Playwright and songwriter John J King and dramaturg Ramona Rose King, who married last August, had never worked on a project together, until they decided to make a music video about Zoom meetings. The result: “(Who Needs) Pants?!,” with John’s music and lyrics.
That successful collaboration inspired them to do more, especially since physical distancing from everyone else meant the couple is spending more time together in their small Boston apartment. The music video has spawned a not-to-be-missed weekly series available on YouTube called “Home Office," which captures the joys and complexity of sheltering-in-place, in hilarious five-minute episodes that focus on the irritating and inspiring aspects of living and working in close quarters.
Before the pandemic struck, the Kings were taking an online screenwriting class. “We started studying the structure of the scripts for ‘The Office’ and thought it might be fun to mirror that confessional style as we navigate working from home together in a small apartment,” John says.
“My job has actually gotten busier,” says Ramona, who is the HowlRound producer in the Office of the Arts at Emerson College, “since HowlRound programs [a platform for conversations around theatermaking] are live-streamed around the world and there’s increased demand for this information right now. My co-workers have gotten to know John, and on Zoom calls often wave and say hi when they see him in the background.”
John has been freelancing as a teacher, playwright, and performer, and has used his home as his office for a while. An alumni of the Huntington Playwriting Fellowship program, he writes wonderfully quirky comedies, including “From Denmark with Love” (a memorable mashup of Hamlet and James Bond), a “Twilight”-infused libretto for the opera “Der Vampyr,” and most recently “Martha’s (B)Rainstorm: A Boston Fairy Tale,” as artist-in-residence at the Boston Public Library. He was set to perform in Company One Theatre’s “Dance Nation” and have a staged reading of his play “Museum Piece” at SpeakEasy Stage Company, both of which have been canceled.
For their “Home Office” videos, “we talk about the topic or theme,” says Ramona, “and John creates the outline, but most of the dialogue is improvised.”
“In my head, I was thinking eight- to 10-minute segments would be good,” says John, “but everyone’s attention span is shot these days, so five or six minutes works best.”
“Home Office,” they say, is a great way to cope with the uncertainties of the time with a much-needed creative outlet. “The episodes emerge out of our experiences,” says Ramona, “and it’s been fun to find the humor in all of this.”