sure.
[00:44:37] But yeah, I don't know. It's like, it definitely feels like there is more of a structure, obviously you don't necessarily have to follow that structure. And I also
[00:44:44] think most people who've watched any decent number of movies probably have that structure more or less like in their bones, you know?
[00:44:49] So I think probably there's a certain amount of just like muscle memory you can go off of as somebody who watches movies. Um, but yeah, I don't know. I'm not, sure why I've found writing movies so much more difficult than writing plays. It's that's a little bit mysterious to me.
[00:45:04] Josh: Well, you know, you made me think of something when you said that, uh, you're trying your hand at writing a pilot that has, you know, more of your political sensibilities, because when you are writing a film or a TV show, you have to have the marketplace in your mind, like, who is this for?
[00:45:23] Who's gonna make this, how much is it gonna cost, right. Like, where is this gonna fit in, in the marketplace? That's just something you just have to do. Whether consciously or subconsciously or if you worry about it, once you've written it, or, you know, I think it even like prunes your, your ideas of like, what has legs, right.
[00:45:41] Andy Boyd: How many external night shots can we afford? Yeah, totally. That's a
[00:45:44] then you have to think about.
[00:45:46] Josh: But like when you're writing a play, I mean, you need money because you need to make a living, but for it to be the thing, you don't need that much capital.
[00:45:54] Andy Boyd: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I've done plays for, you know, the last play that I did, I think had a budget of around like $15,000, which is not nothing. I mean, it's a shitty car. You could buy a shitty car or you could put on my play, but, it's an amount of money that you, and, you know, The 15 other people that it takes to put on a play could probably fundraise from your friends and family.
[00:46:16] You know, I mean, obviously there's a certain amount of privilege speaking in that, but, you know, I don't come from a lot of money. I come from a like normal middle class family, but I feel like that's a, that's an achievable amount of money to raise. Whereas, you know, even a low budget movie is many, many, many times that amount.
[00:46:33] So I think that's certainly part of it.
[00:46:35] Josh: speaking of, and please let me know if, this is too personal, but I was really affected by the part in the play where I think, your character is explaining to, to George Lucas?
[00:46:47] Andy Boyd: Yeah, George Lucas is like George Lucas thinks that I'm a spy. And so he's kind of makes me, you know, prove to him that I'm genuine in my sort. Anti capitalist, anti corporate elite, uh, politics. Yeah. And so, so the way that I decide to do that is by telling him the story of how the 2008 financial crisis destroyed my family , which, you know, in a nutshell, it's like, you know, credit got very difficult and my dad had a store selling, you know, uh, uh, furniture, but kind of orthopedic furniture.
[00:47:20] And it became impossible for most of his customers to buy the, his products because, you know, credit was on charter to come by. And they were usually, you know, more expensive than people could afford to buy in kind of one go. And so he fell behind on his rent. And so he got locked outta the store and went bankrupt and got depressed and, you know, and, and had a motorcycle accident, um, which.
[00:47:46] Who knows how much that was related to the other stress going on in his life or how much it was just a random, weird thing that happened. I've decided to kind of draw those causation lines a little bit in the play. But, um, but yeah, I mean,
[00:47:59] you know, it's, it's a, it's a sad story,
[00:48:02] um, that, you know, I, I don't wanna talk too much about, you know, kind of what has happened to my family since then suffice to say, I think we're all better off now than we were even before all of that happened, but yeah, I mean, my dad had a store that employed, you know, about a dozen people, um, you know, with.
[00:48:23] With like good work that was, you know, not just selling some shitty product, people didn't need, but was selling products that actually improved people's lives. And, um, you know, because he was a somewhat successful small business person, he was able to, you know, kind of support local charities and, you know, the church and boy Scouts and stuff like that, and kind of contribute financially to the life of the community.
[00:48:46] And, um, and all of that got just totally destroyed. Um, and you know, it, it makes me so mad even just thinking about it, you know, just how much money the government is. Fine. Shelling out to people who already have plenty of money. I mean, look like I I'm not, I'm not complaining, but I make a, a quite modest amount of money on, I pay a third of my paycheck to taxes every year.
[00:49:15] And like, I've been thinking about this with the, you know, the student loan forgiveness thing, which I think, you know, isn't enough, but is still great. And all of these, like Republican senators are like, how dare they get their loans forgiven? And the White House Twitter account was like posting, like, but didn't you get $50 million of PPE loans forgiven.
[00:49:31] and it's like,
[00:49:33] wait. So we just gave
[00:49:36] a Senator 50 million. Like we gave a Congress person millions of dollars of money that they, that we knew they weren't going to have to
[00:49:43] pay off.
[00:49:44] like that's considered, like, it just makes me, I, I, I, I get, I get sort of too emotional to talk about it at a certain point, because it's just like, there's nothing that the state under capitalism won't do to prop up the rich and there's nothing that they will do to make the lives of the poor, less horrible.
[00:50:03] Josh: Well, the thing about that monologue, that moment, you know, which is interesting that, uh, you put it in as a response to the feedback you got, that it wasn't emotional enough because, because it, it certainly hit me in the, uh, the feels ,
[00:50:16] Andy Boyd: yeah, my, I, I just wanna say, you know, like my, my dad just worked incredibly hard for a really, really long time, you know? I mean, there were parts of my childhood when I really didn't see him for months at a time, because he was just pouring everything he had into this business.
[00:50:29] And, when the crisis happened, like none of that mattered, you know, and it just, and, you know, obviously like, yes, hard work doesn't necessarily create success. And I know that, but it still sucks to see it happen, to see somebody that you care about working really hard and, and just getting, just getting left out, you know, when they were deciding, you know, where to throw money at to try to slow that down this financial crisis.
[00:50:53] Josh: No, absolutely. I mean, first off thank you for sharing that. And I'm, I'm sorry that, that happened to your family and you don't, I understand the impulse to caveat it with, you know, it's not the worst thing that's ever happened to anybody. I get that. But, but, that does not make what happened to your dad and your family, any less horrible.
[00:51:13] so just, I wanna make that clear. but the reason why I love this moment in your play, well, I mean, first of. You do a great thing where it's immediately followed up, with a light saber fight.
[00:51:24] Andy Boyd: Yeah. It's ed immediately afterwards by George Lucas GI his hand chopped off by a lightsaber cuz you know, I don't
[00:51:29] know. It's qu Tarantino and feet and George Lucas in hands. There's something going on there. I
[00:51:33] Frey: going
[00:51:34] Andy Boyd: what it is.
[00:51:35] Josh: I think you're right. Actually. That's good observation. But the reason why I love that moment is because it really, for me actually tied the whole play together. Because you know, a lot of the things that we're talking about here are kind of abstractions when we're talking about it.
[00:51:52] Right. And what you do so wonderfully in this play is you take that abstraction and, make it entertaining and accessible by dressing it up in the guise of Star Wars. so that's great. Uh, but what this does is it shows the ground level reality, the real price of what this is in a personal way.
[00:52:16] And the fact that it comes from you, your character, who is sort of the audience identification figure, whatever you wanna call it, it really brings home, what this is all about, what the abstract, big idea is about the IMF and the global financial system is about.
[00:52:31] And this is perhaps a little, bit of a stretch, but, you're talking about how for you Star Wars is just kind of this mythology that's always existed, and, you know, those are the stories that we go to, that we tell ourselves, to deal and make sense of the parts of living life of being human that suck. That's how we get through it. Right. So, for me that, just really the rug really tied the room together is what I is.
[00:52:58] What I'm trying to
[00:52:58] Andy Boyd: great. Great. And part of the sort of secret architecture of that moment that I don't know how much this comes through. I don't, I don't think I really mentioned this in the play is that like Star Wars was like a thing that I loved as a kid, but I loved as a kid with my dad, you know? So like the, those, a
[00:53:11] why those two things are, you know,
[00:53:13] Josh: Right? Yes.
[00:53:14] Andy Boyd: My dad's favorite place to take a nap when I was a kid was at a Star Wars movie.
[00:53:21] Josh: yeah. And then again, like the fact that you followed it up with a lightsaber fight is just
[00:53:25] Andy Boyd: And I will say, you know, we had the, the, we used the same fight choreographer for the original production at Columbia and the, second version that, we did at, at IRT in Manhattan because, she walked into the room on the first day of rehearsal and was like, " all right, what you guys need to understand is that there are six main schools of lightsaber battling."
[00:53:42] And I was like, great. I will hire you
[00:53:45] Josh: it.
[00:53:45] Andy Boyd: whenever I get a
[00:53:47] Like didn't know that, but that is exactly what I hear. Like, we are in very,
[00:53:51] Frey: very very
[00:53:52] Josh: That's amazing. So you said this is the play of yours that has gotten you the most attention.
[00:53:57] Andy Boyd: Which I should plug. Yeah. So there's a production of this going up in Chicago at Other World Theater next spring, April 28th through May 14th. So you can go to otherworldtheater.org for more news and information about that. Uh, yes. Okay. That's my I've done that.
[00:54:14] Josh: I, wasn't gonna let you leave without, mentioning that, but, um, I was just wondering, do you find that it's more Star Wars fans sort of enjoying this or like travelers finding things in this that they respond to? It's
[00:54:29] like, you know, Who, does this? who do you find really comes out of the woodwork approaches you about
[00:54:33] Andy Boyd: Yeah. That's interesting. I think, ideally I think that people like you three, I think that people who are the overlap is the sweet spot, but honestly, I'm a little confused sometimes about like, whether this is a play, like what's the spoon full of sugar and what's the medicine. Like whether I'm using leftist politics to make people listen to me talk about Star Wars or whether I'm using Star Wars to make, let make people listen to me about left just politics.
[00:54:54] But yeah, I think it works kind of equally well with, with each group, there are definitely people who've never seen a Star Wars movie who saw the play and were like, that was so fun. I totally followed everything. But at the same time, you know, I think there are, there are some references that like only leftists are gonna get like, you know, it, I don't explain what No Logo is, but like that's, a little bit of a time capsule, that's maybe kind of funny to some people.
[00:55:15] And there are certainly some Star Wars jokes that are pretty, deep cut, but hopefully it's a play that rewards, kind of prior reading, you know, but doesn't require it. And that's something I try to do with all my plays. I'm gonna try to find elegant ways to like, get all the information to you that I need you to know for all the other shit to make sense. But ideally there's not, you're not walking in saying like, I've never, I don't, I don't know who Trotsky is. So I'm not gonna be able to follow any of this.
[00:55:40] Like any of that stuff. I, I try to, I try to explain so that, you know, kind of any reasonably intelligent person off the street could, go to my stuff and enjoy it.
[00:55:48] Frey: One of the things you touch on here that I like is, uh, like the like relationships and conflicts within the larger progressive movement. And it seems just kind of looking at the summaries of like some of your other plays that like, that's definitely recurring you like the, those kinds of relationships.
[00:56:02] Andy Boyd: Yeah. Yeah, my next I'm actually, you know, I don't know exactly when this is gonna happen, but I'm gonna have my play called Occupy Prescott published by the same publisher that published this one, The Trade Federation. And that's a play that's about, it's about, you know, Occupy happened in New York, but also happened all over the world and, and it happened in some places where it was like five people, you know? And so my play Occupy Prescott imagines a sort of an Occupy site in this town in Northern Arizona, Prescott, Arizona, where it's like the five people who show up are like an anarchist punk and like a sort of radical Catholic priest and the lady who owns the crystal shop and like a pissed off libertarian rancher and like a nurse who's a single mom. And they try to kind of find some common ground and, and, you know, the sort of action of the plays that they're trying to like write their statement.
[00:56:45] That's like, here's what we believe, you know, which everybody says, the reason Occupy didn't work is because they didn't have, you know, a manifesto like manifestos have such a great track record, you know, but, you know, so the, the, the process of them kind of trying to find some common ground is sort of the action of that play.
[00:57:00] And that's something I'm certainly fascinated by, you know, leftist in fighting is like, that's, that's my stuff. Yeah. I love it.
[00:57:06] Josh: Well, that's sort of the, the story of the history of, of leftist movements. Isn't it? Uh,
[00:57:10] Andy Boyd: Yeah.
[00:57:11] Josh: is, is, is, is
[00:57:13] Andy Boyd: that's certainly part of it.
[00:57:16] Josh: So Andy, if someone has gotten this far and they are curious about what they heard, where online can they find you and where can they purchase a copy of this play and your other plays.
[00:57:28] Andy Boyd: Yeah. Um, so they can go to AndyJBoyd.com to find out more about me and all the stuff that I'm doing. Also, if they have a New Play Exchange account I'm on there. Just search for Andy Boyd and to find this play probably the best way is just to Google search. , the trade Federation, No Passport Press. And it should come up pretty easily.
[00:57:48] Oh, and one more plug is my podcast, which I I'm much less diligent about putting out episodes than new folks are, but, I, co-host a socialist theater podcast called Better than Shakespeare, which started out as a George Bernard Shaw podcast, but is now just a kind of everything lefty podcast.
[00:58:01] And we're, we're really on a tear through the plays of Caryl Churchill at the moment. So if you wanna hear us talk about Caryl Churchill plays, check that out. I also am the main host of new Books in Performing Arts, where I interview, you know, all sorts of performing art people. But if you enjoy this conversation specifically, then than Shakespeare is the, the place to go.
[00:58:19] Josh: Well, I actually have a very, uh, long drive coming up tomorrow and I, uh, need something to listen to. So I'm definitely
[00:58:26] Andy Boyd: You'll be annoyed at the editing, but, uh, hopefully the content will
[00:58:29] Josh: now. I won't be, I won't be annoyed. It's not me talking, so I won't be annoyed at it well, I wanna thank our guest, Andy for joining us and being so gracious with his time.
[00:58:38] You can find links to all of the places he just mentioned in the show notes. Transcripts of this episode and all of our episodes are available at trashcompod.com and we are trashcompod across all social media, and we will see you on the next one.
Andy Boyd is a playwright based in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He has an MFA in Playwriting from Columbia University and a BA (Magna Cum Laude) from Harvard University in American History and Literature. His plays have been produced at IRT, Naked Theatre Company, and Epic Theatre Company and have been part of the New York, Capital, and Providence Fringe Festivals. His plays have been developed or presented by Pipeline Theatre Company, The Gingold Group, Roundabout Theatre Company, Dixon Place, and the Trunk Space. His awards include the Columbia@Roundabout New Play award for Os Confederados, a Rhode Island State Council for the Arts grant for She Shall Be Praised, and a best production of 2019 citation from Maxamoo Theatre and Performance Podcast for The Trade Federation, or, Let's Explore Globalization Through the Star Wars Prequels. He is a host of the podcasts New Books in Performing Arts and Better than Shakespeare. His plays have been published by NoPassport Press and YouthPlays and his essays have been published by Canyon Voices, San Antonio Review, Howlround, and US History Scene.