Bleach” is a Play by Dan Ireland-Reeves that will run in NYC starring on January 5, 2019. Originally launched in the United Kingdom, the play is anticipated to be a hit in America too. It is an intimate and immersive production that had been well received by global audiences. A dark yet humorous look at violence, city living, and sex, the play focuses on the character of a twenty-four-year-old rent boy named Tyler whose life is rapidly spiraling out of control.

Recently playwright Dan Ireland-Reeves discussed “Bleach” via an exclusive interview.

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Plot, story, writing, and theater

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you get into writing and what is it about playwriting in particular that called you to the theater?

Dan Ireland-Reeves (DIR): I started as an actor. I actually only started writing because I couldn’t afford to pay the royalties to perform other people’s plays. The first few things I wrote were a bit hit and miss, but after time I learned more about what worked and what didn't, and I found myself taking it more seriously. I took a few courses and found my own voice, and now I love it! So, although it didn't bring me to the theater, it allows me to experience it in a totally different way.

Performing is so fast, so unpredictable; but writing is the complete opposite. I get to create work for the stage in a much more controlled way. I can take my time and make sure it's just right. What happens after that is down to the theatre Gods!

MM: How did you come up with the plot for “Bleach” and have you known people who lived lives similar to Tyler’s?

DIR: Thankfully I've never known anyone that's had a life quite like Tyler’s, but I've known a few people who have worked in different areas of the sex industry, and it's always been something that's fascinated me.

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I love to hear stories about how wild things get when you take your clothes off! Sex can totally expose your true character and your basest desires… which makes for great drama! The starting point, however, was actually a lot more pedestrian. I watched a lot of my friends move to the city with hopes of starting a life there, only to get chewed up and spat out. That seemed to marry perfectly with someone who works in the sex industry. It allowed me to show the dark underbelly of the city and how lonely it can be because, although Tyler has a lot of physical relationships, he spends a lot of his time traveling around the city alone.

I also read somewhere that you should "give the devil the best lines." So, I wanted to create a character that would allow me to do that. Not that Tyler is the devil, but he's certainly no angel either.

MM: Why do you think this story makes such a good base for a theatrical production?

DIR: I think the best theatre lets you see the world differently. “Bleach” explores a life everyone would like to have a go at, even if they don’t always admit it — Tyler's like life's crash test dummy. You get to take this amazing, risqué journey with him and then walk away, unharmed, at the end of the night.

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The story is inherently dramatic. There’s sex; there’s violence, there’s chaos, there’s love. But it’s also very funny and relatable too because, although Tyler’s a rent boy, he’s also just a scared young man that’s had his heart broken and gone down the wrong path. And we can all relate to that in some way.

Rent, messages, cities and theatrical projects

MM: You make a great point about the price of rent in cities, how do you think this could be made more manageable for the average person?

DIR: Oh gosh, If I knew that I’d be a very rich man! I think, at some point, we need to accept that the system doesn’t work, that we’ve been priced out of the cities and it’s time to start something new. People are already doing it – at least here in London. The once rundown areas are getting a lick of paint, some trendy bars and are good to go. That’s when things get exciting. If we can’t have the city, we should create somewhere new. Hopefully, in time, this will mean we have hundreds of amazing hubs of art and culture and business. If you can’t afford to buy it, then you should make it for yourself.

MM: What are some of the most important messages that “Bleach” conveys?

DIR: That youth is fragile and that the opportunities for young people just aren’t there anymore. In many ways, people have so much at their fingertips, but there’s much more pressure to achieve now. It’s not good enough to just have a 9 to 5 job anymore. You have to be the richest, the sexiest, the most powerful. I hope “Bleach,” in some way, shows the fine line we all walk to get what we want out of life. And that it’s okay to fail. Our failures are so magnified now with social media that we’re forced to show the world an edited version of our lives, to make us look as good as possible. I also hope that it shows just how easily people can make mistakes. Don’t get me wrong, Tyler messes us big time, but I hope through watching his journey people can understand how it came to that point and why he makes some of the bad choices he does. None of us are that different at the end of the day, whether you have sex with strangers for a living or you flip burgers at McDonald's, we’re all just trying to make the best of what we’ve got.

MM: What do you hope audiences remember most vividly from “Bleach.”

DIR: I hope they can still feel it when they leave. As if, for an hour or so, they actually were Tyler. That’s something I’m most excited about with this production. It’s going to be so intimate and intense. Everything’s going to be amped up to 100. You’re going to be right in Tyler’s space with him, hearing his story and experiencing all the action. It’s going to be sexier and more dangerous than ever before. Hopefully, that stays with the audience — that unique feeling of being right there with him. I hope they also remember how funny, sweet and tender it is in places too. Because that’s important, you know.

MM: What other theatrical projects are you now working on and would you like to discuss them?

DIR: At the moment I’m suffering from writer’s block. It’s something you hear people talk about, but I’ve never really understood before. I want so badly to be working on a new project, but it’s just not coming to me. It’s actually pretty exhausting because your brain is always searching for the idea and never stops. But it will come. And when it does... be ready!