Sep 24, 2010
I Interview Playwrights Part 263: Deborah Zoe Laufer
Hometown: Liberty, NY
Current Town: Mt. Kisco, NY.
Q: Tell me please about your play Sirens at Humana.
A: I had the time of my life at Humana. It was the most collaborative process I’ve ever been part of. I went to the early design meetings which somehow, insanely enough, I hadn’t done in the past. It made me really consider the arbitrary walls that are put up in production – who gets to interact with whom. Great designers are so inspiring. And I had brilliant designers on Sirens. They made me fall in love with my own play through their visions. And, being in the room I could help problem-solve and clarify and rewrite. It seems such a mistake that we’re not always invited to work together.
Q: What else are you working on?
A: My new play is about gamers, and the thin line between “real” life and our on-screen lives. It centers around the military’s recruitment of expert gamers to fly remote drones in Afghanistan and Iraq out of trailers in the Nevada desert. These are often teenagers and they’re finding they have worse PTSD than soldiers “in the field.” I Just had a reading at the Missoula Colony in MT, and I’m ready to get out a second draft.
Q: What else are you up to?
A: I just started the BMI lyricists workshop!!!! I’m so crazy out of my mind thrilled. I love musicals and I love learning something totally new, and we just had the first class last week and I can’t stop smiling.
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 grew up in the woods. I raised woodchuck, beaver, deer, hawks, goats, ferrets, horses, swans, geese, pheasants, chickens, peacocks. (besides dozens of cats and dogs) I was a witch all through grade school. I was the only Jewish kid in my elementary school, and the only Jew many of them had ever seen. I trained a frog to come to me when I held out my hand. I was odd. And funny. Guess that about sums it up.
Q: How do you think Paul Simon writes such amazing songs?
A: Right?? He’s our national poet. If you read Adam’s website Paul, wouldn’t it be fun to work on a musical together? THINK ABOUT IT!
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Find a writer’s group of people you love and trust and respect.
Put together readings of your work. Just friends in your living room if you need to. Plays need to be heard.
Don’t say, as I did, “I’m not good at the business part – I’m just a writer.” I thought that was charming and artsy for a long time. But the business part is part of being a writer. And it’s really not as charming and artsy as we think it is to say we’re bad at it.
Don’t become addicted to online scrabble and chess! (As soon as I finish the 50 games I’m playing I’m DONE.)