Saturday, June 06, 2009

I interview playwrights part 5: David Adjmi

David Adjmi



Hometown: Brooklyn, NY

Current Town: toggling Minneapolis and Brooklyn

Q: Tell me about your play Stunning.
 
A:  It's a play set in the Sephardic-Syrian Jewish community in brooklyn, which is where I was raised. It's sort of like an Edith Wharton novel, but with Syrians.

Q: It's going up at Lincoln Center, right? That must be exciting.

A:  It's really frightening and exciting, and I've never had a play on in New York before so I definitely feel the pressure. We're all working like dogs.

Q: You're one of those playwrights who write more than one play at a time. What's the most that you've had going at once? Do you have a bunch you're writing right now? What are they about?

A:  Well I usually only am actively writing 2 plays at once, and I work on one in the morning and usually rewrite the other at night. And I'll jot ideas or dialogue for other plays while I'm doing that. But these last plays I wrote that way were kind of intense and I got really sick for writing sixteen hours a day so I had to stop that. Now I'm doing just one at a time. I'm writing a commission for Berkeley Rep which is sort of about the oil industry, and I'm working on a screenplay which is sort of about Shirley MacLaine, but that's all I'll say.

Q: What kind of theatre excites you?
 
A:  Well I prefer not to be bored, so non-boring things. And I like non-literal theatre, I like metaphor, I like plays that form their own worlds.

Q: What do you look for in collaborators? (actors, directors, etc.)

A:  Well with my director I need to work with someone who gets that my plays have very specific needs and really works to figure out what they are. I also like to work closely in the process and I need a director who's going to help carve out for me what my role is in the process. I don't like the ambiguity in the room of "oh, who is this scary playwright? why is he talking to us??" I like directors who are secure in who they are and in their work. In terms of actors, I love really generous actors who are deft with my style, which is not easy, and also have a real raw emotional access
 
Q: Do you have advice for the playwrights who read my blog? Is there anything you wish you had known a few years back that you could impart on the masses?

A:  Well my plays and my experiences I think are specific to me and how I work and what I need, and we all have to come to it individually I think. That said, I think patience and faith and commitment to process both with yourself and your collaborators is enormously important. I didn't always have those things. I panicked quite easily and capitulated quite easily. I don't like to make choices out of fear -- in my writing or in production. There's always a moment where things can go south in production, or in development and it's usually when you are being asked to abandon your instincts when something doesn't work. It's extremely important for YOU, the AUTHOR, to understand for yourself WHY something doesn't work, and feel it on a gut level, before you change or abandon anything in the writing. That takes a kind of fortitude I didn't have when I started writing.

Q: You have a book of plays coming out, don't you? Can people pre-order that?

A: Oh gee, I don't know. I don't even have the galleys yet. It's not coming out til early 2010 so there's time.

Q: Where can people go to buy tickets to Stunning?
A:  You can get them on the website for Lincoln Center, which is http://lct.org/showMain.htm?id=185, or at the box office of the Duke Theatre, which is where we're playing.

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