Issue November 1, 2011

B-sides

Metal drama

Theatre 502’s new production isn’t just good drama, it’s also a valentine to music lovers — especially those who know that Slayer and Poison exist on different planets. LEO caught up with playwright Marco Ramirez.

LEO: What is the play about?

Marco Ramirez: “Broadsword” is about a broken-up heavy metal band from New Jersey that has to reunite in order to save their lead guitarist from the grip of hell. It’s kind of an Agatha Christie mystery play, but imagined through the lens of “The X-Files” and “Halloween.” It’s also very much about family — both the one we’re born into and the one we make for ourselves.

LEO: How did music influence the direction of the story you wrote?

MR: The play’s entirely about music, but even more so it’s about musicians. I don’t think the story of one band influenced me more than others, but the stories of a bunch of misunderstood blue-collar geniuses did. Names like Daniel Johnston and Jeff Mangum (neither of whom made metal), and wonderful music mythology surrounding Robert Johnson and guys like Jeff Buckley. Basically, anyone who ever recorded one genius album and disappeared, or who died mysteriously, or who thought they spoke to the devil.

LEO: How much of an expert on metal are you?

MR: I know a lot more than my parents do, but a lot less than the guy with the Dio tattoo on his neck. It’s weird — when it comes to metal, I’ve found that, at most, what people know is maybe Metallica and a couple “Wayne’s World” quotes.

LEO: Does your taste differ from your characters?

MR: I love me some Motorhead and some Pantera — I jokingly called an early draft of this play “Cowboys From Hell” — but I don’t think I listen to it as often as the guys in “Broadsword” probably do. 

LEO: Do you have any Louisville music favorites?

MR: I’m not sure if this is Louisville-specific, but a lovely Louisville native — the director of “Broadsword,” Amy Attaway — gave me two bluegrass mixtapes a couple years ago. Distortion or no distortion, there is nothing more metal than a “murder ballad.”

“Broadsword” runs from Nov. 11-19 at Parkside Studio at the Iroquois Amphitheater. More info can be found at www.theatre502.org.