Sunday, June 20, 2010

I Interview Playwrights Part 199: Alice Tuan

Alice Tuan

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

Current Town: Valencia, CA

Q:  What are you working on now? 

A:  COCKS CROW is a play I wrote the first draft of in Shanghai...Americans trying to do business in China but not understanding how Chinese business 'practices' work...shrinking superpower entitlement.

Q:  What was Shanghai like? 

A:  Infinitely interesting...a great place from which to think about the 21st century. It made me realize what I love about the U.S., namely psychic freedom and the possibility of self-determination.

Q:  You're the Head of Writing for Performance at Cal Arts. Can you tell me about that?

A:  The Writing for Performance program at Cal Arts is for innovative creator minds who are interested in collaborating with different and interdisciplinary artist minds and forging new kinds of performance...what might be the theater of the 21st century? Cal Arts is the place to explore...

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A:  My grandfather, who was a Lt. General in Chiang Kai-Shek's Nationalist army, lived with us in his later years. I woke to the sound of beeping one morning...beep beep beep, endlessly...and found my grandpaps bent over the microwave, pressing numbers, trying to warm his tea. He could not find the start button, and my screamed explanation to the 93-year-old man sparked a moment of the past trying to start 'fire by buttons' in the modern world. This literally was the first scene I ever wrote. I think playwriting was a way to try and fuse contradictions, old/new, east/west, male/female power which has led me to a synthesis point in which my drama thinking stems from, always striving for that point above the original plane of conception.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be? 

A:  The set paradigm which keeps new voices and rhythms of the internet mind from being seen on stage.

Q:  What kind of theater excites you? 

A:  Seeing new populations and sensibilities enacted, ones that articulate the new complexities of 21st century behavior, even if it is a classic re-imagined (like Cromer's Our Town)...or avant garde frag/satire with emotional payoff (Austin's Rude Mechs, The Method Gun).

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out? 

A:  Go to the edges of your mind to find your voice, but have the knowledge and flex of understanding how the market works.

Q:  Plugs, please: 

A:   Rima Anosa's Myopia (race satire through consumer lens and absurdist events), Candrice Jones' Crackbaby (non-TV movie treatment of exacerbated social issue critting the Public school system of the United States of America with a crack dialect stemmed from Gertrude Steinesque riff) + above mentioned, Cromer and Rude Mechs.

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