Friday, June 25, 2010
I Interview Playwrights Part 201: Daria Polatin
Hometown: Brookline, Massachusetts
Current Town: Brooklyn and Los Angeles
Q: Tell me about the play you have coming up at Cape Cod Theater Project.
A: GUIDANCE is a play about a new high school guidance counselor who becomes obsessed with helping his students. He also gets involved with one of the parents, the ‘no child left behind’-like politics at the school, and has an Advil addiction. The play is a comedy on the surface, but is also about people struggling with loss and diving into relationships to distract themselves, rather than deal with what’s really going on underneath.
Q: What else are you up to?
A: I’m working on a play about my dad’s life growing up in Egypt called THE LUXOR EXPRESS, and developing some TV ideas.
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: When I was in fifth grade I was in a play written in German about the phases of the moon. Being tall, I played the full moon. We were performing the piece in front of my whole elementary school. At one point I forgot my lines, and it being a play in German—and me being ten—I didn’t know how to improvise. Since I didn’t think the rest of the school would notice or even know what I had been saying, I quietly moved off stage, and told two classmates—who were playing clouds—to go on and do their scene. They refused. They made me go back out on stage, and the German teacher mouthed my lines to me. I think that experience made me want to be able to create what I want to say.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: More developmental support—both artistic and financial—for early career plays and playwrights. The gap between writing a draft of a play to a production is so huge and challenging to bridge, that I believe there really needs to be more ferries to help playwrights across. A lot of developmental support has dried up in the last few years, and it’s really sad to see. I think re-investing in artistic development would help create better and more exciting work for theater now and in the future.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: I’m a junkie for good story…
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Just keep writing and rewriting. It’s easy to think and talk about writing, but the only way to get better at it is to practice. Also, have your actor-friends read stuff out loud—it will really help hear what’s on the page—what’s coming through and what might be missing. I also read my plays out loud to myself, just to make sure the words feel right when spoken. I usually do this before anyone else hears or reads the play.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: If you’re near Cape Cod, come check out GUIDANCE. (http://www.capecodtheatreproject.org/) We’ve got a great cast together, and the ever-talented Mark Brokaw is directing.