May 24, 2010
I Interview Playwrights Part 177: Michael Mitnick
Current Town: Brooklyn
Q: You have a play coming up with Studio 42 in June. Can you tell me about that?
A: The title is: “SPACEBAR: A BROADWAY PLAY BY KYLE SUGARMAN”
It’s about a disgruntled 16-year-old boy named Kyle from Fort Collins who has written a 259-page play set 7,000 years in the future – SPACEBAR (which is not about the space key on the keyboard, but is, instead, about a bar in outer space). He knows in his heart that it is the best play ever written. And he won’t stop submitting copies to Broadway until he hits it big.
We move in-and-out of Kyle’s real life, his imagination, and the play-within-the-play. It’s a satire on the current state of American non-profit and commercial theatre. It’s also about how loss affects children and about the universal need to be taken seriously when you’re a teenager.
Q: What else are you working on?
A: In July there’s a workshop at the Kennedy Center of my play SEX LIVES OF OUR PARENTS, which is about all the things our parents will never tell us under any circumstances which are mostly the things we wouldn’t want to hear anyway.
In August there’s going to be a developmental production in California of a new indie-rock musical I co-wrote with Kim Rosenstock and Will Connolly. It’s about to be announced.
Also, Simon Rich and I just finished the first draft of a musical for tweens called PENCILS DOWN. It’s about the awkward, humiliating cruelty / beauty that is high school.
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: I wanted to be a professional magician all the way up until I was 15. This pretty much explains why I turned out the way I turned out.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: SPACEBAR goes too deeply into this question. I mostly wish theater tickets cost the same as movie tickets.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: At the moment (and in no order): Stephen Sondheim, Caryl Churchill, Paula Vogel, Kaufman & Hart, August Wilson, Tennessee Williams, Richard Nelson, John Guare, Frank Loesser, Richard Greenberg, Henrik Ibsen, Adam Guettel, Nicky Silver, Ken Prestininzi, Gregory Mosher, Hal Prince, Naomi Wallace, Ahrens & Flaherty, Peter Shaffer, Michael Korie, Wallace Shawn
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Theater that isn’t boring or unintentionally confusing
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Write a lot
Q: Plugs, please:
A: Come see SPACEBAR @ Studio 42. There may be anti-gravity. There will be free drinks.