New Work from Regional Theater

The Ryan Interview

Or ‘How It Was Around Here’

The Ryan Interview was written by America’s foremost living playwright, Arthur Miller. The 35-minute play, shot entirely on location in Kentucky, stars Hollywood veteran Eddie Bracken and Ashley Judd. Judd plays a journalist given the assignment of interviewing Mr. Ryan (Bracken) on his 100th birthday. Ryan turns out to be a junk collector whose front yard is filled with a century of rusting memories. The reporter slowly realizes that Ryan is also a collector of stories from a vanished world—and a front-porch philosopher full of earthy wisdom.

This moving portrait of a man who has lived through a century of change is also an illuminating portrait of a modern woman who expects little more than a visit to an old guy who will be a curio for her readers. It turns out that his humanity is what really begins to attach itself to her, and she begins to see the importance in this old man and what may have been missing in her own life—a usable past.

The program’s documentary segment includes interviews with Miller, Judd, and Bracken about the play’s content and conveys the energy of regional theater with footage from the Humana Festival of New American Plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville (ATL). This annual event is the country’s greatest showplace for new work and new writers. It draws critics, producers, and agents from 30 countries.

The Ryan Interview was commissioned by ATL. The television adaptation premiered in national prime time in 2000. It was the first PBS drama taped in high-definition format.

The program received excellent reviews:

“Beautifully re-imagined as a small gem of a film.”
—New Orleans Times-Picayune

“Exactly the sort of thing PBS should be doing.”
—Philadelphia Inquirer

“Our pick of the day.”
—New York Daily News

The Ryan Interview was a finalist in the International Electronic Cinema Festival.

Like all of the dramas adapted for the American Shorts series, The Ryan Interview was opened up and shot on location. Fred Barzyk directed the dramas. Guy Mendes of KET produced the series. American Shorts is supported by generous grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Arthur Miller

Hit revivals of Death of a Salesman, View from the Bridge, and The Price have turned Arthur Miller into an icon ... except that Miller has refused to become an icon. He is still writing and laying it on the line, turning out plays that explore new themes while enduring knee-jerk comparisons to his classic earlier work.

Ashley Judd

Hailed as one of the world’s 50 most beautiful people and often referred to as “eye candy,” Judd is really an intelligent, ambitious actor in search of a good part. Daughter of singer Naomi Judd, sister of singer Wynonna, Judd has shown what she can do with meaty dramatic roles (Double Jeopardy) and is expanding her range in comedy.

Eddie Bracken

During an eight-decade career in show business, Bracken had plenty of ups and downs, reversals, and buoyant comebacks. His movie credits stretch from two classic American comedies by Preston Sturges, The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek and Hail the Conquering Hero (1944), to Rookie of the Year (1993). Bracken died in 2002 at 87. He holds the all-time record for Broadway performances with more than 14,500—calculated to be the equivalent of 33 years of daily performances.