George Larkin is a writer, developer, and producer of award winning film, theatre, and television.  He's developed award winning independent feature films that premiered at the Sundance, Berlin, Cannes, Avignon, and Hamptons Film Festivals and were distributed by Miramax, New Line, Sony Classics, and Samuel Goldwyn. 

He recently directed and produced two award winning shorts taken from his staged readings of Iraqi writers in Baghdad that have screened at such diverse places as ten major film festivals, six times through Amnesty International, academic conferences, college compuses, Iraq, and at the US Air Forice Academy.   They also aired on Link TV and received distribution.

On November 8th, 2012, his script, Bastard Son of William Shakespeare, won second place at the prestigious Samuel Goldwyn Writing Awards.

In addition, his plays have been produced across the country and been nominated or won fourteen awards, including nine prestigious LA Weekly Awards for best directing, acting, and writing and three Backstage West Garlands. He's also worked in reality television development, helping to develop one show that sold to Sony and having another one optioned by Endemol.

Born and raised just outside Chicago, he is a Yale University graduate and received an M.A. in Shakespearean Studies from the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, a graduate school of the University of Birmingham (England).  The program was a scholarly one but included work with actors, designers, directors, and producers of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

After spending several years taking care of his ill parents, he's currently studying for a PhD in Film & Media Studies at University of California-Berkeley where he is now ABD.

 

STUDENT MENORTING

He was recently awarded the Oustanding Graduate Student Instructor Award at University of California-Berkeley..

He founded and leads a production group called Berkeley Film Friends (BFF) for students and alumni interested in pursuing a career in the entertainment industry with now over 600 members sharing insight, information, and opportunities.

In the past 18 months, he set up BFF visits to Facebook, Pixar, Google, Paramount, Dreamworks, Skywalker Ranch, LucasFilm at the Presidio, and the Family Guy studios in LA  for members to interact with working professionals. He's also helped more than 30 students connect with internships including at The Colbert Report, UTA, CAA, Spike TV, Seventh Summits, Vendome, Aletheia Films, Wallflowers Inc. (Steve Chbosky Productions), and many more. In addition, he led a Skype session with an executive producer/ writer at Castle and with an editor on Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy 2, and Star Trek Into Darkness. The group also conducts special production seminars.

For student and alumni comments on this group, please click here!

Students from his introduction to production class recently won the Eisner Award, the University of California's system highest film award, for a film made in his class. In addition, other students of his won four of the nine honorable mention awards for 2013. In 2012, they won four the eight honorable mention awards.


FILM WORK - FEATURES

George was the head of development and post production supervisor for producer Dean Silvers on the following films:

 

Spanking the Monkey

Distributed by Fine Line.  Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.  Won both the First Time Feature and First Screenplay Independent Spirit Awards.

   

Flirting with Disaster

Distributed by Miramax. Official selection and closing night film at the Cannes Film Festival. Nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards.

   

Wigstock: the Movie

Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn. Official selection for the Sundance & Berlin Film Festivals.  Opening night film at the New York Gay & Lesbian Film Festival.

   

The Last Good Time

Distributed by Samuel Goldwyn. Won best film and best director at the Hamptons International Film Festival, nominated for the Grand Special Prize at the Deauville Film Festival, and won the Grand Prize at the Avignon Film Festival.

   

Manny & Lo

Distributed by Sony Picture Classics. Official selection for the Sundance Film Festival.  Also won the Gotham Award for Best First Director of a feature.

 

Some of the other creatives involved with these projects include Alan Alda, Bob Balaban, Josh Brolin, Jeremy Davies, Paul Guilfoyle, Scarlett Johansson, Lisa Kruegger, Tea Leoni, Pam Martin, Mary Tyler Moore, Adrian Pasdar, David O. Russell, George Segal, Dean Silvers, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Maureen Stapleton, Ben Stiller,Chris Tellefson, and Lily Tomlin.

For film reviews, PLEASE CLICK HERE.

 

FILM WORK - SHORTS

For several years, George corresponded with writers in Baghdad about life during the war.  After producing readings of the material, he directed and produced two award-winning shorts (Sami's Cock and Speaking of Baghdad) of the Iraqi writers' work with an acclaimed international cast performing their stories.  The films:

* aired on television (Link TV)

* screened at ten major film festivals

* screened at universities [University of California, Berkeley, NYU, the University of Massachusetts-Boston (the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequences at UMass-Boston), and soon at Indiana State University, the University of Baghdad, and the University of Basra]

* two academic conferences (SCMS and the US Air Force Academy's Conference on War, Literature, & the Arts)

* six times with Amnesty International

Please CLICK HERE for more detailed information.

Cast includes C.S. Lee (Dexter, Chuck), Rex Lee (Entourage), Silas Weir Mitchell (Grimm, Prison Break, My Name is Earl, Rat Race), Navid Negahban (Homeland, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Closer), Geoffrey Owens (The Cosby Show, Without a Trace, Medium), Keith Szarabajka (Dark Knight, Perfect World, We Were Solders, Angel), and Michael Urie (Ugly Betty).  

The films feature a score from an Emmy winning composer Michael Whalen, and a mix and sound design from Roy Waldspurger and Michael Kirchberger (Chocolat, Sleepless in Seattle, Adaptation, & Lost in Translation) performed at George Lucas's Skywalker Ranch.

 

Speaking of Baghdad

A 28 minute documentary short taken from his years of conversations with Iraqi writers in Baghdad.   Please check the movie out at Link TV Written by Saad Rahman, Saad Saeed, Basim Al-Hajar, and Majed Jarrar.

 

Sami's Cock

 

This short film tells the story of the entire Iraq war in a four minute tale of a rooster!  Written by Saad Seed, an Iraqi writer in Baghdad.  Check out the movie here on youtube.

 

 

 

 

INTERNET WORK

His play turned internet film, Stuporfriends, has over 250,000 views on youtube.  In this super hero parody, someone is killing off the Super Friends one by one.  The big hit episode is this one, where Superman and Batman have to comfort each other in jail.

 

TELEVISION WORK

George also worked with Sony television producer Gunnar Wetterberg.  A reality show that he helped developed with Gunnar, Russian Roulette, was optioned by Sony and has now been sold to over 35 countries worldwide and plays on the Game Show Network in the U.S.  Endemol, one of the world’s top reality show companies (Fear Factor, Deal or No Deal, Extreme Makeover, and Big Brother) optioned a reality show of his called Gladiator Dating.

 

THEATRE WORK

George has a deep seeded passion for theatre.  After moving to LA the long way, taking a six month trip around the world, he served on the Board of Directors at the Met Theatre, one of LA’s longest running theatres, and was Literary Manager both there and at Sacred Fools. 

His plays have won or been nominated for fourteen awards (including nine LA Weekly Awards and three Backstage garlands). His plays have been produced at the Lark, Playwrights Horizons, EST, Love Creek, Nantucket Theatre, Edge Fest, Theatricum Botanicum, the Met Theatre, Sacred Fools, EST, the Unknown Theatre, the Hudson Theatre, Actors Theatre of Newburyport, Love Creek, the Nantucket Theatre, UCSD, University of California-Berkeley, and Yale University. JAC published his thirty-one play anthology of new, edgy adaptations of Grimm brothers folk tales.   In addition, he turned his theatre work with Iraqi writers into two award winning short films.

His most recent play, The Bastard Son of William Shakespeare, was recently named one of five finalists for the pretigious Samuel Goldwyn Writing Award.

Other plays include:

 

Dead Lawyers 

Produced at Sacred Fools, UCSD, ENDTIMES in NYC, and at University of California-Berkeley.  Readings at Playwrights Horizons and as part of the Lark Theatre’s Playwright Week.  Developed as a film at Warner Brothers.  Baker’s Plays offered to publish it.  Rave reviews and recommended by the LA Weekly.  Excellent reviews below

   

GRIMM! 

Produced at the Sacred Fools and the Met Theatre.  Three shows of adaptations of stranger and often darker Grimm stories he developed, produced, and co-wrote.  They received nine LA Weekly Award nominations for best writer, director, and actor and three Backstage West honorable mention Garlands for writing and acting.  LA Weekly recommended all three shows. The first was a Backstage West Critic’s Pick and LA Times recommended the third. JAC published all thirty plays from the productions. Excellent reviews below

   

Baghdad Writers

Larkin staged readings of Iraqis' writing work at EST, the Unknown Theatre, the Hudson Theatre, Theatricum Botanicum, Actor's Studio at the Tannery in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and at Edge of the World Theatre Festival.  As part of this project, he participated in a panel for PEN Center USA on activist writers.  He also later shot two award winning shorts from the Iraqi stories.

   

The Perverse Tongue

Produced at the Met Theatre.  Excellent reviews below.

   

Naked Holidays Opening

His one act play went up as part of an edgy holiday show at Sacred Fools (written about on page one of the LA Times Calendar section) and later played for four years at ENDTIMES in NYC. Excellent reviews below.

 

Critics wrote his plays were “delightful,” “disturbing,” “edgy,” and “imaginative” and compared his writing to Orwell and Bradbury.  The LA Times called his work “vicious and hysterical.”  Backstage wrote that another play of his was “elegantly penned.”  Critics said Dead Lawyers “elevated the whodunit spoof to new levels of hilarity” and was a “hysterical send-up of Agatha Christie whodunits and door-slamming farces” and a “delightfully spoofalicious play.”

For several years, George also did volunteer art therapy work, teaching writing to and directing the plays written by at-risk and learning disabled kids with programs like the Virginia Avenue Project.  He still dreams of seeing the Cubs win it all, just like his great granddad did in 1908.

 

SELECT PLAY REVIEWS

GRIMM!

On Grimm! (the first installment of plays)

Backstage West – Critic’s Pick!
“Sure, we all know the stories of Hansel and Gretel and Cinderella, but what about Godfather Death and The Jew Among the Thorns?  The stories in Grimm! are not sanitized Disney versions of well-trodden fairy talesThey are nine delightful, obscure, at times funny, at times disturbing, original Grimms’ tales, unearthed from the archives of the German brothers’ writings and richly adapted to the stage by the Sacred Fools Theater Company.”  “What I must applaud most about the play (although there were many wonderful performances, lyrical writing, and lively choreography) is the original music.  I was struck by how much the scoring, performed by an orchestra of six, enhanced the performances and the overall feeling of the play.  Brenda Varda’s original compositions add dramatic tension, playful comedic tones, and a counterpoint to the action.”  “The charm in this production of lesser-known Grimms’ fairy tales has not only to do with a talented ensemble cast and, as I mentioned, wonderful musical accompaniment, but with stories that are inherently alluring and captivating.”  Angela Phipps Towle

LA  Weekly – Recommended!
 “The Sacred Fools company scores points just for mounting a show in which 10 different directors and writers take dramaturgical risks — whether it be working with a story bereft of any clear ending (and for that matter, moral) or taking more traditionally structured stories into new terrain.  But aside from the project’s novelty, the playlets also work well.”  “The evening engages, aided by live music composed and directed by Varda.”  Luis Reyes

Actorsite
“I’m not sure which is more disturbing: Rosenfeld’s portrayal of the Grim Reaper, or the fact that this ultra-macabre story comes from a collection titled Nursery and Household Tales.  The Fools have done it again. Check it out -- and maybe have a nightlight ready for sleeping afterward.”  Kevin Delaney

 

On Grimm, Too” (the second installment of plays)

Backstage West
Elegantly penned by George Larkin, ‘Infinite Cinderella’ weaves together variants on the happily-ever-after tale of a pure girl and her prince, beloved over ages and cultures, the evening’s lively introduction unfussily directed by Denise Barnard.”  Dany Margolies

LA Weekly – Recommended!
“Like its predecessor last year at the Sacred Fools Theater, this collection of Grimm adaptations contains a range of theatrical styles, all performed with gusto.”  Luis Reyes

Backstage West
“There’s literal, and then there’s literal.  And therein lies a tale‚ or 10 tales in this case.  These reworkings of the Brothers Grimm’s tiny morality tales do nothing so much as reflect the talents of their respective creative teams.  That a hanky gets ‘carried off by a stream’ when actors fold and remove that stream of silky turquoise cloth is literal staging that thrills... Dialogue that clips along as if led by an offstage conductor enlivens the storytelling... an unmitigated joy... ”  Dany Margolies

The Play Review
“A classic popular song’s lyrics declare that ‘Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you.’  This is one time when you might hope they don’t!  The Met theater has dug up some obscure tales from the Brothers Grimm archives and is bringing the audience face to face with these strange accounts, which have been written and re-written by contemporary writers and by now are probably but a mere shadow of the originals.”  “If there is one thing that is obvious, it’s the exuberant energy the actors display as they literally rush from one version to another, in various accents, dialects, costumes and situations.  After that, it only gets more strange.”  “Some stories are downright gory, others are sad, and still some are outlandish, but they all have the one common element of being done very well with excellent acting, good music and an eye toward stylized presentations.  All in all, this is a fun show, and the huge ensemble did a wonderful job keeping it going.”

Accessibly Live
There’s a production at The MET Theatre in Hollywood that should not be missed!”  “Conceived by producer George Larkin, and directed by seven directors, written by nine writers, played by twenty actors, and music provided by a live jazz combo to boot, GRIMM TOO is funny, sad, cruel, and still holds its ironic charm.  It’s again one-part Fractured Fairy Tales, one part Saturday Night Live, and all entertaining.  Just remember to leave the kids at home!  (For the evenings, anyway!)

 

On Tres Grimm! (the third installment of plays

LA Times – Recommended!
“Grown-up Grimm pulls no punches!”  “George Larkin’s slate of adult takes on tales by folklore’s cautionary brothers is a vivacious volume earmarked by wry designs and spry playing.  A modern storyteller (Lindsay Frame) and her stepdaughter (Angela DiMarco) propel Larkin’s prologue, ‘The Death of the Little Hen.’  This ensemble schoolyard goof is vicious and hysterical.”  “Energy abounds, and the décor suggests Andrei Serban on peyote.”  David C. Nichols

LA Weekly – Recommended!
“The stories in this — producer George Larkin’s third collection of playlets based on the folktales collected by the Brothers Grimm — would be gory Grand Guignol if they were played straight, but here the approach is (mostly) tongue-in-cheek, providing more giggles than gore.  One tale ends with startling finality: ‘Everybody is dead.’”  “Ten writers, eight directors, three musicians and 19 actors have joined forces for this extravaganza, so it’s difficult to single out individual contributions. But the clever and madly eclectic original music, composed and conducted by Brenda Varda, lends rich counterpoint to all the tales.  Overall, this is an exuberant and funny exercise in schadenfreude and gallows humor.”  Neal Weaver

Reviewplays.com
“‘Tres Grimm’ is an entertaining evening of theatre that will probably prompt some to dust off their old fairy-tale books and look up the more controversial variants.”  Lynne Bronstein

The Maestro Entertainment Magazine
Très Grimm!  Très formidable! In this celebration of the folk tale and live story telling, Trés Grimm! (Grimm III) is the third installment in a series of plays that draw from the original stories by the Brothers Grimm. While quite humorous at times, all of the stories have one thing in common: they reveal dark moral truths about humanity.  Producer George Larkin has assembled a fine cast to bring these stories to life at The Met Theatre in Hollywood.  Containing 13 short ‘vignettes,’ the play ranges from the sublime: a charming ballet sequence, to the ridiculous: a walking sausage and his two best friends.”  “George Larkin has created an edgy and imaginative experience in modern theaterRemaining true to the vivid Grimm stories of the early 19th century, this entertaining adaptation is not for the whole family.” Michael Upward

Accessibly Live
“In Tres Grimm, some of the lesser known tales are depicted on stage. Some are charming (The Fox And The Geese), others are a bit macabre (The Death Of The Little Hen), while the rest are rather...well, grimThey are full of horrible death and sorrow, getting rather creepy in natureHowever, the common folks liked their stories 'saucy and meaty', and this is as 'meaty' as one could get!”  “Producer George Larkin, who also conceived two previous shows of Grimm Fairy Tales depicted on stage, takes a dozen of these stories and fables, and thanks to a cast of writers, directors, and of course, the cast -- they all form an anthology of stories that are rather honest, if not ‘politically correct’ to later mass audiences.  Original live score conducted and composed by Brenda Varda adds to the mood to this production.  (The three piece band featuring Michael Johnson on guitar, T. J. Welch on percussion, and Varda on the keyboards can really jam!)  It takes an army of talent to create such as show as this one, and they all can prove that fact!”  Rich Borowy

To read testimonials from participants on his Grimm theatre project, PLEASE click here.

 

DEAD LAWYERS

LA Weekly
Playwright George Larkin cannibalizes various genre conventions with mistaken identities, elevating the whodunit spoof to new levels of hilarity.  He keeps the action moving, the jokes zooming and the pratfalls flying at a breathless pace, with the energetic cast delivering uniformly strong comic performances.”  Sandra Ross

Ventura Country Star & San Bernadino Sun
“With this and dozens of other attorney jokes, the play Dead Lawyers is a hysterical send-up of Agatha Christie whodunits and door-slamming farces with more egotistical lawyers than an O.J. trial.”  “A raging storm, a washed-out bridge and a secluded time-share house in the Hamptons provide the ideal setting for this comic mystery.”  Jeff Favre

Backstage West
“Although George Larkin’s script is hardly the Shakespearean bloodfest the title promises (I will admit to nurturing a sweet fantasy wherein an arena of lawyers battle each other until only a few cell phones and a Porsche key chain are left behind), it’s still a fun show based on the Agatha Christie premise of a house, cut off from civilization by a storm, containing a mysterious corpse and a number of terrified occupants.” “Only the addition of deceased IRS auditors could make for a more appealing premise.”  Wenzel Jones

The Daily Californian
“George Larkin’s “Dead Lawyers” explores all this and more in a delightfully spoofalicious play under the direction of Ryan Fields, brought to you by Barestage Productions. Watch what happens when a bunch of different lawyers are confronted with a murder under their noses and nerves shatter…  (T)he cast breaks out crazy personality-quirks expressed through extreme physicality and feistiness, you may become just as anxious as the characters to dig out the down and dirty truth. Is the criminal the “American Psycho”-esque Douglas (Grant Stream), cutesy-cheeky Cathy (Karen Chong), the great bad actor Peter (Morten N. Christiansen), suicidal Laura (Lara Palanjian), a-hole fiance Michael (Shaun Mullen) or nice-guy lawyer-turned-counselor Tuba (Dylan Caponi)? The play is filled with enough red herrings to be mistaken for a package of Swedish Fish. With all the confusion that abounds, the real culprit may just slyly swim away. I know you’ve always wanted to take a jolly jaunt to a timeshare with six lawyers at once and get trapped with them for a whole weekend under extreme pressure. Here’s your chance. Take it! And don’t feel too guilty about laughing as the characters lace up lies and tug each other around. Think of the absurd interactions as a kind of comedic cruelty that will make you appreciate the job you have or inspire you to seek out one you love. Either way, attending a show for this student-run production has some eccentric entertainment in store for you.”  Sara Hayden.

 

PERVERSE TONGUE

The Play Review
“In the past few weeks there have been several reviews here that deal with the ominous future and the possible change of human values. From Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 to George Orwell’s Animal Farm, we see repression, totalitarianism and power hungry regimes that feed on their own corruption. Now we have The Perverse Tongue, about as imaginative and thought provoking as they come.  George Larkin has come up with a premise in this compelling drama that is at once chilling and plausible.”  “Larkin’s story is so gripping and uniquely presented that it’s definitely worth a look, especially since the US has recently had preacher politicians running for President. If they had won, would we eventually have the situation that George Larkin describes?  Many would argue that it could never be, and the electorate would be too sophisticated to let it happen.  But then again, twenty five years ago they also said that there was no way an actor could ever become President!”

Los Angeles Loyolan
A thought provoking play detailing dark version of the future with religious extremismThe plot, in all its turmoil and ethical inquiries, continues to roller coaster among love triangles, fist-fights and good-versus-evil obstacles.  The story is, needless to say, completely intriguing and touching, yet sustains a sense of uneasiness with the audience.  As farfetched as it seems, this extreme scenario seems all too possible.”  “The Perverse Tongue is an excellent precursor of a lengthy conversation as well as a great topic for debate.  The play is a warning to be careful who power is delegated to, as society can be easily swayed by good politicians rather than ideas.  It warns of the risks of interpreting a piece of writing literally -- in this case, the Bible.  It’s dangerous territory, as Larkin warns to be cautious upon viewing his play.

Entertainment Today
What makes Larkin’s story compelling is its plausibility. Having experienced a presidential election where an ultra-right religious candidate upset at least one state count, the specter is too close for comfort.  As with most ultra- conservative issues, the biggest preoccupation in this tale is sex.  The laws governing female virginity, chastity, rape and marriage are straight out of the Old Testament and usually make the woman the guilty one, regardless of the circumstances.”

 

THE NAKED HOLIDAYS OPENING
(one act play from a holiday themed play festival)

LA Weekly
George Larkin’s ‘The Naked Holidays Opening,’ directed gleefully by Alexander Yannis Stephano, is the pick of the show.  A multicultural melange outlining the contrasting traditions of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa with a debunking of Christian traditions, climaxing in a semi-clothed chorus line.”

LA Times (from page one of the Calendar Section)
“Most of the clothes come off near the end of George Larkin’s frisky musical introduction, which also establishes that the holidays in question include Hanukkah, Kwanza and solstice celebrations, as well as Christmas.  The show pokes fun at its own ethnic non-diversity by enlisting an unwilling white guy (Jeff Benninghofen) to explain Kwanza.  Not all of the seven vignettes that follow are especially raw.  Nothing else is as good...”

Theatre Mania

Naked Holidays is a darkly comic Yuletide bacchanalia fit for Samson himself. George Larkin's opening is a boisterous reaction to some of the most popular holiday images; delving into the hilarious customs of our best loved winter holidays, and the pagan traditions celebrated nowadays as Christmas.

 

FOR THE FULL THEATRE REVIEWS, PLEASE CLICK HERE.



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