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1000 PLAYWRIGHT INTERVIEWS

1000 Playwright Interviews The first interview I posted was on June 3, 2009.  It was Jimmy Comtois.  I decided I would start interview...

Oct 9, 2019

I Interview Playwrights Part 1063: River Timms





River Timms

Hometown:  Huntsville, AL is where I was born, but I spent most of my childhood in Tanner, AL

Current Town:  Nashville, TN

Q:  Tell me about Tall Tales.

A:  I had just graduated from college and was on my way to my parents' house for my brother's wedding in September 2018, and I was struck with a question that seemed to come out of nowhere: what if I was actually moving back home right now? Growing up in relatively small towns, I always had the dream of moving away, and it seemed like I had accomplished that, but just a short string of bad luck could force me back home at any moment it seems. The thought of moving back home terrified me. Nashville is a progressive(-ish) city, one that I don't totally feel unsafe in as a queer person, but my hometown is... not that. I never thought I would write a "homophobia play," but the story just lept out of me. I began work on 'Tall Tales' on the day of my brother's wedding, and a first draft was finished in about two months.

'Tall Tales' is a horror play about being isolated and othered in the Christ-haunted Deep South, primarily for being gay. It's a play involving Christianity and ex-gays and folk witchcraft and lots of blood. It discusses the idea of queer bodies being seen as political before human, but it's also a play about healing from the deep scars that discrimination and religion can cause, the friends that keep us LGBTQ folk above water when it seems like the world is against us. Living as a queer person in the south is frightening a LOT of the time, but having the right people around makes life better.

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  I'm the Literary Manager of Woven Theatre in Nashville, so I'm still overseeing our season. 'Tall Tales' is our final announced show, and in November, we'll be presenting a reading of 'Torera' by Monet Hurst-Mendoza (which I HIGHLY recommend! It's a wonderful play). Now that TT has opened, I'm moving on to work for my next play "Until the Waves Come," a play about the value of art after an apocalyptic event.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I wish theater would take more chances on weird stuff and new plays. 'Slave Play' by Jeremy O'Harris being on Broadway gives me hope though. There's just a lot of really wonderful theatre out there that's unconventional that deserves to be seen, but I frequently see theater companies choose "safe" classic plays for their seasons instead of bold new plays.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Sarah Ruhl made me want to be a playwright; after reading "A Clean House," I never looked back. Also, Tony Kushner's brand of fantasy (especially when utilized in plays that deal with gay trauma like in "Angels In America") constantly inspires me to push the fantasy in my work further.

Also, I am indebted to my dramaturg Todd Brian Backus! He really helped turn 'Tall Tales' into something special, and I'll be going to him again for his services.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Oh, gosh, I love magical realism and fantasy-inspired theater. I love seeing a play that provides me with a brand new experience. I also get really excited about any plays that involve LGBTQ characters and storylines.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  YOU ARE GOING TO WRITE BAD STUFF SOMETIMES. I scared myself to death trying to hold myself to this standard of everything I write having to be revolutionary. When I heard my first bad play read out loud (in front of people!), it devastated me. It'll probably devastate you too. Let it. Own it! Then, continue forward. That's the nature of this work. There's a lot of failure involved, but experimenting and trying stuff out is honorable, even if it doesn't work out. Also, KEEP your "bad" stuff. There's always something good in there that you can cannibalize for another, better play.

Q:  Plugs please:

A:  My twitter is @RiverTimms, and Woven's is @Woven_Theatre. We've also got an indiegogo campaign running to help fund the season: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/a-season-of-new-plays#/. Tickets for "Tall Tales" can be found here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tall-tales-by-ad-timms-tickets-70931697617

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Oct 3, 2019

I Interview Playwrights Part 1062: Richard Curtis



Richard Curtis

Hometown:  Born in Bronx, NY, grew up in Queens, NY and subsequently Hewlett, Long Island, NY. In short, I'm a New Yorker from head to toes.

Current Town:  Manhattan

Q:  Tell me about Quiet Enjoyment?

A:  A bizarre incident in the closing of our purchase of a co-op inspired the idea for a comedy about a closing that goes as wrong as a deal can go. I sat on the idea for years till I knew my characters, then let 'er rip!

Q:  What else are you working on now?

A:  Short and full-length comedies, satires, and farces.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.

A:  When I was five I made up a song about "The Lady Next Door". My mother declared me a story-telling genius, and I never argued with my mother. I have had more than fifty works of fiction and nonfiction published, and many one-act and ten-minute plays produced.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I would quadruple actor pay scales.

Q:  Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Neil Simon, Feydeau, Paddy Chayevsky, and Dick Van Dyke reruns.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I hold my breath from the opening line to the last one.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Work in the theater, make connections with peers who are on their way up. One day they will be in a position to help you get your work performed.

Q:  Plugs, please:

A:  Do you mean plug my own work? Say "I've written a comedy about a co-op closing" and people start laughing. They all have a story. But they don't have one as funny as Quiet Enjoyment. A plug for my director Marcus Gualberto? I see funny in the two-dimensions of a manuscript. He sees funny in the three dimensions of a theater, and he makes it even funnier than I ever imagined.


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Oct 2, 2019

Audrey Cefaly's playwriting vocabulary


Audrey wrote a cool list about playwriting terms: 
"Fellow playwrights, these are my words for playwright-erly things. Many of them are maybe a little unorthodox, words not typically used in this fashion, but ones that work for me. The idea is to sort of look beyond what's taught in textbooks and give names to techniques that are often undocumented, overlooked and undervalued.  In any event, they work for me, maybe they'll work for you too.  In no particular order..."
LAVA LAMPING
that thing where you devise a little something interesting to bubble up into a scene every now and then, and maybe it's never fully explained but delightful nonetheless because not everything needs an explanation; it can just be lava or whatever you want it to be
CLOCKING
it's that moment (a skipped heartbeat kind of moment) when a character notices, with undeniable clarity, something of great significance; a solid radar strike...​
LINE TOSS
that line you write for a character to be delivered breezily as they pass through the scene and to them it means nothing but to the other character it is total devastation
YELP
a cry of pain; a very quick sharp burst of a line uttered by a character in response to agonizing emotional pain or torment
GOLD
that thing or moment in a script that is so perfect, so right, so genuinely spot-on that, in its absence, the world would stop spinning


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Sep 27, 2019

Plays Of Mine

PRODUCTIONS

Clown Bar 2
Production #1 of CB2
Majestic Rep
Las Vegas, NV

Production #21 of Marian
Spirit Gum Theatre Company
Winston Salem, NC
Opens October 11, 2019.




Production #22 of Marian
Blue Ridge Community College
Flat Rock, NC
Opens November 13, 2019.

Production #23 of Marian
The Breck School
Golden Valley, MN
Opens March 5, 2020

Production #24 of Marian
Cambridge Street Upper School
Cambridge, MA
Opens March 19, 2020

Production #25 of Marian
Michigan State Univeristy
East Lansing, MI
Opens April 10, 2020

Production #37 of Clown Bar
Theatre Downtown
Birmingham, AL
Opens September 19, 2019.



Production #38 of Clown Bar
Elon University
Elon, NC
Opens October 3, 2019.

Production #39 of Clown Bar
University of Wisconsin,
Stevens Point, WI.
Opens November 8, 2019.

Production #40 of Clown Bar
Fresno State University
Fresno, CA.
Opens November 15, 2019.


Production #43 of HLF
Anchorage, AK
Opens Sept 19, 2019.

Production #44 of HLF
Lee High School
Springfield, VA
Opens November 11, 2019.

Production #45 of HLF
Christopher Newport University
Newport News, VA.
Opens November 15, 2019.

Production #46 of HLF
Texas A and M University
Corpus, Christi, TX
Opens December 5, 2019.

Production #47 of HLF
Restless Artists Theater
Sparks, NV
Opens December 6, 2019




Production #11 of Kodachrome
Orange High School
Hillsborough, NC.
Opens November 1, 2019.

Production #12 of Kodachrome
Monett High School
Monett, MO
Opens November 11, 2019

Production #13 of Kodachrome
Berkley High School
Berkley, MI
Opens November 15, 2019.

Production #14 of Kodachrome
Fair Lawn High School
Fair Lawn, NJ
Opens November 19, 2019.

Production #15 of Kodachrome
Labette County High School
Altamont, KS
Opens April 16, 2020.


Production #15 of Pretty Theft
Mohawk Valley Community College
Utica, NY
Opens October 24, 2019.

The Adventures of Super Margaret

Production #9 of Super Margaret
Driscoll Middle School
San Antonio, TX
Opens November 20, 2019.

Production #10 of Super Margaret
Clarksville Middle School
Clarksville, IN
Opens December 20, 2019.

Rare Birds
Production #8 of Rare Birds
Mesquite High School
Mesquite, TX.
Opens November 14, 2019.

a night of short plays

Production #34 of 7 Ways
Gladwin Area Friends of the Theater
Gladwin, MI
Opens October 10, 2019.

Production #35 of 7 Ways
Fountain Central Jr-Sr High
Veedersburg, IN
Opens November 22, 2019

Production #36 of 7 Ways
Mercer University
Macon, GA
Opens February 13, 2020.

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I Interview Playwrights Part 1061: Ron West







Ron West

Hometown: Middlefield, Ohio

Current Town: Santa Monica, CA.

Q: Tell me about Neil Simon's Musical Fools.

A:  A number of years ago, my songwriting partner's wife directed Fools at the high school where she teaches. Phil wrote on his program, "Better as a musical," and let that incubate for a few years before he told me about it. As luck would have it, we ended up having the same attorney as Neil Simon and we got permission to adapt the play. Mr. Simon did most of the heavy lifting because we adhered to the script closely. I regret to say we never spoke to or heard from him. When Phil's wife Amanda was working at another high school, she produced Neil Simon's Musical Fools and Mrs. Simon (AKA Elaine Joyce) came to see it and gave it the stamp of approval, essentially.

Q: What else are you working on now?

A:  A musical adaptation of Richard III in yet another collaboration with composer Phil Swann.

Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I would throw more paying work my way.

Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  My theatrical heroes are my band and choir conductors who taught me about managing big groups of people. Also, my parents, who didn't tell me, "This is insane; don't do this," even though it was insane and I shouldn't have done it.

Q: What kind of theater excites you?

A:  The one where I show up expecting nothing and go away thinking, "I've got to steal as much of that as possible."

Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Don't type a lot of stuff in parentheses that tells the actors how to say the lines.

Q: Plugs, please:

A:  You mean like, "See Neil Simon's Musical Fools, the funniest thing on 30 legs."

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Sep 26, 2019

I Interview Playwrights Part 1060: Stephanie Alison Walker




Stephanie Alison Walker 

Hometown:  Barrington, IL (suburb of Chicago)

Current Town:  L.A. has been home for a total of 14 years (with 10 months spent on a remote island in the PNW and a year and a half in Chicago.) I constantly feel torn between L.A. and Chicago because both cities have my heart. P.S. I love winter. I love snow. I love bundling for the cold… but of course that’s so easy to say because I no longer have to live in it. I suppose I’ve romanticized it. That said, I did spend four weeks in the Chicago winter last year for family and the opening of The Abuelas. And I loved every second of it.

Q: Tell me about The Abuelas.

A:  Here’s the synopsis:

Gabriela is an Argentine cellist living in Chicago with her American husband and adjusting to life as a new mom. A surprise visit from two strangers exposes a devastating secret in this visceral look at the repercussions of Argentina’s so-called “Dirty War.” The Abuelas explores the heart’s capacity for forgiveness — even in the face of the harshest betrayal.

We are heading into tech for the West Coast premiere opening on October 11th at Antaeus Theatre Company in Glendale, CA. The world premiere was in February in Chicago with Teatro Vista at Victory Gardens. I wrote it in 2016 on the heels of my play The Madres - which is about three generations of women during the so-called “Dirty War” in Argentina. The Abuelas is the companion play and is set in Chicago 37 years after The Madres ends. It’s a companion play, but both plays stand on their own.

I came to the subject for many reasons. I have Argentine family and I was actually in Argentina in 1980 during the Dictatorship (I was five then.) The images of the soldiers with their big guns in the airport imprinted on me. It was much later, when I was living and working in Buenos Aires that I began to learn about what actually happened in Argentina during that period. I had a friend who was doing a documentary on Las Madres de la Plaza de Mayo-- the mothers whose children disappeared during the dictatorship. It was because of their bravery and activism that the world really learned about what was happening during the dictatorship. They went every Thursday and marched in a circle in front of the Casa Rosada, demanding to know what happened to their children and grandchildren. They continued to march after the dictatorship and still march today.

Las Abuelas became focused on finding and restoring the identities of their lost grandchildren. They estimate that 500 babies were stolen. Las Abuelas worked with scientists to establish a DNA database in order to identify their missing grandchildren. The science was groundbreaking. It’s really extraordinary what they have done. So far, they’ve located 130 of their missing grandchildren. But that means there are still 270 who are missing.

My play is about a woman who discovers everything she knew about her life and her identity to be a lie. It explores how one can move forward after betrayal. It asks what can be forgiven and how do we move forward? There is a lot of history, politics and heartbreak at the foundation of my play, but the story is specific and personal to these characters. My goal is to draw the audience in with these characters and take them on a nuanced and deep journey that challenges and also, though dark, still maintains at least a promise of hope.

Q: What else are you working on now?

A:  My play Friends With Guns about liberals and guns just opened its third production in Minneapolis. There will be another production of that in Chicago (soon to be announced) in 2020. I have a new play called The Ordeal of Water that I’m submitting to all the development opportunities that’s inspired by the first women to work as longshoremen at the Port of Los Angeles and I am researching my next play that has me very excited, but that I’m not ready to talk about just yet. I have a one-week workshop of my play The Sister House with Inkwell Theater Company in L.A. in December. I’m also adapting Friends With Guns and writing a television pilot - trying to actually make some money.

Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?

A:  I think I need a magic wand. There are two things. One: lower ticket prices to make it more accessible to everyone. I think in an ideal world, no more than $15 for any ticket. And two: pay everyone who makes theater a living wage.

Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?

A:  Paula Vogel, Quiara Alegria Hudes, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Charlayne Woodard, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Caryl Churchill and oh how I could go on. And then there are the heroes who make theatre and are enormously dedicated to playwrights and new work. There are so many out there, here are five people who gave/give all of themselves to the creation of new work every day and who were or have been personally instrumental in my life: Russ Tutterow, Ann Filmer, Nan Barnett, Jordana Fraider, Samara Harris.

Q: What kind of theater excites you?

A:  I get excited when I see something I’ve never seen before… especially if it grabs me emotionally. Especially when it’s a truth so vulnerable and dangerous, like an exposed nerve. I get really excited when I feel like the entire audience is breathing as one. I felt all of this both times I saw Indecent by Paula Vogel, for example.

Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?

A:  Don’t be precious about your work. Don’t try to write a perfect play, instead, write a truthful play. Be bold. Rejection is required. A lot of it. So get cozy with it. Connect with other playwrights and join the New Play Exchange. Keep learning. Find your community. If you can’t find one. Create one. Oh- and don’t wait for someone else to produce your work. There’s so much to be learned in producing it yourself, especially if you surround yourself with intuitive and talented people with a lot of energy. One of the best things I ever did for my writing was attend the Kennedy Center’s Summer Playwriting Intensive led by Gary Garrison. If you can do that, I can’t recommend it enough!

Q: Plugs, please:

A:  Los Angeles: please come see THE ABUELAS, Oct. 3- Nov. 25 http://antaeus.org/shows/the-abuelas/

Minneapolis/St. Paul: please see FRIENDS WITH GUNS now running through October 5th https://www.uprisingtheatreco.com/september-2019/

My plays on NPX: https://newplayexchange.org/users/281/stephanie-alison-walker

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Littof

To learn more about the work of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, please visit their website: https://abuelas.org.ar

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