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

Jun 11, 2009

I Interview Playwrights Part 7: Sheila Callaghan

Sheila Callaghan

Hometown: Freehold New Jersey

Current Town: Brooklyn, NY and Studio City, CA

Q: You've had quite a year. First an Off Broadway show which was the talk of the town and subsequently published in American Theater and now you're writing for Diablo Cody's Showtime show The United States Of Tara. How do you feel?

A:  Exhilarated, terrified, in constant crisis mode, overwhelmed, exhausted, awed, thrilled. And other stuff.  

Q: Tell me about your experience with That Pretty Pretty and with Kip and the Rattlestick. What were the reactions you were getting to the show?

A:  For the most part, the responses were incredibly strong and often very personal, whether positive or negative. We got people who were in deep deep love with the project, grateful to see something like that on stage... I got a lot of emails from young female writers who said the play reaffirmed their faith in the power of theatre. And, we got people who didn't get the joke, who thought the play propagated the same ideas that in actuality it strove to critique. And of course there were a few furious people, some walkouts, etc. I'm not used to receiving personal attacks leveled at me because of my work, so it was a bit of a shock to my ego. But I've recovered I think, and perhaps my skin is thicker for it. The play had always terrified me, and I understand that kind of response in general is one worth following through for better or worse.  

Q: You just had a kid very recently. How are you finding balancing your home and work life? You and your husband are on different coasts right now, aren't you? Do you get to see each other?

A:  I don't know that I'm balancing it terribly well yet. On the sleep-deprived days I feel like I'm on the verge of mental collapse. But on good days, where the shit explosions and teething fits are at a civilized minimum, I feel like a superhero. But I love having this tiny being in my life. I am fully smitten. He's a very cheerful baby, very adaptable, which is good with all the traveling we do. This is an expensive, challenging, invigorating time for us. We've been doing a bunch of cross-country visiting, so he's been able to see his daddy every two weeks. Though often I feel like a single mom, which gives me a whole new respect for women who raise children on their own. I hope he brags to people someday about how we were able to pull it off. Right now I'm at my desk in my Tara office and he's next to me in his little musical walker. I'm so lucky I get to have him on the lot with me. I don't know how I would do this if I had a 9-9 TV job and a full-time nanny for him. I think we would have lasted less than a week.  

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Everything. Smart loud ballsy shit. Quiet pensive loaded shit. Quirky, absurd, silly shit. Romantic realistic heart-twisting shit. Long plays, short plays, plays that aren't plays. When stuff is done well, with commitment and vision and a fierce love of form, I get crazed and happy.  

Q: What advice do you have for younger or less experienced playwrights?

A;  None. I don't know what I'm doing.  

Q:  What time is Tara on or do you have a play coming up to plug?

A:  Tara is between seasons, so you can check the website to see when season 2 airs. My play FEVER/DREAM is running at Woolly Mammoth Theatre right now. A huge wild fantastical modern adaptation of Pedro Calderon de la Barca's LIFE IS A DREAM. It's a monster.


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