Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I Interview Playwrights Part 19: Dan Trujillo

Dan Trujillo

Hometown: Portland, OR

Current Town: Brooklyn

Q: Tell me about your play in the DC fringe. You guys did it in NYC last year, didn't you?

A: The Honest-to-God True Story of the Atheist. It's a vaudeville about an atheist that steals a plastic baby Jesus from an airport nativity scene in order to disprove the existence of God, and the miracles that follow. It features cheap jokes, songs and dances, and mole people. I wrote the play during the first National Playwrights Month. Isaac Butler (the director) and his partner Anne Love's company elsewhere did a low-key production in June at Under St. Marks in Manhattan, with the intention of remounting it after a test drive. From a very early point I worked on the play with the notion that it would tour easily -- three actors and a musician, a few props, no set. A fringe show is a logical next step.

Q: How much has changed since the previous production?

A: About 20% new material. The major changes were the addition of a new song, a rewrite of another song, and a rewrite of one of the late scenes. Everything else is tweaks. I hear some of your rehearsals are open to the public. Tell me about that? That was Isaac's idea. The play has a lot of audience interaction -- not audience participation, but the actors are responding to the audience directly a lot. So it's good to get audience in there as part of rehearsal.

Q; What's it like working with Isaac?

A: Isaac and I met on the internet, as it seems everyone meets now. We were both writing theatre blogs. He's kept his up and I didn't, but we found we had a great rapport. There was never that odd formality that most writer-director relationships have. And he never told me to change a scene, or rewrite a character. He'll tell me when he thinks something isn't working, but he never suggests changes, or insists on them. He lets me do my job, and I really appreciate that.

Q: What are you working on next?

A; I'm trying to get a production in my home town of Portland OR. Writing-wise, I'm working on a treasure-hunt play called Mine, and a play for my daughters (to see, not to act in).

Q: What kind of theater excites you?

A: I love theatre that's transgressive in smart ways. That doesn't mean offensive necessarily, though it can. I saw a marionnette show of Aladdin at Puppetworks (http://www.puppetworks.org/) where the genie -- played by a human -- jumped on the stage with the marionettes to smash Aladdin's palace. It completely destroyed the puppet illusion, and it was perfect. I love plays that I couldn't possibly completely understand in one sitting. I love Sheila Callaghan's plays. I love outlandish use of language.

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

A: I don't have any career advice, which is what I wish I could give. My eldest daughter just had her 1st grade art show where she made this really great bird. She had three options for what project she could have done, and she chose to do the bird. I asked her why, and she told me she chose the bird because it was the hardest. So my advice is: choose the bird.

Q: Link please for people to buy tix to your show in DC.


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