Changemaker: John Flax

March 12, 2018 - By Prescott College

John Flax Still.jpg

Prescott College graduate John Flax has made his mark on the world of drama with his unique theater company Theater Grottesco. After graduating Prescott College, Flax was leading expeditions and writing nonfiction articles in an effort to break into the world of adventure magazines. However, soon Flax turned to writing fiction. His curiosity about character development brought him to the theater, where he was struck by a French-American theater company that agreed to take him on as a writer.

While working for the company, Flax met Didier Maucort. Flax and Maucort developed a play they wanted to enter in a festival in Paris. However, to enter the festival they needed a company; so they began Theater Grottesco. After winning the festival they had opportunities to perform the play around Paris, and eventually start more shows.

Theater Grottesco has a unique way of developing their shows. Flax explains, "We spend at least a year, usually three or four years, just conceptualising … then there’s a big period of, 'we have these great Ideas but how do we turn them into theatre.' So that’s the kind of theatre we do and that’s fairly radical in the theatre world, where most people start with a script so they know where the end point is when they start … we don’t. That’s the excitement."

When asked if his Prescott experience contributed to his success, Flax stated, “I think at Prescott I learned to deal with the unknown. We used to talk about walking into the clouds with your eyes wide open, and I needed that a lot, and that helped me a lot.” Flax also mentioned that the technical skills he learned at Prescott helped him with rigging stage systems.

Theater Grottesco is now 35 years old and has put on over fifteen shows. They operate out of Albuquerque and are currently performing their latest show Pie, which struggles with the question of why we’re here.