Thursday, March 17, 2011
I Interview Playwrights Part 326: John Kolvenbach
Hometown: Mount Kisco, NY
Current Town: New York, NY
Q: Tell me about Love Song.
A: The show was produced at Steppenwolf, originally, in 2006. Then a West End production under John Crowley's direction. It's been many places since then (Rome, Aukland, Melbourne, Seoul, Tel Aviv among many others) but never in New York. The original idea was to write a love song, something tuneful and romantic, an adult fable that sneaks in under your radar to access something deep in you. It's about a very lonely guy who finds love.
Q: What else are you working on?
A: I just wrote a new one, a backstage comedy about a veteran actor trying to hold his marriage together.
Q: Tell me, if you will, a story from your childhood that explains who you are as a writer or as a person.
A: I'm interested in how people select stories from their lives to explain themselves. (explain themselves to themselves or to others.) We choose our biography. The idea that your character was formed by some event, by this event, and not that one, is usually false, I find. The stories we select excuse us, or explain us, or hide us. Playwrights especially love to burnish their myths. Then they hide behind them, especially in the press. I've also heard the following: playwrights hide their secrets in public. (By writing plays.) I say all this to avoid the question.
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: More legroom.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: David Rabe. Arthur Miller. I like Beckektt. Checkov. Feydeau.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: I want to be owned. I want the writer to take possession of me, I want to be at his/her mercy. I'm not picky about form, or style, anything good is good, but I want to have the music of the play infect me.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: oh boy. Write. I would try to identify your mission and then break that down into practicable parts. Then do those all the time. I find that swimming and talking help. write.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: We're doing Love Song at 59e59 starting April 5th. Tickets are on sale at 59e59.org.