100 Creatives: John Harvey
What he does: Playwright-poet John Harvey writes tales with haunted characters that are sure to make your skin squirm. "I'm drawn to the darkness, and part of that draw is that the dark stuff is forbidden, it's taboo, it's not supposed to happen," he says. As co-founder of the theater company Mildred's Umbrella, Harvey delivers plays to Houston that attract the inquisitive and the brave. His knack for the obscene isn't for everyone, "if I don't have at least one person walking away from one of my plays I'm just like what's wrong," he jokes, "have I gone mellow, do I need to kick it up a notch?"
When he's not tapping into the underbelly of the dark-side, Harvey teaches as an assistant professor at the University of Houston's Honors College where he serves as the Director of the Center for Creative Work.
Why he likes it: Harvey can't say enough about the strength of Houston's alternative theater scene. During its first years, Mildred's Umbrella relied on support from other local theater companies who were willing to provide help, suggest actors, and give advice. Harvey says, "people really collaborate easy in this town, and everyone feeds off each other's work."
What inspires him: Much of Harvey's work concentrates on darkness in family life. He cites Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night as an important influence. In the play a family struggles with feelings of love, bitterness, and agitation, which are propelled by their addictions to alcohol and morphine.
Harvey also enjoys the horrible family stories of Greek tragedy, and the fart, sex, and pissing jokes in Greek comedy. He says, "they are like Will Ferrell meets John Stuart."
If not this what: Cooking is Harvey's secret passion, and he loves to include his wife and six-year-old son in the experience he finds "very grounding." It may not strike anyone as a shock that both his taste in literature and food are similar. He says,"I like dark tastes, I like to get my rue as black as possible."
What's next: Harvey has started a novel. "I want to experiment on a narrative in a new way," he says.
A shout out: "To Jennifer Decker my accomplice in all the harm I've done at Mildred's, the Honors College students who put up with my brand of madness, and to Houston overall, try out one of our shows. I guarantee other places you might enjoy the show and forget about it. These plays you will not forget, you'll be waking up in the middle of the night."
(In order of most recently published; click here for the full page.)
Bret Harmeyer, visual artist
Joel Orr, puppet master
Rodney Waters, photographer and pianist
Jeremy Choate, lighting designer
Chuck Ivy, visual artist
Tra'Slaughter, visual artist
Jen Chen - visual art, designer
Howard Sherman - Painter
Nancy Hendrick - Founder of Dance Salad
Misha Penton - Opera Singer and Theater Artist
Ben Tecumseh DeSoto - Photojournalist
Tracy Robertson aka Batty - Goth Fashion Designer
Tierney Malone - Creative Type
Dolan Smith - Painter
Jenny Schlief - Mixed-Media Artist
David Eagleman - Writer
Anna Sprage - Painter
Philip Lehl - Actor
Andy Noble - Choreographer
David McGee - Painter