Nov 11, 2010
I Interview Playwrights Part 281: Aditi Brennan Kapil
Aditi Brennan Kapil
Hometown: Born in Sofia, Bulgaria. Raised in Stockholm, Sweden.
Current Town: Minneapolis, MN
Q: Tell me about your play at the Long Wharf.
A: "Agnes under the Big Top, a tall tale" is premiering simultaneously at Mixed Blood Theatre (February) & Long Wharf Theater (March). It's a play about a handful of immigrants whose lives intersect and collide. It's about migration and displacement, but in the sense of losing your sense of self, your identity. And it's a play about the transformation that follows. And because I feel like theater should in form and structure be the story that it is telling, it's experiential like that, the play itself is a melding of European and American theatrical aesthetics in terms of style and metaphor, etc.
Q: What else are you working on?
A: I just completed a translation of Strindberg's 'Miss Julie' that I'm really proud of.
I'm involved in a couple of ensemble investigations of Shakespeare's 'Macbeth'.
I'm in the beginning stages of a trilogy based on the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Shiva, and Visnu- really exciting, if I can manage it I'd like to write them simultaneously so they can co-exist.
I'm also in the research stages of a play set around the Leipzig Trial after the burning of the Reichstag.
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: Hm. My mom was hit by a motorcycle and went into early labor with me. At that time, at least in Bulgaria, fathers weren't allowed in the hospital because they're irrelevant to the birthing process. I came out discolored, and they immediately put me in an in incubator because I was a 'blue baby', blood flow problems. My mom was convinced that I was dead and they just weren't telling her, she'd lost a baby a year earlier in India. A few days later, a nurse is changing my mom's sheets and my mom is at the window waving to my dad who is holding a bouquet of flowers out in the street. The nurse looks outside and can't help but notice that he's not white, he's Indian.
Nurse: Is that the father?
My mom: Yes, that's my husband
Nurse then fetches the doctor, and they realize that I'm not a blue baby, I'm just brown. And perfectly healthy.
I don't know that that explains anything, it's what came to mind.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: More flexible spaces. I would love to see more productions where the artistic team can guide the audience's experience from the moment they walk through the door. Guide how they experience the play. This is not to say that I have anything against a stage, or choosing to stage a play on a stage, I just like the idea of artistic flexibility in terms of how theater is experienced.
Q: Who are your theatrical heroes?
A: brave actors.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: I like theater that engages every part of me. I like metaphor, emotional journey, to be surprised, to experience collective epiphanies, to be left with lingering memories.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Write what you really want to see, it's not just an exercise. Every play is a new invention.
Q: Plugs, please.
A: Like for upcoming productions and such?
Come see 'Agnes Under the Big Top' at-
Arena Stage in DC for the New Play Festival in January: http://www.arena-stage.org/shows-tickets/the-season/productions/new-play-festival/
Mixed Blood Theatre in Minneapolis in February: http://www.mixedblood.com/mainstage/agnes
Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven (directed by the amazing Eric Ting) in March: http://www.longwharf.org/agnes-under-the-big-top
My rarely updated website is www.aditikapil.com