Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I Interview Playwrights Part 297: A. Rey Pamatmat
A. Rey Pamatmat
Hometown: Port Huron, MI and it's environs (mostly the environs)
Current Town: New York, NY (Jackson Heights, Queens, to be specific)
Q: Tell me about the play you just won the Princess Grace with.
A: EDITH CAN SHOOT THINGS AND HIT THEM is about three kids who are essentially abandoned on a remote farm and end up raising themselves, and then what happens to them when the outside, grown-up world decides that they don't like the ways they've chosen to do it. I grew up in the middle of nowhere (like NOWHERE nowhere), so the play started from a magnification of those childhood feelings of isolation. As the piece evolved, though, it became equally about the wonderful things that came out of the way I was raised. For example, I read and wrote as much as I did as a kid to entertain myself and, obviously, that's been paying off lately!
Q: What else are you up to?
A: EDITH is getting it's world premiere in the 2011 Humana Festival in March, and we're about to start design for that. It was also read as part of the National New Play Network Showcase in December, so hopefully Humana will be the first of several destinations for the play. Other than that, I'm doing the 2011 Anthology Project at Humana with Dan Dietz, Jennifer Haley, Allison Moore, and Marco Ramirez. We're writing about the Apocalypse! My piece is about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse sharing an apartment and fighting over Kashi. So I've got a lot of great stuff on my plate at the moment. Plus, there's a new play percolating, something noir-ish...
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: As a kid, I was a fairly good Dungeon Master. That's right AD&D Dungeon Master. I now believe D&D is a gateway to playwriting. Like pot is to crystal methamphetamine.
Also, when I was 13, I used to stand in our backyard and shoot a compound hunting bow at bales of hay. I first shot a pistol when I was 8 and visiting relatives in the Philippines. Come see EDITH — Edith shoots things, too.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: The prevailing impression that plays about bi- or tri-cultural experiences are "ethnic" plays, when in reality they are truly American plays — America is still the only place where many of those plays could actually take place. And the accepted restriction that black people can't write white people and white people can't write black people. I've noticed that most of my Asian-American playwriting peers write people of all cultural backgrounds and so far no riots have erupted. Wait — that was two things. Okay, but I can make them one: I would blow up the limited ideas people have about racial/ethnic/cultural narratives in American Theatre.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: Maria Irene Fornes, Tony Kushner, David Henry Hwang, August Wilson, Caryl Churchill... I could go on forever.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Theatrical, imaginative stuff. We've started to overvalue "real" and "authentic" narratives and the aesthetics that will support them. I'm not saying I don't like stories like that, I just get more excited when I see the larger than life stuff that balances it out.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: Find a group of peeps and work with them. A lot. You need them more than anything else in the theatre. Not only will they support your work, but the right ones will make you a better artist, a better business person, and (more importantly) a better person person.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: Go see THE WIFE by Tommy Smith before it closes.
Check out Vampire Cowboys SATURDAY NIGHT SALOON, if you've never done it before. It's a real treat.
Keep an eye on the writers who had readings at 2g's FREE RANGE. I'll be selecting a couple of them soon to develop full-length plays with 2g.
And come to the Humana Festival in March 2011 to see EDITH CAN SHOOT THINGS AND HIT THEM and THE END (the Anthology which includes my play THIS IS HOW IT ENDS).