Aug 23, 2010
I Interview Playwrights Part 243: Johnny Klein
Hometown: Roseville, CA
Current Town: Los Angeles
Q: Tell me about your upcoming show in NYC.
A: It's called Auto Graphic Novel and it's part of the Dream Up Festival at Theater for the New City. One friend described it as a William S. Burroughs pop-up book for kids. It's about the visions you get from a child's eye, the soft space behind your skin which is spirit and death and being interested in sex and the girl you like and your best friend and not being able to put it in any other words. It's set in my two favorite and most formative decades--the 1990's and the 1970's.
Q: What else are you up to?
A: Nothing. This is all that I'm doing. I'm writing, directing and acting in this play and I'm so happy to be doing nothing else.
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A; There was this crooked bridge in Roseville that I loved to cross. It went over these railroad tracks and I loved everything about that place. There were hobos in dark clothes sitting in the bridge's shade, and there was the smell of iron and oil, and trash littered from the time and I always felt alone and so happy to be alive watching all of this. The place made me feel very watchful.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: I guess I'd erase it. I mean completely erase it so that none of us knew anything about it or what it was. Then if something wanted to come from that place, we'd all be here to make it.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: I think anybody who ever taught me anything about theatre. I really love and miss my elementary school teachers and librarians who told me stories, and my first mime teacher who gave me my first wordless event to tell, and all my subsequent teachers who really loved theatre and taught it to me heart to heart. That's a cheesy 80's tv show, but you know there's even love in that if you break it down into the individual people who told those stories.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: I need to sense that whoever made this thing spent a lot of time not knowing what was about to happen.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Find a way to surprise yourself. Constantly.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: If there's time to publish this we're having a Benefit Performance in LA on Monday, August 23rd at 7pm at the new space Circle X and EST share in Atwater. 3269 Casitas Ave, LA, CA 90039.
Also, come to Theater for the New City
155 First Ave, NY, NY 10003
August 29-31 7pm, Sept 1 9pm, Sept 4 2pm.