Sep 28, 2010
I Interview Playwrights Part 264: David Simpatico
Hometown: Palisades Park, NJ
Current Town: New York City
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I tend to work on several pieces concurrently, though I am trying to narrow it down to two at a time. I've just been accepted into a year long opera training program at the American Lyric Theatre, so that entail a series of short projects through the year.
New projects I'm working on right now: an adult horror film version of HANSEL AND GRETAL; organizing my thoughts for WAITING FOR THE BALL TO DROP, a full length play about a year in the life of seven friends; APOCOLYPSE WOW, a vaudeville about the end of the world; and ORACLE a musical fantasy for young adults set in the world of Greek mythology. Oh, I just finished some one minute plays that appeared in the One Minute Play festival, that was a blast.
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: In the fourth grade, I played the title role in our full scale production of MACBETH. My mother made my tunic from a Simplicity pattern, and the day of the cast party, I hid my pants and shirt in my duffle bag claiming someone had stolen my clothes, so I had to walk home in my tunic; that was perhaps the happiest day of my young life, walking home and twirling in my shakespeare tunic. I've been dancing the same dance ever since.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: I would urge my peers and the next generation to write for the theatre, not for the sofa. The lack of theatricality in theatrical plays is astounding. Use the parameters of the living space rather than limiting the material to what we accept as familiar. Engage my imagination. Enrage me. Anything, just don't put me to sleep.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: Caryl Churchill; Tennessee Williams; Euripides; Shakespeare; Franco Dragone; Martha Graham; Zero Mostel. August Wilson. Charles Ludlum.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Visceral theatre excites me; something that expands my engagement beyond the restrictions of my chair. Expand my experience to the four walls of the theatre, to the farthest walls of my heart. Theatre that entertains me, from Maggie Smith in Lettuce and Lovage to the flying acrobatic dancers at the Streb Lab out in Willamsburg. I have had my fill of courtroom dramas and lectures on art, thanks.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Take acting classes, perform, get your ass onto a stage and understand from the inside out what you are asking people to do; perform solo, your own material; read the whole play out loud to a small group of friends so you can hear your 'voice' on all levels; band together with friends and put your work up ANYWHERE you can, but stay in the live element; there is nothing that will illuminate the live theatre experience more than actual live performance. Film and video will not teach you what you need to learn as a playwright. And never stop discovering what you don't yet know: push yourself into dark waters.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: new pieces I'm pushing: CRUEL SHOES, an adult backstage musical comedy about a killer chorus boy with four homicidal female multiple personalities (http://www.cruelshoesthemusical.com/)
and THE SCREAMS OF KITTY GENOVESE, a rock opera about the infamous 1964 murder of a young woman while 38 neighbors watched and did nothing (http://thescreamsofkittygenovese.com/)