Friday, March 04, 2011

I Interview Playwrights Part 321: Abi Basch


Abi Basch

Hometown: New York City

Current Town: San Francisco (by way of Austin, Minneapolis and Berlin)

Q:  What are you working on now?
A:  Arctic Circles, a new play I am developing with my company (Kinderdeutsch Projekts). We recently got a grant from the Creative Work Fund for its 2012 premiere with Climate Theater, so now everything is about the geographic challenges of gathering the international lot of us for rehearsals, planning and production. This summer we will meet at Odin Theater in Holstebro, Denmark to do a development workshop with the magical Else Marie Laukvik. The first draft is done and I am hammering away at draft two with my dramaturg/genius Duca Knezevic. Then the very brilliant Paula Matthusen, electroacoustic composer/installation artist, will take over and transform the piece into some uncanny, frosty landscape in time for the summer workshop. I am hugely excited to start working with the group of collaborating artists, which includes German scholar extraordinaire Caroline Weist and my very bizarre and beloved actors from Kinderdeutsch Projekts Molly Shaiken, Thorsten Bihegue and Stefanie Fiedler. Did I butter my collaborators with enough compliments? I don't think so. They really are incredible.

I've also been doing dance dramaturgy, most recently for a piece by Tiit Helimets for the Estonian Ballet premiering this October. And I'm starting to write screenplays -- short form to warm up, now heading into a feature length. I sucked it up and bought Final Draft and let me tell you the part of the program that makes your computer read your plays back in crazy robot voices is well worth the investment.

Q:  Tell me about kInDeRdEuTsCh pRoJeKtS. How do you create work together?
A:  I write the scripts (either from scratch or in response to actor explorations) then cut the hell out of them to make room for movement. Then we all get together for lengthy processes to uncover the unique (dark, deranged, comical) movement, visual and sound worlds of the play. I rewrite the scripts in response, we carve out the worlds' specifics in response, and then we premiere. Then we tour.

Q:  Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A:  My father used to blast 8-tracks of South Pacific on family roadtrips and sing along at full volume. This is probably the origin of my love for theater. How this became experimental physical theater is a mystery of my brain and its dark sense of humor. It could have to do with my profound wish to dance and sing in the face of atrocity - actually that sums up my aesthetic pretty well.

Q:  If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A:  I wouldn't. It is the perfect experience of being most alive in a room of strangers, especially in the 21st c. However, if I could change one thing about theater in the US, I would make tickets affordable and find a way to get younger, more diverse spectators in the seats. Oh and I would bring back the Federal Theatre Project. And while I'm at it, let's revivify Ethel Merman.

Q: Who are your theatrical heroes?

A:  Russian revolutionaries (Meyerhold, Mayakovsky, Bulgakov), German contemporaries (Jelinek, Pollesch, Stemann, Schlingensief), Theater Laboratory visionaries (Grotowski, Barba, their child companies Dah and ZID), hoofers and female impersonators of the vaudeville circuit, Mae West, Charles Ludlam, Eva Le Gallienne, Mary Martin as Peter Pan, Mei Lanfang and Chinese Opera performers in general, Inuit derision song poets, San Francisco Ballet dancers, new play development organizations that spoiled me (Young Playwrights Inc, The Playwrights' Center, Playwrights Foundation), my teachers and mentors (Sherry Kramer, Alice Tuan, Jill Dolan, Daniel Alexander Jones, Honor Molloy, Suzan Zeder, Paula Vogel, Chuck Mee), my colleagues (too many to mention, but to start Trista Baldwin, Jordan Harrison, Kirk Lynn, Steve Moore, Dan Basila, Carlos Trevino, Peter Nachtrieb) and my collaborators (see question one).

Q:  What kind of theater excites you?

A:  Anything with a clear aesthetic and bodies moving through space. Most of the work being made right now in Berlin.

Q:  What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A:  Travel. See as much work as you can internationally to experience what is possible. And find your people, work with them as much as you are physically able, make each other better artists.

Q:  Plugs, please:
A:  
My website: www.abibasch.com
Kinderdeutsch Projekts: www.kinderdeutsch.org
Our collaborators, colleagues, mentors: http://www.kinderdeutsch.org/links.htm
Voices Underwater plays in D.C. through April: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/02/AR2011030207490.html

1 comment:

網頁設計 said...

hooray, your writings on theater and writing much missed!