Apr 19, 2011
I Interview Playwrights Part 339: Daniel Pearle
Hometown: Studio City, CA
Current Town: New York, NY
Q: What are you working on now?
A: At the end of this month Primary Stages is doing a reading of a play called Bel Canto that I started last spring. I'm very excited to hear it out loud for the first time. I'm also starting to work on a play about the kindergarten admissions process in Manhattan.
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 came to playwriting pretty late. As a kid I used to draw constantly, then around age ten I gave that up and started taking piano lessons. In middle and high school I trained as a singer and did some music composition stuff too. When I started writing it was mostly short stories; it wasn't until college that I took a playwriting course for the first time. I know that's not really a story exactly, but I think what I've always liked about theater is that it's a medium that's visual, musical, textual, and psychological. I love the freedom that comes with starting something new, knowing it can be pretty much anything I want. I guess I'm still a little ADD...
Q: If you could change one thing about theater, what would it be?
A: I studied in Paris for a semester as an undergraduate and I couldn't believe how much the government there subsidized theater. As a student I could see a show for five euros. Even regular tickets weren't usually more than 30-50. I wish that was the case here.
Q: Who are or were your theatrical heroes?
A: Chekhov, Williams, John Patrick Shanley, Caryl Churchill, Craig Lucas, Christopher Shinn. Oh, and Shakespeare.
Q: What kind of theater excites you?
A: Theater that's authentic, imaginative, and personal, whatever form that takes. Very often I feel like plays are written to try to be clever or interesting or wild, to try to impress an audience rather than to give them an experience. I think I'm most excited when I feel like a play has cost the writer something to write.
Q: What advice do you have for playwrights just starting out?
A: I'm still looking for advice myself... But the best advice I've gotten is to write the play you'd write if you thought no one would ever read it.
Q: Plugs, please:
A: As part of their Primetime Reading series, Primary Stages is doing a reading of my play Bel Canto on April 25th. Details here: http://www.primarystages.org/primetime.
Also, I just saw Christopher Shinn's Picked at the Vineyard. Highly recommend it!