Saturday, December 11, 2010
I Interview Playwrights Part 294: Lynn Rosen
Hometown: Gary, Indiana
Current Town: NY, NY
Q: Tell me about Apple Cove.
A: Blurb time: When newlyweds Edie and Alan King move into the gated community of Apple Cove, they trust they have found a safe haven from the chaotic world outside. But when lush and forbidden roses start popping up in their garden, they quickly learn that nothing, not even electric gates, can keep nature out. Especially one's own nature.
The idea of gated communities has intrigued me since I was 16. I started to see them sprout up near my town replacing swaths of beautiful trees. I always wondered exactly who or what the homeowners were keeping at bay with those gates and rules? The world? Were they trying to tame themselves somehow?
But it was also 9/11. The ensuing wars and political climate, which continue today, as well as a personal tug of war about whether to have a child in such a world, that informed Apple Cove, and helped me clarify Edie’s journey. Edie is so scared of the world that she chooses to give up personal liberties in the name of security, and instead opts to live in a "paradise-like" community where everyone is safe, but where nature and differences are feared. In Apple Cove, we watch as Edie struggles to find and define her own paradise.
How to live in the world, not hide from it, and how to look past our fear to find beauty is a mystery to me at times. I suppose I’m grappling with that mystery via Apple Cove.
The play is very funny, but there is heartbreak as well. It's also highly theatrical. There are a lot of surprises in store and hopefully some beautiful, and carefully plotted, chaos. We have an amazing cast and design team - they're dreamy.
It’s so apt that Apple Cove found a home at Women's Project. I'm honored that the whip-smart spunksters Julie Crosby and Megan Carter chose my play because I think they have their finger on the pulse of what's exciting and relevant in theatre today. And I'm not just kissing up - they're already doing my play.
Q: What else are you working on?
A: Most immediately, I’m involved with The Germ Project at New Georges - an exciting project at a very exciting theatre company. They've commissioned me and three other playwrights to dream up plays of great scope and adventure. My play is called Goldor & Mythyka: A Hero Is Born (Based On a Truly True Story) and is directed by Shana Gold. It's a very American tale that involves a love story, a bank heist gone awry, Dungeons & Dragons, and people struggling to empower and define themselves. Supporting the text is music, video, (it’s very 3-D) and acrobatic feats both mental and physical.
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 ages 11-14 I went to a camp in the midwest called Harand Theatre Camp. Every year I faced a disastrous malfunction. Scarecrow in Wizard Of Oz - lost my voice and could only hit a few notes. (When I sang "If I Only Had A Brain" it sounded like "If I Brain".) Aunt Eller in Oklahoma -sang too fast but the accompanist refused to keep up with me so I finished singing and then had to churn butter for an eternity while he finished playing. Also, skirt ripped from body in a dance sequence revealing what I'm sure was big white underpants sticking out from a bunchy leotard. Rosie in Bye Bye Birdie - shoe flew off foot into audience. Adelaide in Guys And Dolls - threw my feather boa off the stage by accident and in a moment of sweaty desperation grabbed the boa of a girl I knew wouldn't fight back. (I'm not proud of this.) And the choreographer told me I danced like I had poop in my pants. (It's hard to dance all "sexy Hot Box dancer" when you're 13.) But I finished each number and I kept going back because I loved theatre ferociously. And even when I felt humiliated and crushed I could find a way to laugh about it. (Or maybe I'm just a masochist?)
Q: You and I have the same agent. Isn't Seth a rockstar?
A: Seth IS a rock star! And he has very big biceps which I know from giving him hugs. I think those muscles are a result of a disciplined workout schedule that alternates between hackey-sack, juggling, and ultimate frisbee. ;)
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: It would certainly be great if it were more affordable and more accessible. That's something I loved about my production of Back From The Front with The Working Theater. We had the most diverse audience (economically, ethnically) I'd ever seen and it was pretty thrilling.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: I think actors are pretty heroic. I used to act (see churning butter) and it eventually became too terrifying for me. Seeing "Noises Off" by Michael Frayne when I was about 12 is the moment I decided theatre was for me. I left that play floating. I had never laughed so hard or seen theatre done so cleverly and creatively. I love so many playwrights, but John Guare and Tina Howe come to mind right away. Their work is epically theatrical but honest and human at the same time. Also, John and Tina are very generous people, which is as inspirational to me as their work. Tina mentored me on Apple Cove during my time at The Lark Play Development Center, (as did the wonderful Arthur Kopit via the Lark Playwrights Workshop), and my time with her was a highlight of my writing life.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: See above! I prefer a messy exciting play over a very neat and tidy play that doesn't have any creative lift, you know? I liked to be surprised. But I learn something from every play I see.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Write, write, write. Have faith in your own voice, surround yourself with people whose feedback you trust and respect, and then write some more. And have a sense of humor. It’ll help when you get rejected.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: Of course Apple Cove January 29 - March 6 at the Julia Miles Theatre. Always a shout out to the Lark Play Development Center where I developed Apple Cove and where I met one of my favorite collaborators, Giovanna Sardelli. She's been working with me on Apple Cove since 2004. She’s a fantastically talented director and has great hair. Also, Out of Time & Place - a two-volume anthology which features plays by Women's Project Lab Alumni (2008-2010). My play Back From The Front is included as are diverse and vibrant plays by my incredibly talented co-alumni. And please check out The Germ Project show this June at 3LD. Oh and my play Nighthawks, a trilogy based on three Hopper paintings and published by Samuel French, (produced by Willow Cabin Theater Company and The Studio Theatre) is out there too.