May 2, 2010
I Interview Playwrights Part 162: Jacqueline Goldfinger
Hometown: Tallahassee, FL
Current Town: Philadelphia, PA
Q: Tell me please about the play of yours Azuka is producing next year.
A: "the terrible girls" is a wicked dark comedy set in the deep South. Three friends work in a bar off the interstate and end-up "accidentally" killing men and burying them in the walls. When one attempts to hide a murder from the other two, everything begins to unravel.
"the terrible girls" began as a short one-act play in the New York Fringe. Over the past year, I've developed it with Azuka into a full-length play.
Q: What else are you working on?
A: I just finished a new drama, "Slip/Shot," and I am developing a new dark comedy, "Skin & Bone," as part of the Playwrights Forum at InterAct Theatre Company.
"Slip/Shot" is a Southern drama about two families who become inextricably linked when a party devolves into a terrible shooting, and everyone has a different opinion about what happened. "Slip/Shot" is about how we shape the truth behind the stories we tell, and re-imagine history to protect the ones we love.
"Skin & Bone" is a Southern Gothic Horror play about two elderly cannibals living in rural Florida.
Also, two of my adaptations, "Little Women" and "The Ghost's Bargain," are being published by Playscripts this fall.
You can always see what I'm up to on my website: www.jacquelinegoldfinger.com
Q: You are the Lit Mgr at the Philadelphia Theater Company. You probably read a lot of scripts. How has that affected your writing?
A: As a Literary Manager I have the opportunity to read a wide range of scripts - both published and unpublished. I get to see first-hand how the art of play writing is evolving and how playwrights are pushing the limits of theatrical imagination.
I see my own writing as a constantly evolving creature - and reading plays has always affected the evolutionary process. For example, one reason I love "Beauty Queen of Leenane" is because it has such great moment-to-moment emotional clarity. At the time I read "Beauty," I was working on an emotional mother-daughter scene in my own play so I kept this example constantly in mind to make the emotional moments stronger and clearer in my writing. Before I became a Literary Manager, however, I was limited to reading what was published which, at least for American publishers, is generally limited to scripts the publishers predict will make royalty money, and not necessarily the scripts that are testing artistic boundaries or forwarding the art form. The access to unpublished material is definitely a benefit of being a Literary Manager.
Q: What theaters in Philly should I check out?
A: There are so many great theaters in Philly! The first that come to mind are: PTC (http://philadelphiatheatrecompany.org), Azuka (http://www.azukatheatre.org), Theatre Exile (http://www.theatreexile.org), Pig Iron (http://www.pigiron.org), Applied Mechanics (http://appliedmechanics.blogspot.com), InterAct (http://www.interacttheatre.org), Inis Nua (http://www.inisnuatheatre.org), Arden (http://www.ardentheatre.org), Nice People (http://www.nicepeopletheatre.org/), and the Wilma (http://www.wilmatheater.org).
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: We had these huge wooden kitchen cabinets when I was really young and I used to like to climb inside with the pots and pans and all my miniature plastic musical instruments then close the door and make "magic" music for people in the house (the people were supposed to pretend that they didn't know where the music was coming from, that it just magically existed). I think it was probably my first impulse to create something but be invisible - which is sort of what we do as playwrights, we get to be unseen gods presiding over the universes of our plays.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: I have two things, but can I count them as one and call it a tie?
Pay all working artists a living wage, and get more brave, new scripts into the hands of young playwrights to read and study.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: Lillian Hellman. Sam Shepard. Paula Vogel. Martin McDonagh. Joe Papp. Sarah Bernhardt. Tina Landau. Phyllinda Lloyd.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Theatre that makes me look at something in a new or deeper way.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Read and see as much theater as you can.
Q: What plays are you recommending to friends right now - either to see or read?
A: "Lydia" by Octavio Solis, "Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo" by Rajiv Joseph, "The Language Archive" by Julia Cho
Q: Plugs, please:
A: Katie Clark Gray is having her new play, "516," produced this spring at Philadelphia Theatre Workshop (http://www.katharineclarkgray.com/blog/).
Theatre Exile still has two staged readings left in their spring new play series: Bruce Walsh's "Williams Weathersby" and Seth Bauer's "Over the Line" (http://www.theatreexile.org/season.php?sea=-1&mnu=sea).
Philly's annual summer new play festival, Play Penn (http://www.playpenn.org/), is ramping up.