Hometown: Toronto, Ontario Canada
Current Town: New York City
Q: Tell me about your play The Retributionists going up at Playwrights Horizons. Who is your artistic team? What is the show about?
A: We are at the end of our second week of rehearsal and it has been very intense and exciting. I am in awe of the cast and the creative team.
Leigh Silverman is directing and it has been the best collaboration. I think she's amazing.
Our young, sexy, charismatic Jews are Adam Driver, Margarita Levieva, Cristin Milioti and Adam Rothenberg. Lusia Strus, Rebecca Henderson and Hamilton Clancy play the Germans.
And we have an all Tony award winning design team. Derek McLane is doing the set, Susan Hilferty the costumes, Peter Kaczorowski is doing the lights, Jill BC DuBoff the sound. My friend Tom Kitt has written a beautiful original score.
Playwrights Horizons desribes the play like this: Spring 1946. The plan was simple: a German for every Jew. Its execution would be swift, clean, its impact undeniable. In this daring new romantic thriller inspired by actual events, a band of young Jewish freedom fighters attempts to avenge a society’s wrongs – if they can keep from tearing each other apart in the process.
Q: How long have you been teaching at NYU?
A: Amazingly, I am about to start my 11th year teaching at NYU.
Q: Are you also working on a musical, tv pilots and screeenplays while writing new plays and raising a family? How do you find the time?
A: The busier I am, the more productive I am. And as I get a little older, the scope of my voice and my dreams have broadened. I love working on musicals - I find the collaborative aspect of it thrilling. And there's nothing like being in a room with talent and hearing a song come to life. It has also been very satisfying to work a little bit in film and television. It's great to stretch those muscles. Having a family gives me perspective and forces me to spend less time on myself, which is so easy and so dangerous for artists. I have actually been more productive since my daughter was born. And fatherhood has been the most rewarding and joyful experience of my life.
Q: Marsha Norman talks about us all having areas of expertise--that there is something specific that each of us writes about really well. What do you think that thing is for you?
A: I am a big believer in 'write what you know'/'write what you're confused about'. My plays tend to focus on various aspects of Jewish identity. Hopefully, in being very specific and personal, the work can find a universal truth.
Q: How would you fill in this blank? The job of a playwright is to ______
A: provoke, question, entertain, challenge.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Good theatre. It can be anything, anywhere. But I love good acting and great storytelling. Not so interested in too many bells and whistles and concepts.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Finish what you start. Don't underestimate the accomplishment of getting out a draft. See as much as you can. Be a fan.
Link for the PH show: