Apr 2, 2010
I Interview Playwrights Part 137: Vincent Delaney
Current Town: Seattle
Q: You got a couple things coming up in New York this summer. Can you tell me about Ampersand and T or C?
A: Both plays were spawned by relationship terror. Ampersand is a comedy about husbands and wives cloning each other. It’s a three hander, so a fun workout for actors, playing multiple versions of themselves.
The style is brutal farce, with more than a touch of Feydeau: fast pace, surprises, mistaken identity, lots of humiliation and quick exits.
I’d say the play asks two questions: how far will we go to be married? And if I sleep with your clone, is it really cheating?
T or C is stylistically at the opposite end of the spectrum, but is also based in terror. It’s about the parents of a school shooter, meeting up in the New Mexico desert a year after the crime. Sheridan wants to hide, his wife Jane tracks him down.
The third character is Soledad, a local teen who’s a gifted poker player, in every sense of the word. Her relationship with Sheridan ends up being wickedly undefined but also funny.
This play asks, can we ever really know our children? And if not, what does that make us?
Q: What else are you working on?
A: Working on two more comedies. One is called Three Screams, about the people who keep inexplicably stealing Edvard Munch’s Scream. It’s about obsession, jealousy, and artists.
The other is about a playwright who fakes his own death in order to finally get produced, then works incognito as a stage hand on the production. He has to watch as everything gets rewritten, and he can’t step in. When the rewritten play is a big hit, I think he kills himself for real. Not sure about that ending yet.
Q: If I came to Seattle tomorrow, what shows or companies would you suggest I check out?
A: Most exciting theatre in Seattle is happening at Seattle Public Theatre and New Century Theatre Company. Two nimble, lean companies that are all about the actors and the text.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: Take the money out of the equation. Regionals should do five times as many plays each season, run each one for two weeks maximum, and build a community to rival film and television. I have no idea how that could happen.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Danger and complexity. Characters that can’t be summed up. Scripts that point us in odd directions and make no effort to offer solutions. Breathless poetry that is never about itself, but keeps rushing forward. Small spaces where the seats feel like they’re part of the set.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Always assume the audience is smarter than you are. Leave a play for a month and come back to it. Have some really physical hobbies.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: In addition to NCTC and Seattle Public, I adore the Workhaus Collective in Minneapolis, the Virtual Theatre Project, and Florida Stage. These companies exist for plays and playwrights.
Exciting new directors: Hayley Finn, Makaela Pollock, Meredith McDonough.
Exciting established directors: Lou Tyrell, Rita Giomi, Joel Sass, Ben McGovern.
If you need a dramaturg: Liz Engelman, Sarah Slight, Polly Carl.
Smart actors who love new plays: Sally Wingert, Josh Foldy, MJ Siebert, Sarah Malkin.